A Note From Our Editor: “The Case For Christ”—The Case For Whom? -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 15:1 (Jun 2018)
Article: A Note From Our Editor: “The Case For Christ”—The Case For Whom?
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

A Note From Our Editor: “The Case For Christ”—The Case For Whom?

John Warwick Montgomery

When I take the TGV—the super-fast train from Strasbourg to Paris—on legal business, I always buy a copy of the weekly Officiel des spéctacles to see what is going on in the City of Light. On my latest trip, as I examined the list of films playing, what did I find? Amazingly, tucked away among the listings was “Jésus: L’enquête” (The Case for Christ)—described as the story of an atheist converted to Christianity.

Of course I could not resist. The film was not playing at the major theatres to which I ordinarily go; in fact, it was listed as playing in only three cinemas. I picked the one that was most centrally located, near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées. As it turned out, I constituted 50% of the audience (2 persons total in attendance).

The film is biographical: the conversion of American journalist Lee Strobel. What are the pluses and what are the minuses?

The Positive

Technically, “The Case for Christ” could hardly be bettered. The acting, the photography, the direction are all at the level of the best of Hollywood standards. The French subtitling was impeccable (though voice-dubbing would have been more effective). The producers were smart enough to enlist in a cameo role a known (though now long-in-the-tooth) Hollywood star, Faye Dunaway, in an obvious effort to capture an audience of non-religious film buffs.

There is much valuable apologetics material included in the film. Brief interviews occur with actors representing defenders of the faith such as Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig. (Habermas is a personal friend, and I was Craig’s first apologetics professor—though I am never mentioned in the credits or otherwise.) The important Journal of the American Medical Association article confirming the death of Christ from crucifixion, over against “swoon theories”—an article I introduced into the apologetics arena years ago—plays a significant role.

The Negative

The film is obviously the product of Baptists, and they cannot resist pushing their doctrinal orientation. Thus Strobel’s wife goes through a full-scale, down-by-the riverside immersion baptism, and Strobel’s post-conversion professorship at a Baptist institution is emphasized in the credits at the end of the film. Of course, we cannot object to Baptist money, and the film obviously cost someone an arm and a leg; but wouldn’t it be nice if classical denominations, such as the Lutherans, spent money doing the same thing, only better? Problem is that the Lutherans are far more concerned with the internal life of their churches than with evangelism to a secular public—and have little interest in apologetics (doubts are...

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