A compelling ‘Case for Christ’

Published 9:39 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

I’m writing this week’s column right after seeing the new film, “The Case For Christ.” Halfway through the movie, I knew I had to write about it.

I’ll admit to being somewhat of a snob when it comes to movies and books. I just don’t like bad art, whether it is Christian or not. And frankly, I’ve seen some pretty cheesy Christian movies.

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Happily, I can recommend “The Case For Christ” without reservation. It is excellent, and I hope you will go see it.

I also hope that you will read the book. Often books on apologetics (the defense of the faith) are pretty dry. But Lee Strobel’s book is never that.

Strobel, who once wrote for the Chicago Tribune, is an excellent writer. Furthermore, the scholars he interviewed in writing “The Case For Christ” are top-flight. For years, I have kept copies of this book on hand to give away.

But I wondered how a book based on a series of interviews with scholars would translate into a movie. Fortunately, the film adds a relational element that makes it emotionally compelling, without sacrificing the focus on the evidence for Jesus.

In fact, the film appropriately lasers in on the most important evidence for Christianity, which is the overwhelming evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

If Jesus really rose from the dead, it means He is Savior and Lord, and the only question is whether we have received Him as our Savior and Lord. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we Christians are kidding ourselves.

It all hinges on the resurrection. The film is spot-on in this respect.

But it is also accurate in pointing out that God uses people to bring others to Himself. In this case, He used Lee Strobel’s wife, Leslie.

Leslie became a Christian, which upset her atheist husband so much that he set out to debunk the basis of her newfound faith. He felt threatened by her faith and lashed out, yet she continued to love him. In fact, God gave her the ability to love him more than ever.

The relational element makes this a great movie, one I would recommend both to Christians and to those who are still searching.

As a Christian, it touched my heart to see Leslie’s unconditional love for her husband. This is a mark of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, when we find ourselves loving people more — especially when they are difficult to love.

That is exactly how God loved us. “God shows us His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

And how do we know that Jesus really died for us, that He wasn’t just a man who died as a martyr? Because He rose from the dead!

Christianity is not a philosophy. It is not good advice. It is good news about something that really happened.

Jesus rose, and the Bible promises that one day all who have received Him as Savior and King will rise, as well. We will have eternal life, because we have a Savior who rose to life.

That’s what Easter is all about. I hope you’ll be in church tomorrow, celebrating the resurrection.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.