The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, a former atheistic journalist turned pastor, retraces his spiritual journey by interviewing thirteen leading scholars and authorities. Strobel asks penetrating questions and forces these scholars to defend their views with solid data and argumentation. He plays the role of “devil’s advocate” and asks questions that a typical skeptic might ask. The author hopes to challenge the presuppositions of the reader and force him to think through various questions that affect his eternal destiny. He drives home the point that if Jesus is to be believed, then nothing is more important than a proper response to him.
Part one examines the Scriptural record detailing the life of Jesus. Strobel examines the biographies of Christ and challenges their veracity. He determines whether the biographies of Jesus were preserved for modern readership. He searches for evidence of Jesus’ life and teaching outside the gospel accounts. And he sets out to verify whether archeological evidence exists that bolsters the claims of Christ. Despite the Strobel’s rigorous questioning of the hard data, the case for Christ emerges victorious.
Part two turns from the record of Jesus to the man himself. Strobel seeks to determine if Jesus was really convinced he was the Son of God (as opposed to films like The Last Temptation of Christ) which portray Jesus as a doubting, insecure person. Strobel interviews Gary Collins to determine whether or not Jesus maintained his sanity throughout his life. Was he a lunatic? Was he crazy? Or was he truly who he claimed to be – the eternal Son of God. In his interview with D.A. Carson, the author sets out to determine whether Jesus’ attributes really matched the attributes of God’s. And finally, the author meets with Louis Lapides a converted Jewish pastor to determine if Jesus is really the long-awaited Messiah.
Part three examines the evidence for the resurrection. Strobel’s interview with Alexander Metherell, M.D. is fascinating and convincing as they challenge the so-called Swoon theory and come to terms with the fact that Jesus really did die on the cross. Strobel questions the eminent philosopher, William Lane Craig on the evidence for Jesus’ missing body. The post-resurrection appearances is discussed with Gary Habermaas. And the circumstantial evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ is supported by J.P. Moreland.
The author draws the book to a close by challenging the reader with the evidence. He recalls his own personal story that brought him to this point: It would take more faith to adhere to atheism than trust in Jesus Christ! In the final analysis, he lays the evidence at the feet of the reader and forces him to make a decision. In light of the evidence for Christ and his unique claim to be God, a choice must be made. Strobel presents a simple gospel message and the reader is left hanging in the balance.
The Case For Christ is a terrific book. Many strengths run throughout Strobel’s fine work. First, he interviews credible scholars. These men argue the claims of Christianity with clear and passionate argumentation. The author’s selection of scholars is noteworthy. He really picks the cream of the crop. I was particularly pleased with his decision to interview D.A. Carson and J.P. Moreland. Second, the book helps skeptics to see the issues and examine all the pertinent questions. There is no hint of subterfuge in this book. Not one hint of evidence is hidden from the reader’s eyes. Third, Strobel’s book builds the faith of believers. The evidence presented only bolsters one’s faith and confidence in the written record and unique claims of Christ. Fourth, this work vividly shows the validity of classical apologetics, otherwise known as evidentialism. Fifth, the book is intensely practical. The reality of Jesus Christ and his claim to be God point to the practical effect of following him in daily life. It really does help promote devotion on the part of the believer as well as foster decision-making on the part of the lost.
I am excited about using this book in the future as I dialogue with lost people and challenge them with eternal issues. I am also excited about passing Strobel’s book to believers to build their faith and help them in the everyday challenge to evangelize the lost.