For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, of primitive superstition. How could there be a loving God if he consigned people to hell just for not believing in him? How could miracles contravene the basic laws of nature? Didn’t evolution satisfactorily explain how life originated? Doesn’t scientific reasoning dispel belief in the supernatural?
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 him! I could point you to plenty of university professors who said so—and certainly they could be trusted, couldn’t they? Let’s face it: even a cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates convincingly that Jesus had only been a human being just like you and me, although with unusual gifts of kindness and wisdom.
But that’s all I had ever really given the evidence: a cursory look. I had read just enough philosophy and history to find support for my skepticism—a fact here, a scientific theory there, a pithy quote, a clever argument. Sure, I could see some gaps and inconsistencies, but I had a strong motivation to ignore them: a self-serving and immoral lifestyle that I would be compelled to abandon if I were ever to change my views and become a follower of Jesus.
As far as I was concerned, the case was closed. There was enough proof for me to rest easy with the conclusion that the divinity of Jesus was nothing more than the fanciful invention of superstitious people.
Or so I thought.
Answers for an Atheist
It wasn’t a phone call from an informant that prompted me to reexamine the case for Christ. It was my wife.
Leslie stunned me in the autumn of 1979 by announcing that she had become a Christian. I rolled my eyes and braced for the worst, feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch scam. I had married one Leslie—the fun Leslie, the carefree Leslie, the risk-taking Leslie—and now I feared she was going to turn into some sort of sexually repressed prude who would trade our upwardly mobile lifestyle for all-night prayer vigils and volunteer work in grimy soup kitchens.
Instead I was pleasantly surprised—even fascinated—by the fundamental changes in her character, her integrity, and her personal confidence. Eventually I wanted to get to the bottom of what was prompting these subtle but significant shifts in my wife’s attitudes, so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity.
Setting aside my self-interest and prejudices as best I could, I read books, interviewed experts, asked questions, analyzed history, explored archaeology, studied ancient literature, and for the first time in my life picked apart the Bible verse by verse.
I plunged into the case with more vigor than with any story I had ever pursued. I applied the training I had received at Yale Law School as well as my experience as legal affairs editor of the Chicago Tribune. And over time the evidence of the world—of history, of science, of philosophy, of psychology—began to point toward the unthinkable.
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ Movie Edition: Solving the Biggest Mystery of All Time (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017).
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