[serialposts]What a great book! Lee Strobel always does a great job of paying close attention to the details of the evidence, all the while creating an easy to read and understandable book. The Case for Christmas is no exception. As Strobel investigates and seeks to answer the question of “who was in the manger that first Christmas morning?” he brings out hard questions in hopes to get hard proof. As the book progresses, it seems to focus more directly on narrowing down the evidence to the only possible answer to that question…Jesus of Nazareth. Just as a physical address has information that sets you apart from the rest of the 6.8 billion people, taking us from the broad continents and narrowing it down to a single name in a household, Strobel takes us from the broad question of “can we trust the accounts given to us in the Bible?” to questions directed at only one person, Christ.
While chapters one and two look to sources outside of scripture to validate the claims that Jesus is the Messiah, and answers the question “can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?” by using eyewitness evidence and scientific and archaeological evidence, chapter three uses scriptural evidence to answer the questions. Being a “sola scriptura” guy, I love this! Strobel has provided good proofs that we can trust the Gospels, now he wants to know what the Gospels are really saying. The question asked in chapter three is, “Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?” Great question! This is like giving Jesus the ultimate “duck test”. We have all heard that humorous illustration of inductive reasoning, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” To do this with God, we would first need to know the attributes of God, what it is that separates God from everything else. For that information we have to look at the only source in which God reveals Himself that can be suitable for the study of theology…God’s Word, the Bible.
So, what are the attributes of God? Can we even really know God? If so, what is it that we can know about God? Because God is infinite, and we are finite or limited, we can never fully understand all of God. Psalm 145 says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.”
Even though we cannot know God exhaustively, we can know true things about God that He has chosen to reveal about Himself in the Scriptures. So, in order for us to compare Jesus to God, we must compare Jesus to the true things we know about God from the Scriptures. When Lee Strobel set out to do this comparison, he met with D.A. Carson, who is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and award-winning author. Strobel gives us a wonderful view into the two hour conversation he had with Dr. Carson. In this conversation we have so many important questions answered that show us the evidence associated with Jesus and the profile of God.
Before the meeting with Dr. Carson, Strobel has some serious doubts about this claim that Jesus is, in fact, God. The author points out that “God is described as omnipresent, or existing everywhere in the universe; as omniscient, or knowing everything that can be known throughout eternity; as omnipotent, or all-powerful; as eternal, or being both beyond time and the source of all time; and as immutable, or unchanging in His attributes.” He also has some major reservations about believing that the Jesus recorded in the New Testament resembles these attributes. Jesus seems very limited to be God, according to God’s attributes.
Throughout the interview with Dr. Carson, Strobel asks many big questions. “What did [Jesus] say or do that convinces you that He is divine?” “Dr. Carson, how in the world could Jesus be omnipresent if he couldn’t be in two places at once? How could he be omniscient when he says, ‘not even the Son of Man knows the hour of his return’? How could he be omnipotent when the gospels plainly tell us that he was unable to do many miracles in his hometown?” Dr. Carson patiently answers all the questions above leaving no doubt in the authors mind that Jesus did indeed match “the sketch of God.”
Strobel concludes the chapter by stating that while the incarnation –how the spirit takes on flesh- still boggled his mind, “every attribute of God, says New Testament, is ultimately found in the Christmas child who grew up to live a life unlike any other.” The last paragraph provides us with a quote from that Christmas child that sums up the whole chapter, “Jesus said it all in John 14:7: ‘If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.’ Loose translation: ‘When you look at the sketch of God from the Old Testament, you will see a likeness of me.’”