Movie Review: The Case for Faith

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Lee Strobel has spent a large part of his career defending Christianity against some of its most sophisticated objections. This movie is framed around Charles Templeton, a former Christian preacher who was a rising star at one point along with Billy Graham. Templeton, however, became consumed with doubt and came to abandon the ministry along with his Christian faith. There are two major objections that drove Templeton away from his belief in Christianity. The first is, by what right does Christianity claim to have an exclusive hold on the truth, making it superior to other religions? The second objection is, how can there be a good God, given the overwhelming presence of evil in the world?

Strobel interviews various scholars and gives cogent answers to both of these questions. The upshot of the movie is that neither of the objections seem compelling at all. The first objection comes from a vague sense of fair-mindedness. If Christianity alone is true, then all the other religions, at least in part, are false, and this is unfair. The fact is, though, that the various religions–Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.—make contradictory claims. Unless we water down each one of them to the point that they are unrecognizable, then they all make exclusive claims to having the truth. Islam cannot accept the doctrine of the incarnation because its notion of divine unity forbids any attempt to associate God with something that is not God, e.g. flesh. Judaism cannot accept that Jesus was the Messiah since for them the Messiah is an earthly ruler and not someone who ended up being crucified at a relatively young age. In sum, there is nothing wrong with a religion making an exclusive claim to truth. This is what religions do. People like to adopt a relativism these days in order to appear tolerant, but they can only maintain this at the cost of losing any robustness with which they hold their religious convictions.

As for the second objection, I am beginning to think that the problem of evil is really a pseudo-problem, at least as far as its alleged conflict with religious belief. Strobel’s panel of experts go through the standard and compelling ways for dealing with this issue. One of them is that we have free will. Without free will, we would not be able to genuinely love God. We would just be puppets. The downside of free will is that we can abuse it and do evil. But, this cost is worth it when one considers the great good of people who are able freely devote themselves to love of God.

A great moment occurs when Strobel discusses the objection of the famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell. Russell claimed that no one who had knelt besides the bed of a dying child could still believe in God. But, the Christian actually has a lot of resources with which to cope with this tragic circumstance. He can think about the afterlife, for instance. He can think of he Resurrection, by which Jesus defeated death. The atheist, on the other hand, has nothing to offer to those who witness the death of the child. All the atheist can say is, this is the way things are, deal with it.

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