I read all kinds of books – why? Because I like to find things out. Would I have hunted this book out or even picked it up in the normal course of things? No, probably not. The way it came into my hands was via a guy who was doing a follow-up after one of our kids went to an event at their church. This man came to our house and on the doorstep, after speaking to me and finding out I wasn’t a Christian and, jumping to a few conclusions about what kind of person I was based on the fact that I have tattoos and had on a Kurt Cobain t-shirt, decided I needed to read this book.
The conversation went along the lines of me telling him that I didn’t believe in Jesus and God but that I was open to different ideas and that I am always reading about different philosophies and such, at which he told me that there was only way to salvation – through the lord. Now the Bible didn’t convince me but this man felt that this book might just be the key to bringing me over to his side.
The Case For Christ (Student Edition) sells itself as a journalistic enquiry into the subject and uses Lee Strobel’s experience as a journalist for the Chicago Times to validate these claims. I have to admit I was interested in where this book might take me – perhaps it might illuminate certain areas of the Bible that I had not thought about before; it might present compelling arguments which situated Christ in the real world and made his existence seem like an irrefutable fact to me.
Now imagine if you were a journalist and you turned in a story that hinged on the information of a single source; a story where you offered your editor no corroborating evidence at all – would they feel confident in printing that story? If the subject you were discussing used as a source a book which in itself was considered suspect, was in fact an issue of contention itself, or the source of the contention about the subject, then what?
There were accounts contemporaneous with the Bible which could have been used to shed light on different areas of scripture, that were not used at all. The Bible was the sole book referred to by Strobel and that presented a problem for me. If you don’t believe in Jesus in you generally don’t believe in the Bible – why? Because the Bible is most likely the first and only place that you might have turned to in order to get information about him and is therefore also the most likely source of your problems with the idea of him. If one person tells you a story and you find that person’s veracity wanting why would you believe someone’s second-hand rendering of that person’s story? This is effectively what Strobel does. Now if someone really wants to believe; if they are not looking to question the accepted truth and the things that are said in the Bible seem logical and self-evidently true to them then this book will be okay for them – although to be honest if they already find the Bible convincing then why they would need this book is beyond me – it is unnecessary.
Not only does this book not present a compelling argument for the existence of Christ it works to undo any confidence in the idea of Strobel as any kind of investigative journalist. The Bible, no matter whether you believe in it or not, is a beautifully written book – this isn’t. Films like Passion Of The Christ and The Last Temptation Of Christ made me think more about religious matters than this book managed; they might have managed to convince me, but this book which isn’t even on the level of Cliff Notes doesn’t tell me anything I couldn’t get from reading the good book myself.