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The Case for Faith Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel.
The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity is a non-fiction book by Lee Strobel, a former Atheist turned Christian who uses the book to examine a number of critical questions that he feels limit a person’s capacity to embrace Christianity specifically, and organized religion more generally. He calls these questions “heart barriers.” The book consists of a number of interviews and reflections from prominent philosophers and theologians, as well as everyday Christians, that seek to answer some of the questions Strobel poses.
Strobel begins his book with an anecdote about a pair of evangelists and close friends, Charles Templeton and Rev. Billy Graham. Graham, who is now quite old, has remained a Christian for his entire life, despite all his varied experiences. Templeton, on the other hand, became an agnostic after he saw a photograph of a mother in African holding the dead body of her baby during a horrific drought. After seeing this photo, Templeton began to question his faith and his doubts about God, finding few answers. He fell away from his religion because he found it impossible to believe in a loving God when women were losing their babies due to lack of access to drinking water.
Strobel uses this anecdote to set up his book as an examination of some of these challenging questions, which cause even the most devout believers to lose their faith and move away from the church. Once an atheist for many of the same reasons as Templeton, Strobel counters some of these questions through interviews with prominent thinkers in philosophy and religion. The questions that he focuses on include: How can a loving God exist in the midst of evil and suffering? How can miracles be true if science contradicts them? Why is God needed if evolution occurred? How could God be worthy of worship if he allows the killing of children and innocents? How could a loving God torture people in Hell? Other chapters include questions about how it is possible to support Christianity given its violent and offensive past, and how to cope with the often exclusionary principle that embracing Jesus is the only way to find God.
Through his interviews with priests, scholars, and theologians, Strobel lays out clear arguments for each of these questions. Evil and suffering exist, he argues, because having free will, man is able to counter the will of God by refusing to ask for help when it is needed, or actively working against the plans of God. Miracles are possible because, operating within the realm of nature, they are only facilitated by the hand of God. Hell is not God’s punishment, but rather a realm full of suffering into which people go only when they reject God – by embracing God, it is impossible to go to Hell; God does not send people to Hell through judgment. The violent history of Christianity, like suffering, comes from the free will of men; the fact that it existed does not speak to the actual principles of Christ. Strobel also makes it clear that it is natural to doubt one’s faith, and possible to ask God not only for help in one’s belief but also for help through phases of unbelief. As for the people who were killed in the Bible, Strobel argues that God only allowed them to die because if they were to live, they would have caused unspeakable violence against the Israelites.
Overall, Strobel’s message is both in favor of Christianity and one that embraces doubt and questioning. Strobel acquiesces that in order to become a strong Christian, one must consider arguments that promote Christian belief systems and shine a good light on the church, as well as those that cause tension. After weighing all the evidence, Strobel confirms that Christianity is an overwhelmingly positive force, despite the doubts that he has presented in his text. He ends the book with a heartwarming note about Graham visiting his friend Templeton on his deathbed, and praying for his dying friend.
Lee Strobel is a former investigative journalist and the author of several Christian books. He has received four ECPA Christian Book Awards for his work. Some of his titles include The Case for Christ and The Case for a Real Jesus. He has also written a spin-off The Case For… series which is geared toward young readers interested in critically analyzing Christian faith. Strobel worked as a teaching pastor for a number of years before moving into the production of his own television show, Faith Under Fire. He also worked as a journalist and has a degree from Yale Law School.