Listen: Duncan Robinson chats with atheist-turned-believer and author of ‘A Case for Christ’, Lee Strobel.
It’s the perfect storyline for a movie, when you think about it.
Cold-hearted, cynical, atheistic journalist is hell-bent on proving that his wife’s faith is a furphy. He conducts an indepth, detective-style investigation. After two years’ research he is shocked to conclude that he was wrong, and she was right.
As far as character arcs go, it’s pretty dramatic.
No surprise then, that this true story was the next line for a Hollywood rendering by the Christian film industry.
- Journalist Lee Strobel’s Personal Journey: An interview with Open House
- ‘The Shack’ a Spiritual Journey for Actor Sam Worthington & Director Stuart Hazeldine
The journalist in that true story was Lee Strobel, and his 1998 book The Case for Christ, now a Christian reading classic, was adapted for the big screen this year. And with great success; it reached number 10 at the box office and brought in over $16.5 million worldwide.
It’s just been released on DVD, and Hope 103.2’s Duncan Robinson caught up with the man behind the story, Lee Strobel himself.
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A Reluctant Convert
Before Lee set out on his Jesus-fact-finding mission, he was adamantly opposed to Christianity. In fact the whole aim of his investigation of Christianity, was motivated by a desire to ‘rescue’ his wife from the faith.
“I was pretty anti-Jesus,” he told Hope 103.2. “I didn’t want anything to do with him, I thought it was hogwash, make-believe, wishful thinking, mythology, legend.
“I was ambushed and surprised by the strength of the evidence…[for] his resurrection.”
“I tried to be fair in my investigation, but my goal and hope was that I could disprove the resurrection, and thus get [my wife Leslie] out of this ‘cult’ that she’d gotten involved in. That was my hope, and it didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would! But ultimately it turned out better than I ever believed it could’ve.”
“C.S. Lewis wrote a book called Surprised by Joy. I think if I wrote a book like that it would be called ‘Surprised by Truth’. Ultimately I was ambushed and surprised by the strength of the evidence historically, that establishes that Jesus not only made this audacious claim to being divine, the son of God, but then he backed up that claim by his resurrection.”
The Power of a Wife’s Prayers
Besides God himself, Lee says that his wife Leslie is the real hero of his story, because she was the one who came to faith first and encouraged him to explore Christianity’s claims.
“I was intending to disprove faith, and I think she knew in her heart I wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said. “She prayed for me during that whole two years when I was an atheist on this investigative journey. Because of my hard heart and stony attitudes towards Christianity she prayed that verse, Ezekiel 36:26 that says I will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit within you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
“I think [her prayers] probably made all the difference in the world, ultimately.”
Grilling the Experts
In his effort to disprove the resurrection of Jesus, Lee met with experts in their fields, like Christian philosopher and apologist Dr William Lane Craig. It was people like him who started to open Lee’s eyes.
“He has been one of the most fascinating people I’ve encountered, just a down-to-earth man, yet so brilliant in his thinking…with two earned PhDs, and such a Godly man who has a heart to reach people who are confused spiritually,” Lee said.
“He’s not showy, he doesn’t Lord it over people or play ‘gotcha’ game and try to show how smart he is; he just marshalls the evidence in a very compelling and persuasive way, and shows that when you look at the range of evidence – from cosmology, physics, biochemistry, genetics, human consciousness, morality, as well as the historical evidence for the resurrection – the evidence really does stack up strongly in favour of Christianity being true.”
Jesus Not a Myth
While some claim that even the existence of Jesus was a myth, Lee explains why this is an unreasonable belief.
“We’ve got nine ancient sources. That’s an avalanche of data… it easily dispatches the claim that Jesus was merely a legend.”
“It took time in the ancient world for legends to develop and mythologies to be created,” he says. “And yet we have a report of the resurrection of Jesus, including named eyewitnesses and groups of eyewitnesses, that’s been dated back to within months of the death of Jesus. That’s historic gold.
“That comes so quickly you can’t just write it off as being a legend or some sort of mythology. This is solid historical data.”
Several historic texts, both in and outside of the Bible, confirm the disciples’ belief that they’d met with the resurrected Jesus, after his death.
“We’ve got nine ancient sources,” he said. “That’s an avalanche of data. So I think the historical evidence quite easily dispatches the claim that Jesus was merely a legend or the product of mythology.”
It’s All About The Resurrection
In the film The Case for Christ, there’s a moment when the young journalist Strobel (Mike Vogel) is talking to his Christian boss, and asks him where he should start in trying to bring the claims of Christianity undone.
“Go for the jugular” is his boss’s advice; the jugular being the resurrection. If he could disprove the resurrection, reasons Strobel’s news editor, then the whole faith comes undone.
It’s the focus of Strobel’s search in the film, and the focus of the claims in his book.
“I think the evidence is clear and compelling that Jesus not only claimed to be the son of God – which anybody could claim – but he died and three days later rose from the dead, which is a pretty strong affirmation of his credibility of being who he claimed to be.
“I think the historical evidence is quite compelling that the resurrection is an actual event of history.”
The Case for Christ is the first in a series of books by Strobel, all starting with The Case for, such as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator and more.
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