The Case for Christmas: Introduction
Welcome, everyone, to the first part of Heathen Critique’s Annual Special Wintermas Special: a critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christmas.
The first thing you need to know is that this itty-bitty volume, a mere 96 pages, is a simply a few chapters from Strobel’s The Case for Christ.
I wonder if any of Strobel’s fans got The Case for Christmas, started in, and suddenly thought, “Huh. Feels like I’ve read this before…wait a minute!”
The introduction, however, appears to be original to Christmas. The four chapters that follow are simply excerpted from Christ:
- Chapter 1: The Eyewitness Evidence: Can the Biographies of Jesus Be Trusted? is Chapter 1 of Christ.
- Chapter 2: The Scientific Evidence: Does Archaeology Confirm or Contradict Jesus’ Biographies? is Chapter 5 of Christ.
- Chapter 3: The Profile Evidence: Did Jesus Fulfill the Attributes of God? is Chapter 9 of Christ.
- Chapter 4: The Fingerprint Evidence: Did Jesus—and Jesus Alone—Match the Identity of the Messiah? is Chapter 10 of Christ.
So, as you can see, we should be able to dispense with this teensy volume in short order, and move on to the second part of our Annual Special Wintermas Special: Christmas Town!
To the Introduction!
Back in his newspaper days (yanno, before his days as pastor at a mega-church), Strobel wrote some articles about needy families in Chicago. These included the Delgados, grandmother and two granddaughters, is living in a two-room apartment, and although they have nothing for Christmas, they have faith in Jesus.
So it’s all okay.
Well, it’s okay because Tribune readers responded to the article by sending the family thousands of dollars in cash, as well as appliances, a Christmas tree and presents, and “a dazzling selection of clothing, including dozens of warm winter coats, scarves, and gloves.”
Strobel is “astonished” that the grandmother is organizing some of the donations for their neighbors who are still in need.
That blew me away!
Really? It blew him away that someone who was donated literally dozens of coats would give away a few of them? Yes, it is very, very sweet and kind, but really, how many coats do three people actually need?
Strobel sees these happy Christians and, unhappy atheist (but I repeat myself) that he is, wants to be just like them:
They had peace despite poverty, while I had anxiety despite plenty; they knew the joy of generosity, while I knew only the loneliness of ambition; they looked heavenward for hope, while I only looked out for myself; they experienced the wonder of the spiritual while I was shackled to the shallowness of the material—and something made me long for what they had.
Huh. I guess he could have known the joy of generosity by giving the family some cash himself, but I suppose that’s not the sort of thing atheists do.
And I must note here that although the family looked heavenward for hope, the help actually came from other human beings. The tree and coats and food did not fall from Heaven.
Oh well. It doesn’t matter, since Strobel pushes them out of his mind. He’s a journalist!
Hey! Just like Buck Williams!
As a journalist, I was far more interested in facts, evidence, data, and concrete reality.
Uh huh. Strobel talks a good game about facts and skepticism. But I really have to wonder if this is a sign of things to come. (I’m going into this pretty much blind.) Strobel describes himself, again and again, as a fan of “investigation” and “hard evidence.” A self-described skeptic examining the “case” for Christmas and coming to a “verdict” based on facts, not blind faith.
Yet even in this short introduction, Strobel strikes me as a man of many emotions—emotions he often tries to simplify, and emotions over which he does not always have control. See above, where he is shocked by generosity, and paints his life in two striking shades: black and white.
Strobel claims that he was an atheist. And although I do not want to go all No True Scotsman on him, he does not sound like an atheist. Indeed, like so many people who talk about how they “used to be atheist,” Strobel appears to have been a believer as a child…
As a youngster, like countless other wide-eyed children, I listened with rapt fascination to the annual Bible story about Christmas.
…and returned to the faith, at least in part, because of family concerns…
…prompted by my agnostic wife’s conversion to Christianity, and still intrigued by memories of the Delgados…
…so forgive me if I take this assertion with a little grain of salt.
So, let’s follow Strobel on his Christmassy journey of hard evidence…or, perhaps, emotion and credulity.