Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lee Strobel's "The Case for Faith for Kids" summary with commentary


My boys have graduated from "kids" to "students" so I updated to the student edition of Lee Strobel's "Case for..." series and wanted to get these notes down before I ship the "for kids" series off to their new owner.  These are the questions and answers kids work through in "The Case for Faith for Kids" by Lee Strobel.  Yes, there are nifty illustrations and added discussion questions to help your kids think things through, but I wanted to highlight the actual apologetics material.  I put in my two cents here and there.  I may or may not do the same for the other two books I have in this series.

Question:  “Should people who already believe in God ask for answers?  If they wonder, for instance, whether God is really fair, does that mean they don’t trust God enough?  Should they just ignore the tough stuff and go on believing in God?

Answer:  “No, because questions—especially questions about faith—are too important to let us do that.  … Jesus said this:  ‘Ask, and it will be given to you.  Search, and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you.’ (Matthew 7:7-8) … Remember, even though it’s important to ask questions about God to find him, he is always searching for you. … If you ask and think and search for the answers with all your heart, maybe you’ll finally discover that every answer leads to God himself.  Because, as Saint Augustine said, ‘All truth is God’s truth.’”

From “Introduction:  Any Questions?” in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel


Question:  “Why would a good God allow bad things?

Answer: Some bad things happen because we choose them.  God created choice so that we would be his friends and not his robots.  Other bad things happen by accident. Strobel says this is a result of the Fall—the first sin—but I think accidents probably happened before the first sin as well, and that Strobel could also just refer back to choice.  Accidents—as opposed to nothing ever happening by accident—make choice possible, which makes it possible for us to be God’s friends instead of his robots.  One thing Strobel pointed out that is very important:  In John 9, the man who was blind since birth wasn’t being punished for something he or his parents did, but was blind so that God could show himself through it.  Just because things are falling down around you does not mean God is out to get you.  However, Lee implied that Romans 8:28 shows that God will make all bad situations good in this life—but that isn’t the meaning of the verse.  Sometimes it all goes to crap in this life, but God intends it for your spiritual good in the long run (from an eternal perspective).  The point we don’t want to miss in this life, is that God’s love never changes, whatever the circumstances (Strobel doesn’t say this). Strobel does point us to God’s future plans of setting all things right (2 Peter 3:13).

Paraphrased (with my own thoughts inserted) from “Chapter 1:  Why would a good God allow bad things?” in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel

Question:  “If science can explain so many things, does that mean there are no real miracles?  …where does that leave God?  Or is there some way both science and miracles can be true?

Answer (from Bill Craig):  “…if Jesus is God, as he says he is, he can do what he wants.  He made the universe, so what’s the big deal about feeding a few extra people?  Or walking on water?  Or rising from the dead, for that matter?”

Question:  “Still, doesn’t he have to break the laws of science—mess up his own system—to perform a miracle?

Answer (from Bill Craig):  “Not the way I look at it.  Let’s say an apple is about to fall from the tree.  The laws of science (gravity, actuality) say it will hit the ground.  But I step up and catch the apple.  Have I broken the laws of science?  The answer is no, I haven’t.  I have stepped in and intervened.  A miracle is when God steps in and does something in the world.  It’s supernatural—that means it’s not against nature but higher than nature.”

From “Chapter 2:  Does science mean miracles can’t happen?” in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel

Question:  “Okay, Mr. Philosopher, if you’re so smart, give me five good reasons to believe in God when science explains so much.

Answer:  “1. God makes sense of creation.  … If the universe began to exist at some point in the past, then it must have had a cause.  What could that cause have been?  God makes the most sense.  / God has always existed.  He never had a beginning, so he doesn’t need a cause to exist.  2. God makes sense of the fine details of life.  …a famous scientist named Stephen Hawking figured out that the big bang happened in exactly, absolutely, precisely the right way for there to even be a universe.  If the speed of the bang had been faster or slower by one part in a hundred thousand million million, the whole thing would have collapsed into a fireball! … Or think about this one, worked out by a scientist named P.C.W. Davies.  If the force of gravity were weaker or stronger by one part in a number we don’t have room to write here (10 with one hundred zeros after it!), then there never would have been life on this earth. … Who sits at the controls and sets all the dials?  Faith in God makes sense when you look at the details of life.  3.  God makes sense of right and wrong.  [I agree, but disagree with the “God made up the rules” approach Strobel takes.  Instead, I believe God is the only perfectly good person in reality that makes those rules true.]  4. God makes sense of Jesus.  [There are key very interesting elements missing, like the reality that there are certain facts, if stated correctly, that even skeptical scholars take as historical, and if stated together, rule out every resurrection theory besides “it happened”.]  5.  God makes sense of our personal experiences.  [This is true after having some sort of legitimate religious experience, but it only counts for those who’ve experienced it (or witnessed their transformation).]”

