on 24 May 2006
I would highly recommend this book to anyone exploring Christian apologetics for the first time. It is a compellingly written and easily readable defence of Christian claims about Jesus Christ. Strobel tackles the subject from about every conceivable angle by investigating everything from the geography of the New Testament to the events surrounding Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. It is on this latter point that the book builds is case most strongly, providing credible arguments for a rational basis for believing in the resurrection.
The book's structure is both its strength and its weakness. The author assumes the role of detective as he jets around America meeting and interviewing experts on the various aspects of the case he investigates. The cross-examinations that take place are recounted to the reader and make for more lively reading than a traditional narative. The interviews are also cleverly interspersed with the little anecdotes that tie in with the unfolding argument. However, the question-and-answer format tends to leave gaps in the arguments and gives the overall case a disjointed feel. Also, arguments tend to get simplified because they are related in the form of a dialogue.
On the whole, the book is well-written and accessible, but slightly simplistic, and can serve as a good starting-point from which to explore the case for Christ further.
on 29 September 2013
This is the kind of book that people tend to rate from one extreme or the other. That is, they'll either be convinced by its arguments and give it four or five stars, or they'll find it lacking and give it one or two. There aren't very many people who would give this a "neutral" three stars because, by its very nature, it's very difficult to have neutral feelings about it.
For those reading about 'The Case for Christ' for the first time, this is a very famous and long enduring book which attempts to explain, in as simple language as possible, a rational case for the existence of Jesus Christ as the son of God. I was given a copy to borrow at an Alpha Course (a free and friendly course for non-Christians to learn about Jesus and Christianity), and I've since learned that this book is very common among such gatherings, and held in high regard by Christian apologists in general. The book's author, Lee Strobel, a former journalist with a legal background, explains that he began this book as an atheist looking to better understand Christianity but, by the end of his research, came to the conclusion that the evidence undoubtedly points to the fact that Jesus was the son of God, and the Bible is the word of God. Strobel uses his journalistic skills and legal understanding to present a systematic and rational argument in favour of his new belief, not to mention one that is highly readable and entertaining at the same time. The book consists of various interviews, where Strobel (who allegedly begins as a sceptic and ends up convinced of the Bible's legitimacy) probes into the minds of some of the most respected and academically decorated Christians in America. The result is a powerfully convincing defence of Christianity, if you want to believe it, and one of the most hopelessly one-sided critiques of the Bible, if you don't want to believe it.
And this is where Strobel's promising adventure falls flat. To his credit, I don't think Strobel actually says in this book that he ever set out to present all of the arguments, but rather to show a convincing case in favour of his own newly developed belief. But that's the problem, and why this book should never be recommended to anybody who flat out doesn't believe, because they'll just cling further to those beliefs because of reading it. Strobel interviews some very impressive figures here, but he never presents the other side. He asks them probing questions, where these intellects tear apart their detractors, but he never looks at the arguments of the people with other opinions. Everybody here shares the exact same opinions, and they're presented in such a way to tell us that these are the "only" legitimate opinions, that the opposing arguments are all contradictory and full of holes, and the whole book is framed in such a way to make these theories seem as convincing as possible. Detractors are either atheists, clutching at straws and refusing to accept what's obvious, or they're "liberal" Christians, changing things to suit their agenda. If this was legitimately looking to explore Christianity from a neutral point-of-view, and to show the facts and let the reader make up their own minds, it would have allowed for some of the detractors who were so brutally torn apart to offer their counter-arguments, and it wouldn't have been written in such a way to convince us of the author's beliefs. As such, any knowledgeable atheist, or "liberal Christian", could easily tear this apart and ridicule it... and they do exactly that. Just type "The Case for Christ rebuttal" into Google and you'll be presented with countless examples.
