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MEDIA ‘Case for Christ’ enters Easter in the top 10 Movies w/A+ CinemaScore

Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com

"Case for Christ" film

Heading into Easter on last weekend’s box office top 10 list to secure an expanded release this weekend, the movie The Cast for Christ – which is based on the best-selling novel written by acclaimed Christian author Lee Strobel – received the highest reviews by moviegoers, who give it a rare “A+” CinemaScore rating … which is typically received by only two films per year.

After taking in nearly $4 million in receipts on its debut weekend, The Case for Christ will be viewed at hundreds of more theaters through Easter Sunday by audiences across the nation, according to the ex-atheist-turned-Christian author of the like-named book.

“Because of [a] strong opening weekend, Case for Christ movie now expanded to 500 more screens for Easter weekend!” Strobel tweeted last week. “Please spread the word.”

One of the nation’s leading movie sites announced last week that the Christian film held its own with Hollywood box office smashes – such as DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby ($26.3 million) in first, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast ($25 million) in second, Sony’s Smurfs: The Lost Village ($14 million) in third and New Line’s Going in Style ($12.5 million) in fourth – with The Case for Christ coming in 10th.

“Rounding out the top 10 is Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ, finishing with an estimated $3.9 million from 1,174 theaters and an ‘A+ CinemaScore,” Box Office Mojo reported last week.

As anticipated below, the adapted film got a boost after its opening week once Palm Sunday receipts were registered, as the movie recorded a nearly $7 million box office total on Thursday going into its second weekend – with receipts expected to jump again with moviegoers flocking to the big screen on Easter Sunday.

“[The] weekend … featured a satisfactory opening for Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ, which could see its estimates receive a bump … as a result of it being Palm Sunday,” Box Office Mojo’s Brad Brevit reported before to total of last Sunday’s receipts were tallied.

According to critics at Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a “fresh” score, indicative of a 75-percent favorability rating, with audiences scoring it higher by nearly double digits to give it an 84-percent favorability rating.

Word to the skeptic

The movie – intended for believers and skeptics alike – challenges audiences on both intellectual and spiritual levels and takes moviegoers on the same journey Strobel took decades ago when he was an atheist playing devil’s advocate.

The Case for Christ retells the story of how Strobel – a former investigative journalist – sets out to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a sham, but after a journey of examining the evidence and wrestling with his inner self, comes to faith,” The Christian Post (CP) reports. “The plot follows Strobel, who is played by actor Mike Vogel, as he struggles to deal with his wife’s conversion to Christianity.”

It was tangible evidence that ignited Strobel’s skepticism in his own atheistic religious beliefs – an entrenched worldview that began taking its toll on his family.

“His wife, played by actress Erika Christensen, encourages her nonbelieving husband to turn to Christ – something he initially rejects – but is persuaded following his examination of the evidence, including the world-famous Shroud of Turin,” CP’s Stoyan Zaimov informed. “The movie presents a number of different struggles, including one between a father and a son, but focuses heavily on the stain on Strobel’s marriage.”

Soon, Strobel could no longer ignore the facts and buy into the lies that he was led to believe his entire life.

“Some of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus helped convince me – as an atheist journalist – that there is really truth behind the Christian claims,” Strobel told CP earlier this month. “We are living in a post truth era, where people are searching for solid ground – they’re looking for something to say, ‘This is true … I can rely on this.’”

He maintained that believing in Jesus Christ is not leap of faith at all – but an embracing of the facts – of trusting in tried and tested Truths that can only come from the one and only God of the universe.

“Christianity claims to be true – it says it’s not wishful thinking or make-believe or legends or mythology, but it’s based on actual historical evidence,” Strobel continued in the interview. “And I think these days young people especially are looking for something solid like that to put their trust in.”

Cure for the blind

Strobel shared the message of his book and the newly released movie in a piece he wrote this month titled “Why I am bullish on Christianity.”

“When atheists claim there is no evidence for Christianity, I disagree,” Strobel wrote on FoxNews.com on April 7. “When liberal theologians assert there are many paths to heaven, I object. When young people say God isn’t relevant in the 21st century, I beg to differ. When analysts predict the decline of the evangelical church, I roll my eyes.”

He recognizes today’s heavy opposition to his faith and biblical worldview, and invites the very skepticism he one dished out.

“Are my positions popular?” the former atheist posed. “Maybe not, but they flow out of convictions that have only grown stronger in the midst of the evolving religious landscape in America. I’ve seen the surveys. I’m aware of the rise of the so-called ‘nones,’ who profess no religious affiliation. And frankly, that doesn’t trouble me very much. Rather than claiming to be Christians, as many have done in years past, now these people are now willing to be more honest. Today it’s socially acceptable – in many places even desirable – to be a skeptic. ‘Atheist’ is no longer considered such a derogatory term.”

Strobel is actually glad that more people today are candid about their disbelief than they were in the past.

“The truth is that America was never as much of a ‘Christian nation’ as some historians wish it were,” he added. “There was a veneer of faith over the land. ‘Respectable’ people went to church. Now they don’t pretend anymore. That’s okay.”

He then visited the days of unbelief that once shrouded his life – and his wife’s.

