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The Case for Christ


todd520

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I read Strobel's book and was not impressed. He soft-pedaled the arguments against orthodox Christianity in his book, basically setting up straw men to knock down.

The few pages where he wrote about something I am very familiar with - namely, Mormonism - were biased and inaccurate enough for me to question the rest of his methodology and "research".

Not a big fan.

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I read Strobel's book and was not impressed. He soft-pedaled the arguments against orthodox Christianity in his book, basically setting up straw men to knock down.

The book and movie remind me of some of the faith-promoting, slightly amateurish works you might find in Deseret Book.

The few pages where he wrote about something I am very familiar with - namely, Mormonism - were biased and inaccurate enough for me to question the rest of his methodology and "research".

He says maybe two things about the Book of Mormon in passing. He was/is immersed in evangelical scholarship. Of course it isn't going to be very kind to Mormonism. Give him a break. I've seen more inaccurate things said about the Catholic Church and the "Dark Ages" by Latter-day Saints and Church publications.

Many of the scholars he interviews are top-notch: N.T. Wright, Craig Blomberg, J.P. Moreland, Ben Witherington III, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, etc.

Not a big fan.

I like him. I would never cite him or his work, but I like him. He seems genuine, smart, and, to best of his abilities, fair.

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He says maybe two things about the Book of Mormon in passing. He was/is immersed in evangelical scholarship. Of course it isn't going to be very kind to Mormonism. Give him a break. I've seen more inaccurate things said about the Catholic Church and the "Dark Ages" by Latter-day Saints and Church publications.

And that makes him ok? The inaccuracies about Mormon related items are significant enough, in my mind, to cast doubt on the thoroughness of his research in general. He's a notch above Hitchens, but his methodology is quite shallow. My impression was that his audience was the casual Christian who didn't really want to think to critically about things, but just wanted an easy (and as you noted, faith-promoting) read. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone serious in academics to use it as a source.

Many of the scholars he interviews are top-notch: N.T. Wright, Craig Blomberg, J.P. Moreland, Ben Witherington III, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, etc.

You do realize, of course, that most, if not all, of the interviews he writes about were fictional.

I like him. I would never cite him or his work, but I like him. He seems genuine, smart, and, to best of his abilities, fair
.

Genuine, perhaps. Smart or fair? Not very convinced. With a title like "The Case for Christ", along with his credentials as a "tough investigative reporter", one would expect better. I was a bit surprised that Metzger endorsed the book.

Need more proof of the shallowness of his sourcing? On page 107 in telling us how devastating archaeology has been for Mormonism, he doesn't seem to be able to quote a more eminent authority than the Ankerberg / Weldon duo. It's pretty sad, actually.

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Just to clarify, I'm not justifying Strobel's use of Ankerberg and Weldon on Book of Mormon research. But to be fair, non-LDS scholarship on Mormonism has been rather scarce. The evangelical community's approach to Mormonism has/had largely been left in the hands of counter-cultists, resulting in sloppy research. Evangelical academics over the years have been focusing on other (in their minds) more pressing subjects, like the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the New Testament, and the historicity of the Resurrection. There is a reason Paul Owen and Carl Mosser published their now famous article addressing the lack of proper evangelical engagement with Mormon scholarship (the article was published in the Trinity Journal the same year Strobel's book went to press). Terryl Givens' By the Hand of Mormon came out in 2002 and was the first academic book about the Book of Mormon itself published outside of a Mormon press.

So, unless Strobel was well-acquainted with Nibley or FARMS, I can't say that I'm surprised.

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And that makes him ok?

It doesn't make him awful.

The inaccuracies about Mormon related items are significant enough, in my mind, to cast doubt on the thoroughness of his research in general.

I guess I don't consider a half-page reference in passing to be significant. It leads me to believe that it wasn't a huge part of his research.

He's a notch above Hitchens, but his methodology is quite shallow.

I'm not quite sure what you mean. A notch above Hitchens in what way?

I have no problem with Christopher Hitchens. I think he can hold his own quite well when he sticks to what does best (i.e. current events and politics). When he attempts to do an asinine thing like demonstrate "how religion poisons everything," he drives himself off an intellectual cliff.

