898 of 955 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2006
This book offers a "Cliff Notes" like approach in that it condenses the work of many leading Christian scholars into an easy to read format. It is a case FOR Christ, not a true courtroom "hear both sides of the issue" book.
Some other reviewers disliked the lack of 2-sided arguments (there are no interviews w/leading atheists and/or Jesus Seminar thinkers). Being that the title is the case FOR Christ, I did not hold this expectation and was not bothered by this. However, as a staunch skeptic who was not raised with a Christian background, I supplied much of the case AGAINST Christ in my own head.
WHAT I LIKED: The book presents a good introduction of Christian scholarship and answers to common objections regarding the historicity of the Gospels--objections which already existed in my own mind. Suggestions for further reading (primary sources by the interview subjects) are included for those who desire a more thorough scholarly approach.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE: I felt the "re-creation" of Strobel's own search was un-necessary and a bit contrived, as were the comments he interjected when he was interviewing his subjects. Perhaps that is a carry over from his journalism days. I would have prefered a more straightforward interview, but this matter of taste is small and overall I found the book worthwhile despite these stylistic objections.
HOW IT AFFECTED ME: I came to this book as a very skeptical, non-practicing agnostic Jew (who was raised w/a religious education), fresh from my reading CS Lewis' Mere Christianity (which I highly recommend). Book 1 of Lewis, with his logic/philosophy helped me see that the existence of God logically made sense, but I did not yet know *which* version of a monotheistic God was correct--the rest of his book didn't resonate for me on the first reading as it dealt specifically w/Christianity. Strobel's book answered my questions regarding history/fact as it related to the New Testament.
Was The Case for Christ "made" for me in this book? Partially, yes. And partially by Lewis too, which I reread after reading Strobel.
My ultimate conversion came through study of these and other sources, which led me to literally ask God to show himself to me in a way that I would be sure that it was indeed God. I mention this because I believe that for a stubborn skeptic like me, no single source (with the possible exception of the Bible, LOL) would have been able to convince me on its own. Rather, it was a combination of sources/experiences that did so. These included reading the above mentioned books, attending a few church services even while I was still very skeptical, opening myself to the possibility that I had been mistaken in my belief that God didn't matter (if there was even a God to begin with) and literally asking God to let me know him if He was indeed real.
Ultimately, the proof came in a manner that goes beyond scientific verifcation or re-creation. Critics of Christianity and of this and other apologetic works make a good point when they claim God cannot be proved scientifically. I agree. God is beyond science. Scientific or logical methods such as textural criticism, formal logic, archaeology, and so on, can help close the gap in accepting the possibility of God's realness, but ultimately, the gap, at least for me, was completely and finally bridged not by book or proof, but by an experience that cannot be tested scientifically nor recreated in a lab. Skeptics, atheists or agnostics who deep down are married to their viewpoints--no matter what--will likely not budge, and may label the non-testability of my "proof experience" as suspect. I don't begrudge that and would have said the same thing. It had to have it happen to me first-hand before I would believe, and I was able to keep God at bay for years due to my own certainty that this God-stuff was for dummies. I was smart and logical and would have none of that God nonsense. So, this experience came as a big surprise--one that in retrospect was very welcome.
Your mileage in reading this book will vary. If you want to learn something, you can. If you are dead set against learning anything new that might be different from what you already know that you know, it is almost guaranteed that this book will have nothing to offer you. I realize that God's allowing us to come to Him only through our own free will sounds like a cop out and is criticized by non-believers as an all too convenient excuse, but as a former non-believer myself (who was proud of it and who ridiculed that free will stuff too), I say, so be it.
553 of 623 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2006
I read this book a couple of years ago, when I considered myself a skeptic. Now, I consider myself a Christian. This book is not what convinced me.
If you read the reviews, they are very telling. All the Christians love the book, all the skeptics (whether they be atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, or whatever) hate the book. Everyone is biased; it is impossible not to be. People come into a situation with preconceived notions, and will believe what they want to believe, even when presented with facts that seemingly contradict their views.
Thus, Christians can read this book and come away from it with the view that it reaffirms their faith; skeptics come away from it with the view that it reaffirms their skepticism.
Trying to make the case for faith based on historical and scientific evidence is flawed in and of itself. That's why they call it FAITH. Believing in the divinity of Christ is a leap of faith that one has to take to become a Christian - if it could be proven by scientific and historical evidence, then it wouldn't be faith at all. That's the whole point of it.