Like I said, if you want to believe that Jesus is the son of God, then you'll accept every word in here. If, however, you genuinely want to learn and understand, then I would highly recommend that you read this book, take notes, and compare it side-by-side with some of the excellent rebuttal websites. Of course, those sites are trying to make Strobel look just as silly as his interviewees tried to make their detractors look, so exercise caution and use your own judgement and common sense. Alternatively, if you're already convinced that Jesus isn't the son of God, you might want to read this because it's about as entertaining and readable an insight into the beliefs and arguments of Christian apologists as you're likely to find. Me? I learnt a lot from reading this and comparing Strobel's words to those of his online adversaries. For one thing, I now feel pretty confident that Jesus was actually a historical figure, and that is pretty much beyond reasonable doubt. I've also learnt that Christian beliefs can, indeed, stand up to scrutiny and logic. But it's a shame that many atheists won't get that impression from this book, as its own biases serve to de-legitimise it.
on 3 October 2014
I was brought up as a Christian, but was never forced to accept it, and my parents gave me the choice whether or not to go to church when I was 12.
This is during secondary school, about the time when we got taught all about evolution and the big bang theory, so I had an awful lot of information coming at me, and most people were telling me how this "proves there can't be a god". I wasn't convinced, though, and retained some sort of belief in a higher being, though looking back, I can't say I was a Christian.
I attended (and still do) a Christian summer camp every summer, and when I was 15, one of the leaders bought me this book. After reading it, I saw all of the historical evidence for Christ. And how he is who he said he is. This is how I came to accept him into my life, and this reinforced my belief in God, and became an actual Christian.
I'd recommend also buying "The Case for Faith" and "The Case for a Creator", also by Strobel. These two books filled in all my remaining questions about God and Christianity.
All of this said, however, the book is not perfect. Now at University, I have become involved in some of the evangelical things, and my faith has grown much much stronger, but this has let me see that there are still unanswered questions in this book, though mostly those which come from highly sceptical people after much thought, which can be answered in person.
Another problem I found was that Strobel lays out the interviews in interview order, and doesn't link similar points. This might be one interviewee saying something in the middle of his interview, which then comes up as a bit of a surprise at the end of the next one.
Other than that, I'd still recommend this book to anyone new to faith, or who wants to know more about Christianity.
on 28 December 1998
As someone who has spent years studying ancient history, I can attest to the accuracy, fairness, readability, and thorough nature of this excellent new book. And while it's great that "The Case for Christ" has generated so much response at amazon.com, I'm concerned that a handful of people who disagree with the author's conclusions have sought to discourage others from obtaining the book through reviews that are at times misleading or which miss the point of the book entirely. Taking simplistic potshots when there is no ready mechanism for response by the author seems terribly unfair. Let me give just a few examples. One reviewer tries to discredit the author's citing of Josephus, a first century historian. First, the reviewer claims that Josephus wrote about Jesus 80 years after Jesus died, which is absurd because this would place the date after Josephus' own death! Further, he claims Josephus' work has been "universally acknowledged to have been altered or doctored by later Christians." Yet this is a point that the book's author, Lee Strobel, readily concedes! However, Strobel takes the approach of a true historian by seeking to determine what part of Josephus' work is authentic and what was likely a later Christian interpolation. Unfortunately, potential readers of the book might think from the review that Strobel's book is lacking, when it's the review that misses the mark. A reviewer points out that several of the experts interviewed in the book are from Christian universities, so of course they believe Jesus is who he claimed to be. However, these scholars don't hold this view because they are at Christian universities; they are at Christian universities because they have been personally convinced by the evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be! These experts are highly respected scholars with excellent academic credentials. Why aren't opposing scholars interviewed? Because the scholars in the book are confronted with the claims of these opposing scholars and are forced to defend their positions with facts. Thus, the claims of opposing scholars are given due consideration. In addition, the author devotes an entire chapter to debunking the highly questionable -- and sometimes laughable -- scholarship of the left-wing Jesus Seminar. Concerning the resurrection, a reviewer claims: "If one disciple claimed to see Jesus, wouldn't others also do so in order to not feel less special or blessed?" Why would someone falsely claim to have seen the resurrected Jesus when it meant a life of hardship, rejection, poverty, and eventual torture and death? Can anyone find a single example in history of a person who knowingly and willingly allowed themselves to be tortured to death for a lie? I could go on and on. There are logical and rational responses to every single point brought up by the reviewers. In fact, a fair reading of this book shows that it already provides answers to much of what is raised! At about 300 pages, this book is clearly intended to be an overview of the evidence concerning Jesus. To fault the author for not going deeper on one point or another does not mean there aren't adequate answers. It simply means one book can only give so much information. What is in this book, as far as I can determine, is accurate, balanced, and written in a very creative and highly readable form. I strongly recommend it to anyone with an open mind.