My impression was that his audience was the casual Christian who didn't really want to think to critically about things, but just wanted an easy (and as you noted, faith-promoting) read. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone serious in academics to use it as a source.

Couldn't agree more.

Thankfully, Mormons can also find faith-promoting books that are worthwhile academic citations (I have in mind Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, Bookcraft, 1989: this started it all for me).

You do realize, of course, that most, if not all, of the interviews he writes about were fictional

I'm not quite sure what you mean. I was referring to the interviews in the video.

Genuine, perhaps.

I have no reason to question his sincerity.

Smart or fair? Not very convinced.

I guess this depends. I don't keep up with Lee Strobel or his work. I'm only vaguely familiar with it, so I might have put my foot in my mouth (which I tend to be very good at not doing) because you may know something about him or his work that I don't. I've read his The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator. I completed the first one in two trips to Barnes & Nobles. I had seen it brought up in an online discussion board (on Facebook, I think) by a rather hostile evangelical. I wanted to know what lay evangelicals read. I read the second only because a guy in my ward wanted me to. I'm not an Intelligent Design fan, so I was a little more than unimpressed. I've watched some of Strobel's videos, lectures, and debate moderations (haven't in over a year, though). None of it is very impressive academically, but I didn't see anything inherently wrong with it either. He's not an intellectual (for lack of a better word), but he's not stupid. I don't consider my father to be an intellectual, but he's still pretty damn smart. Considering his target audience is lay evangelicals, I don't think he's too shabby. But like I said, I don't really keep up with his work.

I have found him to be a respectful and balanced moderator. People know his position and he doesn't hide it. Yet, any time I've seen him moderate a debate (whether formal or brief), he always allows an even exchange. I can appreciate that. This is what I meant when I called him "fair." But this is all I'm going on. You may know differently.

With a title like "The Case for Christ", along with his credentials as a "tough investigative reporter", one would expect better.

That's a fair point.

I was a bit surprised that Metzger endorsed the book.

It's a nice, cozy, faith-promoting book about the reality of the Resurrection with some good scholars in it. Even cold-hearted, rigorous academics like fluff, especially if it appeals to their religious sentiments or political leanings.

Need more proof of the shallowness of his sourcing? On page 107 in telling us how devastating archaeology has been for Mormonism, he doesn't seem to be able to quote a more eminent authority than the Ankerberg / Weldon duo. It's pretty sad, actually.

You snuck this post in while I was writing my last one.

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It doesn't make him awful.

I guess I don't consider a half-page reference in passing to be significant. It leads me to believe that it wasn't a huge part of his research.

I'm not quite sure what you mean. A notch above Hitchens in what way?

Referring, as you noted below to Hitchens talking about religion.

I have no problem with Christopher Hitchens. I think he can hold his own quite well when he sticks to what does best (i.e. current events and politics). When he attempts to do an asinine thing like demonstrate "how religion poisons everything," he drives himself off an intellectual cliff.

Couldn't agree more.

Thankfully, Mormons can also find faith-promoting books that are worthwhile academic citations (I have in mind Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, Bookcraft, 1989: this started it all for me).

I'm not quite sure what you mean. I was referring to the interviews in the video

.

He does an interview format in the book, but (and he does note it in the book) he didn't actually interview most of them. It's simply a structure for presenting what they have written in a format for him to make his case.

I have no reason to question his sincerity
.

Me neither, references to Mormonism aside.

I guess this depends. I don't keep up with Lee Strobel or his work. I'm only vaguely familiar with it, so I might have put my foot in my mouth (which I tend to be very good at not doing) because you may know something about him or his work that I don't. I've read his The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator. I completed the first one in two trips to Barnes & Nobles. I had seen it brought up in an online discussion board (on Facebook, I think) by a rather hostile evangelical. I wanted to know what lay evangelicals read. I read the second only because a guy in my ward wanted me to. I'm not an Intelligent Design fan, so I was a little more than unimpressed. I've watched some of Strobel's videos, lectures, and debate moderations (haven't in over a year, though). None of it is very impressive academically, but I didn't see anything inherently wrong with it either. He's not an intellectual (for lack of a better word), but he's not stupid. I don't consider my father to be an intellectual, but he's still pretty damn smart. Considering his target audience is lay evangelicals, I don't think he's too shabby. But like I said, I don't really keep up with his work.