I think examining evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus is fine, but when you throw in the key issue of divinity and the resurrection, that's where faith comes in.
The reason I believe in the divinity of Christ has to do with what I feel in my heart, and the major changes that came about in my life due to the change in spiritual perspective that occurred when I went from "skeptic" to "believer". It really is about a personal relationship with God. It has absolutely nothing to do with the church, which is a severely flawed creation organized by man, who has the innate ability to pervert and corrupt everything he is involved with. Likewise, personal faith has very little to do with historical and scientific evidence.
It's very similar to being in love - no one can prove that they're in love - likewise, you can't disprove it. You can't even prove or disprove the existence of love. But you feel it in your heart - you know when you're in love. That's what faith is to me, and to millions of other Christians the world over.
100 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Like many American Christians, I was brought to church most Sundays and endured countless sermons and lessons. Despite this seemingly rich education on Christian principles, I never was exposed to a lesson or class on the existence of God; God's existence was assumed as fact. As I matured into my twenties and went to college, the existance of God was no longer taken for granted. I encountered many agnostics and atheists among my many college professors. The net result of their influence was to question my faith in the existance of God. I never lost my faith, but I found it was a faith that could not withstand scrutiny.
Reading Lee Stobel's "The Case For Christ" began in me my search for the certainty of my faith. Strobel's book is an excellent place to start. He presents interviews with several Christian apologetics that involve issues related to the veracity of the Biblical account of Christ, the Son of God.
The issues are as follows:
The trustworthiness of the Gospel accounts.
Historical evidences for Christ outside of the Bible.
Archaeology and the Life of Christ
The "Jesus Seminar" account of the life of Christ.
Did Jesus claim to be equal with God?
Is Jesus the promised scripture's Messiah?
Did Jesus really die on the cross?
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Mr. Strobel investigates each issue thoroughly. He approaches the issues as a skeptic who wants to be convinced of the truth. Apparently, Strobel was once a skeptic himself and his investigative journalism convinced him of the truth of his childhod faith in Christ. The only weakness I could find in the book is the lack of rebuttal from those individuals who do not believe in the deity of Jesus. Strobel claims to be the main rebuttal witness, as he assumes the skeptical viewpoint, but he is writing from the position of a believer, and his rebuttals are perhaps not as forceful as a "true" unbeliever.
If you have questions like I did, (and as did Strobel), then this is a good starting point for your journey. There are other books that go into complete detail on all the issues raised here, and you may want to purchase these as well. But this is a very good starting point for answering those nagging doubts about your faith in Christianity and one's faith in the person of Jesus.
Most highly recommended.
Jim "Konedog" Koenig
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I hate to be a naysayer but as a former agnostic myself I had heard so much good about this book I was anxious to get my hands on a copy. Perhaps it was the buildup that raised my expectations too high. It is not bad for a book of its kind but nothing different from those who have gone before him down this road of apologetics. Many have disagreed with me on this but I do not think it would work well on the serious agnostic or atheist. Many, I think, would consider it an insult to their intelligence. So from the perspective of this Christian reviewer, you might want to look elsewhere for a book to share with friends. This one is helpful as a faith-booster but not a very good faith-inducer in my opinion; fair but no silver bullet of apologetics.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2006
Strobel does a good job of presenting the case for Christ. By interviewing various scholars ("expert witnesses"), he builds that case in the same way he would build a legal case to take to court. He anticipates each objection, each piece of countering evidence, that the opposing side might introduce, and he deals with these one by one. So far, so good.
What's missing is the opposition's actual presence and participation. Since it's not Strobel's business as "Christ's attorney" to make the other side's case - only to counter it - I suppose I'm not being fair, in one sense. Yet as a reader, and as a practicing Christian who lives in the real world every day, I was disappointed nevertheless. A one-sided debate is far less useful (and far less convincing, really) than a debate that engages both sides of the question.
89 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2000
Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" is actually a compilation of answers to questions about Christianity, given by a dozen of experts. Many of these are famous theists like Gregory Boyd and William Lane Craig. Strobel retraces his own journey from atheism to faith, while facing problematic issues like the evidence for Jesus outside the Bible and the resurrection.
