One night in 1980, Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel), an award-winning journalist for the Chicago Tribune, decided to take his wife and young daughter out to the local diner for a family meal. Never did they imagine that it was the dinner that would change their lives forever. The Strobel’s found out in a powerful way that with God there are no coincidences.
The Case for Christ, based on Lee Strobel’s book of the same name, chronicles the family’s journey from adamant atheism to passionate Christianity. For Lee, everything was about the facts—if you could prove it, then it was real. Leslie (Erika Christensen), Lee’s wife, shared his belief that God didn’t exist. When their daughter, Alison (Haley Rosenwasser), asked questions about God, Lee and Leslie were vague in their answers, wanting Alison to decide what she believed on her own without parental interference.
God had other ideas. Out for dinner, Alison began choking on some food. She couldn’t breathe. Lee and Leslie tried to help but couldn’t. Attracted by the commotion, a woman came to them, telling them she was a nurse. She took Alison and successfully dislodged whatever was stuck. Brimming over with gratitude, the Strobel’s were speechless when the woman introduced herself as Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell) and told her story. Alfie told them that she and her husband had decided to go to a different restaurant but changed their minds when Alfie felt like the Lord Jesus was telling her that there was some reason she needed to come to that particular place that evening. She told Leslie that she believed God sent here there that night to help the Strobel’s. Lee dismisses the God talk but Leslie begins to wonder if there is a God after all.
Later, Leslie visits Alfie and agrees to attend church with her. As Leslie and Alfie become friends, Alfie shares her faith in Christ and Leslie’s heart opens to God. As she travels the path to her eventual baptism, Lee grows more and more troubled at how Leslie is being duped by Alfie and her Christian friends. When he talks to his friend, journalism mentor, and fellow atheist, Brett (Ray Nelson), Brett tells Lee that Christian faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then Christianity falls apart. So, Lee, ever the investigative journalist, sets out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus.
He talks to experts in many fields: archaeology, psychology, medicine. As expert after expert tells him the scientific truth of the resurrection, he becomes disturbed by the direction the evidence is taking him. Finally, he can no longer deny the truth the facts he has collected present to him: Jesus rose from the dead, therefore God does exist and the Christians were right all along. Going to Leslie, who has been fervently praying for him, Lee takes his first steps toward faith, asking God to help him understand and believe.
The Case for Christ, although the story of one man’s journey to faith, can also inspire life-long believers. Sometimes we can take our faith for granted because we don’t often think about the relationship with God that comes about as a result of baptism. In this sacrament, we become drawn into the very life of the Triune God. That’s a pretty big deal. For those of us who were baptized as infants, the truth of the resurrection is not something we think about every day, but it is this that sustains our hope of eternal life. Hopefully, by witnessing the joy of those who had a difficult journey to faith, like that of Lee and Leslie Strobel, our own joy at being part of the Body of Christ will be renewed and reinvigorated.
About the Author
Sister Hosea Rupprecht is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, a religious community dedicated to evangelization with the media. She holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto and an MA in Media Literacy from Webster University in St. Louis.
Sr. Hosea is director of the East Coast office of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, based in Staten Island, NY, and speaks on media literacy and faith to catechists, parents, youth, and young adults. Together with Father Chip Hines, she is the co-host of Searchlight, a Catholic movie review show on Catholic TV. Sr. Hosea is the author of How to Watch Movies with Kids: A Values-Based Strategy, released by Pauline Books & Media.
For the past 15 years, she has facilitated various film dialogues for both children and adults, as well as given presentations on integrating culture, faith and media.