Cracking the Movie Code on The Case For Christ
By Brian Bird
Because Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ is virtually an encyclopedia of all the best thinking on the reliability of the evidence for Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, I knew I would have plenty of grist for that side of the story—his actual journalistic investigation into Christianity.
But from what I already knew of Lee’s background, I also believed this film had to be a love story. So, I coaxed Lee and his wife, Leslie, to spend a few days with me in my basement office to probe their true journey from 1980. We dug deeply.
What that process revealed was that their marriage was Lee’s primary motivation for trying to debunk Christianity. Leslie had become a Christian, which totally blew up their perfect atheist marriage. The “Bible-thumpers” had gotten to her, and he decided he had to save her by proving the whole thing a big con-job. It was a rescue mission that turned into a redemption.
But instead of him rescuing her from the “cult,” it was Leslie’s deep love that ultimately rescued him from his skepticism. But on the way to that redemption, fueled by the overwhelming evidence for Jesus that he discovered, there was such powerful conflict between them that I knew I could use it as the central through-line of the movie. As Aristotle said, great drama is fueled by great conflict.
As for the “case” itself, I also knew from Lee’s book that his banquet table of evidence was way too big a feast for a two-hour movie. So, I decided to focus on just a few of the most compelling, most cinematic dishes:
And like Tom Hanks’ character, Robert Langdon, in The Da Vinci Code, Lee is in a race against time to save his wife by trying to find a crack in the Christian story. He locates and interrogates five key experts about this “biggest mystery of all time,” which helps make this film a thriller without overwhelming the audience with information.
Brian Bird is the screenwriter and co-producer of THE CASE FOR CHRIST. This piece first appeared on Outreach.com.