Last year lawyer and columnist David Limbaugh wrote an unusual bestseller.
As Christians mark Holy Week and Easter, notably this year with Christianity itself under assault by everyone from ISIS to American leftist secularists (hello Indiana), it is both appropriate and important to take note of David Limbaugh’s confronting of Christianity’s critics in his more than appropriately named Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.
Mr. Limbaugh begins by retelling a conversation with two friends who are “nonbelievers.” He writes of one:
I clearly recall that at one point he announced that he couldn’t understand how any person using his reasoning powers could possibly believe in Christianity.
And right there is the core of the argument by secularists in all the many arguments that erupt across America about Christianity. Google lists over fifteen million — say again fifteen million — links when the topic is the “ignorance” of Christians. Here is but one site that illustrates the point David Limbaugh’s friend was making. Calling itself “Ex-Christian.net,” it has posts with headlines like “Christianity Promotes Ignorance.” That particular post begins:
I believe that Christianity is a negative influence on modern societies. Why do I believe this? Well, for starters, it promotes ignorance, and there can be no greater impediment to the advancement of a culture than widespread ignorance. Promoting ignorance undermines all serious efforts at true education. Worse still, Christianity does not merely promote ignorance, it elevates it to a virtue.
David Limbaugh begins by confessing that in fact, though he was raised a Christian, he too had what he calls “early doubts” about his family faith. He writes:
My brother and I had an ordinary, but wonderful, Midwestern childhood with loving parents who took us to Sunday school and church every Sunday. Our entire extended family was very involved with the church, and I will always have the fondest memories of those days. Going out to eat after church was a family ritual I will always especially cherish. I trusted my parents, and I had no reason to distrust Christianity or the bible, but the truth is that, like many kids, I probably wasn’t engaged enough at a young age to give them the attention they deserved.
… We learned about the Bible in Sunday school, and I went through the confirmation process… [but] as the years passed I slowly began to have doubts.… By the time I was in college, I don’t think I was a believer, but I often wondered about philosophical questions, including Who God was and what He was like…. I was unconvinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Though I always believed in a creator god, I had great difficulty believing in the God of the Bible — as little as I knew about Him, as it turns out. I couldn’t accept that an all-powerful God, if He were also all-loving, would permit such evil, pain, and suffering as we see in the world when it is in His power to prevent it. The concept of an eternal hell was also difficult for me to square with the notion of an omnibenevolent creator.
Unlike many people who reach this stage and wind up leaving their faith, David Limbaugh — a lawyer — decided to, as it were, put Jesus on trial. To do what lawyers are trained to do — prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. In this case there was a demanding juror of one — David Limbaugh himself. He would launch himself on what became a “spiritual journey” — and his book is the tale of that journey. Written “because it might be encouraging or helpful to some who are open to believing but are plagued with doubts similar to those I experienced.”
Realizing that he had in essence been guilty of forming a “final conclusion about the Bible and Jesus Christ when I hadn’t begun to seriously study Scripture or Christian doctrine” and that it was “reckless of me to make a potentially life-determining decision on nothing more than my naked ruminations,” he began his own “trial” of the Nazarene.
This is a seriously remarkable book. Along the way lawyer Limbaugh explores his “aha moments” of revelation, the “Paradoxes of Christianity,” the human and divine nature of Christ, probes miracles and the Resurrection and — in a chapter certain to drive the climate change crowd around the bend — discusses how science “makes the case” for Christianity.
We live today in an environment where truth is all too frequently dispatched in favor of those who can repeat the latest untruth loudly and often enough. David notes that there are Christian apologists (those who have chosen as their area of theological expertise, as the definition goes, a systematic defense of Christianity’s divine origin and authority — known in the trade as “apologetics”) who now make a point of discussing “truth and postmodernism” in the world of today. He quotes Christian theologian Dr. Norman Geisler and Christian author Frank Turek as noting: “Truth about reality is knowable.” David adds of the subject:
The subject is hardly frivolous, for the Bible itself not only affirms truth and its embodiment in Jesus Christ – “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” — but the entirety of the Christian religion depends on the reality of objective truth. As Dr. Carl F. H. Henry writes in the six-volume treatise God, Revelation and Authority, truth is “Christianity’s most enduring asset.”
David Limbaugh further notes:
Overall, the existence of objective truth is essential to Christianity because the reality of its truth claims is essential. If Christianity is not objectively true, and if Christ is not “the Truth,” then Christianity is a sham. Unfortunately, the challenge of proving Christianity’s truth claims becomes more difficult when the concept of truth itself is under attack. But thankfully… attacking the concept of truth is logically self-defeating.
Is it any wonder that virulent secularists start foaming at the mouth when they hear things like this? “Truth” in the secularist worldview is subjective, not to mention situational. While it isn’t mentioned in the book for obvious reasons of timing, think the recent uproar over the allegations of rape at a University of Virginia fraternity or the furor in Ferguson, Missouri. The allegation at UVA turned out to be completely false — yet the defense was that the general subject of rape was true so who cares whether the story about the UVA fraternity was true or not? For months on end various media types, celebrities, and activists not to mention members of Congress propagated the lie that Michael Brown had put his hands up and yelled don’t shoot — and Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot him dead anyway. As we now know — amazingly thanks to the Eric Holder Justice Department — this was an outright untruth. A lie. But no matter, on went the tale and in some quarters it goes on to this day.
The truth — wherever and whenever — should always count. But in fact, whether some agree with that or not — the truth, as they say, will always out. This applies in spades to Christianity. If Christianity were like another religion — that would be the religion of “climate change” — then it would in fact never have endured for the last 2,000 years. It would be, as the author bluntly notes, a “sham.”
Also noted here is the book Life of Christ by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The Sheen book proves an “aha moment” for the author, as well it might for any of us. Limbaugh notes that Sheen points out that there are “three facts that distinguish Jesus Christ from any other man who ever lived.” Those three facts:
David Limbaugh has written an extraordinary book. At this Easter season it is a welcome reminder as Christians ponder yet again the suffering of Jesus. As every person on the planet learns — even if they may not appreciate the fact — life is filled with challenges. Problems. They may be physical — an illness — or financial or relationship or job related. Maybe they are a soldier somewhere on a battlefield, or a parent or a child with responsibility. Whatever it may be, it is safe to say this is the very essence of life. And David Limbaugh has taken considerable time to write a unique and in-depth look at the Christian faith that has helped so many make their way through the challenges of their own lives. He has put Jesus on trial — and with a lawyer’s close and detailed eye made the case for Christianity.
As the Easter season arrives, with the world in the middle of relentless challenges from ISIS to Iranian nuclear weapons to problems of race, economics and culture, this book could not be a better remedy for the Christian soul.