Lee Patrick Strobel (born 1952) is a former journalist, and a former teaching pastor of Willow Creek Community Church from 1987 to 2000; he joined Saddleback Valley Community Church as a teaching pastor in 2000, but left to host the TV program, "Faith Under Fire," which went off the air in 2005. He has also written books such as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, God's Outrageous Claims, The Case for Easter, The Case for Christmas, etc.
He wrote in the Introduction to this 2008 book, "For my book, 'The Case for Christ'... I sat down with respected scholars... peppering them with the tough questions I'd asked as a skeptic. I walked away all the more persuaded that the cumulative evidence established the deity of Jesus in a clear and convincing way. Not so fast. That book was published in 1998. Since then the Jesus of historic Christianity has come under increasingly fierce attacks... scholars and popular writers are seeking to debunk the traditional Christ. They're capturing the public's imagination with radical new portraits of Jesus... For the sake of my own intellectual integrity, I needed answers. And to get them, I needed to hit the road... My goal was to talk to the most credible scholars I could find. I was determined to let the hard evidence of history and the cool demands of reason lead me to a verdict---no matter what it turned out to be... This book is your invitation to join me as i retrace the steps of my investigative adventure." (Pg. 10-12)
He interviewed Craig Evans, who said, "the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke circulated anonymously. Their authority and truth were transparent. Everybody knew this is what Jesus taught, so there wasn't much concern over who wrote it down. But in the second century, they had to force it. So the [writers of the alternative] gospels of the second century and later would attach a first-century name to try to boost their credibility, since [the writings] didn't sound like Jesus. They had to compensated by saying, 'Well, Thomas or Peter of Philip or Mary wrote it, so it MUST have credibility.'" (Pg. 31)
Daniel Wallace admitted, "Personally, I believe in inerrancy... However, I wouldn't consider inerrancy to be a primary or essential doctrine for saving faith. It's what I call a 'protective shall' doctrine. Picture concentric circles with the essential doctrines of Christ and salvation at the core. A little bit further out are some other doctrines until, finally, outside of everything is inerrancy. Inerrancy is intended to protect these inner doctrines. But if inerrancy isn't true, does that mean that infallibility isn't true? No. It's a non sequitur to say I can't trust the Bible in the minutiae of history, so therefore I can't trust it in matters of faith and practice." (Pg. 53) He adds, "look at the places where the Gospels don't disagree at all... You find a core message that is revolutionary: Jesus is confessed as the Messiah by his disciples, he performed miracles and healed people, he forgave sins, he prophesied his own death and resurrection, he died on a Roman cross, and he was raised bodily from the dead... Even if the Gospel writers have differences in their accounts... then this only adds to their credibility by showing they weren't huddled together in a corner cooking all this up." (Pg. 54)
He asks Wallace about Mark 16:9-20 [which "were not part of the original Gospel, but were added at a later date and aren't considered authentic"], and was told, "I think Mark was writing about the [most] distinctively unique individual who ever lived, and he wanted to format the ending of his Gospel in a unique way, in which he leaves it open ended. He's essentially saying to readers, 'So what are you going to do with Jesus?' ... There's still a resurrection in Mark. It's prophesied, the angel attests to it, and the tomb is empty. But you can see why an early scribe would say, 'Oh no, we don't have a resurrection appearance, and this ends with the women being afraid.' ... He wanted to round out Mark's Gospel, so he put on that new ending... Once it's in the Bible, it's really hard to dislodge it. All Bibles have a note indicating this longer ending isn't in the oldest manuscripts." (Pg. 69-70)
Strobel asks Michael Licona why Jesus' brother James wasn't a believer during Jesus' lifetime, and was told, "I have to admit... that has bothered me over the years... If the virgin birth really occurred, then how could Jesus' brothers not have believed in him? I'm sure they would have heard it from Mary. Sincerely, I have really struggled with that. I mentioned this recently to a friend... and he surprised me by saying, '...If I had a brother who was perfect, even if he had been born of a virgin, I'd hate him, and I just wouldn't follow him.' ... William Lane Craig asks, 'What would it take to convince YOU that your brother is the Lord?' Really, the only thing that could account for that would be what's reported in the early creed: That the crucified Jesus appeared alive to James." (Pg. 90-91)
He asks about the celebration of Christmas on December 25th of Edwin Yamauchi, who said, EY: "we don't know the date Jesus was born... The earliest date celebrated by Christians was January 6... Of course, December 25 is very close to the winter solstice. This was the date chosen by the emperor Aurelian for the dedication of his temple to Sol invictus, the god called the 'Unconquerable Sun.' Mithras was closely associated with Sol Invictus... This is apparently how Mitras became associated with December 25." LS: "When did that date become Christmas for Christians?" EY: "That seems to be in 336, a year before the death of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity... it's conceivable that Constantine also appropriated December 25 for the birthday of Christ. We know that instead of simply banning pagan ceremonies, Christian emperors and popes suggested that they appropriate them for Christianity." (Pg. 126-127)
This is a very substantial addition to Strobel's works, and will be of keen interest to all students of apologetics.