While the Star Wars Trilogy is still Judge Kent Dixon's favorite, Lee Strobel's isn't bad at all.
"Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can't really get rid of it."—C.S. Lewis
Faith and spirituality are sensitive topics and have been since very early in human history. Wars have been fought, people have been persecuted and untold multitudes of people have lost their lives in the name of their own faith, religion, or concept of a "supreme being." Whether it's due to the current global economic instability, a sense of meaninglessness in everyday life or just a desire to know how we fit into the complex and nearly infinite nature of the universe, it seems the search for faith and spirituality are becoming more and more common. A simple Google search will tell you that more than 469 million people are looking for information on "God" and nearly 200 million are searching for "faith" (references to George Michael and Ms. Hill aside).
Lee Strobel began his career as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune and cites this as the root of what spurred him on to investigate Christianity with the same journalistic scrutiny that had dedicated to other research projects. A self-confessed atheist when he married his wife, Strobel was angry and confused when his wife became a Christian early in their marriage and he feared that it would drive them apart. His quest to disprove Christianity resulted in an approximately 30-year journey of investigation, seeking out credible witnesses in both the scholarly and scientific communities to get to the root of the faith that had become a key part of the life of his wife.
Ultimately, the weight of evidence and the credibility of the experts he interviewed caused Strobel to throw up his hands and commit his life to Christ. After becoming a believer, Strobel became an apologist for Christianity, sharing his own story through the books The Case For a Creator, The Case For Christ, and The Case For Faith, and the books were made into films that were released on DVD in 2006, 2007, and 2008 respectively. The Lee Strobel Film Collection includes all three films, gathered together for the first time as a complete collection, with each film getting a dedicated disc of its own in a three-disc keep case with cover art that represents each film.
I was immediately impressed by two things as I viewed the series: first, you won't find any bible-thumping here as the arguments and responses are all given equal time and attention, never pushing conversion on the viewer but presenting solid and seemingly credible evidence; and second, the filmmakers, and particularly Strobel himself, never shy away from the tough questions and even share their own doubts at times as they struggle with cosmic issues like salvation, eternity, and the nature of evil. I was raised by Christian parents and that has always been a part of my life, but when I was about 18 I took a critical look at the faith I had been raised with, to determine whether it was something nice that was now expendable or if it was something I still believed that would continue through the rest of my life. Spirituality and faith are very individual and personal in many ways, but as I renewed my faith as a young adult, I asked many of the same questions Strobel poses in his series.
>From a critical perspective, each film directly addresses its core subject matter, delivering solid arguments for the Christian faith. Speaking with scientists and presenting scientific arguments and evidence, The Case For a Creator examines the essential systems and elements that would have needed to come together to create life on Earth as we know it. Through the examples and statistics presented, it become abundantly clear that the odds are infinitely low that everything happened by chance and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that there was an intelligent process and deliberate design behind it all. The Case For Christ tackles just what you'd imagine, the person of Jesus Christ, his ministry, miracles, and resurrection. No other spiritual leader in history has ever claimed to be the direct link to God, much less the son of God, and the experts consulted definitely provide ample food for thought around these issues. The Case For Faith rounds things out nicely by addressing the core objections against the Christian faith, from the nature of evil to the existence of a loving God.
Whether you're a student looking for a deeper overview of some of the key concepts of Christianity, someone who is casually interested in what Christianity is all about, or a believer who has questions, The Lee Strobel Film Collection has a lot to offer. There is a wealth of content beyond the features themselves, ranging from study materials and web links to additional interview content, short featurettes and even the score fromThe Case For Faith. The Case For a Creator offers a series of questions and answers about science and God and the featurettes "The Machinery of Life" and "How Did Life Begin," which take a deeper look at some of the topics discussed in the feature. The Case For Christ takes a closer look at who Jesus was in "The Uniqueness of Jesus" and "Prophecies of the Passion" examines how many prophecies from centuries before Jesus was born were fulfilled by his birth and ministry. The Case For Faith offers "Dealing With Doubt," a featurette that speaks to some of the issues that are at the root of a faith-based commitment and "The Least of These," which speaks specifically to the seeming contradiction between evil and suffering with the existence of a loving God.
Each DVD features a full-motion video intro that includes a short excerpt from the main theme that runs through the score of each feature. The video presentation is consistently average throughout all three films, with some softness and muted colors throughout each film. That said, the productions themselves are high quality, with archival footage, professional transitions and solid interview segments. The 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtracks leave a bit to be desired, but the narration, interviews, and score are clear and well-balanced throughout. It's a shame that the filmmakers didn't revisit these productions and upgrade the video and audio elements for this new collection, rather than just bundling the previous releases together as-is. My one gripe with the presentation stems from the somewhat slick interview segment intros and bridging transitions that appear in each film; I get that TV and film audiences have come to expect more impressive visuals and stylized presentation à la CSI, but the Hollywood approach doesn't really fit the content in this case.
Whether you're looking for answers to the bigger questions of life, someone who is merely curious about Christianity and its essential beliefs and tenets, or someone who has been a Christian for many years, like me, you'll find something of value in The Lee Strobel Film Collection. While these films were released separately, they really work best as a trilogy, addressing everything from the basic building blocks of life and the nature of the universe, to the main objections against the Christian faith. At the very least, you'll leave The Lee Strobel Film Collection with a deeper understanding of the foundation of Christianity. While the content of all three films seems to be primarily intended for people with specific doubts or questions about Christianity, I'd argue that this series offers far broader appeal. People whose faith has been shaken by tragedy or those needing a renewed perspective on the meaninglessness that seems to pervade our life may find both comfort and answers here.
If you've been looking for answers and purpose, give this collection a try.
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