The case for faith : a journalist investigates the toughest objections to Christianity

by Lee Strobel

Paper Book, 2000

Status

Available

Call number

239

Publication

Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan Publishing House, c2000.

Description

In his #1 bestseller The Case for Christ, legally trained investigative reporter Lee Strobel examined the claims of Christ, reaching the hard-won verdict that Jesus is God's unique son. But despite the compelling historical evidence that Strobel presented, many people grapple with serious concerns about faith in God. As in a court of law, they want to shout, "Objection " They say, "If God is love, then what about all the suffering in our world?" Or, "If Jesus is the door to heaven, then what about the millions who have never heard of him?" Or, "If God cares for everyone, then why does he eternally torture some in hell?" In The Case for Faith, Strobel turns his tenacious investigative skills to the most persistent emotional objections to belief--the eight "heart" barriers to faith. The Case for Faith is for those who may be feeling attracted to Jesus but who are faced with formidable intellectual barriers standing squarely in their path. For Christians, it will deepen their convictions and give them fresh confidence in discussing Christianity with even their most skeptical friends.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member page.fault
I somehow had the urge, on Christmas day, no less, to review this... maybe as explanation for why I'm not sitting in church right now... a "bah, humbug" review, I suppose. I used to identify as Christian. I read this book. I'm now agnostic. Obviously, losing faith isn't that simple, correlation
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doesn't imply causation, and this book may be great for some people, but I want to add my reaction because I'm concerned for anyone who reads this book while troubled about their faith...it may be a really, really bad idea.

I grew up in the church, but I've always had doubts. I'm a logician at heart, and there are a lot of direct contradictions in the Bible. There are also a lot of teachings which have been discarded in light of our culture(e.g. the role of women, most of the Old Testament laws, etc) and my very tautological mindset has issues with pick-and-choose precepts. Anyway, growing up in the church, I learned quickly that hard questions were not welcomed. (Yes, this includes those alpha groups. I tried a few--after getting questions shut down, I tried contacting the leaders and asking if it was ok for me to come...I was gently told that my concerns might "contaminate" others.) That "don't confuse me with the facts" mentality is what eventually made me give up. And this book has it in spades.

I was given this book (as a Christmas gift, incidentally) quite a few years ago by a truly kind and compassionate member of my church who hadn't read it but thought it might help me with those "hard questions." As it turns out, it didn't, and in fact helped to kill most of my remaining faith. I found Strobel's God to be one much more interested in righteousness and justice than forgiveness or compassion. He felt to me like the other side of the coin of C.S. Lewis's God of joy and love.

Strobel sets out a bunch of "laws" and "rules" dogmatically, not all of which (I felt) are biblically supported. Take, as one example, the fun parts of the Old Testament where God orders pillage, rape, murder and genocide. I sort of developed a comfort with the "continuing revelation" view of the Bible--that God first reveals himself to Abraham as in some ways a god of the mountain, and that as he continued to reveal himself, people understood more clearly about mercy as opposed to hard justice. Strobel doesn't agree. I also never believed in inerrancy--it's the whole direct contradiction issue--and Strobel does. So that means he actually had the fun task of arguing that the genocides and rapes and slaughters,of, say, the Canaanites in the Old Testament were justified. Strobel's response: they were bad people, so they--and their children and camels--deserved what was coming to them.

Another section that bothered me was about exclusivity. I've always believed (I know, I know, this automatically shows why I couldn't survive in the church) that God must be bigger than the labels and regimented doctrine of Judeo-Christianity. Why would he limit himself to only one small group? What happened to people born before then? What happens to someone who never learned of Jesus? Why could God not have been continually revealing himself to people throughout time, to people who never fully grasp Him and therefore splinter themselves into various religions? (I know, it's heresy. But then, I'm no longer Christian...maybe I never really was.) Strobel asks some of these in his interview...but comes up with neatly packaged answers supporting exclusivity. He argues that God being God, God must somehow give everyone the opportunity. And apparently, all other religions are "wrong" and "arrogant" for "daring" to consider their religion better than Christianity. I cannot reconcile with a God who sends backbiting Christians to Heaven because they jump through some hoops and get all their names right while sending, say, faithful, righteous, and compassionate Muslims to Hell.

