While listening to the “Kresta in the Afternoon” Catholic talk radio show on my drive home from work yesterday, I heard an advertisement for the upcoming film, “The Case for Christ,” which boasted to the Catholic listeners that the movie was endorsed by Charles Chaput, Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia.
Before proceeding any further, allow me to fill in a little background. When a product is wildly successful with the public, the manufacturer will often introduce multiple variations of the same product. Think Cheerios, Ocean Spray cranberry drinks, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc. Evangelical apologist, Lee Strobel, wrote “The Case for Christ” in 1998 and it sold tons of copies. Strobel has leveraged the success of his first book by cranking out one “The Case for…” book after another.
I borrowed “The Case for Christ” from the library a couple of years ago and actually enjoyed it. I then borrowed the second book in the series, “The Case for Faith” (2000), but I was very disappointed by some of the contents. Strobel cited mother Teresa, pope John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, and Teresa of Avila, all staunch Catholics faithful to their church’s teachings, as exemplary Christians. An entire chapter was devoted to Catholic theologian, Peter Kreeft, who routinely propagates the Catholic salvation theology of salvation by sacramental grace and merit through his books and lectures. Needless to say, I haven’t bothered to read any more of Strobel’s “The Case for…” books.
I’ve since learned that Lee Strobel is a disciple of ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler, who also mentored Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig. Ah, it’s all beginning to fit. Geisler, Zacharias, and Craig were also allotted individual chapters in “The Case for Faith” alongside Kreeft.
The film version of Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” will be released in theaters tomorrow, Friday, April 6th. As I mentioned, Catholic archbishop Chaput “warmly recommends it.” I’m sure there’s some good information in the movie, just like there was in the book, but the overall ecumenical nature of “The Case for…” franchise is a devious threat to the purity of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The enemy works through men like Strobel, Geisler, Zacharias, and Craig to muddy the Gospel of grace through ecumenical compromise and betrayal. Predictably, Strobel has been pushing his movie via appearances on TBN.
Below is Chaput’s endorsement of “The Case for Christ” as well as the names of the other Catholic endorsers posted on the film’s official web site:
“THE CASE FOR CHRIST is an engaging, beautiful story of a family coming to faith in Jesus Christ, made more compelling by its basis in real events. I warmly recommend it.” – His Excellency, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
Rev. Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, General Secretary, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Fr. Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, Executive Director, Relevant Radio Network
Sr. Patricia Phillips, SHCJ, Executive Director, Wordnet Productions
Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Catholic Priest, Blogger, Author of The Mystery of the Magi
Derry Connolly, President, John Paul the Great Catholic University
Fr. Christopher Bazyouros, Senior Director, Office of Religious Education, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
If unbelievers begin inquiring about God after seeing this film, where would they go for answers? To the Catholic church with its false gospel of sacramental grace and merit? Evidently Lee Strobel believes that’s just fine.