Age of Reason Publications The Jesus Puzzle


Challenging the Verdict - A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ"

Do the Gospels hold up in Court?

Following on the success of  The Jesus Puzzle, my second book, Challenging the Verdict, is a direct response to a bestseller in conservative Christian apologetics. This rebuttal is a revision and expansion of my earlier website book review of the same name, complete with Index. That book review has now been superseded. To read excerpts from the book, see below.

In the face of modern critical scholarship, which is steadily eroding the historical reliability of the Gospels and their presentation of Jesus, conservative writers have been making valiant attempts to reestablish confidence in the Christian record and doctrine. The most prominent of these, in popular exposure and commercial success, has been Lee Strobel, in his 1998 book The Case for Christ.

In that book, Lee Strobel, an ex-court journalist, conducts a series of 14 interviews with well-known conservative and evangelical scholars of the New Testament, such as Craig Blomberg, William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas, in an attempt to establish the reliability of the Gospel account and the truth of the Resurrection. Within the context of a scholarly critique, I take numerous quotations from those interviews and set up my own dialogue with them, as though cross-examining Strobel and his witnesses in a courtroom before judge and jury. This makes for gripping reading, a strong atmosphere and an effective way to present the case in favor of a more rational and coherent view of the Christian record and the origins of Christianity. Challenging the Verdict exposes the deficiencies, the fallacies, the selective and misleading use of evidence inherent in The Case for Christ, and offers more reasonable alternatives.

It is not necessary to have read Strobel’s book in order to understand or derive the benefit of this critique. Challenging the Verdict is written in simple, clear, conversational language, with elements of humor and insight into logic and history. The book addresses all aspects of the Christian record: Gospels, epistles, non-canonical documents. Occasionally, I step beyond the scope of New Testament interpretation and discuss religion and rationality in general.

Challenging the Verdict provides an ideal response for those who have had Lee Strobel’s book urged upon them by friends, family members and their local clergy. Now you can offer something in return that will show why there is good reason to question the Gospels and reject their claims.

272 pages, with extensive Notes, and full, user-friendly Index. Softcover edition.

Review of "Challenging the Verdict" by Lee Salisbury, former U.S. evangelical church pastor:
"Well-intentioned people like Lee Strobel and his ‘expert witnesses’ in The Case for Christ have been inspired to speak half-truths, misrepresentations, and plain absurdities in defense of Christian doctrine. Earl Doherty confutes Strobel and his theologians point for point so thoroughly and convincingly that one is left wondering, how did I not see that before? Christian apologetics’ faith-based thought processes contrast with Doherty’s reasoned refutation and clearly reveal how intellectual integrity is sacrificed at religion’s altar of ‘believe at any price’." 

From reviews on
"Another resounding triumph of reason over faith." Bill, from Minneapolis
"The most effective debunking exercise I've seen in a long time." Richard, from Toronto
"This book is one of the best refutations of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity that I have ever seen. It is definitely up there with the Secular Web's Jury project." Hass
Other reader reviews:
"Rarely if ever, does one get such a balanced and well argued refutation of such a work." Mark, from Reader Feedback No. 19
"My congratulations on a superb piece of criticism. Readable, intelligent, thorough, good-humoredly colloquial, yet argued with passion, patience and precision (a feat of balancing!). Stephen, from Reader Feedback No. 18
For complete reviews posted on, positive and negative, including comments of my own in reply, see: CTVReviews on the Age of Reason Website

TO READ EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK, GO TO: Challenging the Verdict on the Age of Reason Website

Challenging the Verdict is published under my own imprint, Age of Reason Publications. Visit the Age of Reason website at:

Also by Earl Doherty: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin With a Mythical Christ?

Contents of Challenging the Verdict


PART ONE: Is the Gospel Record Reliable?

Chapter One: The Gospels and Their Authors
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Craig Blomberg and "The Eyewitness Evidence"
Chapter Two: Under the Spotlight
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Craig Blomberg and "Testing the Eyewitness Evidence" 
Chapter Three: Manuscripts and the Canon
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Bruce Metzger and "The Documentary Evidence"
Chapter Four: Jesus Outside the Gospels
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Edwin Yamauchi and "The Corroborating Evidence"
Chapter Five: Evaluating the Gospel Historians
A Cross-Examination of Dr. John McRay and "The Scientific Evidence"
Chapter Six: Placing Jesus in Context
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gregory Boyd and "The Rebuttal Evidence"

PART TWO: What Was the Nature of Jesus?

Chapter Seven: Jesus’ View of Himself
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Ben Witherington III and "The Identity Evidence"
Chapter Eight: Jesus’ State of Mind
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gary R. Collins and "The Psychological Evidence"
Chapter Nine: Jesus as God the Son
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Donald A. Carson and "The Profile Evidence"
Chapter Ten: Jesus as Fulfillment of Prophecy
A Cross-Examination of Mr. Louis Lapides and "The Fingerprint Evidence"

PART THREE: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Chapter Eleven: Suffering and Death on the Cross
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Alexander Metherell and "The Medical Evidence"
Chapter Twelve: Burial and an Empty Tomb
A Cross-Examination of Dr. William Lane Craig and "The Evidence of the Missing Body"
Chapter Thirteen: Appearing in the Flesh
A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gary Habermas and "The Evidence of Appearances"
Chapter Fourteen: Looking at the Effects
A Cross-Examination of Dr. J. P. Moreland and "The Circumstantial Evidence"

In answer to Lee Strobel’s "Conclusion: The Verdict of History"




The paperback version of Challenging the Verdict is available from