“I was a scoffer once myself, before spiritual skepticism became trendy,” the Christian apologist recounted.  “As a law-trained journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I didn’t have any patience for mythology, superstition or make-believe. ‘Just give me the facts’ was my motto. My wife was agnostic. Then one day, through the influence of a friend and a church, she met Jesus. The first word to come into my mind: divorce. As portrayed in The Case for Christ, the forthcoming movie based on our story, I set out to disprove her beliefs and rescue her from the cult of Christianity.”

The mounting evidence for Christ and his resurrection soon turned Strobel’s life upside-down.

“After nearly two years, the scales tipped,” he explained. “Having encountered the persuasive evidence for Christianity, I concluded it would have required more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a believer. I ended up taking a 60-percent pay cut to leave my journalism career and become a pastor. For 30 years now, I’ve watched the world from the vantage point of a pulpit…”

He says the days are becoming more desperate as humanity, which is finding that the pursuit and attainment of worldly ambitions and idols are empty and futile – and unable to find pure joy and fulfillment that only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“More and more people [are] growing weary of our materialistic and celebrity-saturated culture – and instead finding exhilaration in Jesus,” Strobel pointed out. “The proliferation of ministries that help the hurting, feed the hungry, and replace despair with hope. Addicts rescued. Broken families put back together. Racial reconciliation. Selflessness displacing self-interest. While some churches are closing, many of those with a relevant and biblically faithful message aren’t just growing – they’re burgeoning.”

He ended by predicting that the denial of right and wrong – good and evil – promoted by America’s schools, media and entertainment industry will soon lose its war against God, His Church and the Bible.

“Let me share a little secret – in our increasingly chaotic world, the Christian message of truth and grace continues to resonate among people who are tired of the shifting sands of post-modern relativism,” Strobel concluded. “No doubt about it: count me among those who are optimistic about the future of the Church in America.”

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By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I vividly remember my father coming home from work on Fridays, and calling out ‘TGIF!!’  Often such announcements would be followed by our whole family going out to celebrate at Nat Bailey’s White Spot restaurant.  The White Spot, like A&W, used to be famous for its tradition of eating dinner in one’s car.  No self-respecting Vancouverite would dream of eating fish and chips anywhere else.

TGIF was also a pressure that I experienced as an older teenager: a pressure to make my Friday nights very exciting and sensational.  If I wasn’t experiencing an adrenaline rush on Friday night, I would feel guilty as if I had failed the invisible TGIF law of the universe.

More recently, I have discovered another meaning to TGIF. TGIF also means facing our fears, facing our anxieties, facing our grief.  Friday is a symbol of the ending of the week and also the ending of life.  Friday is both an ending and a new beginning, a dying and a potential rising.  Very few of us want to face our own personal mortality.  Yet our fears of dying are actually our fears of living.

TGIF also makes me think of the most important Friday in the year: Good Friday.  Thank God It’s (Good) Friday!  Many of us avoid Good Friday like the plague, because like a plague, Good Friday reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality.  Sometimes we wonder: what in the world is Good about Good Friday?  What’s so good about someone going through the worst torture and most agonizing death ever invented?

Many of us are tempted to switch TGIF to TGIS: Thank God It’s Sunday (Easter Sunday in particular).  Everybody loves Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing.  Everybody loves victory and resurrection and new life.  No wonder every church is packed with visitors on Resurrection Sunday.  But very few of us love Good Friday.  Good Friday just seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.  It just seems too hard to say TGIF about Good Friday.

I remember as a boy when I first watched a movie about Good Friday.  I was struck by the hatred of the soldiers towards Jesus, the brutality that he endured, the whippings and the nails driven in his hands and feet.  It all seemed so unfair, so unnecessary.  What in the world was good about such a Good Friday?  I wanted to drag Jesus down from the cross and save him from his agony.  I knew that he had the power to call a legion of angels to save him.  Yet he didn’t.  I felt very disappointed in Jesus.  My other hero Superman always got away when the green Kryptonite was about to kill him.  But Jesus let me down and ‘wimped out’ by dying on me.  For years, Easter made no sense to me, because I thought it was about remembering a dead Jesus.  I had no idea that Jesus was alive and well, and just waiting to change my life.

As a teenager, I became convinced that there was no life after death, and that nothing awaited me but extinction and returning to dust.  I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life.  I even began to secretly wonder if life itself was worth living.  TGIF began to lose its effect on me.

One day in Grade 12, I met some fellow students who seemed different: happier, more peaceful, more focused in their life.  They had a joy that seemed to bubble over.  I knew that whatever they had, I wanted it too.  So I asked them what made them ‘tick’.  They said with a smile that their secret was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  They told me that Jesus had broken the power of death on the Cross, that he had taken my sin and guilt on Good Friday, and rose to new life on Resurrection Sunday.  They told me that I could live forever if I would turn from my self-centeredness and let Jesus become the centre of my life.

I was hungry and curious.  So I ‘opened the door of my life’ and let Jesus come in.  It felt like rivers of liquid love filling me from the inside out.  I experienced joy in a whole new way.  I felt whole and peaceful in an unexpected way.  Most importantly, I lost my fear of death.  I knew that my life had meaning and purpose because of Jesus taking my place on Good Friday 2000 years ago.  TGIF!


The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CND.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca