For the simplified review, I loved The Case for Christ. My wife and I saw the movie adaptation of Lee Strobel’s best seller and both loved it. Not just liked or enjoyed it, loved it. It was one of the best Christian movies we have seen and we have watched most of them. Go see it, you will not regret it.
Furthermore, if you have a person in your life who is interested in faith but not there yet, it is a movie to consider seeing together. It does indeed present a compelling Case for Christ within an enjoyable, sympathetic, and well-acted story. An in-depth review with spoilers follows.
Lee Strobel was an award-winning investigative journalist in the 80’s when the movie kicks off. He and his wife and young daughter are living a very 80’s success story. A life filled with personal achievement, red Camaro’s and bad mustaches. It is also a life lacking God until a narrowly averted tragedy causes a major change. Their very cute young daughter almost dies when a gumball gets stuck in her throat at a restaurant. It is only through the quick actions of another diner, Alfie that the daughter survives. In the immediately aftermath of this event, Alfie mentions something curious. She tells the Strobel’s that she and her husband were planning to go to a different restaurant that night to eat, but changed their plans at the last minute. God told her that she would be needed there that night. A spark is lit and Leslie Strobel cannot get that comment out of her mind. She decides to investigate in her way. She speaks with Alfie, goes to church and becomes a born again Christian. It amazes me that some people get to Jesus the easy way as I have always been the kicking and screaming type like Lee Strobel.
Though she is not the focal point of the movie, I really enjoyed the depiction of this simple journey taken on her own by Leslie Strobel. Despite anticipating the cost in her marriage, she tentatively begins to pursue answers to her questions and upon finding them stands firm when the opposition comes. Lee Strobel initially responds with anger and derision to her faith. There are a number of painful scenes where he lectures his wife and even the kindly Alfie about the evils and mind control tactics of the Christian faith. It would have been less awkward for me watching these parts had I not lived it myself. God humbles me with a good memory.
Finding his “Christianity is stupid, stop it” approach not working, he then sets out on a quest to destroy the foundation of her newly discovered faith…as any loving husband would. There is an interesting comment made by Lee Strobel’s mentor in the movie about the mentor’s daughter. He relates that she had become involved with Christianity and church and the mentor had succeeded in forcing her out of church and away from Jesus. He warns that winning that battle came with a price and his daughter had never been the same.
Strobel is undeterred and through the use of his investigatory skills, he sets out to disprove the most important event in all of history: the Resurrection of Jesus. Strobel travels across the country meeting with doctors, archeologists, and apologists attempting to find proof with which to go back and get his old wife and his old life back. His battle with God is both frustrating and sympathetic, he loves his wife the best he can and just wants his life the way it used to be with them. While Lee Strobel is depicted as being set and determined in his beliefs, he is not a monster. He believes that he is doing the right thing.
In the process of investigating, Strobel gets the opposite result than what he sought. He finds that the evidence for the Resurrection is overwhelming. From the thousands of intact manuscripts dating back to the 1st and 2nd century to the medical evidence disproving the Swoon Theory, his objections are shot down one by one. He is forced to really consider Jesus for the first time. This story line also runs in parallel to one involving a shooting that Strobel is investigating where he eventually prints a story where his own mistaken judgment leads to dire consequences. He is then challenged to stop fighting the truth that is right in front of him and do his job, see where the investigation led and go with it. Since it lead to the Risen Jesus, he goes with it.
The Case for Christ is effective for its witnessing and apologetics content as it brings up and then shoots down many of the popular objections to Christianity in the course of the story. It does so with a goal in mind, obviously, but in a respectful way without mockery or pandering. It is very well done.
As a Christian familiar with these arguments the real strength of the story, though, was in the presentation of the journeys of both Leslie and Lee Strobel from atheism to faith in Jesus. Both are sympathetically and believably presented even in their worst moments and the roles are well acted. They are just imperfect people doing their imperfect best to figure out the truth. When Leslie anxiously sits in church for the first time with people who are excited to be there and hears the Gospel, I remembered the same moment in my journey to Jesus. When Lee uncomfortably walks down the aisle of the same church after going to please his wife and he is scoffing at everyone there, it also took me back to similar moments in my life. These recognizable moments are ones that have been lived out by millions around the world as they took the same journey and were what made the movie special. Production quality is also excellent.
I highly recommend the movie. There are some moments with Leslie and Lee fighting and Lee drinking too much beer but the movie is suitable for most ages.