Why I Wrote “Jesus On Trial”
September 8, 2014
In case you haven’t heard, despite all the noise we’ve been trying to make about it, I have a new book out, “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel,” and I’m excited about it.
It is on Christian apologetics, which means it defends the Christian faith and its truth claims, but it also includes my personal journey from skeptic to believer and a discussion of basic Christian doctrine. What good is it to believe that Christianity is true if you don’t have some idea what it stands for?
Why would I, a lawyer and political columnist, change course in this book and write about religion instead of politics? Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I should write about this subject when I first considered the idea, because I wasn’t sure that as a layman, I had the required credentials to undertake such a task.
Yes, I’ve studied the Bible, theology and Christian apologetics on and off for many years, and I’ve taken a few seminary courses, but I have no degrees in this field. So why should anyone listen to me?
A combination of factors ultimately led to my decision to go forward with this project. First, a couple of close high-school friends of mine challenged me to defend the reasonableness of the Christian faith at our annual dinner reunion, and I don’t believe I did a very good job acquitting myself when put on the spot like that. Despite all my study, I wasn’t prepared and fully armed to answer their questions.
Within less than a week, as luck – or God – would have it, my publisher asked me to consider writing a book defending the Christian faith. The people there thought it would be fascinating for a lawyer to apply his analytical skills to examining Christianity’s truth claims.
It occurred to me that I might be receiving some providential promptings to write this book. It certainly seemed to be a bizarre coincidence that these two events had happened in such close proximity.
I also figured that although I don’t have formal training, I might be in a better position to reach some skeptics because I understand their doubts, having been a skeptic for years myself.
I agreed to write the book, provided that in addition to addressing the questions normally addressed by classical Christian apologists, I would also cover my own spiritual journey and include some sections on Christian doctrine. My thought was that if I were to have any chance of reaching nonbelievers, I would have to approach the subject the way I approached it when I was a doubter. (Please understand that I fully realize that if this book reaches anyone, it will not be my doing but God’s.)
Sure, I studied apologetics – the evidence pointing to the truth of Christianity, including the reliability of the New Testament and Old Testament documents, the historical evidence for Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and many other subjects.
I wanted to include chapters on the Bible and Christian doctrine because I believe that the Bible itself serves as its own apologetic, if people will just give it a fair hearing. The attractiveness and authority of Jesus’ teachings and the Bible’s extraordinary unity of messages, themes and salvation history despite being written by some 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years blow my mind.
Learning about that unity was pivotal for me – as were the Old Testament (and some New Testament) prophecies, especially the messianic prophecies, by which prophets, hundreds of years before Jesus was born, predicted the very town of his birth, important details of his life and ministry, and astonishing and graphic details concerning his resurrection, among many other things contained in hundreds of such prophecies.
So I was determined to include in this book a bit about my own spiritual journey, fascinating and moving stories I’ve heard that strengthen my faith, paradoxical teachings of the Bible that I find wondrous and compelling, a thorough discussion of the full humanity yet full deity of Jesus Christ, an examination of the Bible’s miraculous unity, many examples of undeniably fulfilled prophecies that are too specific to be dismissed, a comprehensive review of the evidence pointing to the reliability of Scripture, a look at the subject of truth itself, proof of God’s existence, and much more.
But I also thought it would be vitally important to include chapters on subjects that plague seekers and even some believers with doubt – science and the problem of evil and suffering.
Some Christians might be put off by the subject of apologetics, saying that Christianity is a matter of faith and not the intellect. Well, yes, it’s a matter of faith in the end, but we Christians are exhorted to love God with all of our minds, to acquire wisdom as described in the book of Proverbs and to always be prepared to give reasons for the faith and hope we have – provided it’s done with gentleness and respect.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, faith in Christ is not blind faith and does not require us to suspend our intellectual faculties. I humbly submit that the overwhelming weight of the evidence supports Christianity’s truth claims, and I believe I demonstrate that in “Jesus on Trial.” I respectfully urge you to read the book and examine the evidence thoroughly and as if it matters – because I honestly believe it does.