If you’re the kind of person who likes movies with car chases or flashy special effects, The Case for Christ isn’t your kind of movie. You might as well look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a great story that’ll touch your head, heart, and soul—one that your entire family can watch—this movie is for you. Invite unchurched friends and family to the movie and you’ll be guaranteed stimulating conversation around the gospel.
You see, The Case for Christ isn’t your typical Hollywood blockbuster.
But, then again, it wasn’t intended to be. It’s designed to communicate a great story that illustrates the gospel for those who might be skeptical of Christianity.
And the movie does that well.
The Case for Christ is based on Lee Strobel’s best-selling book of the same name. Lee, a trained legal journalist for the Chicago Tribune, tells the story of his investigative search into the truth of Christianity after his wife became a follower of Jesus. Realizing that Christianity stands or falls on the basis of the resurrection, he talks to a number of the world’s greatest authorities on issues surrounding the resurrection, from biblical scholars to a psychologist and a medical doctor.
Lee’s goal throughout the movie was to disprove Christianity and convince his once-skeptical wife to abandon her new faith. But he got more than he bargained for in the process.
The movie weaves three unique stories into a single narrative. Each part plays a critical role in the overall plot:
1. You have Lee and his wife’s marital journey after Leslie becomes a Jesus follower
Lee and his wife had both been atheists and planned to raise their daughter in a likewise manner. Leslie’s conversion to Christianity put that at risk. Lee has outright disdain for his wife’s new faith and the two quickly drift apart.
2. There is the criminal case of James Dixon, who was accused of shooting a Chicago police officer
When police find a gun with Dixon’s fingerprints near the shooting, the case seems to be open and shut. That’s when Lee is first assigned to cover it for the Chicago Tribune. Lee’s reporting helps put Dixon in prison, but Lee eventually discovers he may have misinterpreted his own evidence. The case makes Lee rethink many of his previous assumptions about the nature of evidence, which impacts his search for the truth about the resurrection.
3. You’re confronted with Lee’s search for the truth concerning the resurrection of Jesus
Ultimately, this is the core question of the movie: What will Lee do with the evidence for the resurrection? This question isn’t answered until the movie’s second-to-last scene.
Thanks to screenwriter Brian Bird (who has also written Captive, When Calls the Heart, and Touched by an Angel, among others) and the masterful way he intertwines these three stories, you’re left with a movie that can appeal to many different people—lovers of romance, drama, crime stories, or theology will all be intrigued by the plot. Most importantly for church leaders, the movie has the potential to reach several different kinds of spiritual skeptics—from those with intellectual stumbling blocks involving logic-based conflicts with the gospel to those who are more influenced through compelling narratives.
If you’re an action-movie fan, the movie may seem slow at times. Most of the movie plot centers on conversations between Lee and Leslie, Lee and his colleagues, and Lee and the scholars he interviews. But the quick, thought-provoking dialogue will engage viewers throughout.
If you’ve read the book or are familiar with where Lee’s life ends up, the driving question (will he accept the proof he finds for the resurrection?) won’t be much of a surprise. But few outside of the church have heard Lee’s story. For the vast majority of non-Christians you invite to the movie, the story will be fresh.
You’ll recognize a few of the cast members (Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway, Robert Forster). Even those you don’t recognize will impress you with their skills. Mike Vogel’s portrayal of Lee Strobel and Erika Christensen’s portrayal of Leslie Strobel, in particular, stand out for their honest and passionate acting displays.
Use this movie as an outreach tool. Encourage your congregation to invite non-Christian friends and family to see it. You can find a variety of tools on The Case for Christ website to help your church make the most of the outreach potential of this movie.
Don’t miss this opportunity!