I am surprised that it was not until April of 2016 that I discovered who Lee Strobel is. While I have heard of that name and actually was given one of his books that I have not read yet, I never knew who he was. Oddly enough, out of all possible sources, it took his cameo appearance in the movie God's Not Dead 2 to see who he was for the very first time. What stood out in his performance in that movie was that he said he was once an Atheist and then converted to Christianity. I was intrigued to learn why he converted and the insights he could provide knowing his experience from both perspectives. Could Lee Strobel provide useful information for both Christians and Atheists? This question inspired me to purchase a copy of The Case for Christianity Answer Book.
As mentioned ealier, Strobel was originally an atheist. As a journalist with the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, he won top awards from United Press International for his investigative reporting. After doing his own personal investigation for the credibility of Jesus, Strobel converted to Christianity in 1981. He is known by the Washington Post as one of the most popular apologists in the evangelical community. To my amazement, Strobel is a best-selling author of more than twenty books and will have a full feature film depicting his journey from atheism to faith in the spring of 2017.
I was expecting The Case for Christianity Answer Book to help guide me with common difficult questions many ask about Christianity. I was hoping Strobel would provide easy to understand answers to those that are seeking truth in those questions. On the outside, this is a small hardcover with a relatively basic design. The title is clearly stated in brown text with five symbolic pictures. The top picture has a sun setting over the three wooden crosses. The four other pictures are on the bottom. One picture is of stars in the sky with a shining star that could refer to the star that guided the shepherds and wise men to the birth of Jesus. Other pictures consist of a DNA structure and a hand with a pierced scare in reference to Jesus' crucifixion. The back cover is simple and basic as well with another four symbolic pictures.
The Case for Christianity Answer Bookis about providing answers to the most-asked questions about the Christian faith.It attempts to answer 60 of those questions broken into six parts, from answers about God, the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity. There is really no message or story involved. Strobel's writing is addressing questions by providing information as well as sources to read further into the information he provides.
I enjoyed how quick yet easy to understand each answer was without coming across as confusing. This was not an overwhelming book to read. Each explanation is comprehensible as they are addressed in no more than 2-5 pages, which makes it simple for the reader to not endure long chapters just to get an answer. These short answers allow the reader to work at their own pace. Strobel presents his case in a clear coherent style that is easily understandable for any reader.
Since Strobel is giving explanations to difficult questions, there was no real quotes that jumped out of the pages for me, but my favourite question that was answered was question 42 which asks, "Weren't the reports of Jesus' death and resurrection written generations later - possibly distorting the story?". I felt the way Strobel answers this question displays his investigative skills and explains how the reports of Jesus' death were not written generations later. Reports preceded the Gospels by Paul in a letter he wrote nearly 25 years after Jesus' death in which he provides a creed that had been formulated by the earliest Christians. Strobel takes a step further by noting that scholars believe that Paul received this creed from Peter and James three years after his conversion which would be within 5 years of the crucifixion. This was incredible to learn that reports were provided extremely earlier than the untrue claims of reports being provided generations later.
While I earlier stated how Strobel's explanations not being overwhelming or confusing was a positive aspect for readers new to learning about Christianity, this could also easily be a negative aspect. Some of the more difficult questions simply cannot be summed up in 2-5 pages. I am certain that readers seriously seeking comprehensive explanations will not be satisfied with the length of a publication that claims to be an 'answer book'. To my surprise and disappointment, I discovered a typo on page 172. While mistakes like these can happen to any of us, it is unfortunate this mistake went to print.
Strobel does exactly what the title surmises; He presents a persuasive case for Christianity. I must note that while a compelling case is made, it will not convince or prove Christianity to all readers. It is simply unattainable to expect a little book of just over 200 pages to answer everything there needs to know about why anyone should accept the truth of Christianity or the Bible. While all 60 questions were handled well, I think most readers will find themselves deficient in satisfaction when it comes to knowledge and answers. However, we shouldn't be surprised by this as Strobel made it clear at the end that he hopes readers will be encouraged to continue on with their investigation. He also mentions that for those searching for truth to apply his three principles: Keep pursuing your search, keep your mind open following the evidence, and reach a verdict. Perhaps the title that claims to be an 'Answer Book' could have been removed. While I understand the title suggests exactly what Strobel is doing; providing answers to difficult questions, it may have been more practical to simply call it 'The Case for Christianity'. Usually any title that claims to be an 'Answer Book' usually claims to be a book with all definitive answers in great length. Strobel's work is not definitive based on its deficiency in length and depth. It is worth noting this is just one of many 'Answer Books'. In fact, there are a whole series of answer books that address different topics which could excuse the short length and title. To the skeptics, more investigation is going to be required. However, Strobel provides a great starting point for that investigation.
Lee Strobel's investigative journey was two years worth of searching. I would only recommend this book for those that are serious enough to do more research beyond and actually read the many other titles he suggests. For the open minded, Strobel's work provides a case with useful information. For the skeptics, it may not be enough to reach a verdict; which is okay. Strobel had to dig deeper, and he encourages others willing to do the same.
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