HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF “THE CASE FOR CHRIST”, THE BEST-SELLING BOOK BY LEE STROBEL
 
Lee Strobel along with "experts" tries to show that the gospel story of Jesus is true.


STROBEL’S LIE:
 
An account that contains no contradictions is contrived so the gospels with seeming contradictions are true.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Then after saying that the book proceeds to argue that there are no contradictions in or between the gospels.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Blomberg’s view that nobody ever wrote history in the gospel times without trying to convey some ideology across is approved.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
The reason it is approved for it is undeniable that the gospels were written to draw people to faith in Jesus and it is trying to say that despite this they are reliable for propaganda usually contains a large dose of deceit, selective reporting and half-truth.
 
Lots of books were not written for ideological ends. The gospels themselves contain portions that are not ideological.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The book solves the contradiction between the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke by saying that that they did not always mean literally that x was the son of y and preferred to focus on the historically important members of the bloodline which was why they left ones out.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
So we are to believe that Matthew and Luke agreed with one another without any evidence that they actually did? It is easier to believe that they contradicted instead of listening to all these solutions which are just speculation. The solutions ignore the fact that genealogies are to prove the unbroken nature of the bloodline. What is the point of giving a list with half the people left out and which means one relationship literally and another figuratively?
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
There were two Quirinius because Luke says that Jesus was born when Quirinius when governor of Syria which means 6AD according to the historian Josephus. Matthew says Jesus was born before Herod died in 4BC.  So both Josephus and Matthew are right because there were two of them.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Christians need to pretend there is no contradiction. One solution is that there were two Quiriniuses. Another is that Quirinius reigned twice. The Case for Christ says there is a coin that indicates that there were two. It doesn’t prove it though. Obviously neither Luke or God knew that there were two! The fact of the matter is that Luke would have said which one he meant. When Luke picked Quirinius instead of Herod as a time marker it shows that Quirinius did not reign at the time of Herod. There was no point in using Quirinius as a time marker if he reigned twice so Luke would have told us what reign it was. There is no doubt that Luke and Matthew did contradict one another regarding the time of the birth of Jesus and the age of Jesus which means that Luke lied about the care he took in researching. If Matthew remembered a Jesus who was about 34 when he died and Luke has one who was 24 then that is a very serious difference because age differences of that scale were very noticeable in those times and would be a serious indication that one of these men was largely inventing his material. This would cast suspicion on all the gospellers for nobody should have needed to do all this inventing unless Jesus were either non-existent or very unimportant and obscure both of which positions contradict the gospels. The idea that Josephus was the one that was wrong is just pure desperation to salvage the gospels.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The book agrees that the London Papyrus backs up the ridiculous story of the census in Luke in which people had to travel to their ancestral home to be enrolled.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
The papyrus simply says that people have to stay where they are living now to be enrolled. Luke made up the census as an excuse to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem which was not their home, but the home of their distant ancestors, to be able to say Jesus was born there.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Gospel picture of Pilate as a weak and easily scared leader who reluctantly put Jesus to death matches the secular accounts which speak of how ruthless and psychopathic he was for his protector Sejanus fell from power in 31AD meaning that Pilate had to be nicer to people after that.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
There is no evidence Pilate was that dependant on Sejanus and that there was no other protector. If Pilate indulged in criminal activity he would have went down with him or after Sejanus was out of the way. A leader who was that easily bullied would have been sacked on the spot especially one that wanted to save Jesus from crucifixion though Rome didn’t tolerate men who claimed to be the Messiah and would not suffer them to live.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Blomberg is right to say if the New Testament had lied the enemies of Christianity would have made sure everybody knew about it.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Yamaunchi in the same book states that big opposition to new cults does not start until a few generations down the line. I say that the sect of the Christadelphians which is small has survived since the 1840’s despite the errors it makes in Bible interpretation and the opposition of the Churches. If a world dictator took a liking to this faith and made it the official religion of his empire, it would be a lot bigger. If it hadn’t been for Constantine enforcing Christianity and making it the official faith of the Roman Empire the faith could have died out.
  
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Archaeology has never unequivocally contradicted the Bible.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Even if that were true there would still be items that are in contradiction to a more or less degree of probability. It would mean you believe in the Bible not because of the credibility of its message but because you want to. This egoism is not Christianity. Archaeology is subject to interpretation and the Christians who say it supports the Bible are taking advantage of that and are reluctant to tell you that. There are thousands of archaeologists who hold that archaeology has proved the Bible wrong at least in some things.

STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Gospel of John has spoken about real places like the Well of Jacob so it is entirely real history.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Still doesn’t mean the story is true. The Case for Christ believes that the John gospel was edited by somebody after John wrote it (page 24). A gospel that may have been improved by its editor and not by the prophet who wrote it is hardly impressive when it is right about anything.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they were never attributed to anybody else in the early Church despite being anonymous.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Irenaeus in 180 AD was the first to say the gospels were believed to belong to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. His attribution was as good as any so it was accepted readily. There had to have been disputes over authorship for confusion had to happen.  
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Early in the second century, Papias stated that Matthew recorded Jesus’ teaching and Mark the works of Jesus as Peter reported them.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Hearsay. We don’t even know if the Matthew and Mark writings mentioned are our gospels. And the way Papias spoke of them makes it likely that they were not and were merely collections of the oral teaching of Jesus.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Mark and Luke were unknown characters and Matthew as an ex-tax collector would have been the apostle that was most unpopular next to Judas so when the gospels were attributed to them the ascriptions must have been accurate.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Mark and Luke could have been popular characters in the early Church. If they were thought to have been secretaries to the apostles that would mean their names might have been put to gospels they never wrote. To assume that the ascriptions are accurate because they were unpopular is madness for nobody knows if they were unpopular or not. Moreover, if it were known that the apostles did not write Mark and Luke, two new candidates had to be found and so Mark and Luke could have been guesswork. There is simply no reason to believe that any gospel was written by the person whose name was put on it. If Luke for example really wrote Luke then why didn’t he say so for he was the one that claimed to have been doing historical research and interviewing witnesses? What had he to hide? Matthew and John could have been unpopular for all we know. We know Paul complained a lot about being unpopular. It didn’t stop people forging traditions and writings in his name (2 Thessalonians 2).  Even the New Testament has writings attributed to Paul that he had nothing to do with. Christianity opposed popular people so it could have been amenable to attributing books of unknown origin to obscure or unpopular Church figures. It was the perception or illusion of a person being trusted by the apostles that mattered not how well known or popular they were.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
John is so different from the other three because he knew what was in them and didn’t want to repeat it and therefore he ended up using a pile of new material.
 
THE TRUTH
 
Speculation. There is no evidence that John knew the other gospels well. It is most likely that he did not for the books would have been hard to acquire and his gospel can be explained as John largely making it all up. The way Jesus talks is so different in style from the gospels. The difference in style is very obvious.

STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Blomberg’s assertion that if the gospellers were inventing a religion they would not make lust as bad as adultery for that would not suit themselves for the moral standard in the books would condemn them for they are very high, is approved.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Why not? They never claimed to be perfect and you can’t see lust a lot of the time anyway. They probably kept their lives private when they wouldn’t even put their names to the gospels. Blomberg is assuming evidence into existence.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus saying that women have to become male to be saved and saying that if a stone is broken he is found there indicates the heresy of pantheism so the early Church was right to eliminate the Gospel of Thomas from the canon (list of Bible books considered to be the infallible word of God) for heresy.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Christians assume the New Testament books are inspired. This presupposes that not only was what was written right but the apostles were inspired to interpret Jesus’ teaching properly and the writers who were not apostles were inspired to interpret the apostles correctly. What it boils down to is this: They interpreted correctly because Jesus said they would and they infallibly interpreted him correctly when he said that. So what we are doing is reasoning in circles. So what we are doing is assuming that these men interpreted Jesus right and knew when they were exercising the gift. But how could they know? We all have impulses that we think come from God. To be infallible they would have to be God in order to know that they are infallible.
 
The bad logic used by Christians shows that the canon is just a man-made list and not a divine authority and the canonical books that make an illogical claim to inspiration should be thrown on the same refuse tip as the Gospel of Thomas. To follow human interpretations is to follow men not God. Christians wage war in the name of God while in reality and they know it is really man’s musings on God that they are following. Their faith is man-made.
 
Rejecting a book because its doctrine is not liked means the agenda of the Church was more important than anything the scriptures said. The Church was full of mysteries like the Trinity (three persons being one God) and the idea that Jesus took the death penalty for sins though he was innocent and the early Church and had the nerve to say it rejected books from the New Testament because they were absurd. And Thomas claimed to be a cryptic gospel so its absurd statements cannot be taken as proof of absurdity. What about the Book of Revelation in the Bible with its absurd symbols and its unreadability?
 
