Strobel in Dallas to talk 'cases'
08:24 AM CDT on Saturday, October 6, 2007
Lee Strobel's book The Case for Christ has sold nearly 3.5 million copies. An atheist-turned-evangelical with a background in law and journalism, he's written several other best-sellers. He's scheduled to be in Dallas today and Sunday to discuss his new book, The Case for the Real Jesus. Mr. Strobel spoke by phone recently with Staff Writer Sam Hodges. Here are excerpts.
You've written The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, The Case for Christmas. Why one more "case" book?
When I wrote The Case for Christ, about 10 years ago, I described the evidence I found convincing as an atheist that Jesus is the unique son of God. Since that time, there's been a proliferation of attacks on the church's traditional teachings on Jesus. I wanted to write a book that addressed these, and I wanted to use the same approach.
In the new book, you note six challenges to Jesus' identity. Which is most serious?
Any time there's an attack on the resurrection itself, this has serious implications. This is the linchpin of the Christian faith. When we see new books by atheists and Muslims, and even recent speeches by Hindus, attacking the belief that Jesus died and rose from the dead, I think those have to be taken seriously.
You did in-depth interviews with six scholars, and one was Daniel B. Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary. Why Dr. Wallace?
Dr. Wallace is a highly respected scholar in kind of a narrow field, which is called textual criticism. Another scholar in this area, Bart D. Ehrman, wrote a book called Misquoting Jesus, which has damaged the faith of a lot of people by questioning the fidelity with which the New Testament has been passed along through time. So I chose Dr. Wallace because of his sterling credentials in this area. He does a great job of instilling confidence that the New Testament manuscripts we have are essentially accurate.
You let Dr. Wallace critique Dr. Ehrman, but you don't give Dr. Ehrman a chance to answer back.
There's no mystery about the claims of Dr. Ehrman. And frankly much of what he wrote is not in dispute. It's how those facts are interpreted. My approach has been to take a variety of critiques [to Christianity], from a variety of sources, to distill them and seek scholars who can provide another side of the story.
Southern Baptists had a kind of civil war in recent decades, and the group that insisted on biblical inerrancy won control of the denomination over those who said that one can believe the Bible without insisting every word is literally true. After all of your study, which side are you on?
Personally, I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. When I present the claims of Christ to skeptics or seekers, I quite readily set aside the issue of inerrancy or infallibility. I don't think inerrancy is essential in terms of helping reach seekers and skeptics.
Any doubts since your conversion in 1981?
I'm not immune from doubt, but it's not something I get plagued with. I think partially that's because I came to faith after thoroughly investigating the historical basis for Christianity and walked away entirely persuaded of Jesus' identity.
And to quote a fellow atheist (Brian) "His arguments are designed for people who already believe and are looking for some sort of intellectual justification for their beliefs. If you want to believe and don't look critically at what he's saying or do research, he could sound quite compelling. But, his job isn't to convince skeptics."
The people who invited me to see Strobel (or who told me about the event) said it was just a big sermon anyway. Glad I didn't go. I'm not looking to be saved; I'm looking for information. Apparently Strobel has nothing new to say anyway. (Although he's got a cash cow called "The Case....")