A while back a reader here suggested Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, as a compelling book — the very reason why she, a self-described highly rational patent official, turned from skepticism to Christianity. I responded to this appeal by committing to read the book cover to cover, and that’s what I’m doing now.
Lee Strobel — a pastor and motivational Christian speaker who pulls out his credentials as a former journalist — presents his book as an appeal to the skeptical, empirical mind and tells us that he’ll be able to make the case that Jesus is the real and actual son of God who rose from the dead and all that. Strobel says he expects readers to encounter the book as skeptics and evaluate it in a skeptical manner, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. If Strobel wants to convince this skeptic of the reality of Jesus as deity-spawn, then he’ll have to present irrefutable logic, maintain consistent and high-quality standards, and stick to facts that are actually facts. Over the next few weeks I’ll respond to what I’ve encountered in the book.
Even at the beginning of The Case for Christ, things aren’t looking so good. Strobel’s kicks off with a sarcastic dismissal of appeals to authority:
For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself and atheist…. As for Jesus, didn’t you know that he never claimed to be God? He was a revolutionary, a sage, an iconoclastic Jew — but God? No, that thought never occurred to hi,! I could point you to plenty of university professors who said so — and certainly they could be trusted, couldn’t they?
Oh, those evil university professors! Strobel’s advice here is good advice: don’t believe something is true just because university professors say it’s true. Don’t trust appeals to authority.
But then on the very next page Strobel tells you why his Case for Christ is going to be so tight:
That’s what this book is about. In effect, I’m going to retrace and expand upon the spiritual journey I took for nearly two years. I’ll take you along as I interview thirteen leading scholars and authorities who have impeccable academic credentials. I have crisscrossed the country — from Minnesota to Georgia, from Virginia to California — to elicit their expert opinions…
It’s an appeal to authority.