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EPISODE 80: The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel's Story

Lee's Resources: 

Former atheist Lee Strobel investigated Christianity in order to disprove it, but surprisingly came to believe it was true based on the evidence.

Resources mentioned by Lee:

  • Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists:  The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence
  • Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus
  • Norman Geisler, Roots of Evil
  • J.I. Packer, I Want to Be a Christian and Knowing God
  • Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter
  • John Stott, Basic Christianity
  • Frank Morrison, Who Moved the Stone?
  • C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters
  • John Warwick Montgomery, Where is History Going: Essays in Support of the Historical Truth of Christ, The Is God Dead? Controversy, How Do We Know that There’s a God?
  • G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
  • Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica
  • Blaise Pascal, Pensees'
  • Francis Schaeffer, The God Who was There
  • Bertrand Russell, Why I'm Not a Christian

Listen to more stories from skeptics and atheists who investigated Christianity.

Brought to you by the C.S. Lewis Institute and Side B Stories:

Transcript


Hello, and thanks for joining in. I'm Jana Harmon, and you're listening to Side B Stories, where we see how skeptics flip the record of their lives. Each podcast, we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic but who became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of our stories on our Side B Stories website at www.sidebstories.com or our YouTube channel. We welcome your comments on our stories on our Facebook page, on our YouTube channel, or directly to our email at [email protected]. We always love hearing from you.

Atheists are often resistant to change, especially towards belief in God and religion. Two thirds of those whom I studied had absolutely no intention or desire to change from their atheistic perspective. Usually something happens in their life that causes them to become open towards another point of view. Sometimes that openness to investigate is to disprove faith or belief in God, rather than to embrace it. This can especially be the case when, as an atheist, someone they love, to whom they are married, was not once interested in the question of God, but then becomes a Christian.  It can be tremendously upending to a relationship. What was once settled and familiar becomes questioned and estranged. Life becomes tense. Questions arise. Which view is true? Who is right? Who is wrong? How do we decide? Can we even go on like this?

Our story today is one that is most likely familiar to many or even most of you. Lee Strobel was an investigative journalist whose top priority was finding facts and truth and to use that to potentially disprove his wife's newfound faith. His search, though, through the evidence, led him to believe in God. I hope you'll come along to hear Lee’s fascinating journey from atheism to belief.

Welcome to Side B Stories podcast, Lee. It’s so great to have you with me today!

I'm so glad to be with you! I’ve got your book on the fifty atheists who became believers in Christ, and I can't wait to dig into it. It looks like a great scholarly and personal investigation. So thank you for doing that.

Oh, you're so welcome! And thanks for bringing that up! That’s fantastic. As we're getting started, can you tell us a little bit about who you are now, maybe a little bit of your academic background, your career, and maybe a little bit about the books that you've written and your current book.

Sure. I am married for 51 years. That's maybe the most important thing, is my wife, Leslie, and I met when we were 14 years old and got married when I was 20 and she was 19. In fact, we were so young, we couldn't drink champagne at our wedding. So we had champagne glasses filled with milk at our wedding! And so we have two children. One is a theology professor at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and my daughter is a homeschooling expert and a novelist. She’s had half a dozen novels that have been published. But my background is in journalism and law. I always wanted to be a journalist. I went to the University of Missouri to get my bachelor's degree in journalism, later went to Yale Law School to get my master's studies in law degree, and then I became legal editor of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, which is, of course the largest paper between the coasts. And loved it! I have printers’ ink running through my blood. I loved journalism. I loved the big city excitement of being on a front row seat to history. And so I enjoyed that very much.

My wife was agnostic, I was an atheist, and we had a pretty happy marriage. And we'll get into, I guess, my story later about how that changed, but… so I have written a number of books, I think more than forty books. Probably the most well known is The Case for Christ. I've also written The Case for Faith, The Case for Miracles, The Case for Heaven, The Case for a Creator.

My new book is called Is God Real? And that's going to be coming out on October 31. And so I'm excited about that and its potential to reach spiritual seekers, as well as deepen the faith of believers.

So probably the biggest development in my life in the last couple of years is we started a center at Colorado Christian University. It's called the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics. And I gathered 40 PhDs in various disciplines, history, philosophy, science, and so forth, and we created 91 courses that are fully accredited and fully online. And so people can get a master's degree, they can get a bachelor's degree, or we have certificate courses for people that don't want a degree, but they'd like to take a course on Islam or on world religions or on the resurrection or on science and faith and so forth. And if you take five of those courses—by the way, they're very inexpensive. You do those online at your own pace, and you get a certificate confirming that you've completed that study. It's not an academic degree for those, but it's a credential as well. And so we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of students who are part of our Center. I’m very excited about that and look forward to training a lot more people, especially of next generations, to be able to articulate their faith and defend it. We’re not looking for ivory tower academics. We're really looking for people who are going to put it into action, people like you, who are doing podcasts and doing radio shows and writing books and sharing it across a backyard fence with a neighbor. I mean people who are actually writing letters to the editor of the newspaper, whatever. We want people who are really putting this into action, and those are the kind of graduates that were beginning to graduate from our Center.

Wow! I love that! What an extraordinary resource, and I hope this really does spark the interest of so many Christians and churches as well, who are desperately in need of this kind of information and study and resource in order to practically engage with those in culture today. How wonderful! Thank you, and congratulations on that!

Well, thanks. And if people want more information, they can go to strobelcenter.com and access the information there.

Yeah, that's terrific, and we'll be sure to include that website in our episode notes, so people-

Awesome!

… can take a look and just go forward on that link.

Thank you!

All right. Well, let's get started with your story.

Yeah.

Again, a lot of people know your story, have seen your film, The Case for Christ. If you haven't, go see it. It starts with you as, obviously, an atheist and an investigative journalist, and I would love to go even back behind that to the backstory of what even informed your atheism. So let's get started from your childhood, Lee. Tell me about your home, where you grew up, and was religion or God any part of that at all?

