The Case for Christ


Anyone seen this movie yet?  I will be seeing it although not this weekend due to the fact my bride and will be having a total of ten teeth extracted by an oral surgeon on Good Friday.  (Yep, my family specializes in rotten teeth and expensive dental bills.)

I have Lee Strobel’s  books in my library although I confess that I have not read them yet.  (Too many books, too many things to do, too little time.)  His story is compelling:  an award winning atheist investigative journalist who embarked on a crusade to debunk Christianity after his wife, to his dismay, became a Christian and who ultimately, through his investigations, became a Christian.

In the spirit of Easter miracles, if you must faint do so into a soft area, I must point positively to a post by Mark Shea:

Bishop Barron on the stubbornly historical nature…

of the Christian faith:

Christianity is not fideist, that is to say, reliant upon a pure and uncritical act of faith on the part of its adherents. Rather, it happily embraces reason and welcomes critical questions. Secondly, and relatedly, Christianity is a stubbornly historical religion. It is not a philosophy (though it can employ philosophical language), nor is it a spirituality (though a spirituality can be distilled from it); rather, it is a relationship to an historical figure about whom an extraordinary historical claim has been made, namely, that he rose bodily from the dead.

Or as Paul bluntly put it:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;* If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Co 15:3–17).

This is not a story set in Joseph Campbell realm of cloud cuckoo land myth and legend.  This presents itself, both consciously and even accidently as historiography.  When Mark pauses to mention that Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus for the benefit of his Roman audience, it’s because he is telling a story that involves the father of two guys they know personally (Romans 16:13).  That’s why the other gospels don’t mention this detail. The shout out makes given Mark’s audience but not given the audiences of the other gospels.  Simon of Cyrene was a real guy who really helped Jesus–who was real–carry his cross down a particular street to a particular spot outside the walls of the actual city of Jerusalem, where he was really crucified just like Spartacus.  And he really rose from the dead in a tomb nearby that you can still go and see.  And when Paul was writing most of the people who saw this dead man after his resurrection were still alive and you could talk to them.  And they believed it so much that they went on to die gruesome deaths for it.

History.  Not myth. Not legend.

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History.  Not myth. Not legend.  Quite so, and this historical aspect of the Faith has been one of the main themes of this blog since its inception.  Christ appeared in this Vale of Tears in the full light of history.  Writings about Him date from the first decade after His death and Resurrection.  The religion He founded carried out her mission in the full light of history. Christianity is an historical faith as we are powerfully reminded each Holy Week.



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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Haven’t read the book, but did just see the movie “The Case for Christ”. One of my take-aways was a grief for the journalism of the past. Solid, unbiased. Anyway, the movie was very well done. I learned a lot. Wonder how it presents to a non-believer. So the next day, on the big screen, I see “The Ten Commandments” and believe this, and “The Case for Christ” should be shown in every high school, college and church for everyone’s viewing pleasure and journey to eternity.

  2. Death is the wages of sin. Jesus Christ is an innocent man. Death had no hold on Christ. Jesus was raised from the dead by God. If Jesus had sin on His soul, Jesus would have had to die for His own sins and mankind would not be redeemed and God, our Father in heaven would have not kept His promise of a Redeemer. God would be a liar. Our Lady too, would not be THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, preserved from original sin, created in original innocence and preserved in original innocence and therefore, assumed into heaven, body and soul. Catholicism makes sense, common sense.

  3. “accidentally”… sure Don. 🙄 😉

    Not sure I could repost what I said (once written my brain purges the words to maximize RAM space) but it was something along the lines of CS Lewis’ point that Jesus was the True Myth. And that science and postmodernism have given myths a bad rap nowadays.

  4. Saw the movie on Palm Sunday. Have a few comments.

    Read the NCR review by Steven Gredanus on Saturday. Showed it to Mrs. D. She being a movie fanatic gets emails from the local theaters. Checked and saw no sign of it. Went to their web sites and saw no sign. Went to a theater the next county over, found it, then saw a link back to another part of a local theater’s page (same chain). It was playing locally but the did not promote it and went to extensive lengths to bury it on their web page. Funny thing is there are more atheists in the next county where they did promote it.

    Went and saw the movie. It’s good, although the arguments were nothing new to me. The best parts were the depiction of the massive accumulation of evidence and the re-enactment of Strobel’s emotional journey.

    That night I bought the Kindle version of the recent edition and finished it last night. Very good. Don, you would like the Chicago crime trivia in each chapter. After reading it I’m convinced that Christianity is either real or (here’s the new part for me) the most successful conspiracy of fraud in history. Need to repeat, I know it’s real. One disappointment: the latest edition appears to be a re-write, with some interviews of more recent vintage than 1980-81. As such it still stands as Christology, but is weakened as autobiography.

    Everyone should see it.

  5. Sorry to hear about the teeth. Feel better! Did you pick Good Friday out of sympathy with the suffering Christ?

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