First, I want to start with a bit of a lengthy quote from the introduction of the book. I found this passage to be particularly interesting because I know I've gone through seasons of my faith where I questioned if I was all wrong. I've heard arguments that made me stop and wonder if my belief was misplaced. I heard professors and friends tell me that I was most certainly wrong in my faith, and that educated people don't believe in God. Sometimes, for me it's been a battle between wanting to be smart and educated (which I felt, for a long time, excluded God) and the stirring in my soul that I just couldn't dismiss. So, I find it really interesting when I hear stories of people who were once hardcore skeptics, and later changed their own system of beliefs. I want to know all about their own journey, and Lee Strobel gave us a glimpse of his story of faith in the Introduction:
Throughout The Case for Christ, it was Strobel's goal to dig a little bit deeper in terms of the evidence that exists for or against the existence of Christ--consult with experts in many different fields to take a second look about what we think we know."For much of my life, I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, of primitive superstition. How could there be a loving God if he consigned people to hell just for not believing in him? How could miracles contravene basic laws of nature? Didn't evolution satisfactorily explain how life originated? Doesn't scientific reasoning dispel belief in the supernatural?
As for Jesus, didn't you know that he never claimed to be God? He was a revolutionary, a sage, an iconoclastic Jew--but God? No, that thought never occurred to him! I could point you to plenty university professors who said so--and certainly they could be trusted, couldn't they? Let's face it: even a cursory explanation of the evidence demonstrates convincingly that Jesus had only been a human being just like you and me, although with unusual gifts of kindness and wisdom.But that's all I had ever really given the evidence: a cursory look. I had read just enough philosophy and history to find support for my skepticism--a fact here, a scientific theory there, a pithy quote, a clever argument."
Throughout Chapters 1 and 2, Strobel interviews Craig Bloomberg, a New Testament scholar who focuses on the biographies of Jesus. Stobel tossed Bloomberg a number of familiar questions such as:
"Don't the theological motives cast doubt on [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's] ability and willingness to accurately report what happened?"
"Were these first-century writers even interested in recording what actually happened?"
"Even if the writers intended to reliably record history, were they able to do so? How can we be sure that the material about Jesus' life and teachings was well-preserved for thirty years before it was finally written down in the gospels?
and "Won't you concede that faulty memories, wishful thinking, and the development of legend would have irreparably contaminated the Jesus tradition prior to the writing of the gospels?"
I'm willing to bet that most of us have fielded questions like this before, or at least heard them raised. I'm not going to re-hash all of Bloomberg's responses here, but I personally found them fascinating, and encouraging.
Chapters 3 and 4 coming next week!