Most Christians today deny that the Bible is totally infallible. They see error in it.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The book agrees with Metzger about the canon of 27 books being God’s word in the New Testament.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
No gospel is ever said by any other book of the Bible that it is the word of God. How then could the Church have reliably decided that the four gospels are divinely inspired?
  
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The book claims that the miracles of Apollonius are dubious because Philostratus wrote to please the Empress and too long after the events and because she paid him.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Philostratus writing to please the Empress does not automatically mean he lied. He got his material from sources that claimed to be witnesses of Apollonius. If what Strobel says about Philostratus makes him unreliable, then the gospellers are unreliable for they were written to please Jesus who was not even around then and were also collections of stories about Jesus. There is no evidence that Philostratus lied for money. How does Strobel know that the gospellers were not well paid for churning out their books? Damis was a writer who claimed to be an eyewitnesses to the miracles of Apollonius and his work was used by Philostratus. At least this Messiah had an eyewitness who wrote things down. Jesus had none or at least none that we can be sure of which is just as bad.
 
The view that Philostratus was writing just to please her is pure speculation. There is nothing to indicate that he ever admitted that. So much for good Christians like Strobel not judging people unjustly!
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Book of Q, the hypothetical first version of the gospel story from which most of our gospels were developed has Jesus saying he did miracles so the miracles of Jesus have the best possible witness.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Jesus did say there were miracles that showed him to be the Messiah but there is no reason to believe the saying was really from Q for it could have been from an Agrapha or oral tradition. And the bit where he says this does not clearly state that Jesus did the miracles directly. Jesus could have pointed to miracles that happened independently of him as signs that somebody special was in the world. For example, people could have been rising from the dead in Syria and he could take that as evidence. He could say that he does miracles all over the world though he is in Israel. And why shouldn’t he? God is in Heaven and yet the Bible claims he divided the Red Sea?

STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Jews never denied the miracles of Jesus but said they were the Devil’s works even in their own writings so Jesus did do miracles.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
In their own writings that came along after the time of Jesus they did state that Jesus did signs by the power of magic but they never said that these signs were unquestionably supernatural. The Devil could have helped people to believe in, say, the resurrection more easily so Jesus could have used crude trickery and cast spells on people’s minds to not see this or not want to see this.
 
The Jews did not have much interest in Jesus - he barely gets mentioned in their writings and even then its not always clear that it is Jesus who is meant.
 
And the gospel of Matthew states that the Jews wanted Jesus' tomb protected in case his body would be stolen and a fraud far worse than any of Jesus' own frauds could start in the form of a resurrection story.
  
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The book claims that Josephus wrote so little about Jesus and much about the Baptist for the Baptist was a greater political influence and threat and Josephus tended to focus on politics. We should use Josephus and other secular writers to provide corroborate evidence that Jesus existed.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Not true. Jesus took the political titles King of the Jews and Messiah and John never interfered with politics and though Herod was afraid John could cause a sedition there is nothing to suggest that Herod was anything other than being paranoid. Jesus was the biggest political threat or would have been perceived by the Romans to be. He would have been jailed faster quicker than John could write his name.
 
Josephus may have never mentioned Jesus for everybody agrees that Christian editors put in material to make it seem that Josephus confessed Jesus as the Christ and said that he rose. That is possible meaning that his later reference to James might be real but the words saying that James was the brother of the so-called Christ are an interference for he would not just mention Jesus and say nothing about him in that place.
 
The book quotes Tacitus who wrote that the Christians took their name from Christus who was crucified under Tiberias as a reliable testimony to the death of Jesus and his view that Christianity had a history of abominations is taken as unreliable. If Tiberias could be so wrong about a religion in his midst then he could have been wrong about the existence of Jesus Christ. He is not reliable and Christians would not be using him if they had any honesty. The fact remains is that there is no credible non-Christian witness to Jesus’ existence which means the gospels are devoid of corroboration.

STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Jesus Seminar’s scepticism towards the Bible is not caused by their research but by their assuming that supernatural events don’t happen and therefore that the gospels are unreliable because they say they do happen. That is the fatal flaw of the seminar.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
That is a question for philosophy. If philosophy says that miracles are not signs or that the supernatural is very unlikely or never happens then it is perfectly right to do what the Jesus Seminar is doing. Strobel has no concern for truth when he is willing to believe in the supernatural just because the Bible says so. A miracle needs to be plausible before it can be believed in for heaven’s sake even if the Bible does want it believed in.  You should believe in the miracles because they are plausible not because the Bible says they happened. Christians say that miracle by definition is a very very improbable event. Case closed! The evidence needs to be so strong that you need to see the miracle happening with your own eyes. That they, don’t admit.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Jesus Seminar believing that a saying of the gospels should only be believed as authentically from Jesus if it is stated in at least two gospels is rejected.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
The Law of Moses which Jesus said was right demanded two witnesses at least so Christians should be content with this approach.
 
