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Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" Paperback – September 19, 2001

3.1 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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  • Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ"
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Challenging the Verdict is the first published book by Age of Reason Publications. It makes an ideal introduction to our stated purpose in introducing principles of rationality and scientific investigation to all aspects of society’s laws, ethics and beliefs. We sincerely hope that books like this can provide a stimulus to the application of rational thought in our culture, something that has been absent in many critical areas for too long.

Does rationality matter? If people gain support and comfort through believing in a God and a supernatural dimension of angels, saints and a heavenly afterlife, ought those who have concluded that there is no rational basis for such beliefs seek to change their minds? In principle, it seems almost axiomatic that when a society formulates much of its views of the universe, its philosophy and ethics, its public policy and education, on things which have no basis in reality, such a course can hardly be advantageous to that society’s health. Indeed, it may cause great harm. Our understanding of the world around us, our progress in finding ways to get the best out of this world, to live in harmony with it and with each other, to achieve the maximum in human happiness and the availability of human rights, cannot help but suffer.

Lee Strobel, in The Case for Christ, goes through the motions of a ‘scientific’ reasoned approach to the Christian record, in an attempt to support the validity of the Gospel content and the truth of the resurrection. But the deficiencies and contradictions of that record will not bear the weight of such an enterprise, and the realities of the ancient world setting in which Christianity arose impose on us their own understanding of the Christian movement and how it began. Challenging the Verdict is the challenge of history, rationality and scientific research to the full body of Christian doctrine, in the hope that our 21st century will see the passing away of such irrationalities and the arrival of an Age of Reason.

From the Author

Challenging the Verdict is designed as a useful tool for promoting reason within the context of North America’s dominant faith in the reliability of the Gospel story and of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. It grew out of an intended book review for The Jesus Puzzle web site, one that was not originally envisioned to be longer than my other reviews. But the format I decided upon proved unexpectedly fruitful: a courtroom setting in which I adopt the role of cross-examining attorney, setting up a dialogue before judge and jury between myself and those scholars whom Lee Strobel interviews in his book, using quoted words spoken during those interviews. Not only was I able to address the claims and conclusions offered by Lee Strobel’s ‘experts’ with an unexpected degree of realism, the vividness between opposing sets of views comes across to the reader in a highly lucid and compelling fashion. Those who have read the book have called it a real page-turner.

One cannot change the world overnight, or even within a lifetime, and there are many forms of irrationality in present-day society. It is not possible to address them all, and I have no delusions on that score. But I have attempted in my own limited way to make some contribution to the promotion of reason and science in the belief systems our society has adopted, and especially in the field of Christian origins, both in my two books and on my web site.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Age of Reason Publications,Canada (September 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0968925901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0968925904
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Doland on March 1, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read and reviewed here Strobel's books. (See more about me.)
Okay, much has been said about Doherty's style of using a courtroom setting. Yes, I understand it is a literary device. And yes, I know, he's poking some fun at Strobel's self-portrail of being a "tough, investigative reporter". Okay, I understand it, but I still don't care for it. But while I don't care for the style, what is more important, to me anyway, is the material. And the material is good.
Since I'm very poor at history, there is much here that I can't really honestly say whether Strobel's version or Doherty's is more accurate. I wish I could, but I can't. But when Doherty is able to demonstrate logic errors and circular reasoning in Strobel's work that I didn't catch myself when reading it, that to me lends credence to his work. One good example of this is where Doherty points out that Dr. Craig used the Gospel of Matthew's account of the guards at the tomb as an alternate-source verification of, well, Matthew's account of the guards at the tomb!
Another interesting point that Doherty makes is in the discussion of the medical evidence. In Strobel, Dr. Metherell portrays crucifixion being a form of torture to which even breathing is difficult due to the way the victim is hung. And yet the gospels portray Jesus as carrying on conversations, including with the bandits that were also being crucified. And Doherty also points out how the scene gets embellished from one gospel to the next.
There's a lot more than these couple of items I've pointed out. Get the book. If you read the other reviews of the book, you'll find that the negative reviews usually call Doherty "outlandish" or some such, but few seem to have any actual evidence to dispute him.
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As a Christian apologist, I have dealt with skeptics and their arguments over the years. However, it is not my intent to refute Doherty in this review. Instead, I want to make the point that there is no definitive argument or evidence which would convince both skeptics and believers. If there was, then the issue of Jesus would have been resolved centuries ago. Even so, Doherty's book demonstrates how a thoughtful skeptic can address many of the arguments made by believers like Strobel. From that perspective, I found this to be a valuable book.
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It was 'luck' that I found this book. I believed I was a Christian. Of course, to a current Christian, anyone who "turns" couldn't have been much of a Christian to start with. But anyway, I was challenged by a non-believer to show that Jesus *Christ* was a true historical figure and that the gospels can be trusted as literally true. So I began my own research with the attitude that I had to be open to all the information in order to come to an honest conclusion...and Lee Strobel's book was recommended to me by a church official/friend as a logical, practical, argument for the historicity of Jesus *Christ*. When I searched for the Strobel book on Amazon.com, I also found Earl Doherty's book...so I bought them both and I studied them both. It became very clear with further research that Lee Strobel was not completely honest and forthright in his book. Lee Strobel only makes sense if you don't expose yourself to anything that challenges Strobel's assumptions and his approach. After a personal 2 year search, I was forced by the facts to accept that both Jesus *Christ* (son of God) and the Christian God are fictions created by man. And Earl Doherty's book laid the groundwork for me to follow. It wasn't an easy conclusion to come to, but it's the honest conclusion to make based on the whole of the evidence. If you're looking for the truth about Jesus as *Christ*, Earl Doherty's book is a good place to start.
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All these religionist reviews on here attack everything but Doherty's arguments. Gimme a break you guys, I am seeing all these 1-star ratings without any of Doherty's points actually challenged. You guys keep claiming that Doherty did not interview any of Strobel's witnesses yet Strobel never interviewed any unbelievers in his own book. The book is a response and I have yet to see works that respond to his specific arguments.
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Doherty does a great job of doing a book length review and critique of the arguments that Lee Strobel uses in "The Case for Christ". Doherty effectively shows that Strobel is only speaking for one end of the religous spectrum. Doherty shows that Strobel gives his experts easy questions, avoids follow-ups and that Strobel stacks the deck in his own favor. Doherty points out that Strobel does a poor job of being a "skeptic" by only consulting with experts from the fundamentalist end of the spectrum, rather than asking experts from other traditions. Strobel is even billed as a "journalist" rather than a preacher for a church. While Strobel's "Case for Christ" is a good summary of concervative, evangelical Christianity's apologetic's, Doherty easily shows the short comings of that approach as well a a proper skeptic's approach.
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Earl J. Doherty (born 1941) is a Canadian author who has also written books such as Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus, etc. This book is a detailed critique of Lee Strobel's book, The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Doherty wrote in the Introduction to this 2001 book, "my main purpose here is to expose the fallacy, distortion of evidence and extensive misinterpretation of the record inherent in the 'case' for Christian orthodoxy as presented by Strobel's assembly of conservative scholarly opinion." (Pg. 2)

Against the argument that 1st century critics would have criticized the gospels if they weren't true, Doherty says, "what we don't see is any comment on Christianity at all. If no one seems even aware of Jesus' existence during the first century, it is not surprising that we find no protest against the Gospel story." (Pg. 35) Against Jesus' existence, he states, "There are no Christian artifacts from the first century, no evidence of Jesus' presence anywhere on the landscape. There is not a trace of a mention of any relics associated with Jesus. What about his clothes, the things he used in his day-to-day life?
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