Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Case For the Real Jesus, a review

I believe every Christian should be prepared to give a defense of the Gospel, in one way or another. To what extent or how "intellectual" depends upon our personality, our level of education, the path God leads us down, our circle of influence, etc.

My personal favorite authors of such writing are Francis Schaeffer, Nancy Pearcey (it doesn't get any better than Total Truth), Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, C. S. Lewis, and R. C. Sproul. Well, you can add Lee Strobel to that list.

My son has The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel on his bookshelf, purchased at a book sale on my recommendation. I had heard it was an excellent book but I hadn't read it. My recommendation at the time was because Christopher was in Debate and had planned to concentrate on apologetics this year (as it turned out, his Community College classes made it impossible to take part in the homeschool co-op).

So... I came to this book familiar with the author but having never read any of his materials. I picked it up thinking it would be rather dry. I mean, he was a journalist but he also has a law degree and except for John Grisham, lawyers can make me... yawn. I was pleasantly surprised to find Strobel the Grisham of the nonfiction world!

Now, it is harder to read than the last two books I reviewed. Zacharias writes about deep material using stories so it goes down with a spoon full of sugar. Max Lucado is pure poetry. Strobel is a journalist and he writes as one, interviewing experts in the field. However, it is very interesting and I found myself not able to put it down.

As he explains in the beginning, he came to write this book because of the new interest in such things as the Gnostic Gospels, the writings of the Jesus Seminar, other recent books casting doubt about the true identity and mission of Christ, not to mention the movie and book called The Da Vinci Code. In The Case For the Real Jesus, Strobel delves into Church history in a way that is every bit as fascinating as a Grisham novel to find Truth. He doesn't whitewash anything, where questions exist he talks about them with the experts. I found myself on the edge of my seat, wondering if the outcome of the various interviews will be "for" or "against" the Truth on which I base my very life.

Here are some of the statements he questions from a journalist's standpoint:

New Explanations Have Refuted Jesus' Resurrection...
Christianity's Beliefs about Jesus Were Copied from Pagan Religions...
Jesus Was an Impostor Who Failed to Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies...
The Bible's Portrait of Jesus Can't Be Trusted...
Scholars Are Uncovering a Radically Different Jesus in Ancient Documents...

Good stuff... this book should be on your bookshelf (after you have read it, of course). Take notes, underline paragraphs, write in the margins! This is not the usual "refute the Da Vinci Code" material. This is deeply researched but easy enough to read so that you will enjoy the journey.

Read it, give it to someone who is searching after seeing the movie or watching one of those TV shows on the Discovery Channel, or just a sojourner passing through this world in search of Truth. I liked it very much.

The only time I became bored was when he was going through great detail (and more detail) but it is exactly what one needs when trying to prove or disprove a legal argument. I found very few of those pages and I forced my brain to wake up and read. :)


Maggie Ann said...

Its more important than we would ever dream to fill our minds & hearts with God's truths. Payday is coming for this world...~~~Thanks for your comment at knitting kat...I enjoy your blog when I can get around. My hobbies are so varied and so many, don't you know...grin. Plus keeping our home cozy...that is always a step ahead of me. That never ending laundry!!! But... I am knitting and gathering rose petals to scent the house with..along with some whole allspice etc. We planted 5 rose bushs this year and 4 of them have really delighted us. Time to get the cello out and practise Bach. Hope you have a pleasant day..

Misc. Muse said...

My dh brought me Case for the Creator by Lee Stobel, for Christmas, it was excellent. It is more endebth reading but you are right it isn't hard. Not like some author who take my every brain cell to concentrate. I would recommend his books to anyone.

molly jean said...

I think I saw a movie with Strobel or that quoted him a few years back and have been meaning to read one of his books. Thank you for the review. I also enjoyed your report on being 50 something and a grandmother. I think that part of what makes me uncomfortable in the world as it is today is speed of change! Of course I am also an ALIEN AND A STRANGER!

Jay Rogers said...

I just got finished doing some edits to the complete and final version of The Real Jesus DVD.


I was happily surprised when I began production on this in 2005 that “The Real Jesus” has become an apologetics buzzword of sorts. Lee Strobel’s "The Case for the Real Jesus" and Luke Timothy Johnson’s "The Real Jesus" are two books I highly recommend.

I used Johnson’s book as a reference in the video and I just got Strobel’s book as I was finishing up this month. I was surprised to see that the format of Strobel’s “Six Challenges” and my “Seven Myths of the Higher Critics” were so similar.

The final version is now finished! Really! The total running time with all the extras is now 2 hours and 20 minutes -- up from the hour-long project I announced was almost finished earlier this year.

The DVD just needed a few cosmetic edits (nothing the average viewer would even notice) and we even added seven minutes of a "Bonus Feature" entitled: "Who is Jesus?"

It's the best feature of the DVD and adds a lot of appeal especially as an introduction when it will be show to small groups as a five to ten week seminar. The video is divided into ten parts for this reason.

The final version is available now!

Check out the YouTube clips at http://TheRealJesus.com website.

Then you can order it if you like what you see. The final version has over an hour of additional materials, interviews, a bonus feature and is re-edited with Eric Holmberg as the host and narrator.

I've been doing a weekly radio show on Tuseday nights with Pastor Joe Dunn of Metro Praise Church in Chicago. It's a Skype-based web-cam/chat-room/radio-show with two pastors in Chicago and Indiana. A lot of diverse people show up in the chat room -- witches, atheists, nihilists, etc. -- and ask crazy questions.

I sent Joe Dunn an advance copy of The Real Jesus DVD. I was really pleased to hear his comments. He opened the show by holding it up to the web cam and saying, "I just got done watching the best video on Jesus that I've ever seen! This is the greatest thing ever! I've seen all kinds of stuff by Ankerburg and other guys like that and this is by far the best thing I've seen on the topic of The Real Jesus."

He loved the interviews with the experts, the graphics, the music, everything. He said he wished he had 100 to give away, and so on. He said he likes all the "charts" and was going to go back and study them on still mode. That, of course, speaks to me about what is needed in a future study guide, not just text, but the same visuals I used in the video.

This is a good review because I have all kind of ideas about how I want to continue. I have enough script material to do at least two more of these in the next few years. I was thinking that that there are at least 10,000 Joe Dunn's out there, pastors who are training young Christians in their churches how to stand up against postmodernist reinterpretations of Jesus and militant atheist attacks on the Bible. This video is the perfect training tool.

The big question is how to reach these pastors.

Obviously, we need to get about a dozen endorsement quotes from pastors and a few well-known church leaders on The Real Jesus -- then we need to advertise this to thousands of church leaders throughout the world.