When Lee Strobel’s wife, Leslie, became a Christian, their “perfect atheist marriage blew up,” says Brian Bird, screenwriter and co-producer of The Case for Christ, who is also a longtime friend of Lee. The film, based on Lee’s bestselling book, was released in theaters April 7—just in time for Easter.
Fearing he was losing Leslie to a cult, Lee, the award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, set out to save her—and their marriage—by trying to find a hole in the Christian story. The movie chronicles Lee’s journey from skepticism to faith as he encounters rock-solid evidence for his wife’s new belief system.
Early in the film, Lee asks a Christian colleague what he thinks would be the best way to debunk Christianity. His friend tells him he will need to disprove its central teaching—the Resurrection. “Everything hinges on that,” he says.
Using his investigative skills, Lee travels the country soliciting opinions in archaeology, history, law, medicine, and psychiatry from experts with impeccable credentials. When he learns that 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive after His Crucifixion, Lee tries to make the case that they were suffering from a form of mass hysteria. He consults Purdue University Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Roberta Waters (played by Faye Dunaway), an agnostic and fellow skeptic.
Her conclusion startles him. “That,” she says, “would be an even bigger miracle than the Resurrection.”
In contrast to some other faith-based films, which paint most of the unbelieving characters as villains, The Case for Christ offers likable, sympathetic portrayals of the atheists and agnostics Lee interviews. This makes the movie a good pick for seekers or skeptics.
The Conversation Afterward
Lee, who went on to become a pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and authored several apologetic books, hopes that believers will bring their unsaved friends to see the movie.
In an interview with Dan Wooding, founder of Assist News Service, Lee said, “What I envision is a lot of Christians . . . going to see the movie, and they’re going to say to themselves, ‘I’ve got a friend who needs to see this. I have a neighbor that needs to see it. I’ve got a colleague who needs to see it or a fellow student.
“And I think the most important moment of the evening is not going to be the movie—it’s going to be the conversation afterward, where you sit down and have tea or coffee, and you say, ‘What character did you identify with? Where are you at spiritually? Have you ever thought about these things? What did you think of the evidence they talked about?”
Various resources are available at Christian bookstores and online for churches and individuals interested in initiating such conversations, whether through small-group studies, sermon series on the film, or one-on-one talks.
During the Easter season, people who don’t know Jesus are often more open to exploring faith. The Case for Christ may be just the venue for introducing them to Christ and His claims.