And speaking of Hell...there's an entire chapter devoted to it. It is actually possible, if you're careful, to read what Jesus says about Hell, the weeping and gnashing of teeth, as simply ending rather than eternal torment. For me, that was OK. I'm comfortable with ending and becoming nothing. Eternity scares me. Eternal Hell also seems to me to contradict the argument that God uses earthly pain as a teaching tool like a parent making a child do his homework. (Speaking of which, apparently children get a free pass--Strobel "saves" the children from Hell via the "age of accountability" doctrine--apparently there's a mystical cutoff at which point you become responsible and can go darkside. I don't understand this, and I see no biblical support.) What parent, no matter how sick, twisted, and bad, could ever send their child to eternal time-out, let alone Hell? How could God? According to Strobel and his interviewee, God thinks we each have "intrinsic value", so shoving us in hopeless Hell from which there is no chance of redemption somehow "saves" that "value", whereas nonexistence would destroy it. That sounds dangerously close to a sociopathic viewpoint to me. And how could anyone be happy in Heaven knowing anyone--no matter how bad--was being eternally tormented? Apparently, they're just dandy with that "value" thing. Look, if Strobel's right, I'm headed straight to Hell without passing go or collecting $200. I can't picture my parents feeling happy knowing that I'm eternally tormented. They'd rather I was just gone. The only reason to keep us there would be the CS Lewis Great Divorce style redemption--where even after death, people could be reconciled to God. No chance, says Strobel, because if God is infinitely wise, how could anyone die without having sufficient opportunities? This touches home, as (like most people) I know people who have committed suicide due to serious mental depression (and possibly poor medical treatment for it). According to Strobel, they're downstairs being tortured right now, and will scream in Hell for all eternity.

The last section is about how it's OK to have doubts. But before you start feeling better, they have to be the "right" doubts. And of course, they will be magically resolved via prayer and supplication and a relationship with God. To be honest, I've tried and agonized. I've never felt God. I've never had a relationship. And I still have (pardon the pun) a Hell of a lot of doubts.

I'm no longer Christian. This book isn't the only reason why, but it certainly was a contributing factor to my sense of alienation from the church and the community. I want to dismiss it, ignore it, erase it from my mind, but I never can. Much of it also has a significant amount of biblical support. This book scares me, and while it promises me eternal torment for not towing the line, it also makes me physically unable to do so. I worry that for doubters like me, this book is dangerous and toxic to faith. But again, everyone reacts differently; maybe some people will benefit from it. If you are firm in your faith, it may be a very interesting read to contrast with C.S.Lewis.
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LibraryThing member OCMCCP
The Case for Faith is a must-read for those who want to believe in the promise of Christianity yet feel hindered by nagging doubts. This book looks at 8 major issues that keep many people from truly accepting Christ. As a major skeptic, I read this book and found that the scholars interviewed
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within the pages offered convincing arguments as to why we should believe. Like many others, I had a hard time believing that a loving God could exist when there is so much pain and suffering in the world; that is one of eight issues explored within the book. Strobel does not rely on his own ponderings to answer these fundamental questions to the validity of Christianity; rather, he interviews scholars and scientists, all of whom give thoroughly researched answers, not vague dogmatic assertions.
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LibraryThing member shelterit
Good try at convincing us that there is a God and his son is Jesus, but every time a hard question is asked, the straw-men come dancing in and fail to impress me.
LibraryThing member djaquay
A bit of preaching to the choir, a bit of dissing other religions. Not much to see here.
LibraryThing member Zylphan
A simplified theology book with pat answers that aren't really answers at all.
LibraryThing member nesum
What an incredible unworthy follow up to The Case for Christ. The problem is, of course, that Strobel is not a great theologian. His approach to doctrine is very man-focused rather than Christ-focused.

