Grounded in a biblical worldview
|Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations|
|Family Viewing Suitability|
|view our criteria|
Every year at Easter, skeptics come out of the woodwork with efforts to debunk and cast doubt on the death and resurrection of Jesus. This year, however, a fantastic film detailing the compelling evidence FOR the historical Jesus—THE CASE FOR CHRIST—hits theaters on April 7, 2017. Based on the true story of award-winning Chicago Times investigative journalist Lee Strobel—a self-proclaimed atheist—THE CASE FOR CHRIST follows his unlikely journey to Christianity while attempting to disprove his wife’s newfound faith following a traumatic event involving their young daughter. Along the way, Strobel encounters powerful—and ultimately persuasive—evidence that he, in his quest for truth, can’t dismiss or ignore.
Produced by Triple Horse Studios and distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment (I’M NOT ASHAMED, HILLSONG: LET HOPE RISE, GOD’S NOT DEAD I and II, DO YOU BELIEVE?), THE CASE FOR CHRIST is ably directed by Jon Gunn (DO YOU BELIEVE?) and features a well-written screenplay by Brian Bird (CAPTIVE), based on the best-selling book of the same name by Strobel. To its credit, the cast of THE CASE FOR CHRIST is particularly strong, with Mike Vogel (THE HELP) as Lee Strobel; Erika Christensen (“Parenthood”) as Lee’s wife, Leslie; L. Scott Caldwell (“Mercy Street,” “Southland”) as Alfie Davis; Faye Dunaway (BONNIE AND CLYDE, CHINATOWN) as Dr. Roberta Waters; Jordan Cox as Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels; Frankie Faison (“The Good Wife”) as Chicago Times editor Joe Dubois; Renell Gibbs (HOURS) as James Dixon; and Kevin Sizemore (“Resurrection”) as well-known Christian apologist Dr. Gary Habermas.
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance
With Christianity under increasingly bold attack by secular forces that see it as delusional and unreasonable, the biblical call for followers of Jesus to always be ready to give and answer for their faith (1 Pet. 3:15) is now more important than ever. Here, THE CASE FOR CHRIST offers viewers the opportunity to fully consider the evidence about the most pivotal event in human history—Christ’s death and resurrection—and make up their own minds. And by leading viewers through a series of honest questions that skeptics raise—and treating their views respectfully—THE CASE FOR CHRIST presents a winsome and compelling argument for the truth claims of the Bible that will encourage believers and challenge skeptics.
Perhaps even more importantly, THE CASE FOR CHRIST offers a gentle and loving presentation of the Gospel as life events unfold for Strobel during his investigation into the truth claims about Jesus. In addition, key scriptures such as the call to believe, receive and become children of God (John 1:12) and God’s promise to exchange hearts of stone for new spirits and hearts of flesh (Eze. 36:26) are highlighted. And while THE CASE FOR CHRIST does a good job of balancing the inherent tension between head and heart—facts and faith—it wisely lands on C.S. Lewis’ view: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.” Here, the eternal consequences of Lee and Leslie Strobel’s choices are clear—radically changed lives for themselves, their family, and generations to follow.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships
Throughout THE CASE FOR CHRIST, key characters and their relationships with one another are faith-compatible and realistic. Notably, even before Lee and Leslie come to Christ, they are portrayed as a couple that loves and respects each other—with Leslie more than holding her own in what are sometimes difficult conversations with Lee, who struggles to come to terms with the fact that his wife is now a Christian. They clearly are committed to one another, love their daughter deeply, and look forward to the birth of their son. And while many viewers will relate to Lee’s estranged relationship with his cold and distant father, it is his unexpected death that breaks through the bitterness in Lee’s heart—at a critical moment in his investigation into the truth about Christianity.
Beyond the Strobel family, the relationship between Leslie and Alfie Davie is poignant and impactful. After Alfie—a nurse—saves the Strobel’s daughter from choking to death, Leslie begins to question her commitment to atheism. Here, Alfie’s gentle and loving friendship and witness to Christ opens the door for Leslie to come to faith. And when Lee pressures Leslie to doubt and reconsider, Alfie is there to offer encouragement and support. For Lee, the clear, but firm witness of a coworker who points Lee in the right direction and then ultimately challenges him to make up his mind once and for all about the evidence for Christ offers a great example for believers to follow with truth-seeking friends and family members.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations
Although a few scenes in THE CASE FOR CHRIST depict drinking and smoking, situations overall are portrayed in a very faith-compatible manner. Lee understandably feels that he has lost his wife to a cult and tries to rescue her and restore their marriage to its original footing. And while the struggles in the Strobel marriage are shown in a realistic, evenhanded and respectful manner, there comes a point when Lee threatens Leslie with divorce if she doesn’t turn away from her faith.
At his job, Lee’s interactions with his co-workers and editor are also depicted in faith-compatible and realistic ways. Throughout the movie, two investigations unfold simultaneously and move the story forward. The first is Lee’s investigation into the truth about Jesus, which leads him to meet with experts in various fields—including renown Christian apologists Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. William Lane Craig. The second is the case of James Dixon, who was wrongfully imprisoned—in large part based on a story Strobel wrote—and then savagely beaten by fellow inmates, but who ultimately witnesses to Strobel in a powerful way.
Behind the scenes, both Leslie and Alfie are shown to be praying for Lee’s heart to be softened and that he, too, would come to believe the truth about Jesus. Commendably, the scene in which Lee confesses to Leslie that he has not been upfront with her about his efforts to disprove her faith—and that he, too, now believes—is very well done. Here, as Leslie’s prayer is answered and she has the privilege of being there when her husband comes to Christ, what could have easily come across as corny or contrived is instead an emotionally riveting conclusion to Lee’s journey to faith.
Family Viewing Suitability
At 113 minutes in length, THE CASE FOR CHRIST is rated PG for thematic elements including medical descriptions of crucifixion and incidental smoking. There are also a few scenes in which Lee argues with Leslie and one in which he goes to a bar for a few drinks. In another scene, the young Strobel daughter chokes on a piece of candy and has to be resuscitated, which could be mildly disturbing to younger viewers. Otherwise, THE CASE FOR CHRIST is likely suitable for a wide range of family viewing, and offers a great opportunity for engaging discussions afterward about the historical evidence for Jesus and what this means on a personal level.
As the latest offering from the faith-driven team at Pure Flix Entertainment, THE CASE FOR CHRIST is a step above its predecessors in terms of the quality of writing, directing and acting—and sets the bar higher for faith-driven films to come. The story of Lee Strobel’s pursuit for truth is engaging and informative—and will certainly strengthen the faith of believers while offering some great food for thought to skeptics in a way that’s not preachy or confrontational. And there’s an ease and smoothness to the pacing of THE CASE FOR CHRIST that makes it enjoyable to watch.
Ultimately, THE CASE FOR CHRIST asks the all-important question: “If the Gospel is true, wouldn’t you want to know?” Because of this, faith-driven moviegoers will likely find THE CASE FOR CHRIST very satisfying—and will want to invite skeptical family members and friends to join them in considering the evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus.