Jesus On Trial: A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel, by David Limbaugh
I have to admit that this book was disappointing to me. It was not a terrible book by any means, but it was disappointing that the author’s thoughts about Christianity were not nearly as deep or as factual as the author seems to think. The truth of the Gospel is not so straightforward as the author seems to think, not least because he feels it necessary to defend things that are not really a part of the Bible or a part of the Gospel. In fact, much to my surprise, I found that the author had specifically named the church I belong to in a negative fashion, which generally does not lead to positive or warm feelings as a reviewer. I often wonder what leads writers to sabotage good will by attacking potential readers? This happens often enough that it is not merely a problem with the writer but a more general problem that he happens to share. Having written books about law and politics before, the author seems unaware of some of the pitfalls of writing about Christian theology and the way that truth and opinion are not as easy to separate as they should be.
This book is almost 350 pages and thirteen chapters. The book begins with a discussion of the author’s own journey from being a skeptic to being a believer (1) as well as two chapters that discuss the “Aha” movement that he had in terms of reading and understanding the Bible (2, 3). The author discusses some of the paradoxes of Christianity (4,5), but not all of these paradoxes are in fact valid, and the author seems to think that something that is paradoxical or self-contradictory is worthwhile on its own terms, rather than simply being apparent paradoxes because of a faulty perspective. After that the author manages to wade into the monophysite controversy by averring that God was fully human and divine and had two natures (6). The author then discusses the Bible as being amazing because of unity (7) and prophecy (8), which is worthwhile as far as it goes, and then discusses reliability and internal evidence (9) as well as external evidence (10) for the Bible’s reliability. Finally, the book ends with some chapters that look at truth, miracles, and the resurrection of Christ (11), the case for Christianity made by science (12) and questions of pain and suffering (13), after which there is a conclusion, acknowledgements, notes, and an index.
How would I evaluate this book if I was a judge and the author was trying to bring in his argument? I would likely have to caution him a bit about assuming facts not in evidence, but that is not a terribly uncommon problem for writers to have, unfortunately. I would have to overlook the author’s more direct provocations made in ignorance of my own religious identity, as bothersome as that would be. But there would still be something of value here even if I would not be able to approve of everything. And that is how I feel about this book, that it is good and still worthwhile but not quite as good as the author seems to think it is. The end result is that the author spends a great deal of time talking about the Trinity and seeking to defend his own view of the Gospel, and less time realizing what it takes to write a book that would appeal to those who might be general allies but have different views of the Bible, and that is not nearly as appealing as it could be. And for a book of this length, few people are going to relish reading it without agreeing with it.