The Case for Christ

So it’s been a few months since I actively stopped going to church.  One night, My wife and I have a conversation about it.  I basically summed up my arguments as to why I could no longer go to church with “It’s all bullshit”.  She thought about it, and a few nights later she told me that she had come to grips with a lot of this when she started attending the UPC church years ago.  She basically said that she realized her baptist grandparents were saved, even though the UPC church says they’re not.  She then went on to say that she even considers her dad OK, even though he is a member of what he calls the one, true religion, “non-practicing Catholics.”  She said that he is more of a Christian, by his attitude and actions toward others than many of the active Christians she knows.  I have to agree with her.  He is one of the best people I know.

So since I’ve quit going, the music minister sent me a text asking how I was doing.  I replied that I was well.

Then two Sundays ago, I get a call from one of the men in the church, who I used to ride motorcycles with.  He left a message asking me to call him back.  I put it off until Tuesday night.  He called back and we talked for a while.  I tried my best to lay out what I had been through as quickly as I could.  He expressed his worried disapproval and finally concluded by asking me if I had ever witnessed a miracle.  Well, no.  I never have.  I’ve been told by others that they knew someone who heard someone else say they had witnesses a miracle.  For all intents and purposes, I think most situations that people call miracles are coincidences.  And I also think it’s interesting that the closer you get to the third world, the more miracles you see.  And isn’t it interesting the near lack of modern medical equipment that could confirm a miracle claim in the third world…  But I digress.  He went on to tell me about a miracle that happened to him.  Apparently his dog was hit in the head and his son said the dog was dead.  He called the pastor, who proceeded to pray for the dog, and he was healed.  I think he made my point for me without even realizing it.  But he asked if he could pray for me that I’d witness a miracle.  Sure.  What harm could that do?  I’d love to see an actual, verifiable miracle.  Wouldn’t you?

Then a couple of days later, my former pastor sends me a text asking if we could talk.  So I called him and we set up a breakfast meeting for last Saturday.  Over the course of an hour and a half, I laid out most of everything I had learned, and concluded by telling him that I no longer believed.

One of his concerns was that I had mentioned that Matthew had mined the Septuagint for his “prophecies” concerning the messiah and had misunderstood it, and therefore pictured Jesus riding two donkeys into Jerusalem simultaneously based on his misunderstanding.   My former pastor proceeded to tell me that the Septuagint wasn’t written when Matthew wrote his gospel.  OK…

Then he told me that he thought that “my searching” was a good thing, since it showed that I was looking for the truth.  In fact, I had told him several times that that was the whole reason I had started questioning Christianity in the first place: I wanted to know the truth.  I had even said that I thought it was interesting and ironic that my search for the truth had lead me out of Christianity.  But even so, I’ll grant him that my search is definitely not over.  There is always more to learn.

So he concluded by asking if I would be willing to read a book.  Sure.  I’m always open to reading a good book.  So he orders me a copy of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  But he doesn’t stop there.  He also orders me a copy of The Case for a Creator, also by Strobel.  I was a little anxious to see if these books might contain that one thing that I might be able to pin my hopes on that Christianity had some sliver of hope left.  After all, he is a pastor, and he has to know something about these books and the knowledge they contain.  Maybe, just maybe, he knew something that I hadn’t looked at yet.  So we said our goodbyes and promised to meet again in a few weeks time to discuss the books.

The next day, as I was running around town doing errands, I stopped by the local bookstore.  In the religion section, they had a copy of The Case for Christ.  So I sat down and started reading.  Very quickly, my hopes dried up.  It’s written on quite a low level, and is dry: that formulaic, leading kind of dry that so many Christian books are written in.  I got about half-way through the first chapter and had to quit.  I skipped to the end of the chapter and realized there were “study questions”.  I’d been had!  This wasn’t a real book about facts and serious inquiry, it was a Christian self-help book.

So I looked up some reviews of the book online to see what others had said about it.  Not surprisingly, all the Christian reviews were glowing.  But then I came across a couple of  blog-length critical reviews of the book.  I also found one for The Case for a Creator, which I am nearly finished with reading.  It is over at the Daylight Atheism blog on Patheos.com.    Apparently, my initial assessment was correct.  These books are nothing more than self-help books trying to keep those Christians with little or mild doubt in the pews.  When you actually look at the claims made in these books, it’s easy to see that they haven’t got a leg to stand on.

