The case for Christ
Lee Strobel received
a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia
and a master of studies in law degree from Yale Law School before
a 14-year newspaper career that included a stint as legal affairs
editor of the Chicago Tribune. After nearly two years of
studying the life of Christ, Strobel became a Christian in 1981.
His book The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation
of the Evidence for Jesus (Zondervan, 1998) has sold
1.5 million copies and been translated into nine languages. Now
an author and evangelist, Strobel also has been a teaching pastor
at two of the nation’s largest churches, Willow Creek Community
Church in South Barrington, Ill., and Saddleback Valley Community
Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Strobel, 51, recently talked with
News Editor John W. Kennedy.
PE: Why did you
write The Case for Christ?
I wanted to help seekers and other people who were far from God
to understand the historical basis for Christianity. Having been
an atheist myself and having suffered the consequences of living
the atheistic lifestyle, I have a lot of empathy for people who
are outside the family of God and are skeptical about the claims
of Jesus. The book also is designed to help Christians solidify
what they believe and dialogue with nonbelieving friends.
How did your background in investigative journalism and law help
you in writing this book?
It helped me formulate questions to consider what constitutes
reliable and persuasive evidence and to compile the case for Christ
in a cumulative way that demonstrates the overall arguments in
favor of Christ. A lot of historical evidence for Jesus’
being the Son of God can be investigated using techniques that
an investigative journalist would use in pursuing an important
PE: What kind of
feedback have you had from non-Christians?
One scholar I interviewed told me that we’re living in a
postmodern world where nobody is interested in the historical
evidence for Jesus. But within a short time after the book was
published a young person in Mississippi wrote a review online.
He had been an atheist, but he read the book and now he’s
a follower of Christ. Hundreds of people have contacted me saying
they have found faith in Christ because the Holy Spirit used this
book to help them. One agnostic guy in Chicago was in a bookstore
and he sat down to look at a magazine and sat on my book. He started
flipping through it then threw the book aside. Afterwards he had
a strong sense that the book was not there by accident. He bought
the book and read it. As a result he became a follower of Jesus.
Did you anticipate the blistering negative reaction to the book
from some quarters?
The book penetrated the stronghold of atheists, agnostics and
skeptics. They have tried to attack it from a variety of angles.
But the opposition shows that atheists were forced to take the
book seriously. I’m glad they haven’t been able to
PE: How has becoming
a Christian transformed you?
once lived a very immoral, self-centered, self-destructive life.
I felt my atheism freed me to pursue personal pleasure despite
the cost to others. When I accepted Christ, my values and character
began to be changed. When I was an atheist I felt no guilt over
helping arrange an abortion for a young woman in college. Back
then you could have given me a hundred scientific and moral reasons
why abortion was wrong and I wouldn’t have listened. Now
I understand the evil of abortion because I see it from God’s
PE: Do you miss
I loved the daily fray of journalism in a highly competitive city.
But nothing else I have ever done can approach the thrill of helping
people meet Jesus personally.
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