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by Chris Carpenter
Long before Lee Strobel became a bestselling author, most notably for his watershed book, The Case for Christ, he was a nose-to-the-grindstone investigative reporter known for his relentless pursuit of the truth. But beyond the grit and grind of the hard-charging newspaper industry, he was also a husband and father who was struggling with his wife’s newfound faith. Why? He was a hardened atheist.
Battling the personal demons of accepting his wife’s devotion to Christ, Lee set out to debunk every claim that Christianity ever made. There was only one problem. He couldn’t.
This chapter of Lee’s life takes center stage in the screen adaptation of The Case for Christ, opening in theaters nationwide on April 7th. Starring Mike Vogel (The Help), Erika Christensen (Parenthood), and Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway, the movie is a thought-provoking yet tender glimpse at coming face-to-face with the greatest time-tested truth.
I recently sat down with Lee to discuss the new movie, how writing The Case for Christ changed his faith, and why his book continues to strike a nerve with people nearly two decades after it was first published.
The Case for Christ is essentially an apologetics book. This is a movie about more than just apologetics; it’s about your life with your wife Leslie. Did either of you have any reservations about this movie being made?
You’re right to point out that it’s not a documentary. People think because of the book that maybe it’s just a bunch of facts or something, but it really is a love story. It’s a story between a dad and a son. It’s a story about a big city newspaper and a major crime story that I covered, as well as a spiritual investigation. We were enthused about the idea of putting it on the screen, because they were able to draw not just from The Case for Christ, but other books I’ve written.
I don’t think you ever expected to have the success that The Case for Christ (the book) has had. You originally wrote it as the outcome of an investigative quest. Yet, there are 10 million plus copies in print and now a major motion picture is on the way. What was your original hope for The Case for Christ when you first wrote it?
I had little hope when I first wrote the book, honestly, because the rap back then in the late 1990s was that books on apologetics or Christian evidence for the faith don’t sell. They took a flier and we did the book. I sort of likened it to Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs. At Wrigley Field, if you hit the ball, it’s generally a pop-up and the outfielder catches it. But sometimes you don’t hit the ball any harder, but the wind takes it out onto Waveland Avenue. I think that’s what God did with this book. I wrote the book, but the Holy Spirit has taken it out of the park in a way I’d never anticipated. To have it in so many different languages now all around the planet has been a great example of how God takes our meager efforts to serve Him and multiplies them beyond what we could have imagined…
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