The Case for Christ
Although Strobel claimed to be an atheist when he started this book, many readers have pointed out that he did a very bad job supporting the atheist position. Furthermore, he conducted interviews only with Christian apologists, and none with atheists or skeptics. He has claimed that the book is balanced because he himself is arguing against the apologists, but at many points in the book he appears extremely reluctant to challenge his subjects.
Further, if Strobel proved the existence of Christ as a historical fact then there would be no room for "faith". Therefore, he is satisfied to give the reader a "case" as to not negate the importance of faith.
Formula for the book
Basically, each chapter goes like this:
- Insert an anecdote about modern criminal cases and how they were solved by a piece of evidence
- Introduce somebody to serve as the Christian apologetic
- Describe every facet of their education and work history (a classic appeal to authority in hopes the reader will trust the validity of the next few pages)
- Strobel plays devil's advocate and asks the person "tough questions" posed by skeptics
- Strobel accepts weak argument
- Strobel asks personal questions about the subject's religious convictions (i.e. "How much do you love Jesus now?" "A lot!")
Rebuttals by Chapter
The Eyewitness Evidence: Can the Biographies of Jesus Be Trusted? (Ch1 - p16)
Testing the Eyewitness Evidence: Do the Biographies of Jesus Stand Up to Scrutiny? (Ch2 - p38)
The Documentary Evidence: Were Jesus' Biographies Reliably Preserved for Us? (Ch3 - p55)
The Corroborating Evidence: Is There Credible Evidence for Jesus outside His Biographies? (Ch4 - p73)
The Scientific Evidence: Does Archaeology Confirm or Contradict Jesus' Biographies? (Ch5 - p92)
The Rebuttal Evidence: Is the Jesus of History the Same As the Jesus of Faith? (Ch6 - p110)
The Identity Evidence: Was Jesus Really Convinced That He Was the Son of God? (Ch7 - p131)
The Psychological Evidence: Was Jesus Crazy When He Claimed to Be the Son of God? (Ch8 - p144)
The Profile Evidence: Did Jesus Fulfill the Attributes of God? (Ch9 - p155)
The purpose of the chapter is to justify the reasoning behind the Trinity in a Biblical sense. By using the Bible as the source of the explanation, the discussion is ultimately irrelevent to the validity and factuality of the material itself.
Regardless of personal belief of the positive characteristics of Jesus, the chapter is light on details of the actual functionality of God.
The Fingerprint Evidence: Did Jesus - and Jesus Alone - Match the Identity of the Messiah? (Ch10 - p171)
Explains how Jesus fufilled Old Testament prophecy.
And he did fufill the prophecy - as did a guy named Jim I completely made up right now.
It's easy to fudge facts to fit the story - Strobel's only defense to this point was that he is convinced the unknown writers of the gospels would have checked each other's facts. How that is even possible as none of them were eyewitnesses, he does not explain. He also does not explain why they would care about people embellishing a character they cared about.
Think of it like Star Wars fan fiction. If you write a story about how R2D2 saved a planet, George Lucas isn't going to come to your house and kill you. He's going to not care, or not even hear about it. Lucas will eventually die, his grip on the franchise will be lost and your story might become as canonical as his is.
The Medical Evidence: Was Jesus' Death a Sham and His Resurrection a Hoax? (Ch11 - p191)
This chapter was devoted to explaining that if you get nailed to a cross, you will die.
To get this far, you must already be convinced that Jesus was a real person that actually did get punished by the Romans, but then Houdini'd himself out of it just for kicks.
It is such a bizarre concern that it makes one think that the only people worried about this sort of minutia in such an incredible story are Lee Strobel and bored kids in Sunday School.
The Evidence of the Missing Body: Was Jesus' Body Really Absent from His Tomb? (Ch12 - p205)
Strobel goes to great lengths trying to explain that a tomb that he hasn't actually seen and doesn't know the location of is actually empty.
The Evidence of Appearances: Was Jesus Seen Alive after His Death on the Cross? (Ch13 - p225)
Of course. He's seen on grilled cheese sandwiches every day. Who cares?
People see Elvis on a regular basis. It isn't reliable testimony, if it was, then all religions would be valid.