I recently watched a discussion at Cal Tech between a bevy of religious skeptics and theists. As you would guess, the topic was religion, and, after the discussion, the host invited members of the audience to ask questions. One man stood and introduced himself as a physics professor at the University and invited Deepak Chopra to his class on introductory quantum physics. He went on with Chopra, saying that “I know the meanings of the words you used in your talk, but don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about.” After the laughter died, he pointed out too that he wasn’t at all sure that Chapra knew what he was talking about.

This is not quite the same as we find in Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ but my disappointment comes close. Strobel posits that he was a truth seeker on a hunt and determined to interview the Lee_Strobel_Booksmartest and most accomplished in any area of Christology. Well, he didn’t, and it’s to the book’s detriment. Regarding the New Testament stories of Jesus, he interviewed one of the most accomplished Christian theologians who argued for the Jesus of the Bible but never once does Strobel record that he sought a dissenting view. What does Bart Ehrman say about the topic? He’s certainly accomplished and academic. What about a Muslim theologian? Jesus has an important role in their story, too. If you are seeking truth from the best and the brightest of your topic, why limit yourself to true believers? This is the pattern throughout the book and I’m mystified at why it’s done so well over decades since it was first published. I can only think that American Evangelical Christians were hungry for an explanation of why they believed.

I laud Strobel for the book. I’m a Christian, too, and a writer, and I clap for anyone who puts butt in chair and writes a readable book the sells well. I think, though, that he writes for the choir. He writes for an audience who became Christians because their parents are and because that cute girl in college asked you to church one Sunday. These folks – good folks whose faith I don’t question – like that he talks to the best in their field: that’s enough for them. For me, it’s not enough and I’m not sure that enough exists. As a journalist, Strobel seeks to use journalistic logic to parse the New Testament and I doubt that modern logic was ever the point. The point – and Paul makes this clear – is that the story is silliness to those steeped in logic and we accept it by faith. Strobel’s error here, I think, the error of a host of evangelical writers, is to mistake that stories of faith and of Jesus and of the Hebrew scriptures should and do fall under the same logic as chemistry. It rarely does.

I’ll give the book three stars. It’s readable and if you are looking for a logical reason and explanation for what you believe,  and if you are a modern evangelical protestant, this might be what you’re looking for. If you find hints of truth in Hinduism, Shamanism, Christianity, and from the guy feeding the homeless down at the corner, then there are better books.

Selah.

Go here to view the book on Amazon.

Go here to see a version for kids.

Lee Strobel’s Amazon page.

Lee Strobel’s website.