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, with unexpected, life-altering results, “The Case for Christ” comes to theaters just in time for Easter.
Lee Strobel earned a master of studies in law degree from Yale Law School and was an award-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune. Strobel was a courtroom analyst and rose to legal editor at the Tribune.
He used his law experience and training to thoroughly study and build a case to discredit Jesus Christ. It included 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.
This captivating narrative drama based on a true story takes place in 1980 when Lee Strobel’s investigative reporting earned him a promotion to 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.
Watch the official movie trailer for “The Case for Christ”:
The movie “The Case for Christ” is based on Strobel’s bestselling book of the same name. The film is a dramatic and heartfelt portrayal of the Strobel’s compelling journey. The engaging story is for everyone who has ever pondered the existence of God and the evidence related to the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The movie’s director is Jonathan M. Gunn (“Do You Believe?”), and the writer is Brian Bird (“When Calls the Heart”). Producers include: Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Karl Horstmann and Brittany Lefebvre. The cast includes the following: Mike Vogel (“The Help”) as Lee Strobel, Erika Christensen (“Parenthood”) as Leslie Strobel, Faye Dunaway (“Bonnie and Clyde”) as Dr. Roberta Waters, Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”) as Walter Strobel, Frankie Faison (“The Wire”) as Joe Dubois and L. Scott Caldwell (“Lost”) as Alfie Davis.
Watch behind-the-scenes footage from “The Case for Christ”:
After the special Fathom event premiere April 6, “The Case for Christ” releases in movie theaters nationwide April 7.
Diane Howard conducted the following exclusive interview with Lee and Leslie Strobel:
Howard: Those who see the Fathom event will receive a free download of the first two chapters of “The Case for Christ” book. Is this an updated version? If so, does it have new features?
Lee Strobel: Yes, this movie edition of “The Case for Christ” book is the newly revised, updated version of the 1998 classic with more evidence, archaeological findings and manuscript findings.
Howard: Lee, you now share that, in reaching unbelievers, “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 Strobel: 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.
Howard: 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 Strobel: Our book, “Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage,” provides a book prayer guide and biblical verses.
Howard: The movie also depicted, Leslie, how you were won over by love. Did Linda role model behaviors, attitudes in believers that win over unbelievers in general?
Leslie and Lee Strobel: Yes.
Howard: The movie depicted the effective attitudes, prayers and behaviors of those in Leslie’s church toward Lee before he became a believer? Does Linda’s example and those of the church like her role model effective ways for churches to relate to unbelievers, especially those related to members of the church?
Leslie and Lee: Yes.
Howard: What have you learned about encouraging or facilitating the belief of non-believers?
Lee Strobel: 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.
Apologetics is making a comeback among student ministries, because their atheist friends are raising a lot of questions. And sometimes the churches haven’t done a great job in training us in understanding not just what we believe, but why we believe it.
Howard: 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 Strobel: Studies have shown that most of the famous atheists of history: [Albert] Camus, [Jean-Paul] Sartre, [Friedrich] Nietzsche, [Sigmund] Freud, Voltaire, [H.G.] Wells, [Ludwig] 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. In multi-generational studies of the effect of a father on faith, the key harmful issue has been identified as the coldness and distance of the father. My poor relationship with my father negatively affected me, but I also had personal moral and emotional issues.
Howard: What is a key element in churches to reach unbelievers?
Lee Strobel: 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.
Howard: How can the church help the world see us as people who deeply love others?
Lee Strobel: The church needs to give loving service paired with the gospel.
Howard: How do you think God was pursuing you?
Lee Strobel: God provides a specific tether to help us find him. He meets us where we are. I needed facts and evidence. Leslie needed something different.