Frankly, I am quite disappointed that my former pastor would recommend these books.  Either he thinks they are that good, or he doesn’t realize how tenacious and thorough I have been with studying this stuff.  Yes… I know it’s taken me a long time to finally put two and two together and realize that not only is the emperor not wearing clothes, but that there is no emperor at all, but at least I did figure it out.  Now to convince my former pastor that I’m done.

I still do intend on reading at least The Case for Christ, but I had already ordered Loftus’ The Christian Delusion.  If you have not read this book, you need to.  It puts all of it together in a way that makes it easy to comprehend, and is written by such a high level of authors that there is really no arguing against it in a meaningful way.

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9 thoughts on “The Case for Christ

  1. That’s pretty awesome that the people at your church noticed you were gone and bothered following up with you. I liked that one of the men prayed that you would see a miracle but I venture to guess that you wouldn’t believe it if you did. I heard or read someone say that to some people everything is a miracle and to others nothing is. Without faith it is impossible to see God. I believe the root of your waning faith is your unwillingness to let go of some things in your life that God had been dealing with you to let go of. This is what I believe God has shown me about you.

    You aren’t looking for answers so much as excuses. And I venture to guess the sin that you love isn’t so much the obvious sins of the flesh. I believe you are wrapped in subtle deceptions about your own righteousness. You sympathize with your sins and the sins of others too much.

    Miracles are more likely to happen in third world countries because of their lack of dependence on other means of healing. Coming from someone that has been backed into lots of corners with miracles being the only way out, I can say from personal experience, when there is no other way, I call on God’s deliverance with greater faith and expectation.

    • Emily,
      Thanks for the comment. In response: I think it’s pretty awesome that three out of possibly 600 people contacted me after I left, and it took more than a month and a half. It seems to me that if they really believed deep-down that this was an eternal life or death matter, they would be beating my door down. But alas, no.
      The rest of your answer sounds like a fairly typical response from a christian. You can’t comprehend that anyone could ever walk away from christianity. I felt exactly the same six months ago, but once all the evidence was in front of me, I could no longer believe. But if you’re happy in your faith, great for you. I just can’t continue in it, knowing what I know now.
      It’s actually quite the opposite reason that I left. I was looking for the truth: the right church to be in, the true way god wants us to worship him. Obviously all the churches and ways of worshiping god can’t be right with all of their disparate, opposing beliefs. It was my research to find the right one that led me to the real truth: it’s all a sham. If you really want to see for yourself, read the book I mentioned in the post by John W. Loftus. He was a christian apologist and minister for many years, so he knows his stuff.

      • He may know ‘his stuff,’ but I know God and have no desire to waste my time reading other people’s nonsensical reasoning for refusing to glorify God with their lives. I say this in the most kind but frank way possible, you are full of self pity, and self reliance. I have no sympathy for your refusal of the truth. The problem is not that God has not revealed himself. God offers salvation to all; gives all a free-will to refuse; you’re free to chose. You will have no excuse before God if you chose to live life on your own terms. You have been presented with the truth but preferred a lie.

      • Emily,
        Even though you “have no desire to waste [your] time reading other people’s nonsensical reasoning for refusing to glorify God with their lives”, I appreciate you taking the time to read mine.
        Be that as it may, you really might enjoy John W. Loftus’ book. I believe that if your faith is strong, and it’s the real faith then reading a book that is critical of it would only strengthen your faith. It might even convince you even more of your faith when you see the reasons others choose not to believe. Just a thought.

      • I see your reasoning, but I am reading a lot of other books that I am interested in; I’ve never been been one to bother starting-let alone finishing a book that’s a bore to me. Although I was raised in church, I did not become a believer until I was 24; prior to that I read a lot of spiritual books and books about different religion; I used to have a bitter attitude toward Christianity and Christians. I could argue an uninformed Christian under the table. Looking back I realize how silly I must have seemed to those that knew Christ and had a personal relationship with him; I thought myself wise; I was a fool. I’ve been born again. I have a new life in Christ. There is no unbecoming for me. It’s impossible; no argument; no theory; no high and lofty thing that sets itself against the true knowledge of God, could cause me to unbe me; I am redeemed.

  2. it should be telling that those who claim concern for your eternal soul did not have what it takes, the evidence, to convince you. They relied upon a third party to tell you. Seriously, what are you to make of their concern if they themselves cannot study enough to convince you? The moment the recommend a book they have failed. They know they have and you should learn to call them out on it right then

    • I see that now. Live and learn. Although, before this I had no desire to read this book. But now that I have it I can see just how weak their case is: more ammunition in my arsenal, so to speak.

  3. Pingback: Hell in a Hand Basket | rightgroove

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