Yeah. My dad was a lawyer, graduated from Northwestern University. His dad was a butcher who came over from Germany before World War I. And my dad did not practice law, but he had his own independent insurance adjusting agency that he and another guy started, and it was quite successful. We were financially comfortable. We lived in the city of Chicago for a while, but then when I was maybe in kindergarten we moved out to a suburb, Arlington Heights, which is about thirty miles northwest of Chicago. So it was a middle-class, comfortable upbringing.

Faith was not really much part of my childhood. My parents were part of a church. It was a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. They were very private about their faith. I never saw anybody reading a Bible and don't remember any spiritual conversations. We did kind of do a rote prayer at dinner time, but there wasn't a lot of evidence of faith in the household. My dad, though, was on the board of directors of the church because, as an attorney, it's always nice to have someone trained in law to be part of a board of directors. But as I say, it was not a big influence on me. They did send me to classes in my middle school years, confirmation classes that are common in Lutheran churches, and I tolerated that because I did not have a good relationship with my dad.

My dad was a good man in many ways, but I rubbed him the wrong way in a lot of ways as well. They had had three children in rapid succession and thought they were done having children and had big plans for travel and so forth. And then several years passed and all of a sudden I came along, and I was kind of a surprise, and not a good surprise to my dad. And so we never really developed a close relationship. We had a lot of tension, and so I tolerated the classes that they sent me to because I knew that I would incur my dad's wrath if I bucked the system.  So I said what needed to be said and tolerated what needed be tolerated, and as soon as I got into high school, the approach was: Whatever you want to do. If you want to go church? Fine. Don’t want to go to church? Fine. They just said, “It’s up to you to decide what you want to do,” and that’s when I began my descent into atheism, so to speak. Actually, my middle school years and my high school years were the first of, I'd say, three steps that took me into atheism.

Okay. So you went through the motions of some sort of church or religious upbringing, but it sounds like it really didn't hit in a personal way with your family, your father, or with you. It was just motions that you went through, and then I presume, as soon as you were given the decision to go your own way, it sounds like that may have been the direction. Why don’t you walk us through that.

Yeah. There were really three steps that took me into atheism. The first one was in middle school, when I was starting to attend these classes, and I started to ask the embarrassing questions that middle schoolers tend to ask, like, “Oh gosh! If God exists, then why is the world a mess? Why do people suffer so much?” Or, “Why is He so hidden? Why doesn't He make himself more apparent?” Or, “How could God send people to hell if He loves them?” And I found that my parents weren't really interested in discussing that, my teachers at the church were kind of put off by the fact that I kept bringing this kind of stuff up, and I concluded, “Oh, I get it. The reason nobody really wants to talk about this stuff is there are no good answers.” And that was my first step toward atheism.

My second step was in my freshman year in high school when I took a biology course and was taught that neo-Darwinism explains the origin and diversity of life. And I thought, “Oh, I get it. God's out of a job. He's unemployed. You don't need a creator if neo-Darwinism can explain the origin and diversity of all life.” So that was the second step. And that’s when I started to call myself an atheist, was in my high school years.

And then what really cemented it was, in college, I went to the University of Missouri, which has, of course, the first journalism school in the country and I think the best journalism school. And I took a course on the historical Jesus that was taught by a skeptic. And I walked away from that course saying, “Oh, I get it. You can't trust what the Gospels tell you about Jesus. You can't trust anything the Bible tells you about Jesus. It's all myth and make believe and wishful thinking and so forth.” And that was really the final nail in the coffin of my atheism.

And so I lived a lifestyle that was consistent with my atheistic outlook. Because—I didn't say this out loud, but the feeling I had in my heart was, “Okay, if there is no God, if there is no heaven, if there is no hell, if there is no judgment, if there is no ultimate accountability, then the most logical way to live life would be as a hedonist, just pursue pleasure.” And that's what I did. So I lived a very drunken and profane and narcissistic, self-absorbed, in some ways self-destructive, kind of a lifestyle. That was the lifestyle that I adopted, and it was entirely consistent with a belief that there is no ultimate accountability.

Right. Wow. A lot there. So early on, when you were asking questions, there were no seeming substantive answers that were coming back your way.

Yeah.

So as you… again, moving up, and you're seeing an irreconcilability between science and faith or religion, and even into college, some questioning of the reliability of the texts and all of that. Through high school or college, did you ever find or encounter an informed or intelligent Christian to counter these opinions that you were drawing from the classroom and from others?

Yeah. It’s a great question. My best friend in high school came from a family of skeptics. I'm guessing, looking back, his dad was an atheist. If not an atheist, then agnostic. And that was sort of reflected in my friend's attitude as well. So he wasn't bringing anything to the table in terms of a faith. I did have a couple of people I knew in high school who were Christians and who were sincere about their faith, but we never really got into conversations about it. I just sort of shunned them because I thought it was silly and wasn't worth my time to really investigate. It just seemed the mere concept of an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator of the universe was kind of crazy! Just, when you think about it that way, you go, “Well, that's nuts!” It just wasn't worth my time to delve into it any further. And so none of my friends… I had a Jewish friend who was pretty serious about his faith, and I had a couple of friends who were believers.

Interestingly, one of my friends wanted to go into journalism, like I was going into journalism, and his fundamentalist Christian parents forbade him from doing that because they said that's too worldly. And so he ended up not going into journalism. And I talked to him years later. It was the biggest regret of his life, because that was really what he wanted to do with his life. And so here I saw him wanting to take this path and his faith in Christianity deterring him. I thought that's just more evidence that this is not something something that breathes life into people but narrows their options and opportunities.

Interesting. Plus, as I guess an analytical thinker? Obviously you had that kind of mind to pursue truth, and you were able to see that believing in a godless world brought you certain moral freedoms.

Yeah.

