Curiosity is the catalyst to discovery. A journalist’s job is to follow where their curious minds take them, fueled by a passionate desire to come upon the truth. It is in these truths that we establish our beliefs and morals. As a journalist, there is no greater reward than pursuing a story and turning a hunch into a reality. But sometimes the truth isn’t the result of initial expectations. Sometimes it forces us to come face to face with one of the biggest decisions a person can ever be asked to make: follow the facts or believe in the fiction. Based on a true story, the 2017 American Christian drama, “The Case for Christ” follows the life of journalist Lee Strobel (played by Mike Vogel) in his pursuit to uncover the truth behind Jesus Christ.
After Lee and his wife Leslie (played by Erika Christensen) witness a stranger save their daughter in a near death experience, Leslie wonders if their atheist beliefs are the correct belief system she should be putting her faith in. Lee’s investigative pursuit to disprove Christ’s life and death lead him in directions he never imagined possible.
Being a journalist myself, I really empathized with Lee’s struggle to accept something that counters his beliefs in light of the tremendous strength of the truth being presented. The entire purpose of a journalist is to follow where the evidence leads in order to build a story based on facts.
When the facts contradict a journalist’s personal beliefs it often compromises the story’s potential. These contradictions never stopped Lee from finding his answers. I also admired his passion for his career and, eventually, his willingness to accept the implications of the destination he has reached after following the journalistic path he had chosen, something that is not easy to do.
With my admiration of Lee’s passion for his career came a sense of annoyance and sadness at his ignorance to his wife’s pain. Her strength in pursuing a belief in something she knew from the start would potentially drive a stake into her marriage, really left an impact on me. She never once gave into the pressure of her husband’s anger even amidst the threat of an end to her marriage. Both Lee and Leslie devotedly seek the answers to the unknowns in their lives, fearlessly following something greater than the both of them. This fearlessness, no matter their motives, really impressed me.
I think another point to note about this incredible film is the people Lee chose to get evidence from, some believers and others non-believers. Former archaeologist and current Catholic priest, Jose Maria Marquez (played by Miguel Perez) teaches Lee about the validity of manuscripts, Purdue University professor of psychiatry, Dr. Roberta Waters (played by Faye Dunaway) teaches him about the physiological possibilities and impossibilities of Christ’s death and resurrection, to name a few, have their voices heard in Lee’s case. The fact that some – Dr. Roberta Waters for example – was an atheist herself and still provided information to Lee on the side of belief in God, proved to me the legitimacy of his collection of evidence.
I was very impressed with the way in which director Jon Gunn seamlessly flowed between the viewpoints of both Leslie and Lee. His ability to switch between characters really opens the door for viewers to piece everything together and make a valid decision for themselves on what they believe. Even in the moments when I was angry with Lee for the way he treated his wife, I still wanted to know his motives. Maybe it was simply my way of seeking an excuse for him, wanting to put rhyme behind his reason. I felt completely enthralled from beginning to end.
Lee’s journey for the truth speaks to beliefs (and disbeliefs) of believers and non-believers alike. Whether you believe in Christ’s life and death or not, this movie is a must see. Regardless of the take you have on this situation, there must be a passion for discovering the truth, whatever that truth may be. Even if the topics of religion are removed from the movie we are still taught a tremendous amount about love, life, determination, passion, and so much more.
Lee teaches us that truth isn’t always hiding in plain sight. Truth isn’t always where we want it to be or how we want it to be. Lee teaches us that truth isn’t always simple, sometimes requiring a leap of faith. Truth doesn’t lie, for that is the very foundations of the definition of the word. Sometimes the evidence is stacked against your beliefs and everything you’ve ever known. Eventually, the truth becomes blinding – impossible to ignore. It is at this moment, when disbelief and truth meet, that belief is born.