Richard Reads: The Case for Christ – Introduction

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Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

I am going to write this review as I read it.  So, if I make a point or raise an objection that is covered in a later chapter I will correct it at that time.  Let’s start with some preliminary information about the book.

The Case for Christ has 271 pages.  It is divided into three parts: Part 1 “Examining the Record”, Part 2 “Analyzing Jesus”, and Part 3 “Researching the Resurrection”.  There are 14 chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion. It is authored by Lee Strobel.

Overview

Now let’s get started with the introduction. Strobel begins with a story about an incident in which a police officer was shot. The details of the incident are not relevant to the review. Basically, all the evidence pointed to the guilt of the defendant. After the conclusion of the trial Strobel gets a call from one of his informants who gives him a different theory of the incident which pointed to the innocence of the defendant.

Strobel looks at the evidence again in light of the new theory. This eventually led to an overturned conviction.

Strobel relates this reexamination of evidence to his “spiritual journey” (pg 13). Then he tells about how he was a skeptic and an atheist. This began to change after his wife converts to Christianity. It is her conversion that leads Strobel to reexamine the evidence surrounding Christ.

Finally Strobel asks the reader to put him/ her self in the position of a juror. On page 15 Strobel is discussing the requirements of a juror and in that context he writes:

“You would be urged to thoughtfully consider the credibility of the witnesses, carefully sift the testimony, and rigorously subject the evidence to your common sense and logic. I’m asking you to do the same thing while reading this book.”

I completely agree with Strobel’s quote and that’s what I intend to do with these reviews.

Analysis

I must say that Strobel is very good at telling a story. I wish I had his writing ability.

Strobel gives a couple of lessons that this case taught him. On page 12 he writes:

“One of the most obvious lessons was that evidence can be aligned to point in more than one direction.”

I actually agree with him on this point. That is why the scientific method is so powerful. The scientific method isn’t powerful because you have to prove your hypothesis, but your hypothesis must withstand falsification.

That is what occurred in this case. The prosecution provided evidence to support their hypothesis of the defendant’s guilt. Then new evidence and a different hypothesis was presented which falsified the original hypothesis.

Can the claims of Christianity withstand falsification? Will Christians consider other hypotheses?

On pages 12-13 Strobel writes:

“Looking through those lenses, all the original evidence seemed to fall neatly into place. Where there had been inconsistencies or gaps, I naively glossed them over. When police told me the case was airtight, I took them at their word and didn’t delve much further.

But when I changed those lenses–trading my biases for an attempt at objectivity–I saw the case in a whole new light. Finally I allowed the evidence to lead me to the truth, regardless of whether it fit my original presuppositions.”

I can completely relate to this “changing of lenses”! Yet my new lenses led me to atheism while Strobel’s led him to Christianity. The world makes more sense to me without wearing my” God-glasses”.

Strobel talks about his life before becoming a Christian. On page 13 he writes:

“Sure, I could see some gaps and inconsistencies, but I had a strong motivation to ignore them: a self-serving and immoral lifestyle that I would be compelled to abandon if I were ever to change my views and become a follower of Jesus.”

I know Strobel is referring to himself in this quote yet I think he throws a cheap shot here. It seems he insinuates that atheists are immoral. It is a common misconception among Christians that atheists really know God exists, but they suppress this knowledge because they want to continue living their immoral lifestyles. This is not the case! Despite what apologists like Strobel will tell you, being a Christian doesn’t make you moral and being an atheist doesn’t make you immoral.

Anyway, the introduction seems fair enough. Let’s see how the rest of the book holds up!