So that you were able to live in a way that you wanted to live. I wondered also: Did you see the implications of other aspects of a naturalistic worldview? You knew what you were rejecting, but did you know fully what you were embracing? Other than the freedom that it brought to you, did you see the end road, some other implications of naturalism?

You know, I didn't really. I thought this was the path to take. I enjoyed it. I indulged in things that would have been forbidden to me had I been a follower of Jesus, and I kind of reveled in my lifestyle and didn't think of down-the-road implications of what that might bring. I was not an alcoholic in the sense that I had a chemical dependency on alcohol, but I used it. I was a friendly drunk. I was the friendliest drunk in the bar. I would go in, I would get drunk, and I would buy pitchers of beer and go fill up everybody’s glass for hours on hours, and it cost me a fortune, but I was the friendliest guy at the bar. But I wasn't thinking ahead. Where does this lead?

Okay, yeah. So it sounds like you were enjoying life.

Yeah.

You were a happy atheist, in a sense?

I was. I was. I was happy in my atheism.

I will say that there was one other factor, I think, in my becoming an atheist, and that was my relationship with my dad. As I said, my dad was a good man, but I knew how to push his buttons, and I would lie to him. I would do things that he specifically told me not to do, and I remember on the eve of my high school graduation, which I ended up not going to because we had a blowout confrontation, and he looked at me and said, “I don't have enough love for you to fill my little finger.”

Oh!

So we had a tough relationship.

Yeah.

And if you look at…. There's a famous book by… what’s his name?

Paul Vitz?

Paul Vitz from New York University, a psychologist, Faith of the Fatherless, that looks at famous atheists through history, Camus, Sartre, Nietzsche, Freud, Voltaire, Wells, Feuerbach, O'Hare, and all of them had a father with whom they had a terrible relationship with or who died when they were young or divorced their mother when they were young. And of course the implication is you don't want to…. Subconsciously, you don't want to know about a Heavenly Father if your earthly father has disappointed you or let you down or hurt you, because you think it's just going to be worse. And I think that was the background noise of my psyche in these early years that, because of the difficult relationship with my dad, I wasn't really interested in the concept of a Heavenly Father.

And it wasn't until I read C.S. Lewis, who said, the way to get beyond that is to imagine, “What would the perfect father be like?” Oh! Well, everybody can imagine the perfect father. He would be warm and friendly, and he’d be your biggest cheerleader. He'd pull you up in His lap and give you a hug and cheer you on. That is a picture of your Heavenly Father. He's not just a magnified version of your earthly father. And when I read that, that really helped get me past that psychological impediment to belief.

Yeah. I’m thinking someone really needed to hear that, Lee. Thank you for being transparent there. So you were living life big and pursuing your dreams, your educational dreams and then moving towards investigative journalism, it sounds like. During that time, as I guess you could, again, just as a satisfied atheist, it sounds like you weren't looking for anything else. Didn't think you would probably be convinced of anything else. What did you think of the concept of God or Christians or Jesus or the Bible? What was all that? What was your perspective looking on as an atheist?

I wasn't hostile toward the idea of God. I just thought… honestly, I thought it was absurd. I thought it was full of contradictions and illogical leaps of faith. And I didn't look down on people who were Christians. I just thought, “Well, if that's what they want to do, that's fine, but, golly, I’m too smart for that.” I'm a journalist. I'm 22 years old, and I’ve got articles on the front page of The Chicago Tribune. My investigations led to the resignation of the Republican nominee for governor at one point. I exposed [UNKNOWN 22:37] on all the major freeways in Chicago. I exposed the Ford Motor Company for its production of the subcompact car, the Pinto, which was a car that was designed in a way that made it a death trap and would explode when hit from behind in medium- or low-impact collisions. So I’m used to investigating things and checking things out and sniffing out the problems with something, sniffing out the contradictions and the leaps of faith, and—not that I took the time to delve particularly thoroughly into atheism, but it just seemed to be so logical and so rational. And Darwinism explained you don't need God, can't trust the Bible, there’s no good answers to tough questions. What's to like? You know?

Yeah. So Christianity at that point just wasn't even worthy of serious consideration.

That’s a good way to put it.

Yeah. And it sounds like all these smart guys, they know what they're talking about, and you wanted to be with them.

Right. Yeah.

Because obviously… yeah. You were an investigative journalist, hard hitting, truth seeker, all those kinds of things, and… wow! Interesting! So, move us along, then, in your story. I know you mentioned that you married, and you married young actually.

Yes.

And so, tell us… You mentioned that Leslie was an agnostic. So she was on board with you. I guess you were living life together in this common view of reality, this common view of life without God, and perfectly fine with that.

Yeah. She was… I use the word agnostic. I'm not sure that's totally the perfect word. She just was kind of in spiritual neutral. She couldn't put the pieces together. Her mother was from Scotland. She was a war bride. And she had a Presbyterian background. And she would sing hymns to Leslie when she was little when she would put her to bed. She didn't go to church really as a child, namely because her mother couldn't drive, and her dad was an atheist and did not encourage her, his wife, Leslie’s mother, to attend church. And so, Leslie didn't really go to church hardly at all growing up. But I was a little more hardened against God, whereas she was just spiritually confused, spiritually neutral. It wasn't an urgent issue in her life. We were happy in our marriage. And it just didn't seem like anything she felt a great need to pursue.

So then what happened? Again, both of you seem rather settled and happy in your perspective. What changed that?

Yeah. Well, it was a knock on the door. We moved into a condominium building in suburban Chicago, and a woman came by with a plate of homemade cookies. She lived downstairs with her husband, and she had with her her daughter, who happened to be the same age as our daughter. And her name was Linda. She was a nurse, a Christian nurse. They were devout followers of Jesus, in a very sincere and warm way. And Linda and Leslie became best friends. And Leslie would go over to her condo during the day when I was at work, and they'd have coffee and tea, and they would talk about spiritual matters. And Leslie, as I say, wasn't hostile. She was interested. especially because she saw an authentic faith in Linda and her husband. Linda had a…. It's interesting. You think people who have a spiritual gift of hospitality would keep perfect houses and everything in it’s place, but really, when you have a spiritual gift of hospitality, as she did, you don't care if there's dirty dishes in the sink. Your heart is to open your home to people because you love them and you love God. And that's how she was, and she was just very natural with her faith.

