The case for Christ
The case for Christ
4 May 2017
In the world of Christian film, if The Shack sat on the top of the globe, The Case For Christ would be its polar opposite. Both are based on best-selling books, and both will seek to win the souls of cinema audiences this month. But where the first attempts to introduce people to the Creator by appealing to their hearts, The Case For Christ finds God where he always planned to be found: in his Word.
The Case For Christ tells the story behind the book of the same name by award-winning journalist and now theologian, Lee Strobel. In 1980, Strobel was celebrating his appointment to legal affairs editor for the Chicago Tribune, after winning several prestigious journalism awards.
At the same time, though, his family was undergoing an investigation of its own. Lee’s wife Leslie was having her worldview challenged by the near-death of their daughter. Alison is prevented from fatally choking by a nurse who happened to be sitting in the same restaurant. “It’s not luck,” she tells them, “it’s Jesus.”
The comment results in derision from Lee, but leads Leslie to church. When his wife becomes a Christian, the journalist in Strobel revolts. He sets out to tear down Leslie’s new faith and save her from “a cult”.
Strobel’s Christian co-worker Kenny London suggests he go for the jugular: all of Christianity stands or falls on the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Strobel sets out on a journey covering hundreds of miles, to interrogate historical, medical and psychological experts in the hope of finding the faith’s Achilles heel. What he doesn’t count on is the personal journey he will take in the process.
The film takes Strobel’s historical and evidential accusations very seriously. This is, after all, a story about the quest for truth and, as Strobel tells his co-workers, “... the only way to truth is through the facts". If the Christian faith is worth building your life on, it should be able to survive the closest examination. The result is an examination of every major objection to the resurrection imaginable: the Bible accounts have been corrupted by time; the disciples went to the wrong tomb; the witnesses’ accounts are fictitious, or at least biased; Jesus never died on the cross, he merely swooned ... and so the list goes on. At each point The Case For Christ demolishes the object in a calm, reasonable manner, without turning Strobel into a cinematic straw man.
The evidence he uncovers still contains details that make him uncomfortable and accounts that are maddeningly imprecise. But as London tells him, the disciples weren’t attempting to manufacture an air-tight story: “The disciples reported what happened and let the chips fall where they may.”
However, The Case For Christ doesn’t present entering into a relationship with God as a solely rational decision either. One of the historians Strobel interviews counters the journalist’s enduring scepticism with the question, “When will enough evidence be enough?”
Faith comes into play when Strobel realises he must be prepared to change the way he sees the world. While carrying out an investigation into a police shooting, he realises he has maligned an innocent man.
He apologises, saying, “I missed the truth”. The accused man replies, “You didn’t want to see it”. It is this scene that cements The Case For Christ’s final truth.
If our friends are to put their faith in the resurrected Jesus, they will need more than just the facts. They will need a new heart – and that only God can give.
Release date: 4 May