I liked several aspects in this book, and disliked a few; For the positive aspect, Strobel's book is very readable, almost always fascinating, and captivating without being heavy. Strobel tries to show that it actually requires a lot more faith for an atheist to maintain atheism than it would to trust in Jesus. All the scholars Strobel interviews try to defuse atheist/skeptical arguments and show that the historical evidence that Jesus was who he claimed to be is overwhelming.
Does Strobel manage to convince you? Well, it will depend. I am very open to Christian arguments, but I am also very receptive to be best arguments against Christianity; your belief when you start the book will inevitably have a strong influence leading you to a final position.
Like other readers, I quickly realized that Strobel's book had a glaring deficiency: Strobel does not show us any direct interview with critics of Christianity. For instance, Gregory Boyd (One of my favorite Evangelical apologists) spends many pages criticizing the Jesus Seminar, but Strobel never lets us read any of their replies. The atheist Michael Martin is also attacked, most times, the arguments against his work are justified, but still, I always had that annoying feeling of not being shown enough of the opposing side. Strobel's method is quoting some skeptical book to a Christian Apologist, and then asking for his comments. Unfortunately, Strobel never does the opposite, quoting passages from Christians to Non-Christians in order to get their responses.
And so, to some readers it might be reasonable to claim that Strobel's book is very unbalanced, failing to show interviews with ANY critic of Evangelical apologetics. People who want the truth will want to hear both sides of the story.
Still, I was left with the feeling that it will be a big mistake to dismiss the entire book on this basis, even if you are a skeptic who will be annoyed by the limitation. The reason? Well, for a start, this book comes with a number of endorsements from high-profile Evangelicals, so it somehow might represent their best arguments; It is also very creative, and well written and organized. It summarizes the work of several leading apologists for Evangelical Christianity, in a compact and accessible format. Ultimately, the evidence provided is far from being completely unconvincing. You might need more, but even the hard skeptic with an open mind will definitely have to stop to think when reading some of the arguments in favor of Christianity.
I suggest you complement this book with something written by skeptics. A good article is "The Rest of The Story", written by Jeffrey J. Lowder especially as a response to this book (Should be freely available on the internet, try Infidels.org). I thought Lowder points some of the flaws in Strobel's book, but still recognizes its value and is never bitter against it, a good article against some weaker parts of this book, but it still justly recognizes the quality of Strobel's contribution.
Overall: Not as balanced as the title would suggest, but very well written, creative, full of quality Christian apologetics from several authors, in a very effective summarized way. Also with a good Summary, Notes and Index, something I always like in my books.
Has its weak points, but I still strongly recommended this work for any theist or atheist seeking truth.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2004
First the good news: This book is great for anyone who is trying to piece together who Christ is and what Christinality is. The material presented in this book is invaluable. If you are atheist/agnostic/or whatever - i encourage you to take your questions seriously, and this book offers some interesting, factual historical material to build your decision. Strobel has taken great pains to uncover and summarize the history of Christ, which makes this book both fascinating and commendable.
Now the bad news: I must say that it is written with bias. I am a Christian , so of course i agree with the conculsion. But, Strobel inadvertently hurts his case by interviewing ONLY evangelical scholars. In fact, i found myself DESPERATELY wanting to hear what the skeptics had to say. I guess he figured he was the skeptic, so no use in interviewing any other skeptics. But, then he rags on the Jesus Seminar and these other atheists, and they have no opportunity to defend themselves. In a healthy debate, you would definetly interview BOTH points of view. Therefore, if i was an unbeliever reading this book, i would most likely dismiss it b/c it did not show both sides of the story.
I do believe the arguments and evidence for Christ far outway those against Christ. But, by not interviewing the other side, you don't give the skeptics a chance to be right or wrong - there's no healthy debate. And, for a skeptic reviewing this book for harsh evidence - that's a problem. Even though great information is in this book, it is probably thrown out by a skeptic just b/c the book is so biased.
114 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2004
At the urging of a Christian friend, I decided to read this book. I would not consider myself an atheist but someone who doesn't fit in any one religion and who feels that the establish religions leave something let to be desired (in my mind). I was raised without a religious background so I admittedly lack a strong background in Christian beliefs. But I also believe this allows me to be an objective reviewer.
Unlike many reviewers who are either entirely opposed or entirely in support of these ideas resented in this book, I tried and felt I did read this book with an open mind.
There is little doubt that Lee Strobel is a good author. He weaves his own experiences into the testimony of the experts he interviews and crafts a very interesting book. I found it easy to read and written on a level that even I could understand (as someone without a Christian background).
