From the Author
Not too many years ago, I was an atheist. My agnostic wife's conversion to Christianity prompted me to use my legal training (M.S.L., Yale Law School) and journalism experience (I was the legal editor of "The Chicago Tribune") to systematically investigate whether there's any credible evidence that Jesus is the unique Son of God. "The Case for Christ" retraces the two-year quest that rocked my world. But instead of me merely describing the evidence that convinced me Christianity is true, I interviewed thirteen leading scholars and experts, posing to them the tough questions I had when I was a skeptic. These authorities, with doctorates from Cambridge, Princeton, Brandeis, and other prestigious institutions, were forced to defend their positions with compelling evidence and persuasive logic. Among the topics I cover are: Historical evidence: Are there really enough reliable documents supporting the life, teachings, and resurrection of Jesus? Scientific evidence: Do archaeological findings support or contradict the historical accounts of Jesus? Psychiatric evidence: Did Jesus ever claim to be God? If he did, was he crazy? And does he fulfill all of the attributes of God? Fingerprint evidence: Do ancient prophecies -- written hundreds of years before Jesus was born -- really point to him alone as being the Messiah of Israel and the world? Plus powerful evidence from four leading authorities on the ultimate authentication of Jesus' claim to being God: his resurrection from the dead. I wanted the book to be both reliable and readable. I have been extremely gratified by the reaction of renowned law professor Phillip Johnson of the University of California at Berkeley, who wrote: "Lee Strobel asks the questions a tough-minded skeptic would ask. His book is so good I read it out loud to my wife evenings after dinner. Every inquirer should have it." Hank Hanegraaff, the nationally syndicated "Bible Answer Man" and president of the Christian Research Institute, was especially gracious in his review: "This is not a dry-as-dust theological treatise. 'The Case for Christ' is a supreme example of investigative journalism that reads like a fast-paced novel. I couldn't put it down. I will go so far as to say that 'The Case for Christ' is the best presentation of the historical evidence for Jesus, in print at a popular level, that I have ever read." Others who have strongly endorsed the book are Bruce M. Metzger, professor emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary; well-respected scholars J. P. Moreland, Thom Rainer, Peter Kreeft, and Gregory Boyd; Ravi Zacharias, one of the world's foremost defenders of Christianity; famed psychologist Gary Collins; and such highly regarded Christian leaders as Bill Hybels, D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright, and Luis Palau. I wrote this book for three audiences. First, it's for Christians who want to be prepared to defend their faith when it's challenged by skeptics like I once was. (I include a chapter responding to the liberal Jesus Seminar's conclusions that Jesus never said most of what the New Testament claims he said.) Second, it's for Christians who are wavering in their faith and want to anchor it firmly once more. Third -- and most of all -- it's for spiritual seekers who are truly interested in investigating for themselves whether it's rational to put their faith in Jesus of Nazareth. No single book can answer every question. However, I encourage anyone who is authentically curious about Jesus to read "The Case for Christ" with an open mind and sincere heart. Weigh the evidence for yourself. Reach your own verdict. I'll be cheering you on.
From the Back Cover
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Evidence of the Missing Body Candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach flew into the world's busiest airport on a crisp autumn afternoon, stepped into a crowd, and promptly disappeared without a trace. For more than twenty years the mystery of what happened to this red-haired, animal-loving philanthropist has baffled police and journalists alike.
While investigators are convinced she was murdered, they haven't been able to determine the specific circumstances, largely because they've never found her body. Police have floated some speculation, leaked tantalizing possibilities to the press, and even got a judge to declare that a con man was responsible for her disappearance. But absent a corpse, her murder officially remains unsolved. Nobody has ever been charged with her slaying.
The Brach case is one of those frustrating enigmas that keep me awake from time to time as I mentally sift through the sparse evidence and try to piece together what happened. Ultimately it's an unsatisfying exercise; I want to know what happened, and there just aren't enough facts to chase away the conjecture.
Occasionally bodies turn up missing in pulp fiction and real life, but rarely do you encounter an empty tomb. Unlike the case of Helen Brach, the issue with Jesus isn't that he was nowhere to be seen. It's that he was seen, alive; he was seen, dead; and he was seen, alive once more. If we believe the gospel accounts, this isn't a matter of a missing body. No, it's a matter of Jesus still being alive, even to this day, even after publicly succumbing to the horrors of crucifixion so graphically depicted in the preceding chapter.
The empty tomb, as an enduring symbol of the Resurrection, is the ultimate representation of Jesus' claim to being God. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that the Resurrection is the very linchpin of the Christian faith: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Theologian Gerald O'Collins put it this way: "In a profound sense, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all."1
The Resurrection is the supreme vindication of Jesus' divine identity and his inspired teaching. It's the proof of his triumph over sin and death. It's the foreshadowing of the resurrection of his followers. It's the basis of Christian hope. It's the miracle of all miracles.
If it's true. Skeptics claim that what happened to Jesus' body is still a mystery akin to Helen Brach's disappearance - there's not enough evidence, they say, to reach a firm conclusion.
But others assert that the case is effectively closed, because there is conclusive proof that the tomb was vacant on that first Easter Morning. And if you want someone to compellingly present that case, your best bet is to visit with William Lane Craig, widely considered to be among the world's foremost experts on the Resurrection.
The Eleventh Interview: William Lane Craig, Ph.D., D.Th.
I had an unusual perspective the first time I saw Bill Craig in action: I was seated behind him as he defended Christianity before a crowd of nearly eight thousand people, with countless others listening on more than one hundred radio stations across the country.
As moderator of a debate between Craig and an atheist selected by the national spokesman for American Atheists, Inc., I marveled as Craig politely but powerfully built the case for Christianity while simultaneously dismantling the arguments for atheism. From where I was sitting, I could watch the faces of people as they discovered - many for the first time - that Christianity can stand up to rational analysis and rugged scrutiny.
In the end it was no contest. Among those who had entered the auditorium that evening as avowed atheists, agnostics, or skeptics, an overwhelming 82 percent walked out concluding that the case for Christianity had been the most compelling. Forty-seven people entered as nonbelievers and exited as Christians - Craig's arguments for the faith were that persuasive, especially compared with the paucity of evidence for atheism. Incidentally, nobody became an atheist.2
So when I flew down to Atlanta to interview him for this book, I was anxious to see how he'd respond to the challenges concerning the empty tomb of Jesus. He hadn't changed since I had seen him a few years earlier. With his close-cropped black beard, angular features, and riveting gaze, Craig still looks the role of a serious scholar. He speaks in cogent sentences, never losing his train of thought, always working through an answer methodically, point by point, fact by fact.
Yet he isn't a dry theologian. Craig has a refreshing enthusiasm for his work. His pale blue eyes dance as he weaves elaborate propositions and theories; he punctuates his sentences with hand gestures that beckon for understanding and agreement; his voice modulates from near giddiness over some arcane theological point that he finds fascinating to hushed sincerity as he ponders why some scholars resist the evidence that he finds so compelling.
In short, his mind is fully engaged, but so is his heart. When he talks about skeptics he has debated, it isn't with a smug or adversarial tone. He goes out of his way to mention their endearing qualities when he can - this one was a wonderful speaker, that one was charming over dinner.
In the subtleties of our conversation, I sensed that he isn't out to pummel opponents with his arguments; he's sincerely seeking to win over people who he believes matter to God. He seems genuinely perplexed why some people cannot, or will not, recognize the reality of the empty tomb.