An excellent reader for Easter! Who was (is) Jesus? What is the resurrection about?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
In “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus”, Lee Strobel takes his readers on a search to examine the claims of Christianity; specifically, he researches the historicity of the New Testament accounts, the claims of Jesus that he is the promised messiah, and the truth about the accounts of resurrection. Strobel interviews scholars across the United States about these topics and recounts his conversations with these men.
Strobel was an atheist at one time in his life. After the conversion of his wife, he eventually began investigating the claims of Christianity on his own. Using his journalistic background as a legal editor, he considered the weight of the evidence that the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life are reliable. Consequently, he had to come to a decision about the claim that Jesus is God in flesh, the promised messiah, and came back to life three days after being killed.
This book is not an account of Strobel’s actual personal journey. He has in a sense retraced his steps, and interviews experts in the field about many of the major questions that he wrestled with in his investigation. This book reads as a long conversation between Strobel and each of the people he interviewed.
Strobel’s accounts are very comprehensive. He goes into great detail about each of the questions he raised, follows the necessary questioning paths, and demonstrates that he was not afraid to ask challenging questions to find the truth. However, no single text will ask every question and scrutinize every detail. If you read this book with a specific axe to grind, you may feel confirmed in your suspicion that he did not ask the right questions. Yet, I hope readers will catch the fact that this is not what he was trying to do.
The strongest aspect of Strobel’s investigation is that is that he applies an appropriate amount of scrutiny to the evidence we have about the Gospel accounts and Jesus. He has replicated the level of scrutiny that we would find in a courtroom if the evidence was presented and cross examined. Most importantly, he decides to make the reasonable decision that the evidence makes a strong case that the accounts are reliable.
Once he was faced with the conclusion that the accounts are likely to be reliable, Strobel knew he needed to make a decision about who Jesus is. Even with the weight of all the evidence, a faith decision is still needed to accept that Jesus is God as he claims. As Strobel states,
“After a personal investigation that spanned more than six hundred days and countless hours, my own verdict in the case for Christ was clear. However, as I sat at my desk, I realized that I needed more than an intellectual decision.”
He finally comes to the decision that:
“Yes, I had to take a step of faith, as we do in every decision we make in life. But here’s the crucial distinction: I was no longer trying to swim upstream against the strong current of evidence; instead I was choosing to go in the same direction that the torrent of facts was flowing.”
I recommend this book for anyone who is willing to have their beliefs challenged. Readers who are not Christians will be faced with many truth claims, but many will appreciate the amount of the energy Strobel used to ask so many relevant questions. Christians will be challenged to take a deeper look at the reasons for their beliefs. The weight of the evidence presented demands that the reader make a decision; Strobel walks his readers through this process with the care and honesty that would they would appreciate.