Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
A Note on the Strobel Thing
12/18/2006 - James WhiteA friend wrote and gently rebuked me for noting the less-than-orthodox caption on the Lee Strobel video page. My point was that given the presence of so much bad stuff about Christ this time of year ("baby Jesus no crying He makes..." blah! Gnosticism!), we don't need this kind of sloppy theology. I was told I needed to watch the video, which I did. And I was more bothered by the video than I was by the errant statement, not because Strobel himself said something less orthodox than the caption. Instead, I winced repeatedly, not because what he was saying was, in and of itself, untrue, but it was being presented in such a fashion that it would leave anyone who took it out and tried to use it in the real world of apologetics completely defenseless against rather simplistic and easy refutations. For example, he presents the use of ego eimi by Jesus in Mark 6:50 as an evidence of the deity of Christ. Well, possibly, but surely, you cannot prove from the Markan text what you can, in fact, prove from the Johannine usages. If Mark 6:50 is relevant (it may be, but I have never placed weight upon it since it can be fairly argued that it is merely an emphasized statement of self-identification, it is me!, and, without the contextual usage by the author of the same phrase in relevant texts, you don't have a lot of ground upon which to stand) it is only as an echo of the Johannine usage. Go to the solid texts; explain the string of 8:24/8:58/13:19/18:5-6; make the connection to ani hu in Isaiah, and then, if you feel the need, go to Mark 6 as an echo of what has already been solidly established elsewhere. But sending these folks out with just Mark 6 leaves them in a bad way: as many, they might make the all-too-common long-leap to Exodus 3:14 (without making the necessary stop in Isaiah---Strobel made this very error in the video clip) and, if they run into a serious unitarian apologist, they will have a hard time defending their position.
Likewise, at one point Strobel says that if you look at "the original Greek" of John 10:30, when Jesus says He and the Father are "one," the term in Greek means "one in essence." Again, very common, and, just as next to impossible to defend as a primary statement. One means...one, and the concept of oneness of essence is an extended conclusion based upon sound exegetical conclusions drawn from the text, not from the word itself. A sharp critic of the faith would shred such a statement, and rightly so. The oneness of John 10:30 is, in context, a oneness in the salvation of God's people. Can you reason from there, in light of other texts, to a oneness of essence or being? Yes, but the process by which that would take place was not being offered in the presentation I watched.
Is there a lot of surface-level stuff on the deity of Christ out there today? Yes, sure is. Commonly happens when those using the arguments have little experience in applying them against sharp critics.
However, I noted that there was nothing in the presentation that would have corrected the misapprehension created by the mis-stated caption, either. In fact, I didn't hear anything in the way of explanation of the incarnation at all. If anything, it sounded like Strobel was emptying "Son of Man" of any incarnational relevance in regards to His humanity---but again, this section is all about the deity of Christ, which might explain the lack of balance. But in any case, I remain concerned.