Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lee Strobel, The Resurrection Took Me From Atheist To Apologist

Christian apologist Lee Strobel recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal in response to an atheists defense of why he was an atheist. The problem is that Lee was also a practicing atheist until he went on a two years search to undermine the facts of Christianity in effort to debunk the faith of his wife.

Lee decided to bump the small things and go straight to the heart of the Christian faith...The Resurrection. You see Lee knew that if the resurrection was false, then all of Christianity fails and Jesus is no more than a man if not only a myth in the minds of those seeking a world apocalypse. After 2 years on this search Lee surrendered to Christ and found a faith so vibrant that since 1981 he's been in full gear trying to share it with everyone that would listen.

How could this be from a trained professional journalist at the height of his secular career and trained in legal issues and evidences? What was offered so great that a person would risk all of his life and take courage to find something so vibrant and, living and true that he would be consumed by merely presenting the facts and helping others to discover the joy that he had found? 

What changed Lee's mind? It was the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Unlike most systems of faith, Christianity is a faith rooted in evidence that requests and asks for examination. The deeds of Christianity were done in real time and center around real people and events that can be confirmed by various historical methods and research. Lee was no slouch in his profession and knew how to read between the lines and smoke out the truth of a story. However atheism had taught him that anything is more likely to be true than Christianity. Anything is more likely to be true than a man named Jesus rose from the dead. Simply, all those stories, according to atheism, were just made up fairytales told to entertain and pass time.

Tough Questions & Equally Tough Answers

It seems that the first evidence that Lee found was in his wife's changed life. After a few months of her conversion to Christianity, her actions had changed. She had a sense of peace about circumstances that was new to their relationship and she prayed as if her prayers were really being answered or heard by someone other than herself.  This, needless to say was one of Lee's driving factors. He thought to save his wife from this terrible plot of brainwashing that she had experienced, but couldn't deny the obvious changes for the better. 

As suggested, having a changed wife only heightened his questions and made him more determined to crack the shell of the Christian faith and expose it as a fraudulent belief. He asked and found solid answers to things like this:

Was Jesus really crucified? 
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In other words are the gospel accounts about this true? Certainly if there was a death, there must have been a life. What he found was that even the most critical and knowledgeable scholars agreed that Jesus death was historically reliable and that it happened as a result of crucifixion.

Was Jesus body really placed in a tomb?
What Lee came to understand was that if the tomb was not empty Christianity could have never began in the place that it did. Jerusalem would have been the last place for Christian belief to begin as proof of an entombed Jesus would have killed any hope of a message being preached converting over 3,000 just 50 days after he was crucified. 

Was Jesus seen after his death?
What Lee found was there there were at least 8 historical accounts to varying degrees that affirmed the Apostles statements and testimonies that they had seen a resurrected Jesus. When he used his journalistic training to try to discredit these sources he found that his attempts wained in light of the truth of the accounts and what the accounts represented.

Could those sighting simply be hallucinations? (like Elvis sightings) 
What Lee's training told him was that hallucinations could have happened to one person at a time, but the bible was chalked with references where Jesus appeared to multiple individuals at once. He appears to the women at the tomb, he appeared to the disciples both on the shore and in the upper room. He appeared to 2 men on Emmaus road and to their families at dinner. He also appeared to over 500 people at once who, according to Paul's epistle, were living individuals able to confirm such in their time. In other words he found that the appearances couldn't just simply be discarded. 

Then there was the conversion of skeptics like himself, such as James, Thomas and even Paul who neither expected nor wished to see or encounter a resurrected Jesus. The sightings and conversions had to be reconciled and accounted for, especially in light of the results that men and women were committed to die for what they knew from that point on. 

Men will die for what they believe to be true even if it is in fact a lie, but very rarely will men die for what they KNOW is a lie! This was especially important because if it (Christianity) was a lie, it could have easily been overturned, right there in Jerusalem, just like it started. 

Was the resurrection simply the recasting of ancient mythology, akin to the fanciful tales of Osiris or Mithras?  
As I have addressed in the Easter And The Resurrection, Debunking Novel Speculations, Lee found that none of these  myths and parallels resemble anything similar to the factual and historical data associated with the resurrection  of Jesus. Nor do any of those beliefs explain the unique relationship and actions of Jesus and God toward humanity itself. When comparing, there is really no comparison. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, when all the evidence was considered, there was nothing to support alternate hypothesis and the only thing that could seem to account for all the various lines of historical data was the resurrection of Jesus itself. 

Lee concluded his article in the following manner:
"In the end, after I had thoroughly investigated the matter, I reached an unexpected conclusion: it would actually take more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a follower of Jesus. And that’s why I’m now celebrating my 30th Easter as a Christian. Not because of wishful thinking, the fear of death, or the need for a psychological crutch, but because of the facts." 
The facts go a long way, even to the heart of them that don't believe. once the facts are considered, a person must decide, whether they can't believe or whether they simply won't believe. Which one are you?

Blessed!

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