Strobel presents a list of experts that are very well qualified, BUT they are all very strong Christians. While some may not find this a problem, I feel that in order to present a stronger and more convincing case, he should have interviewed a wider variety of experts. When reading the book, I found only a couple of times at most when the experts couldn't refute claims against the existence, death, and resurrection of Jesus and in many cases I felt that Strobel didn't pursue his objections far enough. I felt many times he just accepted the experts testimony without questioning the experts further.
After reading the book and thinking about the arguments that Strobel presented, I came to this final conclusion:
While Strobel presented several valid arguments and evidence to support them, I feel like this is only one side of the `court case'. He now rests his defense of Christ, and it is time to hear the other side of the story before a conclusive decision can be reached.
I would suggest that anyone interest in this topic read this book, but then they should also read a book that supports the other side of the argument so that they themselves can reach their own decision.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1999
For those who have bothered to read the previous reviews, you well know that some skeptics claim the book is shallow and uninformed, while some Christians imply it is the end-all-beat-all to the Jesus issue. So considering the one-line summary review I gave, I think Strobel's work deserves 5 stars FOR AN INTRODUCTORY. He does cover a broad range of issues in a little space! Nowhere does he say he is going to make an unbiased presentation of the evidence. In fact, he explicitly said he wanted the readers to act as a jury.
At any rate, you can't possibly compare this book to a scholarly work -- IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE AS SUCH. If you really want to dig deeper, there are PLENTY of other works which deal with the Jesus controversy more in depth. I know that means doing weeks worth of library work, but if you really want to get at the truth of anything, it takes hard work!!
The Net: Simply accept the book as a good solid introduction into the issues surrounding Christianity and grow beyond Strobel's book. It meant as an introductory and nothing more!
390 of 499 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2001
I wish Amazon.com didn't force reviewers to rate all books with 1-5 stars. Since I was forced to rate Lee Strobel's book _Case for Christ_ I gave it 3 stars, but that's not really how I feel. As an introductory apologetics book I would give it 5 stars, but as a work by a journalist I would give it 1 star. Read on to find out why.
Lee Strobel is an ex-investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune who describes himself as a "former spiritual skeptic." Using his skills as a former legal affairs journalist, Strobel set out to "retrace and expand upon the spiritual journey ... [he] took for nearly two years." The Case for Christ is a summary of Strobel's interviews with thirteen leading Evangelical apologists, including Craig Blomberg, Bruze Metzger, Edwin Yamauchi, Ben Witherington III, and William Lane Craig.
In light of Strobel's frequent reminders that he used to be a hard-nosed, skeptical journalist, I skimmed the table of contents and index to see which critics of Christianity he interviewed. In so doing, I discovered a glaring deficiency in Strobel's journalism: Strobel did not interview any critics of Christian apologetics, even though he attacks such individuals in his book. For example, Strobel devotes an entire chapter to his interview of Greg Boyd (an outspoken faultfinder of the Jesus Seminar), yet Strobel never interviewed a single member of the Jesus Seminar itself! Likewise, he repeatedly criticizes Michael Martin, author of Case Against Christianity, but he never bothered to get Martin's responses to those attacks. This hardly constitutes balanced reporting on Strobel's part; indeed, on this basis, one is tempted to dismiss the entire book.
Nonetheless, I was compelled to review _The Case for Christ_, for two reasons. First, it comes with a number of endorsements from high-profile Evangelicals. Second, Strobel interviewed a number of high-caliber Evangelical apologists, many of whom are worthy of consideration in and of themselves. Thus _The Case for Christ_ constitutes a pseudo-anthology of Evangelical scholarship.
I have reviewed Strobel's book in detail on my website, but here I will summarize its major strengths and weaknesses. _Case for Christ_ is a creative, well-written contribution to Christian apologetics. Moreover, Strobel is to be commended for summarizing the work of so many leading apologists for Evangelical Christianity in such a compact and easy-to-read format. Yet Strobel did not interview any critics of Evangelical apologetics. He sometimes refutes at great length objections
not made by the critics (e.g., the claim that Jesus was mentally insane); more often, he doesn't address objections the critics do make (e.g., the unreliability of human memory, that non-Christian historians do not provide any independent confirmation for the deity of Jesus, etc.) Perhaps this will be a welcome feature to people who already believe Christianity but have no idea why they believe it. For those of us who are primarily interested in the truth, however, we want to hear both sides of the story.