The words of God must be supported by two witnesses. The only fault with the Jesus Seminar’s approach is that there is no reason to believe that the gospels were not copying from one another or from some source available to all of them. There is no evidence of two eyewitness reports anywhere in the gospels.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
The Identity evidence in the book’s Chapter 7 argues that since Jesus saw himself as God and the Son of God it shows he was really both. One clue of this is that Jesus chose 12 apostles to create a new Israel like God did from the twelve sons of Israel and did not include himself in this group meaning he must have been claiming to be God. Another is that he called God Abba, which indicates a uniquely close relationship with God meaning that he was God for that would be the only way his could be unique. In Judaism two witnesses were needed but Jesus just depended on his own authority like God would so he was God.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
The Identity evidence does not do what the book says.
 
So Jesus just needed his own authority? It is odd then that Jesus would have to do miracles to prove he was such an exalted being! And especially when the people who could be making the claim for him, the New Testament writers, didn’t need to prove their books were true by miracles! Rather than Jesus doing miracles we should see the dead rising when the books of the gospels are placed upon them. No New Testament author used another witness to verify his alleged divine inspiration through which he wrote his book, so does that mean they thought they were God too?
 
Jesus is being proclaimed God and the Son of God because they think they see this in a book. This really means that books saying it is enough even though it is not that difficult to produce books as convincing as the gospels.
 
Jesus’ apostles were not like the sons of Israel who were the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus was planning to die a horrible death while leaving them to be the missionary workers so he could not make himself one of the twelve. Israel was the prophet who set up his sons as the origin of the Israelite nation and Jesus may have seen himself as corresponding to him.
 
Paul said we can call God father or Abba because of Jesus. Jesus did not mean that he was uniquely close to God by using the term as applicable to himself. He was rejecting the Jewish superstition that it was wrong to call God that. The Jewish Scriptures contradicted the superstition for God in Isaiah calls Israel as a nation his son. Jesus did not ask anybody to believe in him just because he claimed authority. He used his miracles and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit as justification for his claims.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Jesus was given God’s name in the writings of Paul so the Church knew from the start that Jesus was God so the objection of critics that the divinity of Jesus was a later invention is dubious.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
He was given God’s title the Kyrios. Titles can be given as a mark of honour. Jesus was hostile to man-made Jewish tradition so he would not have had the same reserve towards using the name of God or a divine title as the Jews had.

STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Jesus saying that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever is taken to indicate that Jesus thought himself to be better and even to be God.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
Jesus could be better than John without being God and nothing Jesus ever said about himself in the gospels indicated that John could not be the superior man for John might have refused in his humility to be promoted to being the Son of God.
 
STROBEL’S LIE:
 
Jesus complaining when a man called him good is taken to mean, “Why do you suck up to me and call me good though I am good and perfect?” or “Do you mean I am as good as God?” because no other interpretation matches what Jesus said about himself being holy and sinless.
 
THE TRUTH:
 
So “I’m going to kill you” is not a threat because the person saying this once said, “I would never kill anybody”? What Jesus said elsewhere is not important – it is the context of what he said to the man that is relevant here. The man did not believe Jesus was God and Jesus told him that God alone was good and asked him why he said he was good. The context definitely indicates that Jesus was denying that he should be called good in comparison to God. The original Jesus was not envisaged as sinless. The man was not accused of sucking up and Jesus agreed with the man when the man said he kept all the commandments so the man did know what good really was.

Finally:
 
Some would say that their Christianity depends on faith and that the same is true of my scepticism. For example, they might say that when I argue that the Matthew genealogy of Jesus and the Luke one are contradictory this is faith for Christians say they can reconcile them. Now in an issue like that what should be done is to go for the belief that is the most likely to be true or the one that does the least harm and involves the least mysteries. This belief is the one that they do contradict one another. And in every other case where two conflicting genealogies is given, Christians do say there is a contradiction and do not try to reconcile them. It is certainly wrong to believe in a form of Christianity just on faith for that is liking wishing people would go to Hell forever for dying in serious sin.