What happens when an atheist newspaper reporter, award-winning legal affairs editor of the Chicago Tribune, no less, thoroughly investigates Christianity so as to prove to his wife that she was wrong to have become a Christian? In the case of Lee Strobel, he ends up writing a book titled The Case For Christ.
After 21 months of reading books both for and against Christianity, thoroughly exploring and questioning experts in ancient history, archaeology, philosophy, medicine, psychology, and theology, he concluded that the avalanche of evidence pointed so powerfully toward the truth of Christianity that it would take more faith to maintain his atheism than to become a Christian. Here are some excerpts from his book to illustrate just some of that avalanche of evidence, which is very powerful if a person thinks about it carefully and closely with an open mind.
“Archaeologist John McRay, PhD, who has been consulted by both the A&E Television Network and National Geographic, said that archaeological findings have enhanced the New Testament’s credibility. No discovery has ever disproved a biblical reference. Archaeology established that Luke, author of the gospel of Luke and the book Acts of the Apostles, was an especially careful historian. Concluded one expert, “If Luke was so painstakingly accurate in his historical reporting of minor details, on what logical basis may we assume he was inaccurate in his reporting of matters that were far more important, not only to him but to others as well?” Like, for instance, the resurrection of Jesus.
“Distinguished medical authority Dr. Alexander Metherell, MD, PhD, explained that before Jesus was crucified, his flogging was so brutal that he went into hypovolemic shock and his back was so severely shredded as to lay bare the veins and expose muscles and tendons. He was in serious to critical condition before even reaching the cross. ‘. . . when the Roman soldier came around and, being fairly certain that Jesus was dead, confirmed it by thrusting a spear into his side . . . when the spear was pulled out, some fluid – the pericardial and pleural effusions – came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel.’
“John’s description is consistent with what modern medicine would expect to have happened. ‘At this juncture,’ I said, ‘what would Jesus’ condition have been?’ Metherell’s gaze locked with mine. He replied with authority, ‘There was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was dead.’”
“After the crucifixion the disciples were fearful, doubtful about Jesus being sent from God, and in despair. They believed anyone crucified was accursed by God. Seeing him alive after crucifixion is what changed their lives and started the church. These were eleven credible people with nothing to gain and a lot to lose from a human point of view, facing a life of hardship, most of them ultimately tortured and executed, because they knew – they had seen him up close, talked with him, eaten with him.
“If they weren’t absolutely certain, they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to be tortured to death for proclaiming the resurrection had happened. Nobody knowingly and willingly dies for a lie. Saul of Tarsus persecuted and even executed Christians, but then did a complete “180” and became known as the Apostle Paul after, as he affirmed in his writing, he personally encountered the resurrected Christ. Why else would a man totally reverse his course of action, ultimately being executed himself, in order to devote the rest of his life proclaiming that Jesus willingly went through torture and died to pay for our sins but was resurrected by God?
“Well-known philosopher J.P. Moreland (PhD University of Southern California, chemistry degree University of Missouri, master’s degree in theology Dallas Theological Seminary, current professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology) explains that Jewish social structures, which were passed down to their children and celebrated in synagogue every Sabbath, were unbelievably important to them because they believed these institutions were entrusted to them by God and that to abandon them would be to risk their souls being damned to hell after death. . . But five weeks after he’s crucified, over 10,000 Jews are following him and claiming that he is the initiator of a new religion. And get this: They’re willing to give up or alter all five of the social institutions that they have been taught since childhood have such importance both sociologically and theologically. Something very big was going on. . . My explanation is simple: They had seen Jesus risen from the dead. What’s more, they were not doing this because they had come upon better ideas. They were very content with the old traditions. They gave them up because they had seen miracles that they could not explain and that forced them to see the world another way. . . these changes to the Jewish social structures were not just minor adjustments that were casually made – they were absolutely monumental. This was nothing short of a social earthquake! And earthquakes don’t happen without a cause.
“Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the brilliant and savvy attorney whose astounding 245 consecutive murder acquittals earned him a place in The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful lawyer, subjected the historical facts about the resurrection to his own rigorous analysis for several years before declaring, “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance, by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”
“Jesus’ resurrection, not to mention his many miraculous feats of healing and other miracles that were witnessed by reliable sources, proves He is divine and is thus who He claimed to be–Son of God, the anointed one of God, the final Messiah. No leader of any other major religion has claimed to be God.
Concluded Strobel, “My journalistic skepticism toward the supernatural had melted in light of the breathtaking historical evidence that the resurrection of Jesus was a real, historical event. . . The atheism I had embraced for so long buckled under the weight of historical truth. . . For me, the data demonstrated convincingly that Jesus is the Son of God who died as my substitute to pay the penalty I deserved for the wrongdoing I had committed. . . I was sacrificing my wife and children on the altar of success. . . My main motivator was personal pleasure–and ironically, the more I hungrily sought after it, the more elusive and self- destructive it became. . .When I read in the Bible that these sins separated me from God, who is holy and morally pure, this resonated as being true. Certainly God, whose existence I had denied for years, seemed extremely distant, and it became obvious to me that I needed the cross of Jesus to bridge that gulf. Said the Apostle Peter, ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God'(1 Peter 3:18).
“All this I now believed. The evidence of history and of my own experience was too strong to ignore.”
I have bought a few of The Case For Christ at Hobby Lobby for around $10, and it is available at varying prices, probably most anywhere books are widely sold.