The Case for Christ

At the
AMC Empire on Times Square.
This is my new favorite movie, and that's only changed twice since 1981: Chariots of Fire and Risen are the only ones to have held that place in my heart since junior high.

The Case for Christ tells the true story of how Lee Strobel, a hard-boiled, award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune set his skills on debunking the resurrection of Jesus Christ to convince his wife to abandon her newfound love for the Lord.

Acting, writing (Brian Bird: Captive, Touched by an Angel), cinematography (Brian Shanley: God's Not Dead, Do You Believe?) are all top shelf. Nothing cheesy about this one, and major papers are agreeing with that.

The worst The Hollywood Reporter could do was imply that the film stereotyped Lee Strobel as an atheist by showing him 'constantly acting like a jerk, including drinking heavily, accidentally terrifying his little girl, and whining to Leslie (his wife), "You’re cheating on me with Jesus!"' Maybe the reviewer missed the fact that this is a biography based on Lee's life.

My wife, Joyce, who was going to journalism school in Chicago when Lee Strobel was writing at the Chicago Tribune, said it was more accurate to say that those actions stereotyped Chicago journalists of the time. She said you had to be tough to make it.

The reviewer goes on to say that Leslie, 'on the other hand, displays infinite love and patience with her husband, proving that — as was also shown in the faith-based film War Room — Jesus makes an ideal marriage counselor.' I know the validity of Erika Christensen's portrayal of Leslie, because part of my own bride Joyce's testimony is that one of her co-workers said, about a year after Joyce gave her life to the Lord, that Joyce's changed life was the first miracle the woman had ever seen.

Also, the reviewer is leaving out the fact that both lead actors are much more nuanced than his review implies. Lee is very caring and loving at times, especially as a father, and it's clear that his investigation into the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an attempt to save what he perceives to be a crumbling marriage. He is deeply moved when he discovers something he didn't know about his father, played by Robert Forster. On the other side, Leslie certainly expresses the pain Lee is causing her through his attacks on Christianity, she breaks down crying over her fear of losing her marriage, she raises her voice in numerous scenes, and at one point kicks Lee out for the night.

Forster's single scene was like an espresso: short but with a lot of punch. Another gem of a cameo was Faye Dunaway, playing another skeptic, but one who reluctantly directs Lee toward Truth.

One of the charming elements of the film is the detailing of the 80s: He drives a Trans Am with his massive mop flopping over his wide collars. He and his wife have worked out code for his pager. Bill Hybel's church (Willow Creek) sings a Keith Green song. A fast call back to the editor is from a creatively marked pay phone. He pops open a flip top soda can. (I whispered to Joyce: "Hope that didn't take too many takes!") And my favorite: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop? The world may never know."

At the end of the day that's how Lee Strobel's atheist friend, aptly played by Brett Rice, puts it to him. We'll never know everything. It takes faith to believe or not to believe. If you're leaning toward disbelief I challenge you to see this film without presuppositions. If you still have questions read the book of the same title upon which the film is based. I have more ideas about faith at

I believe The Case for Christ is pure Truth in its best package yet.

We watched it in a packed house on Times Square, where it received robust applause. The showing after ours was sold out.

Find out if it's playing near you.

It's rated PG for images of the crucifixion, some smoking, drinking and a hospital scene of an injured gang member. At one point a character whispers, "Oh, G_d," and it's unclear whether it's a prayer.

I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.


Rich Swingle said...

The Christian Post reports: 'Case for Christ' Scores Rare A+ CinemaScore, 'Strong' Box Office Opening Leads to Easter Expansion.

Rich Swingle said...

Now that it's out on DVD and VOD we watched it again, and it's still at the top of my list.

Even having watched it twice in theaters it hooked me from the start, and there were so many times I was moved to tears all over again!

There are so many beautiful touches throughout!

Rich Swingle said...

I found myself walking behind a man and a woman, and she was telling him about Jesus. She didn’t get to say much, because he was building his case that every religion had a charismatic leader (though none but Jesus claimed to be God, give his life through the most excruciating form of capital punishment in the history of humankind, and come back from the dead three days later). At one point he said God must be up there saying “Why can’t you see they’re all the same.” At that point I wanted to say, “No. God’s up there saying, ‘I sent my Son to die for you, why are you messing with all those man-made religions.’” But I held my peace and prayed for the right opening. At the end of the block I said, “You should check out The Case for Christ. The woman was delighted! The man was shocked. He indicated he would, and I pray that he does.

Michael L. Boze said...

Rich, Lee Strobel was briefly my boss in the late 1980s when I worked for Willow Creek. They nailed his character in the movie — down to small mannerisms (such as the "two fingered" way he typed). Lee is the real deal, and a wonderful man. God changed him and has used him in amazing ways. He's a testament to God's immense love and power!