Not too long ago, Anne Rice, horror author of Interview with a Vampire, released a book entitled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a novel about Jesus’ life at age 7. During the course of her research, the one-time Catholic turned atheist, her spiritual journey took a different twist. After compulsive study, the historicity of Christ’s resurrection became hard to deny. She then found herself re-connecting with her faith.

Her story parallels the journey of journalist-turned-author-turned-evangelist Lee Strobel as his best-selling book The Case for Christ has been made into a DVD. Strobel, too, was a one-time committed atheist, set out to investigate the claims and history of Jesus Christ and during the course of his journey converted to Christianity. He brought to bear his journalistic tools and investigated the claims of the Christian faith.

The Case for Christ is a documentary that would have made a good story. It’s almost like the faith it dissects: facts vs. the conveyance of those facts (though it would be hard to imagine a movie of this that didn’t have a lot of exposition, but that’s neither here nor there). As a part of his investigation, he sought out the experts and weighed their opinions. He examined the eye witness testimony, the nature of oral tradition, the corroboration outside of the original copies/documentation, and the historical Jesus, including his claims to be God as well as his miracles.

The Case for Christ has too much of a talking heads structure to it, broken up only by dramatic shots of Lee Strobel continuously crossing the street. It’s the kind of thing you’d watch as the intro to a book study. That being said, it brings up a lot of good things to consider.

Skepticism wormed its way into the fabric of our culture, including church so the idea of a logical and rational “case” leading to faith doesn’t surprise me. The beautiful thing about faith is that we’re continually trying to figure things out. You can have all the facts you want, you can debate facts, and, frankly, you ought to. Faith doesn’t mean the turning off of one’s brain: things should make sense and continual questioning is a valid exercise unto itself.

It’s like having faith isn’t enough. It has to be reasoned, defended logically, with everything dissected, taken apart and put back together in some sort of systematic structure. Faith imbues facts with meaning, or, better said, it’s hard to get to the truth of the Christian faith through objectivity. Sometimes faith means that we have to come to the conclusion that we don’t have many things figured out. That we have to learn to get comfortable with that and the idea of mystery (read: the great “I don’t know”). Some people need proof, although miracles in the age of David Blaine and CGI is not going to impress me.

The film is also an introduction to apologetics (the pragmatic defense of Christianity), useful to folks just learning to articulate a cohesive defense of their faith. (I’ve never been one for defending “the faith”: if “the faith” needs me to defend it, we’re all in a lot of trouble. Plus, I’m more of an experiential guy at this point in my walk, not so much about documentation). My apologetics are pretty basic. The apologetics of man: using women as witnesses in an age where they had next to zero credibility, having a conspiracy where no one talks/leaks, people dying for what they know to be a lie, the growth of Christianity in face of adversity. I believe people to be, well, people, and this goes against my experience of how people operate. The apologetics of transformation: I need to see a change, the fruit of evidence in the lives of those impacted by it. This would still be along my experiential model in that I need to see truth lived out because truth has a personal and social dimension to it. In this same vein, the Church is seen as a treatment center, giving a kind of “chemo” against an insidious cancer that afflicts us all.

I also appreciate an apologetics of love:

The irony of Christian love is that it is characterized by self-donation; it gives itself up to find itself. A love-centered rationality will have as its character an appropriate humility, a personal and social situatedness that takes human embodiment seriously (i.e., it is not a disembodied rationality) within an over-arching Gospel narrative and, above all, is characterized by an interest in the welfare and perspective of others.

And there is room for the kind of apologetics along the lines of The Case for Christ. In this modern age of rationality and scientific methods, it is no surprise people of faith want to take up the same tools to defend themselves, especially after being demeaned as unthinking people. For people going through a doubting phase, this sort of approach tends to help them.

The bottom line is that when it comes to our spiritual journeys, we need to investigate for ourselves. Have an open mind and go where the evidence takes you. There’s no such thing as a cookie cutter faith: each journey looks different and we ought to give each other the freedom to explore as we need to. You may not find the answer to every question or know who was right on every issue; that’s not the point. It’s the journey that counts. Love and do your best and trust that God will help you work out the rest.