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The Case Against “The Case for Christ”

John W. Loftus, who I’ve been spending more time on than I ought to, has recommended a book by Robert Price called The Case Against the Case for Christ.

Obviously, The Case Against the Case for Christ is a chapter-by-chapter refutation of Lee Strobel’s popular The Case for Christ. Strobel’s book was one of my inspirations to enter apologetics ministry, so I’m very interested in Price’s rebuttal. Problem: the book is a little pricey (no pun intended). At $25 via Price’s website, I really can’t afford it. Maybe it will come down, or I’ll be able to find it in the library. (Top Secret is the only book by Price in my local library, so that doesn’t look promising.) Or, maybe my writing career will finally take off and I’ll be able to afford more luxuries. (Yes, right now a book is a luxury. I have a sad life right now.)

I did, however, want to touch on something that Loftus said in his recommendation of Price’s new book, because I’ve heard this from atheists before:

[W]hile Strobel acts like he’s setting out to test the “claims of Christ,” he does no such thing. Strobel is being disingenuous, Price tells us, because “his true intention becomes clear by the choice of people he interviewed: every one of them a conservative apologist!” So Strobel is not uncovering facts as a reporter would do. No, he’s “soliciting opinions he already wants to promote. The irony is that, if anyone in Jesus’ day had actually done what Strobel claims to be doing, seeking out informed authorities to interview, there would be no need for such exercises in apologetical futility.” (p. 12)

The title of the book is The Case for Christ, not The Case for and Against Christ with Balanced Commentary on All Sides of the Issue. The second is lame and wouldn’t have sold millions of copies.

I’ll say this plainly. When you’re arguing for something, you are not obligated to explore what the other side says unless you are doing so to anticipate objections–which you then reject.

If John Loftus was accused of murdering someone, how would he want his case presented by his defense attorney? Would he want:

  • Character witnesses that only say what a gnarly dude he is
  • Complete refutation of the prosecution’s forensic evidence
  • A plausible scenario that explains the prosecution’s case while leaving him completely innocent

Or, do you suppose that Loftus would want:

  • Several character witnesses that say he’s awesome, and a couple of girls he dated once in high school then never called back
  • Lukewarm treatment of the prosecution’s forensic evidence that admits Loftus could have done it based on this evidence
  • A plausible scenario that explains the prosecution’s case while leaving him completely innocent, with the disclaimer that the prosecution’s case is equally credible and perhaps even more plausible

I’m wild guessing here, but I think Loftus would want his laywer to present the first case. Yet he expects Lee Strobel to present the second case. Why?

I’ll say this again: when presenting an argument in favor of something, you are under no obligation to give treatment to alternatives–unless you are anticipating and then rejecting major objections to the case you are attempting to build. That is what Strobel did in The Case for Christ. He is not trying to entertain alternative theories, though as I remember he did try to anticipate objections to his work.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on May 9, 2010, in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You should’ve titled this post of yours: The Case Against “The Case Against ‘The Case For Christ.'” 😉

    In any case Bob’s complaint is that Strobel makes it appear as if he’s investigating the claims of Christ in his book when he is not.

    • You should’ve titled this post of yours: The Case Against “The Case Against ‘The Case For Christ.’” 😉

      That’s actually really funny. 🙂

      I already used a similar joke here and here. Otherwise I might have. Of course, since I haven’t read the book, there’s not much to object to. . . yet.

  2. As per what John Loftus said, the complaint skeptics have with Strobel’s style is that he CLAIMS to be a proverbial tough, hard nosed reporter, interested in facts above all else. In his followup, the Case for the Real Jesus, he makes the claim more forcefully:

    “You’re hitting the road again, aren’t you?” [my wife] asked. “I have to,” I said. “I can’t ignore any of these [challenges]. If any of them is true, it changes everything.” Leslie wasn’t surprised. She was aware that I had been wrestling with some of these issues for a while. And after nearly thirty-five years of marriage, she knew I was someone who had to pursue answers, regardless of the consequences… I was determined to reach whatever verdict was warranted by the hard evidence of history and the cool demands of reason. (p. 21)

    And then, after insisting that he will go where the evidence warrants, he only talks to rabid conservative scholars who tell him, SURPRISE!!!! conservative Christianity really is true. It is this blatant dishonesty of approach that is being condemned.

    Though I’m no scholar like Dr. Price, you can go to my site caseagainstfaith.com and read my responses to his books Case for a Creator and Case for the Real Jesus. Not up to Price’s level I’m sure, but, adequate nonetheless. I also have an extended excerpt from Earl Doherty’s Challenging the Verdict, which is Doherty’s refutation of Case for Christ.

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