She invited Leslie to go to church with her. I freaked out when she told me that she was going to go to church, because I had to babysit the kids, and I said, “Go once, but I'm not going to get in the habit of babysitting the kids while you're in church.” So she goes to church. She had a really good experience and began to ask questions and studied the Bible with Linda during the day. They would pray together. And it took about—I don't know—maybe a year or so of her in this process, and she came to me one day, and actually, the scene in the movie is quite accurate, of where she basically told me she'd become a follower of Jesus. And I thought this was the worst news I could get as an atheist.

Yeah.

The first word that went through my mind was divorce.

Oh my!

I was gonna walk out, because I did not want to be married to a Christian. I didn't want to entangle my life into that. I thought she was going to turn into some holy roller. I thought our sex life was gonna dry up. I had all these misconceptions about the faith. But then it was later that I realized that…. Well, two things happened: One thing was a positive thing, in the sense that I could see changes. I knew her so well. We grew up together. And I could see subtle changes in her character and in her values and the way she related to me and the children. And it was winsome, and it was attractive, and it began to kind of pull me toward faith. But at the same time, I wanted the old Leslie back. I wanted our old life back. I wanted everything to be like it was.

Right!

And so I thought, “If I could investigate Christianity and disprove the resurrection of Jesus,” because even as an atheist I understood that's the linchpin, that's the key to everything. I'd seen plenty of dead people as a journalist. I’d never seen any come back after three days. I thought, “This is a no brainer, to disprove the resurrection.” So I thought, if I could just do that, I could rescue her from this cult that she's gotten involved in.

And so that was kind of the impetus. It was kind of a two-pronged thing. I was being attracted and being repelled at the same time, and it was complicated. It wasn't simple. And so I decided to take my journalism training, take my legal training, and investigate. That’s what I did for a living. And see what the evidence shows, and it launched me on what turned out to be almost two years of investigating the evidence.

Yes. A real approach avoidance, I guess.

Yeah, yeah.

I guess you wanted to know what was true, but again, the implications of what you find could make a difference for yourself personally-

Absolutely.

… and for your marriage and for everything. So what did that investigative journalist journey look like? When you're looking at something like the resurrection, and I'm sure people are thinking, “How in the world could you prove or disprove an event that happened two thousand years ago?

Yeah. Well, it's interesting. I was not setting out to write a book. I was not setting out to write an article. I was just doing this for my own personal edification. But I was trained in this. And so, back then… I mean, this is a number of years ago. This goes back to what? About 1980. There were not a lot of popular level resources out there on these topics. Today, there's a proliferation of books and articles and movies and all kinds of stuff. So for somebody today that wanted to pursue this, it’s a lot easier than me. Because here I am going to libraries and museums and looking through microfilm, ordering books.

I remember I went to… there was a book written by Simon Greenleaf, who was one of the early people at Harvard Law School in the 1800s who really made Harvard, I think, what it is today, which is the second-best law school after Yale. But he had written a book about the Gospels and the reliability of the eyewitnesses in terms of the resurrection. And so I remember going to the Chicago Public Library, and of course, they didn't have that book. It was published I don't know when, like 1890 or whatever. So I had to put in for an inter-library loan. And I think it took three or four months for me to get that book. And they called me one day and said, “We found your book! The University of Wisconsin Library had it.” And they gave me this book, and it's got rubber bands around it to hold it together, and I'm holding this book, and it was brilliant, and it really helped me.

So it was arduous in a sense. I was trained to interview people, and so I remember I would pick up the phone. I remember I read something about Ignatius, who was an early church father, and he had said some things about the resurrection and about the deity of Jesus supposedly. And so I remember picking up the phone, and I found a scholar on Ignatius. He was at a secular university somewhere, and I called him up and said, “Hi, I'm Lee Strobel from The Chicago Tribune. Could I ask you a few questions about Ignatius?” “Oh, sure.” He probably thought—and I'd left the impression—that I was doing an article for The Tribune-

Sure!

... which I wasn't. I was a bit misleading there, but I asked him the questions and, “Thanks a lot,” and hung up. And so that's… it was just natural for me. So I read a lot of books. I tried to talk to as many people as I could. In fact, because I knew we were going to do this interview, I actually made a list of some of the books that I read-

Yes!

… back then. So I don't know if that would be interesting.

Sure.

But here are just some that came to mind: Bertrand Russell. Of course, I read books by atheists as well. So I read, Why I’m Not a Christian. I also read essays on skepticism and on the philosophy of science by him. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. David Hume, of course, On Miracles. Albert Camus on on Christian metaphysics. Norman Geisler. He wrote a book in Christian apologetics in 1976 that I read. And he wrote a book called Roots of Evil, dealing with some of those questions of evil and suffering. J.I. Packer, I Want to Be a Christian and Knowing God. Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter. Basic Christianity by John Stott. Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison. Frank Morrison, he had a reputation of being a journalist in England who wrote a book. He was a skeptic. And he wrote a book about the resurrection and became a believer. As I investigated, I found he wasn't much of a journalist. He was actually in the advertising department of the newspaper. But the book was fascinating. In fact, there's a chapter in it called something like “The Chapter that Refused to Be Written” or something like that, which was kind of his conclusion about the resurrection. Anyway, Basic Christianity by John Stott. Testimony of the Four Evangelists, as I mentioned, by Simon Greenleaf, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

I read some things by a guy named John Warwick Montgomery, who's got about 800 degrees and was kind of an acerbic apologist back then. He’s still around. He wrote a book in ‘69 called, Where is History Going: Essays in Support of the Historical Truth of Christ. He wrote a book called The Is God Dead? Controversy. He wrote one called How Do We Know that There’s a God? I read G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Francis Schaeffer, The God Who was There. I read the Quran, I read the book of Mormon, and I read the Bible. So those are the ones that I can remember—there were others that didn’t come to mind—as part of my investigation. As I say, today, there's just so many more resources available.

