Lee Strobel began his award-winning writing career as an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune. During his tenure there he broke several important news stories, like the dangerous location of the Ford Pinto’s gas tank, making it vulnerable to puncture and fire. It would be Lee’s investigative skills that would later make the case that would upend his atheistic worldview.
The movie, based on the real events of Lee’s life, depicts both Lee and his wife, Leslie, as atheists. One evening while dining out, their young daughter becomes choked on a piece of candy. Lee and Leslie cry out for help as they watch their daughter slowly choking to death. Thankfully, a nurse who was eating in the same restaurant took Strobel’s daughter and was able to dislodge the candy, saving her life.
The nurse mentioned that she had wanted to eat somewhere else that night, but felt “called” to go the same restaurant the Strobel’s were eating at. This critical moment caused Leslie to question whether things “just happen by chance” or if there really could be a God. Leslie begins meeting with this nurse who eventually converts her to Christianity.
The rest of the movie shows Lee determined to disprove his wife’s foolish beliefs. He hinges his investigation on the resurrection. He believes if he can disprove the resurrection then all the accounts about Jesus become irrelevant. So Strobel launches out to talk to experts. In the movie he interviews people like Gary Habermas, an expert on the resurrection. He talks to William Lane Craig and others who point out the validity of the Bible and the ancient manuscripts. He talks to medical doctors about whether or not Jesus could have just “swooned” and walked out of the tomb himself.
All throughout his investigation tension is mounting at home. As his wife is drawing closer to God Lee finds himself moving further away. At times the movie is very “heavy” with emotion, as their marriage teeters on the brink of divorce over the existence of God.
In the end, this “investigative journalist” cannot escape the evidence. The climax of the movie reveals Lee Strobel staring at bulletin boards and chalk board full of evidence realizing that there is a God.
I’ve interviewed Lee and was very familiar with his background long before the movie ever came out. In fact, I recommend his book of the same name to those who are searching for evidence. After watching the movie I messaged Lee and told him I felt his movie should be required viewing for all college students.
Unlike some “religious films” that have a great message but have a limited budget, this The Case for Christ was professionally done with professional actors. It takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster as the evidence is uncovered. This movie does a tremendous job from an “apologetics” perspective—it is great for defending the existence of God.
I would offer a few caveats to those who are considering watching the film. There are a couple of worship scenes where Lee and/or his wife attend worship services. Those worship services appear to be in community churches with bands on the stage. While the movie does show Leslie being baptized, it is evident in a couple of different scenes that they believe in a “sinner’s prayer” type of salvation.
I wish they had gotten it 100% correct, but unless the script-writer, actor, director, and producers are all New Testament Christians, I don’t expect that will ever happen. However, I would still strongly recommend this movie to families, especially those with children in high school who may be questioning their faith. Lee’s story of investigating Christianity in an effort to disprove it—only to eventually convert himself to the truth—is a powerful story, packed full of good evidences. In a time in which many movies are saturated with profanity, sex, immorality, nudity, etc., it was so refreshing to watch a dramatic movie that didn’t feature any of that. (The worst part was Lee’s frequent drinking beer before learning the truth, and a couple of scenes of him yelling at his wife as tension mounted in their marriage.)
We had a group of 25 members from my home congregation watch the movie opening weekend, ranging in age from 8-78. Everyone who watched it enjoyed the movie and felt like it was extremely well done. We had great discussions afterward and everyone felt like it was time well spent. I encourage you, check out “The Case for Christ.” It’s a powerful movie packed full of evidence for Christianity!
By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.