HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ
Author: Lee Strobel
Cover Photographer: David Paterson
Publisher: Zondervan, republished in 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0310242109 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 031024210X (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0310292012 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0310292018 (Paperback)
Related websites: http://www.LeeStrobel.com (author), http://www.zondervan.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Strobel, Lee. The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (originally published in 2007 by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 49530). Has modern scholarship debunked the traditional Christ? Has the church suppressed the truth about Jesus to advance its own agenda? Is the real Jesus far different from the atoning Savior worshipped through the centuries? As he did in his previous books, The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for the Creator, all of which I have read and reviewed, atheist-turned-believer Lee Strobel, a former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, focuses on rediscovering the real Jesus, whose identity and message have come under attack in recent years, by addressing six major challenges being advanced by prominent atheists, liberal theologians, and Muslim scholars, such as John Shelby Spong, Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, Dan Brown, James Cameron, Michael Baigent, Elaine Pagels, several “Jesus Seminar” proponents, and others with some of the best scholars available to sift through the evidence. As someone else noted, these experts are not third rate scholars, and prior to each interview, Strobel presents each scholar’s credentials.
The challenges are as follows: Did the church suppress ancient non-biblical documents that paint a more accurate picture of Jesus than the four Gospels? Did the church distort the truth about Jesus by tampering with early New Testament texts? Do new insights and explanations finally disprove the resurrection? Have fresh arguments disqualified Jesus from being the Messiah? Did Christianity steal its core ideas from earlier mythology? And should contemporary people be able to choose what to believe about Jesus? Apologist Frank Turek pointed out, “Lee Strobel has an agenda, and so do the atheist critics who dismiss his work. But that doesn’t mean that what Lee or a critic writes is false or biased. People can present evidence objectively even if they personally are not neutral (I’ve noticed that neutral people rarely have the interest or expertise to write books!). Unfortunately, many of Lee’s critics claim that Lee’s work cannot be trusted simply because he has some kind of Christian agenda. This is a fallacy that, if true, would swing a sword cutting both ways– if you can’t trust Lee because he has a Christian agenda, then you can’t trust his critics because they have an atheist agenda. All authors have agendas, and all authors believe what they write! The issue is not the agenda, but the evidence!” How true.
Not all believers will agree with every observation made. For example, I do not agree with the conclusion reached about the last sixteen verses of Mark. Also, and I can’t remember if it was in this book or in The Case for Faith, I didn’t fully agree with some of the things said about the necessity of believing in the inerrancy of the Scriptures. There are references to the resurrection of Christ using the term “Easter.” One interview definitely implies the idea of Premillennialism, and others suggest Calvinistic concepts such as “original sin.” Mention is made of man-made creeds, and in one instance Lee asked “What is the Biblical definition of sin?” and the answer given is from The Westminster Confession. These are relatively minor issues. My biggest annoyance with the book is the subtle implication that if simple believers who work hard every day at the shop, office, factory, school, farm, or whatever to make a living and provide for their families don’t lie awake at night and continually ponder these often ridiculous assertions, then somehow they’re not really meeting the challenges of the faith. Aside from these things, there is a wealth of information to help answer the attacks of modern Bible critics who try to palm off their trendy claims via popular books, magazine articles, television shows, and other mass media outlets.