Right. What strikes me is that you were willing to look at different sides of the issue, not just one voice. It’s not as if you were seeking to disprove and only read atheists or seeking to… that you were willing to look at multiple sources.

Yeah. It’s interesting. I was trained in those years in journalism, where you looked at both sides of things. When I was an atheist and covering a lot of legal cases at The Chicago Tribune, there were a lot of cases on abortion. So I wrote a lot about abortion when I was an atheist at The Chicago Tribune. If you read any of my articles on abortion, you would not be able to tell that I was pro abortion, because I was taught, in journalism, you tell both sides and you look at both sides. Today, it's different, unfortunately. But back then, we did that, and so that's when I did my investigation. I realized, “I’ve got to find the best atheists. Who are they?” Well Anthony Flew. I don't know if I mentioned Anthony Flew, but I read God and Philosophy that he wrote. And I did read The Presumption of Atheism, but I can’t remember if that was before or after I became a believer. It was way back then. Because that came out in the late ‘70s. So I wanted to read the atheists. I wanted to read the Christians. I wanted to get the best arguments on both sides and really draw conclusions that made sense.

So, as you were reading both sides and you were drawing some conclusions along the way, I presume that they were away from atheism and towards belief.

Yes.

What were some of those pivotal findings for you as an investigator that made you really step back and say, “Well, perhaps God is real,” or “The resurrection did happen.” What were some of those pivotal things that helped you move in another direction?

Well, it really was a cumulative case. It was piece after piece, and things slowly began to… You know what it's like? It's kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle. And you're putting the pieces together, and you don't have the ultimate picture that you're supposed to come out with. You're just putting these pieces together, and an image starts to form. But you're not quite sure what it is, and the more pieces you put together, the better the image is, and when I got done, it was a portrait of Jesus.

But I'm putting these pieces together, and there were some key pieces. I thought investigating the resurrection is pretty simple. Did Jesus live? Was He put to death? And was He reliably encountered afterwards? I mean, there you go. Those are three historical issues. And what I loved about that is I'm a journalist. I like facts. I like evidence. And so I could look at philosophy and so forth…. But give me facts, give me science, give me history. And so I thought, as I'm investigating the resurrection, that was largely the focus of where I was going. Not exclusively, but largely the focus. And a couple of things really were the final puzzle pieces for me.

One of them is the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the resurrected Jesus, to the point that they were willing to suffer deprivation and even death as a result of their belief that He had returned from the dead and thus proved He’s the Son of God. Now as I looked into the disciples, I realized things got a little murky in terms of how some of them actually did die, but their willingness to die, their willingness to suffer, is well established. I think there are seven ancient sources, six of them outside the Bible, that confirm that the disciples lived lives of deprivation and suffering as a result of their proclamation that Jesus had risen. Why would they do that? Because… here's the point: I started to think, “Well, so what if the disciples believed that Jesus resurrected? People believe wacky things all the time.” But then I realized, “Wait a minute. They were actually there. They weren’t taught the resurrection by a Sunday school teacher two thousand years later. They were there. They were able to talk to the resurrected Jesus. They were able to touch Him. They were able to eat with Him. So they didn't just believe what happened. They knew the truth. They were there. And knowing the truth, they were willing to die for it. Whether some of them did die for it, that's kind of irrelevant. Their willingness to die is well confirmed by seven ancient sources.

And so I thought that's a difference between, say, a kamikaze pilot in World War II or, more currently, a terrorist today that decides to crash an airplane into a building and kill a bunch of innocent people because he believes to the core of his soul that if he dies his way he'll go to paradise to be with his god. And he believes it and he's willing to die for it. So I thought, “That doesn't tell me anything,” but it does, because that terrorist doesn't know for sure that his faith is true. He just believes it. But the disciples were in a position to know for a fact, “Is this true? Or is it false?” and knowing it was true, they were willing to suffer and willing to die for their proclamation that Jesus didn't just claim to be the son of God, He backed it up by returning from the dead.

That was kind of the final puzzle piece that went into the puzzle. But there were a lot of others that were part of the puzzle as well over time. As William Lane Craig says, it's not a chain in the sense that, if you remove a link, the whole thing is no longer useful. It's more of like chain mail that the old knights would wear in the medieval times that's interlocked. And so it's a cumulative case. You can remove one of the facts. It doesn't destroy the case.

So I just found, over time—and I spent a year and nine months doing this. And I was pretty intense on doing it. I was spending a lot of time on it, sometimes to the detriment of my career. But you know what it was like? When I was a little kid, my parents gave me this punching toy. It's a weighted inflatable clown.

Yes. I remember those!

You remember those things?

I remember those!

Yeah. And so you'd hit it, and it would go back, but then, because it was weighted, it would come forward again. And you'd hit it again, and it’d come back. That's what it was like. The more I would try to hit at Christianity and damage it and disprove it, it would bounce back, and it was the darndest thing! Because I thought it would be so easy to disprove it, and so I hit it with an objection, and it would go down, and it would come back up. Doggone it! There is a logical answer to this. There is a logical explanation. There are lines of evidence from history that support this. Science does not contradict this. And so it was a fascinating experience for me.

I bet! And you started putting those puzzle pieces together until you came up with… yes, the portrait of Jesus that was just hard to refuse Him-

Yep. November 8, 1981. That was the date.

