Book Review: The Case for Christmas

I read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christmas because it showed up on the best-ofs lists for the holidays, not because I am a Christian or because I am searching for answers about God or the Christmas story. Clearly, this book—more like an extended tract—is meant for the latter. The seeker seeking around the holidays. But I will come right out and tell you what many other people will tell you: if you are seeking either to find God, to debunk God, or to deepen your baby faith in God, skip this book and read The Case for Christ, instead. The Case for Christmas, it turns out, is just a truncated version of The Case for Christ. In this sense, it’s a holiday-time ministry tool, and not so much an amazing book. As it is, The Case for Christ is not terribly long, but, I am told, is more rigorous and engaging.

It goes like this: Lee Strobel is a journalist and he was a skeptic. Some number of years ago he set out to disprove Christianity using his journalistic tools (including lots of interviewing experts). Instead, he ended up proving it, at least to himself, so he wrote The Case for Christ to prove it to others, as well, and to show that a thorough study of the facts could lead even a skeptic to a qualified belief in the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. It’s been a best-seller for quite some time. I think I might have a copy on my shelf, but I have not read the whole thing. Apparently, there are now a few shorter and adapted versions of The Case for Christ, including the Christmas-themed one (and an evangelistic video). While I appreciate that these little booklets could fall in the right hands at the right time and change a life, I would recommend just reading the original.

While there are many other books like it—One Minute Answers to the Skeptics, Finding God in Science and, the one that seems fun to me, Cold-Case Christianity among them—Strobel stood out from the beginning as being both in the business of fact-finding and truth-telling and also as someone who set out to get answers that were ultimately opposite of what he found. So, ultimately, what I can say about this little book besides “read the bigger one” is that Strobel’s writing is decent. He keeps you engaged, though it moves way too fast in the Christmas version (through eyewitness evidence, archeological evidence, Jesus’ God-ness and his fulfilling of Jewish prophecy), making it appear that he wasn’t very thorough at all. It also lacks a more romantic, narrative tone, which makes complete sense given his background and intent. I appreciate the stories that he uses at the start of each chapter, pulling the reader into an interesting journalism story that has nothing to do with Christ until it does. It’s okay. I would like to give the first version a shot.

QUOTES

“They had peace despite poverty, while I had anxiety despite plenty; they knew the joy of generosity while I knew only the loneliness of ambition…” (p9).

“Ancient Greek and Hebrew didn’t even have a symbol for quotation marks” (p20).

“I didn’t understand that God would help me make those changes; I thought I had to clean up life on my own” (p85).

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