The Case for Christ
Review Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, Zondervan, 1998, 304pp
Back in my school days, I remember being put in a Religious Studies class with the most adamant atheist I had ever encountered. Every mention of Christ, he would find something to criticise, and answers were only met with more questions. How I wish I had read this book back then, or better still, given it to him to read!
Lee Strobel is an award-winning journalist and former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune; he was also once a resolute atheist. In this book, he recounts his own personal quest for the truth about Christ. Acting just as the friend did in my class, Strobel throws out difficult question after difficult question to highly academic experts, and finds that the answers not only affirm the credibility of Christ but also demand a personal response.
With a style that reads like a fast-paced crime novel, Strobel covers some of the main questions surrounding the evidence for Christ. For instance, if the Bible was written so long ago, how can we be sure that the gospels weren’t misconstrued or meddled with over time? Is there any evidence outside of the Bible that confirms the existence of Jesus Christ? What evidence is there that the Jesus we read about in the Bible was actually the son or God and not just a crazy lunatic? What about hell; how could Jesus be a compassionate God yet endorse the idea of eternal suffering for those who reject him? And finally, what about his resurrection; what proof is there that Jesus really died and rose again? For each issue, the academics base their answers on a range of sources covering the scientific, historical and
For each chapter, Strobel uses his background in criminal law to compare the case concerning Christ with a real life case he has covered himself. For each interview Strobel acts as the prosecutor in a court of law ensuring that all ground is covered through serious cross-examination: “I wanted to push him further on his point”, he says of his first interviewee, Craig L. Bloomberg. In the end, Strobel concludes that he was “ambushed by the amount and quality of the evidence that Jesus is the unique Son of God”, remarking that he had “seen defendants carted off to the death chamber on much less convincing proof!” In addition, Strobel also asks each interviewee how their research into the case for Christ had impacted their personal faith.
I would highly recommend ‘The Case for Christ’ for both individual and group study. With questions at the end of each chapter, it encourages readers to really consider all the evidence, and weigh up the importance it has for their own lives. Additionally, each chapter contains a section for further reading, meaning that those with more questions on the subject can look into it in even more detail. Be prepared for some heavy questions and, if it helps, even make notes as you read (which I did!). Make sure you read with an open mind, and be prepared to be challenged.
For me, the most important aspect of this book is the way that Strobel concludes that we cannot approach Christ with a nonchalant attitude. If He really is who He says He is, then He demands a response. In recounting his own testimony, Strobel shares how the change Christ made to his own life was so radical that his five-year-old daughter said to his wife “Mommy,
I want God to do for me what he’s done for Daddy.” Strobel says “Looking back nearly two decades, I can see with clarity that the day I personally made a decision in the case for Christ was nothing less than the pivotal event of my entire life.”
Whatever your thoughts about Christ, this book is a must read. For the non-believer with a thousand different questions, ‘The Case for Christ’ invites you to follow Strobel’s example and check out the evidence for yourself. For the believer, I implore you to read this book, not only to help answer the questions your non-Christian friends may raise, but to watch the way it challenges, shapes, and reaffirms your own faith, whilst rekindling your love for Christ.