As I'm thinking about Leslie through this period of time, because I know that there are people listening who have perhaps a spouse who doesn’t believe. I wondered how she was managing. Were there things that she was doing? Was she sitting back and just prayerful? Was she pushy? [43:47] How was she responding that allowed you to do the work that you needed to do without, say, coercion or pressure? 

Yeah. It’s a great question. And we actually wrote a book about that later to try to help people who are spiritually mismatched. It's called Spiritual Mismatch. And so we draw from those experiences to help people who are in that position. A couple of things she found: One is she thought there was no hope for me because she knew me, and she knew I was hard headed, and she knew I was hard hearted. And she met some women at church and she said, “I don't have any hope for my husband. He's the legal editor of The Chicago Tribune. He’s never going to bend his knee to Jesus.” And this one woman named Sylvia put her arm around Leslie’s shoulder and pulled her to the side and said, “Oh, Leslie. No one is beyond hope,” and she gave her a verse from the Old Testament that proved to be pivotal, Ezekiel 36:26, that says, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove from you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” And so, Leslie took that verse, and virtually every day during that two years that I'm on this investigative journey, she's alone on her knees by herself, praying that prayer for me. And that, I think, was the most loving and the most effective thing that she did.

The other things she did: There were three relationships that she built into, so that our marriage didn't fly apart. Because this was tough. I mean, I remember, I got so mad at her once for going to church that I literally kicked a hole through our living room wall. And then, and then, she wanted to give money to the church!

So I remember what I said to her. I said, “Honey, it would be just as effective to take the cash and flush it down the toilet.”

Yikes.

I mean, “You might as well, if you're going to give it to the church.” So she literally got a part-time job, so she could tithe and give money to the church, because she knew the church was the only thing that was going to reach me. And during this time, I was attending this church periodically with her. It was Willow Creek Community Church that had weekend services designed for non-church people. It was an outreach-oriented church. And it was great for me to learn and grow.

So the three relationships she built into: One, of course, was her relationship with God. Because God was changing her in these winsome and attractive ways, it was drawing me toward faith. Secondly, she built a relationship with her mentor, Linda, and because I discouraged her from going to church a lot and I didn’t want to go into Bible studies, but she would meet with Linda during the day when I wasn't around, and Linda did not turn this into an us-versus-Lee situation. It was a, “Hey, God loves Lee. You love Lee. We all love Lee. Let’s keep that in mind. He just is not as far along as you are yet. That's okay.” And she would pray with her, and Leslie would weep with her. And so that that mentor relationship was important. And then thirdly, she built a relationship with me, because we were in danger of flying apart. If ever our marriage in these 51 years was teetering on the edge. It was during this two years from time to time, when things would come to a head.

I remember when she told me… I shouldn't tell you this, but when she told me she'd become a Christian, I was so mad I stalked out of the house, and she had just planted a beautiful garden in the backyard. And I was mowing the lawn, and I mowed down the entire garden.

Oh! As a gardener myself, that just makes my heart hurt right there.

Yeah. Talk about passive-aggressive. But she knew…. We married each other because we love each other, and we have commonality. So she said to herself, “What do we like to do together? We like to go on bike rides together. Let's keep doing that. We like to go on little trips up to Wisconsin together. Let's keep doing that.” And because she built these bridges to the things that we held in common and kept nurturing those things, it really prevented us from flying apart. So those three key relationships, with God, with a mentor, and with her spouse, were pivotal in our marriage staying together.

But she wasn’t pressuring you, I presume, in any way. She knew you were on your own journey? Right?

Yeah. But she would do things like she would leave Christian books out on the coffee table open to a certain page. And once she left a Post-It note on my shaving mirror, saying, “God loves you, and I do, too.” And those were very counterproductive.

Okay.

That did not help.

They didn’t put… yeah.

No, no. That wasn't good. But I could see that she was sincere, and I loved her. And I knew she loved me. And she was intent on keeping the marriage and the family together.

Yeah. That’s wonderful. So she was obviously watching you put some of these pieces together. You were putting some of the pieces together. Now, Lee, you know as well as I do there's a difference between intellectual assent as something being true, and I know, even your new book, Is God Real? there's that personal sensibility about the person of God and what that means.

Yes.

How did you make that shift? I mean, once you understood intellectually as a journalist that this was true, how did that happen?

Yeah. I felt kind of let down. When I sort of reached my verdict and realized that this is true, I thought, “Okay. Am I done? I just spent two years of my life checking this stuff out. It’s true. What do I do? Do I walk away?” And Leslie pointed out a verse for me, John 1:12, that says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name.” And in my analytical mind, I looked at that verse, and I realized it forms an equation of what it means to become a follower of Christ. Believe plus receive equals become. So I said to her, “What do I do?" And she said, “You need to receive this free gift of God's grace. You didn't earn it in this investigation. It's a free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross when He died as your substitute to pay for all of your sins. And He offers forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift of His grace. And you need to receive it in a prayer of repentance and faith.”

And so I thought, “This is the most logical thing I could do. It's true! So okay.” I got on my knees, and I poured out a confession of a lifetime of immorality that would curl your hair. And then I received complete and total forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and at that moment, I became a child of God. And I remember getting up off my knees and thinking, “Everything's going to change. My whole life is gonna change,” because I realized, if this is true and I'm now embraced it as being true, I’ve now not only believed it, but I've received it. I said Jesus is Who He claimed to be. His words are not just the advice of a motivational speaker. They are the words of God that I need to follow and take to heart. He's prescribed a way to live, and that's got be the best way to live, because He created us, so He knows the best way to live. That's the path I need to pursue.

And all of the logical implications of being a follower of Jesus kind of flooded into me. And as I say, it was one of the easiest decisions I ever made in my life. I didn't anguish over it, because the evidence was so persuasive to me I felt like, if I would have made maintained my atheism, I would have to swim upstream against this current of evidence flowing the other direction. That's not logical. That's not safe. That doesn't make sense. The most logical thing is to swim in the direction the current is flowing, because that's the direction that truth is pointing.