I have found him to be a respectful and balanced moderator. People know his position and he doesn't hide it. Yet, any time I've seen him moderate a debate (whether formal or brief), he always allows an even exchange. I can appreciate that. This is what I meant when I called him "fair." But this is all I'm going on. You may know differently

.

Haven't seen him in a debate, so you're one up on me. I was given the book by some local Bible college students I was talking with about religion, and I actually took quite a few notes on what he had written. In looking back over the notes I took, there was actually quite a bit where his rationalizations about things were dogmatic as opposed to academic. I just simply was not particularly impressed with how he presented and justified his case. If someone is looking at this book to use as a foundation for faith in Christ, it's not going to be a very well supported one. It should have been much better.

That's a fair point.

It's a nice, cozy, faith-promoting book about the reality of the Resurrection with some good scholars in it. Even cold-hearted, rigorous academics like fluff, especially if it appeals to their religious sentiments or political leanings.

You may have hit the nail on the head on this. Never thought about it that way.

You snuck this post in while I was writing my last one
.

I am sneaky that way at times...

But not like Ankerberg and Weldon.

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He does an interview format in the book, but (and he does note it in the book) he didn't actually interview most of them. It's simply a structure for presenting what they have written in a format for him to make his case.

I see.

Haven't seen him in a debate, so you're one up on me.

He moderated a couple debates between William Lane Craig and some atheist critics. He also hosted Faith Under Fire, in which guests would debate specific issues. In the ones I've seen (they're all over YouTube), he handles it well. Given my disenchantment with most political (which is as touchy a subject as religion) talking heads and their inability to shut up and let the other individual talk, I was impressed.

If someone is looking at this book to use as a foundation for faith in Christ, it's not going to be a very well supported one. It should have been much better.

Too true. Flimsy at best.

I am sneaky that way at times...

But not like Ankerberg and Weldon.

:P

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I liked it on that level, as well (the heart level - atheist to Christ journey).

I'm not a Bible scholar, so I enjoyed the book. :P I didn't know they made a movie out of it.

I could tell it was "light" reading, with just a framework, really, but I did enjoy it.

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I'm watching The Case for Christ via Netflix online.

So far it is an interesting program I recommend :P

Anyone else seen it?

I watched "The Case for Christ" on Netflix as well. I thought the video was somewhat onesided. I don't want to say bias, but he didn't have any responses from the opposing side. I think it's always good to hear the other view so that a person can make a decision for themself. Otherwise you are left to come to the same conclusion of the author/presenter.

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I'm watching The Case for Christ via Netflix online.

So far it is an interesting program I recommend :P

Anyone else seen it?

I just watched it and man if this guy is not simply posing for the camera about his openness ect, he is perfect for recipient the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. His arguments for Christ's divinity can easily be used in defense of Joseph Smith's calling as the Prophet of the Restoration.

They use 1 Corinthians 15 (or the Mormon chapter as I call it) so much I wanted to scream! It was fully ironic hearing a bible scholar talking about the state of resurrected beings from 1 Corinthians 15!

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I watched "The Case for Christ" on Netflix as well. I thought the video was somewhat onesided. I don't want to say bias, but he didn't have any responses from the opposing side. I think it's always good to hear the other view so that a person can make a decision for themself. Otherwise you are left to come to the same conclusion of the author/presenter.

This is a documentary about Christ's divinity not a scholarly debate, I think you are being biased in your critique of the film. Why would one presenting evidence for the divinity of Christ in a 71 minuet documentary spend one precious second discussing the views of the critics?

The viewer can receive the critics opinions through there documentaries and there books. I wouldn't expect any film to focus at all (and if they did only very briefly) on there oppositions opinions and views.

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This is a documentary about Christ's divinity not a scholarly debate, I think you are being biased in your critique of the film. Why would one presenting evidence for the divinity of Christ in a 71 minuet documentary spend one precious second discussing the views of the critics?

The viewer can receive the critics opinions through there documentaries and there books. I wouldn't expect any film to focus at all (and if they did only very briefly) on there oppositions opinions and views.

Okay, Maybe I was a little bias. I'll admit it.

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