Book Review: Christianity on Trial
W. Mark Lanier is one of America’s top trial lawyers. He was awarded the coveted Clarence Darrow Award in 2012 and was named to the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers list for nine consecutive years. Lanier was also named as the 2013 Top Class Action Attorney in America, having personally won $10-billion in lifetime verdicts. His courtroom work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and he has been a frequent guest on CNBC and Fox Business News. Mark Lanier is also a Christian.
It’s interesting how that last fact surprises some people. They find it difficult to comprehend how someone who deals with evidence for a living could also be a follower of Jesus Christ. Isn’t Christianity about believing in things without evidence? Let’s see what Mark Lanier has to say about that.
Using his vast experience as a trial lawyer, Lanier puts Christianity on trial in this book. “Let’s put the witnesses on the stand,” Lanier said in a video describing the purpose of his book. “Let’s listen to the evidence, let’s examine the arguments, and then using common sense let’s make decisions as to what’s more reasonable, what’s more likely than not, because how you read the evidence and how you make your decision will affect the rest of your life and those that you love.”
I like the way Lanier laid out his case in Christianity On Trial .. similar to how he might make his case in court. He begins with an opening statement and ends with a closing summation. Lanier presents testimony from many witnesses – including the ancient biblical eyewitnesses and great minds of science, philosophy and theology of the past several hundred years.
The case Lanier makes for the existence of God, the credibility of the Bible and the reality of Christ’s resurrection is powerful. As Lanier invites his readers – “come with me, look at the evidence, and please let the lawyer make his case and then you decide the verdict.”
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in talking with non-Christians about the Christian worldview and with Christians about the evidence for Christianity that can sustain them through a lifetime of challenges and opportunities in service to God.
“Any exploration of Christian beliefs rightfully starts with exploring whether there is a God and, if there is, what kind of God. The Christian faith rests on core beliefs about God, humanity, truth, reality, right and wrong, the responsibility of human choice, the incarnate Christ, his death, burial, and resurrection, and a coming age where things are made right and Christ’s reign is apparent to all. These are issues that can and should be examined.” Christianity On Trial, Chapter 1, page 22
1. Opening Statement
2. God? Gods? or Nothing?
3. Who God Is Not!
4. Who Is God ? (Part 1)
5. Who Is God ? (Part 2)
6. Biolinguistics and the Communicating God
7. Reality and the God of Truth
8. Right, Wrong and the Moral God
9. Free Will, Moral Responsibility and the Infinite, Just God
10. The Audacity of the Resurrection
11. Death and Eternity
12. Closing Argument
“A witty, well-paced and thoroughly engaging account of the place of evidence in the courtroom and in life. Mark Lanier makes a powerful case for the trustworthiness and reasonableness of the Christian faith.” (Alister McGrath, author of The Passionate Intellect)
“Historians, scientists and lawyers are after the same thing: to discover what really happened. Mark Lanier, one of America’s best lawyers, introduces us to history’s expert witnesses regarding our most profound questions and tells a compelling story sure to convince any jury.” (David B. Capes, Thomas Nelson Research Professor, Houston Baptist University)
“Authored by one of the nation’s leading trial lawyers, Christianity on Trial brilliantly employs the truth-finding methods of the legal process to produce an eminently readable, highly persuasive work of Christian apologetics. This is an extraordinary trial lawyer’s version of Mere Christianity. In his inimitable fashion, Mark Lanier combines his superb expertise as a courtroom lawyer with profound knowledge of biblical scholarship and thoughtful reflection on daily life. Fearless in tackling the most difficult matters of belief, this engaging book speaks to all those interested in seeking truth―whether in the courtroom, in the library or in everyday life.” (Ken Starr, president, Baylor University)
“Mark Lanier has probably read more about the Bible than many biblical scholars and combines this with his experience as a leading trial lawyer. The result is a gripping read and a compelling case for Christianity. He touches on so many different kinds of argument that there is something for everyone in this feast.” (Peter Williams, Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom)
“Trial lawyers are often noted for incisive analysis, broad knowledge and the ability to spot the weakness in the opposition’s argument. Mark Lanier demonstrates every one of these instincts in Christianity on Trial. His expertise in using the biblical languages uniquely qualifies him to ask―and answer―all the really tough questions. As a fresh assessment of the intellectual validity of the Christian, this book will delight pastors, theologians, church members and even critics.” (Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas)
Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith, IVP Books, 2014, 230 pages