The Tipping Point
This takes us right up until recent times. Let me start the last part of this story by saying that my wife Ramona is my inspiration. I just know that she will be one of those people about whom God will say “well done, good and faithful servant.” I mention this because it was in an effort to have more common interests with her, that I signed up for a class called Symbolon, presented by the Adult Education group at our parish.
One night, during a bit of chit chat during a break in our class, I mentioned to our group that what I really wanted to find were books, not starting from a position of “I believe”, but scholarly, academic books that present information about Jesus the same way that they would present information about the Pyramids of Egypt, the great plagues of Europe or the settling of the New World. I’ll be forever grateful for what happened next. A woman named Judy said “Oh! You should check out a book called “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.” I did, and I am forever changed.
Lee Strobel was the editor of the legal page of the Chicago Tribune. A journalist by trade, he also has a masters degree in legal studies. Strobel said something to the effect of “Journalists are supposed to be skeptical. They want to uncover the facts. At the Tribune we were proud of our skepticism. We had a sign on the wall that said ‘If your mother says ‘I love you’, get a second source'”.
In a nutshell, Strobel had a drinking problem and was an atheist. His wife was an atheist and although you’d think that gave them something in common, they had a troubled marriage. One day a neighbor asked Mrs. Strobel if she’d like to attend church with her. Surprisingly, she agreed to go. This was the beginning of a transformation over the next few months. Strobel could hardly believe his eyes. His wife was much happier and seemed to have an inner peace and joy about her.
Lee thought “Oh man, we’re headed for divorce now…” Instead of seeking a divorce attorney, though, Strobel’s inner-journalist took over. He felt compelled to “investigate” Christianity. How could his wife have undergone such a radical change?
The result of two years of investigation yielded the book “The Case For Christ”. In it, Strobel interviews historians, university professors and other scholars to see if there was any evidence at all for the historical Jesus. Not only was there evidence of the historical Jesus, but also consensus from historians of all stripes that the man known as Jesus was in fact sentenced to death via crucifixion and most amazing of all, there is considerable consensus among historians that Jesus was crucified and that three days later he rose from the dead.
This was a game changer. This was exactly what I was looking for: to take faith out of The Faith. To me, asking whether I believe in God is now as ridiculously rhetorical as asking me if I “believe in” gravity…or rain.