Film review: The Case for Christ

by Ed Morrissey

The faith-based film industry has both grown and matured over the last several years as filmmakers and investors see enthusiasm from audiences for these offerings. The new film The Case for Christ, based on the real-life conversion story of former Pulitzer-nominated journalist Lee Strobel and taken from his 1998 book of the same title, provides further evidence of this maturation.

In fact, the pursuit of evidence forms the core of the film’s narrative. In 1980, Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel) finds his marriage and professional life turned upside-down when his wife Leslie (Erika Christiansen) converts from their shared atheism to Christianity. Convinced that his wife has been brainwashed by a cult — being just a couple of years removed from the Jonestown massacre — Strobel decides to apply his journalistic expertise to debunk the central core of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Can Strobel find an evidence-based argument to refute Christianity, or will he be forced to face his own biases and assumptions?

Given that this is explicitly a conversion story (and that Strobel’s book sold 14 million copies over the last two decades), that outcome isn’t exactly a mystery, but the film isn’t intended to be a mystery anyway. At its core, The Case for Christ is a love story on multiple levels rather than an exposition about evidentiary support for the Resurrection. The love Lee and Leslie have for each other becomes redemptive, but so too the terribly strained relationship that Lee has with his father, and that Lee also has with The Father.

The Case for Christ models a familiar tension for believers between faith and reason. People come to Christianity through both paths and generally find ways to accommodate both. Leslie’s conversion comes through an emotional tie to faith, but Lee clings to his vision of reason. That dichotomy plays out in their interactions, depicted realistically and very believably between Vogel and Christiansen on screen. For most of us, who struggle to blend the two, we will recognize ourselves in Lee and Leslie.

What sets this film apart from some others in this genre is the careful manner in which it depicts various characters and their own relation to faith…


Film review: The Case for Christ « Hot Air