Review of the film ‘The Case for Christ’ (based on a true story)…
Created by Jon Taylor - Tuesday 09 Jan 2018
Jon Taylor
Lee Strobel was a successful reporter with the Chicago Tribune and was promoted to be their legal editor. He had a nice wife, one beautiful child and another on the way. Everything seemed perfect. They celebrated at a restaurant when suddenly their daughter couldn’t breathe as some gum became lodged in her throat. A Christian nurse stepped in removing the offending article, thus saving her life. Lee was grateful but attributed the timing to coincidence; though Leslie his wife was convinced there was more to it. What follows is an unlikely twist of events, journey of faith and a fascinating and scrupulous investigation regarding the resurrection.
At this point, Leslie considers Jesus to have been a great man whilst Lee thought that stories from the Bible were fiction. Leslie meets Alfie the nurse at the hospital and is invited to church and she attends a couple of times. She explains to Alfie that she went to church as a kid and her mum sang hymns though they had moved on. Leslie is moved by Alfie’s confident assurance in God and soon professes faith in Him afterwards. This is a devastating shock to Lee who considers himself as losing his wife and does not want to discuss her faith at all. Their relationship becomes strained so Lee employs his investigative skills to examine whether the Christian faith is true.
Lee speaks to his work colleagues. One suggests reading Bertrand Russell and thinks Lee can gradually pick away at the apparent contradictions. He also engages with a believing co-worker who suggests that Lee should seriously examine the resurrection which is pivotal to the Christian faith. Lee doesn’t waste time and ‘wants his wife back’ so attends a debate between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew. Lee remains sceptical afterwards but is able to converse with Habermas personally.
Strobel’s first reservation concerning the resurrection was centred around what he considered ‘biased sources’. However, Habermas states that there were specific eye witnesses dating back to within a few months of the event, in addition to at least nine ancient historical sources, some of which were independent ones. Five hundred separate people were recorded as seeing Jesus after He was crucified. Furthermore Saul of Tarsus was originally a persecutor of Christians. Lee protests citing examples of people becoming deluded and drinking poison, though Habermas responds by commenting that people don’t drink poison for what they know is a lie. The inference is that those who were martyred were convinced that Jesus had risen from the grave. Strobel then asked Habermas a personal question about his faith and Habermas explains that he lost his wife Debbie to cancer and that he is comforted knowing he will see her again.
Strobel then meets with further experts in their fields and comes to recognise that the more copies there are of an ancient text near to the event, the better, (one principle of textual criticism). He discovers that at the time he was researching there was over 5000 Greek New Testament manuscripts and not only was the number of manuscripts greatly surpassing any other historical event but the closeness in time to the event itself.
Another round of questioning follows with a doctor. Strobel tries to take issue with the apparent inconsistency of the resurrection narrative in the gospels. He questions why the first witnesses were women when in that time period and particular culture, women’s testimonies were not considered reliable, so why would they be mentioned? The doctor responds by reminding Lee of his legal knowledge in that the core description of events from witnesses should remain congruent though one would expect differences in the secondary details and if all the secondary details were in perfect agreement, corroboration would be suspected. Concerning the accounts of the women, this was consistent in agreement suggesting strongly that the witnesses recorded exactly what they saw. The doctor then asks Strobel some critical heart searching questions, “Do you really want to know the truth or is your mind made up?” Also, “When is enough evidence, enough evidence?”
Contrary to Strobel’s expectations, Leslie’s love for him grows because she has become a Christian, not despite of that. Leslie reads Ezekiel 36:26 and prays that Strobel’s heart of stone will be turned into flesh. Strobel in his pursuit of establishing the evidence speaks with another different doctor who is an expert in human behaviour and who isn’t a believer to enquire about the possibility of mass hallucination. The response is simple yet profound. It is quite a thing for 500 people to have the same dream! Go and speak to a medical doctor.
Following hours of painstaking research and debating with respective experts in their fields, Strobel speaks to a medical doctor about whether ‘swoon theory’ (the idea that Jesus may have fainted and recovered following the crucifixion) is tenable. Strobel is then made aware that the whip used for flogging included metal balls and bones and those victims were scourged and pummelled, causing massive blood loss and exhaustion. That was followed by a slow agonizing death where the victim would asphyxiate and have to push themselves up with their legs and arms which were already pierced with nails to be able to breathe and the friction on their back would cause additional further blood loss and suffering following the previous horrendous scourging.
Nevertheless even then, Strobel contests whether survival was possible. The doctor explains that Roman soldiers were professional at killing and if their prisoners escaped they would be executed. Also when the side of Jesus was pierced blood and water poured out, evidencing death by asphyxiation. There was absolutely no possibility of survival.
A few more dialogues follow, Strobel recognises that he has read and investigated sufficiently and asks a most significant question about the Lord Jesus and His reason for dying on the cross, why would He do it? “It’s really very simple…love!” Strobel explains to his wife that he believes and wants to write an article about his journey of faith. His article is refused publication on the grounds of compromising the integrity of the newspaper. Strobel writes a book instead called ‘The case for Christ’. It is well worth a read and follows in the steps of Sir William Ramsay who went to extraordinary lengths to disprove the Christian faith, by examining the historical reliability of Luke and Acts and came to faith in God, contrary to his expectations and initial purpose.
One more thing… I remember a Pastor saying ever so clearly something that remains in my thoughts. When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn’t ultimately because of the Jewish people who handed Him over to be crucified or the Romans who carried out the crucifixion or even the nails that held Him there. It was His love!

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).’
Tuesday 09 Jan 2018