In the field of apologetics, leadership is often taken by scholars in the discipline of philosophy as such academics are often inclined to point out the inconsistencies of various belief systems and the rational superiority of the Christian faith. While such efforts will always be at the forefront of worldview analysis, experts in the fields of history, journalism, and law more oriented towards concrete fact than theoretical reflection also have an essential role to play in defending the Christian faith and in presenting a reason for the hope that lies within the believer.
One such work exemplifying this approach that is both comprehensible to the average reader yet filled with informative detail for those of a more academic bent is The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. Himself a former skeptic, The Case For Christ recreates Strobel’s spiritual journey where this Chicago Tribune reporter turned his journalist’s eye and trained his legal mind towards the fundamental claims regarding Jesus Christ.
Strobel recreates this process by interviewing the foremost Christian experts in the fields of ancient history, Biblical studies, and even medicine and psychology. To some, this approach no doubt reeks of a detached tedium for which many professors are infamous; however, Strobel imbues this quest with both intrigue and a touch of humanity.
Strobel assures those reluctant to commence an in depth theological inquiry that such an investigation can be exciting and does not require any esoteric mental abilities beyond the commonsense used to operate in normal everyday life. Strobel accomplishes this by beginning each chapter with an anecdote drawn from his own life.
For example, in the chapter examining the eyewitnesses for Christ, Strobel opens with the story of a teenager on a respirator, paralyzed from the neck down by a robber’s bullet, who testified to the judge and jury assembled in his hospital room of the deed done to him (48). The victim died eighteen days later.
Many of the experts interviewed by Strobel themselves have their own engaging backgrounds that the reader will find both interesting and assuring to readers that these imposing intellects are not all that different than the rest of us. For example, Lewis Lapides, interviewed as an expert on the Messiahship of Jesus, went from being born into a Jewish family, into a skeptical phase surrounded by a dope-induced haze, to embracing Christ as his savior. Particularly touching was how the Resurrection was more than an academic truth to historian Gary Habermas but rather a source of existential comfort getting him through the loss of his wife to cancer.
It is through this witty give and take that Strobel lays out the evidence of the case for Christ. Though the entire book should be read, the conclusion does an excellent job of summarizing Strobel’s main points.
Strobel comes to the following conclusions. The biographies of Jesus stand up to scrutiny as reliable history as they were not countered as being inaccurate and have been reliably preserved in that the number of manuscripts indicate 99.5% accuracy of the text (350). Furthermore, evidence regarding the existence of Christ can be found outside the Gospels such as the mention of Jesus in Josephus and archaeology confirms that the Bible is accurate in numerous small details, thus increasing the credibility of its claims in more complex matters. Strobel then proceeds from these brick and mortar issues to address the more profound theological matters such as whether Jesus was insane to claim He was the Son of God and an examination of the various alternatives to the Resurrection such as the swoon theory that fall short of both logic and evidence.
As an introductory text, The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel is bound to become an apologetic classic as it succinctly addresses the fundamental issues of the Christian faith in an engaging manner that will stimulate reflection among believers and the spiritually curious alike.
By Frederick Meekins