Introduction

If you are persuaded by the arguments for believing in God set out in my book Against Atheism: The Case for God, then read on as I explore ‘the case for Christ’ that Christians believe is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments. This is hotly contested territory. We’ll be examining scriptural controversies that atheists exploit in an attempt to make the Bible appear like a piece of creative fiction akin to The Da Vinci Code. I’ll also scrutinise those claims made by earnest New Testament scholars who regard much of scripture as unreliable historical evidence.

The book starts with the question: did Jesus exist? Some atheists still doubt this, despite historical evidence from non-Christians that exist quite independently of the Gospels. I’ll be looking at fascinating references to Jesus from people who didn’t believe in Him.
One question we can’t escape: was Jesus of Nazareth divine? If He wasn’t, then he becomes just another wise man who said good things, and there’s no shortage of those. Much hinges on whether the four Gospel writers were eyewitnesses or relating eyewitness accounts. This is a subject that preoccupies modern scholars; we need to separate fact from speculation. We’ll also be looking at the writings of St Paul, from whom Christians derive so much of what they know about Christ. Paul never met the earthly Jesus, so how much did he know about the events describes in the Gospels? If, in fact, he knew a great deal, then that gives us essential clues as to when the Gospels themselves were written. I’ll be delving into the Old Testament, too, to see if there’s evidence that – as Christians believe – the coming of Christ was prophesied in these ancient Hebrew texts. You may be surprised by what I’ve uncovered. Then I move on to another sensitive topic: the mysterious alleged source for the Gospels known as ‘Q’, from which many modern scholars believe the Evangelists cribbed sections of their work. ‘Q’ has never been discovered. I’ll be asking whether it ever existed in the first place.

Few topics have generated so much biblical speculation as the precise timing of ‘the Easter Event’ – the passion and crucifixion of Jesus, leading to His resurrection. Again, modern scholars have their own line on this. They think the Fourth Gospel, John, contradicts the Synoptic accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. But does this ‘contradiction’ really exist? What about the Virgin Birth and all the other details of the nativity story that support the belief in the divinity of Jesus? Can they be dismissed as myth? As in the other chapters, I’ll be looking at the evidence for the traditional Christian story to see if it is credible. Part Two of The Case for Christ moves on to broader themes. What does it mean to belong to the Christian religion? Does faith make life happier and more fulfilled? I’ll be comparing the bedrock statement of Christian belief, the Nicene Creed, to what I call the Scientist’s Creed. Is materialism really more ‘rational’ and better suited to modern ways of thinking than Christianity? You will have to make up your own mind, but in the meantime bear with me as I tell you how I went about testing the case for Christ.