Now, when you are investigating the historical evidence to the Bible, the details of your theology
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don't matter all that much. Because of that, The Case for Christ is a great work in apologetics. But that is not at all the approach of this work. Instead of looking at actual hard evidence, Strobel instead turns to philosophy to answer tough questions like, "If God is good, then why is there evil in the world."

Fair question, but Strobel, being very pragmatic and man-focused, turns to like-minded philosophers for his answers. So instead of biblically-based responses (even if we don't want to hear them), we have a bunch of people trying to twist their brains to defend God's actions in history. We have one philosopher trying to claim that hell exists because it is less dehumanizing than simple annihilation (p. 253), that all children who die go to heaven because they are not old enough to know better (p. 169), and that human free will is the driving force in the universe (throughout).

The problem, of course, is having a wrong understanding of God in the first place. When you are Strobel, and you come to this book with the belief that God is helpless against free will, then you have a God who either cannot or will not help. That is not the God of the Bible. The true God is sovereign over all things. He is moving the tides of history by His will. He allows evil for a time, but He moves all thing for His glory and for the good of His children. He is guiding this world to a place that we cannot even imagine right now, and yet every moment will be seen in the end as purposeful and for the good. He is merciful to allow evil for a time, for we are sinful, and if He were to avenge evil fully in this moment, then He would destroy us as well. But in mercy He has given us time, for He is long suffering. He has given us this very day that we might repent and believe in Him and be saved.

The book is not all bad. Ravi Zacharias has a very fine interview. But on the whole, this is an exercise in bad philosophy trying to remake God in our own image instead of ourselves being conformed to the image of Jesus. I'll stick with Strobel's more historic-based books in the future.
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LibraryThing member nbr
He's actually willing to take on some tough questions. That's to his credit. However ... he has no tough answers to go along with them. In the end, it always seems to come down to personal convictions, inner transformations, and ineffable experiences of being "sure."
LibraryThing member krista.rutherford
I am a Christian and read this book out of curiosity. It makes some valid points and conveys some interesting ideas, even if you want to argue with the interpretations. The bottom line is Jesus rose from the grave, and Strobel did a particularly good job of investigating that in the original Case
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for Christ.
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LibraryThing member gnbclibrary
Addresses the eight "heart barriers" to faith--the emotional objections to belief.
LibraryThing member deblemrc
If you think there are only Islamic lunatics, read this book. Scary.
LibraryThing member katieloucks
I've been a Christian for years, and this book still brought up some of the questions I had. I loved how they were answered - we won't always have the answers to things, but the answers we do have should be enough.
LibraryThing member rybeewoods
Refer to my thoughts concerning Case for Christ.
LibraryThing member n_yay
Have you got questions about Christianity? Former athiest attempts to break down those barriers.
LibraryThing member mshontz
Strobel's investigative skills address eight emotional barriers that are seen as barriers to faith : evil, suffering, evoloution, miracles, death, violence, hell, doubt. The book is for those who are seeking answers or are doubters.
LibraryThing member alexisbyrd
The book called "The Case for Faith" by Lee Strobel was a very good book. It talked about Christianity and the questions and doubts that usually come with it. It also answers the questions and overcome the doubts, through true stories from other peoples' experiences.
LibraryThing member ShortyBond
Strobel does it once again in this amazing book defending the Christian faith!!
LibraryThing member debs4jc
As in his other books, Strobel tackles some of the tough objections to the Christian religion--this time objections that would lead to a lack of faith. These include the problems of human suffering and human evolution. Strobel does this by talking to people, he interviews Christian authorities on
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these matters and then shares his refections. It might not convince anyone who isn't already convinced, but it does offer a personal approach to intellectual problems which at least helps make the book more intersting to read. And I think it does show that to be a Christian you don't have to check your brain at the door.
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LibraryThing member JoniMFisher
Ah, such a fresh view of a man’s search for faith. He begins with objectiveness and skepticism. His Frank search for truth surprises him.

Subjects

Language

Original publication date

2000

Physical description

300 p.; 21 inches

ISBN

0310220157 / 9780310220152
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