By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (ANS — April 5, 2017) – There’s a truism out there that reporters, writers, authors, journalists and correspondents, love interviewing and writing stories about each other as ‘professional scribes.’ And the corollary is that most of the general public doesn’t too much care to read about them.
However, as one of the aforementioned “tribe of scribes”, I expect the hope of the producers, directors, actors and actresses in the latest offering from Pure Flix — makers of the newly-released movie “The Case for Christ,” now on general release — is that the true story of Lee Strobel, former legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, may be compelling enough to watch.
The movie chronicles Strobel’s almost two-year-long effort to debunk as myth the biblical account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It follows Strobel’s bent as an investigative journalist to examine the evidence as he would in any other story he wrote for the newspaper, as he said, “to dig up the facts and tell the truth, and come to an honest conclusion.”
In 1980, Lee Strobel’s award-winning investigative reporting earned him a promotion to legal editor at the Chicago Tribune.
Things at home weren’t going nearly as well. His wife Leslie’s newfound faith in Christ compels Lee to utilize his journalistic and legal training to disprove the claims of Christianity — pitting his resolute atheism against her growing faith.
Based on Strobel’s bestselling book of the same name, The Case for Christ is a dramatic and heartfelt telling of their compelling journey. This moving story is for everyone who has ever pondered the existence of God … and what role He could play in their lives.
“The book The Case for Christ lays out the overwhelming foundation of evidence from which personal faith can rise,” Strobel said. “The film gives the dramatic story behind the story of a man with personal animosity for Christianity who used journalistic and legal techniques to evaluate its claims. The Case for Christ takes audiences on an exciting journey from skepticism to belief.”
The film draws on the true story of Lee and Leslie Strobel, whose marriage struggled mightily as her growing faith collided with his determined atheism. The dramatic retelling of their journey offers hope, and a human touch, on the in-depth research Lee Strobel conducted.
The Case for Christ is a moving story that will inspire everyone who sees it: believers, those who are searching for answers, and even those who are where Lee Strobel once was. I believe the movie will most strongly appeal to those who are of an inquiring, questioning, mindset and are willing to look into the claims of Christ as did Strobel.
At one point early in the movie, Strobel’s young daughter asks ‘What is an atheist?’ Strobel tells her, “We are atheists, we believe in what is real.” Leslie is seen wincing painfully at this obvious attack on her new-found faith. On another occasion, Lee asks why God would go to such lengths to redeem mankind. His fellow newspaperman gives a one-word answer: “Love!”
In the movie, Strobel’s search for the truth about Christianity runs parallel to the case of an alleged and incorrectly-convicted cop killer, whom he helps to convict, and follows his struggles as he tries to resolve both issues.
What perhaps bugs Strobel the most is that he finds Leslie has truly changed, and is different, since her conversion to Christ. “She’s really changed, and that’s what scares the heck out of me,” he confides to a fellow newspaper reporter.
Comparable to his angst over how Leslie has started to change, are his feelings of jealousy over Leslie’s newfound relationship with ‘another man.’
“Over time, I began to feel like she was cheating on me with Jesus because, all of a sudden, there was this other man in her life and she’s getting emotional support from him,” Strobel said in an interview with Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service (see: http://tinyurl.com/lh7j3wc ).
“What happened to me was that I used to be the man in her life. So I began to feel jealous, I began to feel that our world views were so different we would disagree to the horizon of our marriage on things like how to raise our children, how to spend our money , how to spend our weekends. We began to see life very differently, and it led to a lot of conflict,” he said.
“So I began to investigate Christianity, using my legal training and journalism training for two reasons. One was there were a lot of positive changes happening in her, and that was a bit winsome and intriguing. But on the other hand, my main motivation was to get her out of this ‘cult’ of Christianity that she’d gotten involved in. So I figured Christianity is falsifiable — in other words if you can prove the resurrection didn’t happen, you’ve disproven Christianity. I figured this will be easy, I can do this in a weekend. But I was shocked to find out that actually there is good, solid, historical data that does, I think, prove sufficiently that Jesus not only claimed to be the Son of God, but backed it up by returning from the dead.”
Lee said Leslie knew he was up to something, but not totally aware of what he was doing. “I kept some of it from her, but she was aware I think that I was kind of checking things out a bit, (but) not aware of the extent to which I was doing it.”
During the almost two-year period Lee spent investigating the claims of the Resurrection, Leslie was steadily growing in her faith and was directed by a Christian friend toward praying Ezekiel 36:26 for her husband, which says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Lee said his investigation and research took about two years of checking things out, “and then one day, I just felt like a good jury reaches a verdict, so I felt like the evidence was in — I needed to reach a verdict.”
He said he reviewed all of the evidence that he’d seen, describing like putting it on a scale and, “all of a sudden, the scale just shifted and I realized that in light of all the evidence I’d seen it would have taken more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a Christian. In other words the most logical thing I could do would be to take a step of faith in the same direction the evidence is pointing, which is logical and rational, and put my trust in Jesus.”
Lee encourages skeptics to see the movie and decide for themselves. “First of all it’s just great entertainment — I mean it’s a love story, it’s a marriage story, there’s a mystery involved, a case that I investigate at the Chicago Tribune. It’s a story about a father and son relationship, and it’s a story of a spiritual journey and a spiritual investigation.
“So I think people will be encouraged and motivated. I think they’ll enjoy it. I think Christians will walk away understanding a little better why they believe what they believe. And I think that non-Christians who go will be encouraged to perhaps do what I did and check out the evidence for themselves.”
From Pure Flix and Triple Horse Studios, The Case for Christ stars Mike Vogel (The Help), Erika Christensen (Parenthood), Academy Award® winner Faye Dunaway (Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown), Academy Award® nominee Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), L. Scott Caldwell (Lost) and Frankie Faison (The Wire).
Jonathan M. Gunn (Do You Believe?) directed The Case for Christ, written by Brian Bird, (When Calls the Heart, Touched by An Angel) and based on Strobel’s book, published by Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
The Case for Christ opens in 1,100 theaters on April 7. All the information about the movie is available at www.Thecaseforchristmovie.com.
You can hear the radio interview between ANS Founder Dan Wooding and Lee and Leslie Strobel at http://frontpageradio.net/frontpageradiofiles/LeeLeslieStrobelFPR20170319Mono.mp3, . You can watch the TV show featuring their conversation by going to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27uqqKnhAec&app=desktop. [Don’t forget to start the video at the beginning.]
Editor’s Note: Back in the 1970s, Wooding was a senior reporter with two British tabloids, the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror, as well as a London correspondent for the National Enquirer.) You can read all about his life there in his autobiography, From Tabloid to Truth(http://fromtabloidtotruth.com/). I met Wooding when he was the Chief Reporter on the Middlesex County Times in Ealing, west London and he got me a job as the newest cub reporter on the paper in the 1970s.
Photo captions: 1) Mike Vogel as Lee Strobel in the Newsroom at the Chicago Tribune. 2) Lee and Leslie Strobel being interviewed by ASSIST News Service Founder Dan Wooding. 3) Lee Strobel today. 4) Cover artwork for Dan Wooding’s biography From Tabloid to Truth. 5) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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