From “Chapter 3:  The Big 5” (with my own thoughts inserted) in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel

Question: “Is there only one way to heaven? Many ways? No way? Is the answer important?

Answer (from Ravi Zacharias): “If you ‘check the contents’ of religions, you find they are entirely different inside. … Christians, Jews and Muslims claim that there is one God. Hindus say there are many. Buddhists and atheists say there is none. Christians say Jesus is the Son of God, but Muslims say God has no son. They can’t all be right, can they? When people give different answers to the same questions, someone must be wrong while someone else may be right. But it would be irrational to say that all the answers were right. … When speaking of matters that are important to people, such as belief in God, we need to be gentle and understanding. Some people like Christ, but they don’t like Christians very much. Our failure to be gentle may be why. … Live out what you believe. Show people through your life that Jesus is not just an idea, but he’s real and we can know him personally.” (For the record, living out what you believe does not mean coming off as a morally superior goodie-goodie who has it all together socially, so please do not start expecting me to measure up to that. Living out what I believe means finding my acceptance in God, not what other people think of me--that's the only thing that will coax me out of my shell. But, even if I stay in my shell forever, it won't change how God feels about me. So there. But, I'm with Zacharias on this: Don't be a jerk for Jesus.)

Question: “If Christianity is the true religion, why doesn’t everybody find that out and switch to Christianity or become a Christian? … What about people who haven’t heard?

Answer (from Ravi Zacharias): “…people tend to adopt the religions of their homelands. … Some people reject Christianity because it’s demanding.” Zacharias emphasizes “Jesus calls upon us to be unselfish” but I think, too, that coming to terms with our own imperfection can be even harder than coming to terms with how we ‘ought’ to be—and it just feels legalistic, without talking about how we are saved (accepted) first, and works flow out of that. “…remember that missionaries travel all over the world to be sure that people hear about Jesus. Also, in Romans 1:19-20a the Bible tells us that since the beginning of the world, the true God has made himself plain to all people so that they would have a chance to know him. In Acts 17:26-27, we read that God carefully placed people where he wanted them to live. And finally, there is this wonderful verse in Jeremiah 29:13 in which God says, ‘When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.’ There are two or three things we can be very certain about God. One is that he is fair. Another is that he loves everyone with a love that never lets up. He has placed a special need in the heart of each one of us—the need for him. It’s like being thirsty. There is only one thing you can do to get rid of your thirst, and that is to drink. There is only one way to fill our need for God, and that is to find him.” Amen and amen.

From “Chapter 4: Can other religions get us into heaven?” (with my own thoughts inserted) in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel

Question:  “Can I have doubts and still be a Christian?

Answer:  “Faith (trust)…it’s based on something solid.  But doubt...actually makes us work on our faith. … you can have it without feeling it. … One day a man came to Jesus with a son who needed healing.  Jesus told the father that everything is possible for someone who believes.  The man said, ‘I do believe!  Help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). … It’s not that we have no faith.  We just want God to help us with those little unfaithful parts inside us. … Doubt is the ‘heavy lifting’ of faith.  That is, faith is a kind of spiritual muscle you have to exercise by stretching it, working on it, and hammering it until it’s tough.  Doubt does that.”

From “Chapter 5: Can I have doubts and still be a Christian?” in “The Case for Faith for Kids” by Lee Strobel

There are practical, short stories at the end that show what it would look like if any of the above came up in an every-day conversation.

"Objections to Faith" by David Spikes (12 yrs. old) -- written after reading Student Edition

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