The Case for Christ is based on the true story of an award-winning investigative journalist—and avowed atheist—who applies his well-honed journalistic and legal skills to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife. The Case for Christ arrived in theaters just in time for Easter.
The Case for Christ
Lee Strobel earned a law degree from Yale Law School and was an award-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune. He used his law experience and training to thoroughly study and build a case to discredit Jesus Christ. His research and techniques included using historical, personal, and medical records with evidence of the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Lee “cross-examined” leading experts. His careful research and scrutiny led him to unexpected conclusions and results.
The movie The Case for Christ is based on Strobel’s bestselling book of the same name. Based on Strobel’s life experience, the story takes place in 1980, when Strobel was the legal editor at the Chicago Tribune. At the same time, however, his home life was a struggle because his wife Leslie, who had been an agnostic, found faith in Christ. Lee, who was an atheist, determined to use his journalistic and legal training to disprove the claims of Christianity, which pitted his resolute atheism against his wife’s growing faith.
Interview with Lee and Leslie Strobel
Dr. Diane Howard has an exclusive interview with Lee and Leslie Strobel.
DH: Lee, you now share that in reaching unbelievers that “1 Peter 3:15 says ‘Do it gently and respectfully.’ We’re told in Scripture how to do [evangelism]; not to slap people over the face, but to be gentle and respectful.”
The movie depicts, Leslie, how you came to faith, as you were befriended by a woman who lived out her faith, spoke of it easily, and didn’t force it on anyone. How did she relate to you?
Leslie: Linda, a nurse, was the main link. She was my mentor. She would let me talk and vent, but she guided the conversation away from being against Lee, God, or anyone. She taught me how to tap into God’s power so that I could diffuse tension with love, swallow my pride, and show God’s grace, mercy, and love.
DH: Leslie, the movie depicts how you effectively prayed for your husband with the verse, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh….” (Ezekiel 36:26) Can you help us with effective prayers for the belief of unbelievers?
Leslie: Our book Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage provides a book prayer guide and Biblical verses.
DH: What have you learned about encouraging or facilitating the belief of non-believers?
Lee: I think the key…in our culture today is not debate—it’s dialogue. It’s conversations; it’s relationships; it’s doing more listening than talking. It’s sitting down with someone who has different views than we do and having a friendship, having a conversation, and validating them as people made in the image of God and being on a spiritual journey, and allowing them the elbow room to ask questions and to investigate. The personal relational side is most important.
We are in a Golden Era of Christian apologetics, which is having a comeback. There is better scholarship today. Truth is on our side. Truth matters. We live in an age where truth is a little slippery, but we, fortunately, stand on a solid rock. And we can proclaim that in a way that’s winsome and attractive, but still Scripturally accurate, and I think there’s a generation out there that wants to have their feet on solid ground.
DH: Lee, do you think that your negative relationship with your father affected your Atheistic beliefs? In your view how can past personal history affect one’s faith and how can one overcome negative personal history?
Lee: Studies have shown that most of the famous atheists of history: Camus, Sarte, Nietzsche, Freud, Voltaire, Wells, Feuerbach, all had a father that either died when they were young, divorced their mother when they were young, or with whom they had a terrible relationship. Our view of our earthly father can affect a magnified view of our heavenly father. Imagining what the perfect father is like can help us have a proper view of God.
DH: What is a key element in churches to reach unbelievers?
Lee: A key factor is the senior leadership. The key leaders need to have a heart for the lost. Values are caught not taught.
I pray for pastors virtually every day because I know that apart from the work of God in your heart, it is an impossible job to be a pastor. But with his power and with the Holy Spirit, God is bringing great change into our land and into our hearts.
The Case for Christ as Outreach
The dramatic movie The Case for Christ is an effective outreach tool that churches and their members can use to invite friends, family and neighbors to see a powerful portrayal of the Gospel and the evidence for Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Research shows that 35% of all people who see a faith-based movie are unchurched, which indicates that they might find a movie format a safe way for them to seek answers about faith.
Strobel says, “A lot of people won’t read a book, they may not yet come to church, but they’ll go to a movie.”
Lee Strobel and Pure Flix provide outreach tools and curricula for using this movie. Lee has said that people want to express their opinions. He suggests that facilitators ask more questions rather than give answers. Following a question, a facilitator can ask “Why do you ask that question?” to get to the heart of the matter for the questioner.
Strobel says that conversations even in groups are not debates but dialogue. He says that relationships are of first importance. Listening and caring are critical. We need to communicate gently and respectfully.
Lee says, “The verse that led me to faith is John 1:12: Believe plus receive equals become. It’s not enough just to generally be in agreement with Christian doctrine. I have to receive this free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross when he died as our substitute to pay for all of our sin.”