Lee, one thing that strikes me about your story, again as an investigative journalist, you were searching for truth, but I can imagine… but in a sense, you didn't want it to be true at the beginning.

Yeah. True

You were trying to disprove, but there was something that turned or changed to where truth became more important than your interior push-back or heart-

Yeah.

… against it. Did you sense palpably that kind of move towards openness,  that you really wanted to know to whether it was true?

Yes. I remember her dragging me to church, and the title of the sermon that day was “Basic Christianity.” And the pastor got up and basically gave a seeker-oriented message for non-believers, really, on: What is Christianity? And what is the grace of God? And how do we become a Christian? I mean, it was all this basic stuff. And I remember walking out that day saying, “Okay, I don't believe it yet, but if this is true, this has huge implications for my life.” And so I realized that this is more than just an exercise to liberate Leslie from a cult. This has implications for me. If this is true—I didn't believe it yet, but if this is true, it changes everything! And I remember that moment very poignantly.

And I remember they showed a video. It wasn't video back then. It was a film, I think. A short little film. It was a claymation animation thing, and here I am, I'm the sophisticated Yale Law School graduate, Chicago Tribune tough reporter, and I'm sitting there with my arms figuratively crossed over my chest. And they showed this little cartoon, this claymation figure, this little guy, and he's trying to figure out how to please God, and he's offering God things. Here's my job, this is what I do, and he offers it up. And he offers his hobbies up to God. No. God’s not really interested. And he’s offering all of these things, and he’s getting so frustrated, and at the end, and the music is kind of swelling, and at the end he comes to this realization, and he reaches in and he takes out his heart, and he lifts it up, and he gives it to God, and God reaches out, and He embraces him, and He pulls him into His lap. And here this Heavenly Father is embracing this figure, and I've got tears—I got tears in my eyes now about it! All these years later. I’m sitting there, and it was like this film did an end run around my skepticism and got me from behind.

Yes.

So my heart began to get open because I began to see that this is more than just facts and figures and historical data and scientific stuff. This is a heart issue, and that moment when God embraces this clay figure and pulls him up into his lap, that was a threshold I crossed, saying, not just, “Oh, I feel forced to do this because I want to liberate my wife,” but, “I want to do this because I want to find the truth. If this is true, I need to know that God. If he's real.”

Yeah, especially considering what you told us at the beginning, where you had a strained relationship with your father and you couldn't see a loving Heavenly Father, but yet, in the simplest way-

Yeah.

The Lord showed you a different picture of what it could be like.

Yeah, yeah. And it was a stupid little claymation thing!

Yeah!

And it’s funny how God uses something like that to penetrate the heart of a skeptic.

Yeah, amazing! So you knew that it had huge implications for your life. How did your life change after you believed?

Oh. Everything changed. My worldview, my philosophy, my attitudes, my marriage, my parenting. I like to tell a story about my little daughter. She was five years old when I came to faith. And all she had known the first five years of her life was a dad who was absent, angry. She was there when I kicked the hole through the wall in anger of my wife going to church, and she cried and ran to her room. I mean, the ugly truth is, back in those days when I was an atheist, if my daughter was playing with some toys in the living room and she heard me come home from work through the front door, her natural reaction was just to gather her toys and go in her room and shut the door.

Yes.

You know, “At least it’s quiet in here.” But she started, on that day, November 8, 1981, when I put my trust in Christ, she started to watch. “Something’s changing with my dad. Something's different with my dad. Something's new with my dad.” And it took about four or five months for her, from her little perspective. She never investigated like I did, but she was watching, “Something’s happening with my dad, something's different,” and then finally, she came up to first her Sunday school teacher at church and then up to Leslie, and she said, “I want God to do for me what He’s done for dad.”

And so at age five, she received God's grace and became a follower of Christ. And then my son—same thing—he came to faith at a young age, too, because he saw the difference God was making in his mom and his dad and his sister. He became a professor of theology of all things.

Amazing! Amazing!

So God changed our family. He saved our family. We were headed down a dangerous path. I can't imagine how things would have turned out if I had continued down the path that I was on. So God rescued our family. And it got to the point where I wanted to be that one voice in the newsroom of a sincere, authentic follower of Jesus, because when my eyes were opened up after I became a Christian, I looked around the newsroom—we had a thousand people in our newsroom back then. This was back in a days of big city journalism.

Wow! Yes.

I'm looking around, and I could identify four or five people who were Christians. Now, I'm sure there were others, but four or five who were evangelical believers, including the religion editor Bruce Buursma, whose desk was next to mine and whose brother is now my editor at Zondervan Publishing House of all things. But anyway, I wanted to be a voice in journalism for Christ and I stayed in journalism for several years after I became a believer, but then I felt a distinct leading by God to leave all that behind, to take a 60% pay cut, and to join the staff of a local church where I could use the best hours of my day to share Jesus with others. And it was a pretty easy decision because I felt so strongly that this is what God wanted me to do, the path He wanted me to take. And so I cashed in all my years at The Chicago Tribune and walked away, and I'm so glad I did, because I look back and I think of what I would have missed if I would have said, “Nah, I'm secure in my faith. I can be in the newsroom and just be a Christian.” And nothing wrong with that, but that wasn't what God had for me. And so, in following Him—and by the way, I was able to lead my atheist father-in-law to faith, basically on his deathbed. His last cogent conversation before he died, he received Christ.

Oh, wow!

So it was all worth it for that.

Yes. What a blessing.

So it's been a great adventure. In fact, Mark Mittelberg and I wrote a book called The Unexpected Adventure. It's about the adventures we've had as followers of Jesus. And I looked back, and I said, “Man, as tough as it's been,” and we lived on canned tuna fish in a shack for twenty years, because we had no money, we had nothing, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. It's been the joy of my life.