on 16 December 2002
Before reading this book I struggled with the idea of Christianity, especially when my girlfriend was a Christian. But this answered 95% of my questions that she couldn't answer. Because of this I have become a Christian, and so has my best mate to whom I have lent the book. This book is amazing!
on 16 September 2004
Having blundered my way from one 'faith' to another, I thankfully stumbled on Christianity, and then found Lee Strobel's wonderful book, "A Case For Christ," and all I can say is, WOW!
I had many niggling questions regarding my belief in Jesus Christ, but one by one all these questions faded away as I read the chapters within this book. Through Strobel's delving investigations into the authenticity of Christ, His works and His history (Strobel gathered his information from top experts around the world) I've learned that Jesus truly did exist and his miracles are very real.
This book is factual.
All the information provided is genuine.
In this book, Strobel provides a riveting journalistic investigation into the life of Christ that is a real page-turner!
If, like me, you are new to Christianity then this book is a must.
If you are a Christian, then this book will certainly reinforce your love and beliefs in Christ and His wonderful Works.
It's a MUST!
(I'd have given it 7 out of 5 stars, but Amazon wouldn't let me.)
on 3 August 2014
I was already a believer at the time of reading but read this out of interest. Presents the information in a logical, evidence based manner which is necessary for people who like me are quite literal-minded and can sometimes find Christianity hard to fathom. The chapter including the crucifixion was very difficult to read and had me in tears but the historical information was fascinating to know. A recommended read
on 5 November 1998
I have always been the kind of person who felt a need to know and understand "Truth." In college, I majored in philosophy and minored in comparative religion. By the time I was in my thirties, I was thoroughly steeped in nihilism and cultural relativism. On some level I probably still wanted to know Truth, but essentially I had given up. Besides, it didn't seem that important to my everyday life. Then. . . ('Jaws' theme) . . . mid-life hit and I realized that you (probably) only get one chance to figure all this out. So I started on what I came to call my mildly manic, mid-life spirit quest. I started reading philosophy again. I started studying the new physics. I started exploring Buddhism and reading New Age "stuff." I went to every weird event I could find, like healing workshops on Mount Shasta and past-lives seminars in Maine. While I was doing this my 19-year-old daughter became a Christian. She began trying to drag me to Christ, and I would occasionally go to church with her just to humor her. But something about what I heard moved me deeply. My spirit felt called, but my intellect was convinced that we were being suckered by the greatest hoax in history. I felt split in two, so eventually I just started to pray this prayer: "Dear God, show me your truth. I need to know what you want me to believe. I need you to hear me and answer my prayers. I need to know -- and, by the way, you can't really want me to be a Christian, can you? I mean, who can really believe this stuff?" Enter Lee Strobel. I had been praying about this for a few confusing months when I went to a service at Willow Creek Church this summer. Lee talked about his own search a little, and then he said: "Maybe you're someone who has taken the opinions of your professors in college as facts. But I invite you to really seek out the facts, to search out the truth for yourself." I went to a bookstore and there was his new book, "The Case for Christ." I took it home, read it that afternoon, bought several of the books he had referenced, and read them cover to cover. For the first time in a long time I began to feel like my head and heart might be able to sign a truce. I can't exactly say that when I opened "The Case for Christ," I was a skeptic, and when I closed it I was a Christian, but that comes close to capturing the truth. This book created a bridge between my head and my heart. It lit the path toward resolving deep conflicts between intellect and spirit. Before reading "The Case for Christ," I didn't think they could be reconciled. After reading it, I knew they could be.When I called my daughter in California to tell her I had become a Christian, she could hardly believe it! Then she said, "I should have known for you, it would take a book."
