Nearly two decades have passed since Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ first hit bookstore shelves. Written as a response to the former journalist’s conversion from atheism, Strobel’s investigation into the truth claims of Christianity remains a landmark work of apologetics, often mentioned alongside mainstays such as C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. And while the culture has changed much since 1998, Strobel insists that using reason to defend—and, more importantly, to share—the gospel remains as important as ever.
Later this week, the film adaptation of The Case for Christ, which tells the story behind Strobel’s investigation and resulting conversion, will premiere at theaters across the country. For this week’s episode of The Calling, CT managing editor Richard Clark sat down with Strobel to learn more about the challenges of adapting his book for the big screen, the role his marriage played in his conversion, and the future of apologetics in a “post-truth” world.
On his wife converting while he was still an atheist: “If churches are doing their job, they’re leading people to faith—and creating these unequally yoked marriages. And they’re difficult, because now your worldviews are clashing. It leads to all kinds of conflict. …Honestly, I felt a lot of hostility, because I felt like there was another man in our relationship. All of a sudden, Jesus is part of this—well, who’s he? And why is she getting emotional support from him? I thought that was my job!”
On visiting church as an atheist: “It’s difficult and frightening. You don’t know what to expect—when to sit, when to stand. You’re afraid you’re going to be embarrassed. We actually cut a line out from the movie where I try to tip the guy who gives me the bulletin. It’s an uncomfortable deal.”
On how apologetics has changed: “Back in the 1960s and ’70s, apologetics was lining up a guy and machine-gunning him with facts that he knew to be true, because he’d learned it in Sunday school anyway. He just needed to be reminded. That’s not true anymore. Now, it’s more what I call ‘relational apologetics.’ It’s friendships. It’s conversations. It’s dialogue where we engage with these questions, these topics on a personal level. It doesn’t just become, ‘Golly, why does a loving God allow pain and suffering?’ It becomes, ‘Where was God when we lost a child in childbirth five years ago?’”
On whether apologetics is becoming irrelevant: “Certainly we see a trend toward a postmodern mindset and ‘post-truth’ culture. But, having said that—I think that evangelism in the 21st century is spelled “apologetics.” I think it is still relevant. … I think young people are interested, and I think it’s partially a reaction against the postmodern mindset. They are looking for something solid. They are looking for something to believe in.”
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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Jonathan Clauson.
Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.