on 25 March 2016
Mr Strobel, this is a good book vitiated, I fear, by one issue that merits, in my view, your anxious consideration.
You assert that Jesus claimed to be God. On the contrary, Jesus constantly referred to God as his father, indicating that Jesus is the son of God--no more and no less. Dr carson's convoluted attempt to effectively interpret Jesus's unequivocal and unambiguous statement "for the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28) as "the Father is NOT greater than I" amounts, I am afraid, to risible sophistry; God has no equal.
Moreover, Jesus and God are "one" only in the sense that they are of one accord as demonstrated by Jesus's request addressed to God that his disciples "may be one as we are one" (John 17:11, 22). Now, if Jesus is God incarnate, who precisely was he praying to in John 17? Self-evidently, there would be no need for Jesus to pray to God if he is himself God.
Note also in Luke 22:42 that Jesus says "yet not my will, but yours be done", indicating that God's will takes precedence over that of Jesus and that God is indeed greater than Christ. Therefore, God and His son, Jesus, are self-evidently two wholly separate, discrete beings, as further demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 11:3, which states "the head of Christ is God". See also 1 Corinthians 15:27-28, 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Mark 10:18. After all, how can God sit at his own right hand (Psalm 110:1, acts 2:34)? Additionally, Colossians 1:15 states "[Jesus is] the firstborn over all creation." This means Jesus was created by God and therefore had a beginning whereas God has no beginning (Psalm 90:2).
While the historical perspective given by theologians such as Dr carson are sometimes useful, sight must not be lost of the fact that the scriptures were written by ordinary people for ordinary people, and theologians are not infallible. After all, I suspect we have them to thank for the inquisition and the sell of "indulgencies", among other iniquities, by the Church of Rome.
In conclusion, the son of God cannot simultaneously be God; this is an affront to commonsense. Thankfully, Jesus does not himself, at any stage in the scriptures, require us to make this insuperable leap in imagination; He, as far as I am aware, does not anywhere claim to be god. Therefore, the trinitarian doctrine, adhered to by some (particularly papists) is fataly flawed: there is no such thing as a trinity of equals in the scriptures.
Separately, it’s my view at present that, although it is inspired by God, the Bible is not entirely free from error since its writers were fallible human beings. For example, in Romans 13:3, NIV, Paul states that “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” In my view this statement is just as false today as it undoubtedly was in Paul’s times; certainly, the victim’s of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge or those of Hitler’s third Reich would take vehement exception to it. Are we to understand that these tyrants were instituted by God and that, moreover, their victims brought their fate on themselves? See Proverbs 29:2, NIV.
on 25 September 2009
Strobel's book is lively and interesting and it is a good concept for the question it poses.
However, I have some criticisms of the approach he has taken. The subtitle is misleading. It is not "an investigation" when your aim is to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and rose from the dead, but you only interview people who already believe this (no matter how learned they are) and nobody who does not. The title is much more accurate - The Case for Christ. Its much more the work of a lawyer, trying to present a point of view as thoroughly as possible, together with statements from sympathetic witnesses, than a work of investigative journalism in which the aim truly is to get to the truth. Contrary arguments are raised only so that they can be knocked down.
Interesting but unconvincing and one-sided. Worse, it is intellectually dishonest. That may sound a bit harsh, but that's only because journalistic standards have in general fallen so far that presenting patently lopsided information as an objective "investigation" seems to have become the norm.