We’ve been all so blessed! Lee, I can't tell you how many stories, whether in my doctoral research or even on these podcasts…. In fact the last person I interviewed talked about the influence of your work in his life.

Oh, that's so great. I love that.

Yes. Over and over and over again, your name has come up as someone… You did the hard work.

You know what it’s like? I’ll use a quick analogy.

So I’m a big Cubs fan. So, in Wrigley Field, sometimes a guy will hit a ball, and it’ll be a pop-up, and it’ll go to center field, and it’ll be easily caught. Other times, he’ll hit the ball—he didn’t hit the ball any harder. He hits the ball, and the wind of Chicago takes it over the fence for a home run. That’s how I feel about the books that I write, especially The Case for Christ. I hit the ball, I wrote the book, but the Holy Spirit has taken it so far beyond what I ever anticipated! I feel like a third party hearing the stories about it, because I wasn't me! I really feel God has done something that I didn't do, and He’s the One that deserves the glory.

Yes. He’s just taken your obedience and multiplied it a million fold. So amazing!

As a former atheist and you probably deal with a lot of atheists these days or those who just reject, and they'll just say, “There is no evidence for God.” Now, of course I'm sitting in front of you, and you looked at a lot of evidence and reason and that it’s rational to believe and all of these things, but yet people will reject or dismiss out of hand. And won’t even look at the evidence or whatever.

Yeah.

So how would you respond to someone who says, “There's no evidence for God.”

Yeah. And I've had people tell me that. And my response to that is, “With all due respect, that is the one statement that nobody can really make. You can say, ‘I don't think the evidence is strong enough,’ or ‘I'm not convinced by the evidence,’ but to say, ‘There’s no evidence,’ that's just flies in the face of reality, because there is evidence. Now you may not find it persuasive, but have you really looked into it? Have you really investigated it?”

There was a woman who was a medical doctor who wrote an article for Skeptic Magazine, and she said, “What would it take for me to believe?” And she said—a miracle, that there's a God who did a miracle. She said, “Well, if a chicken learned to read and then became a grand-master at chess, maybe I'd begin to believe that God had done a miracle.” And I go, “Wait a minute. Let’s not ratchet the skepticism unreasonably high.” We all have a level of skepticism, and I encourage people who are not believers to say, “Where is your level? Is it reasonable? Is your level of skepticism at a reasonable level? Or is it that I need to have a chicken become a grand-master at chess before I’ll believe that a miracle has taken place.” I want to say, “What is the evidence?” and, “Where does it point?” It points in a direction, and I use the analogy of a current on a river or something like that. There are about twenty lines of evidence that I think point toward the truth of Christianity. And as we look at those, those point in a direction. Now, there are some objections that are good objections, like, “If there is a God, why is there suffering?” “If there is a God, why is He so hidden?” And so in my new book, Is God Real? I deal with those questions, because those probably the two biggest right now in culture.

And I would encourage people to say: Do you have any hesitations because of something in your life that you just don't want to give up? And that if God is real, it means that I have to forfeit this area of my life, this pattern of sin for instance, that I don't want to give up because I enjoy it. Is there something like that that's kind of keeping you from doing a more objective analysis of what the evidence is? But I think the one thing that nobody can really say is, “There is no evidence.” We all have to concede there is some evidence. Now, whether you find it persuasive, that's another issue. Let's explore it and do a thorough job and then come to a verdict in your case for Christ.

Yeah. I think that's wisdom there. And just practically reasonable, to be honest. So as we are coming to a close here, but…. Again, you are the foremost expert, I think, in the world on these questions, especially since you have such a heart for what you call practical apologetics. If there is a skeptic who's listening to you today and they were curious as to a next step. Now, it's really hard because you don't know them individually. But generally speaking, if someone was curious and they were open-minded enough to seek after truth, what would you encourage a skeptic to do?

I would encourage them to do what I did and just keep an open mind, make it a front-burner issue in your life, and decide at the outset, when the evidence is in, you'll reach a verdict. And there are so many good resources out there, and you can get all my books for free at any local library. My new book I would recommend, Is God Real? because I found out that 200 times a second, around the clock, someone on Planet Earth is typing into a computer search engine the question basically, “Is God real?”

Wow!

And so, based on that, I wrote this new book, called Is God Real? And it includes interviews with leading philosophers and scientists with degrees from Cambridge and major universities that lay out a case that I think is worthy of your consideration. In the end, it's your verdict, but I think it's worth your time to check it out. And then I deal with these questions of suffering and the hiddenness of God. And then reach a verdict. And maybe that's just to whet your appetite. There’s other things. I’d encourage you to read books by skeptics as well. But you know ultimately it's a decision that you have to make. But your willingness to do it. Pretend you're a journalist trained in the old school. “I'm going to look at both sides, and I'm going to call a ball a ball and a strike a strike,” and just let the game unfold. That's all I ask of people.

Yes, yes. Well, I think that again is… just the invitation, and whether or not someone is willing to take up the challenge. Like you say, sometimes they are willing and sometimes not, but I also appreciate your mandate to come to a verdict. I think sometimes people can sit in a place of not wanting to make a decision, or that it’s too difficult and so-

Make that choice up front. Where you say, “I'm going to check this out, and when the evidence is in, one way or the other, I'm going to reach a verdict.” I think that's helpful.

Yeah. Wonderful. So then let's turn our attention to Christians who are trying to practically engage, of course thinking of Linda, who was an amazing example of what it might look like to engage someone. I mean both of you. She didn't have any idea who you were or what your beliefs were, and she stepped in, and she created relationship and shared her faith with Leslie and then… the rest is history. But how can we best either prepare or engage with those who don't believe?

I think to respect people, to love them as Jesus loved them, as people made in God's image, to try to get away from this us-versus-them mentality and say, “We’re all in this together. We're all in this world together,” and to care enough to sit down and have a conversation. Here's the question I like to ask—and I've changed through the years as culture has changed. But the question I always used to ask someone I would engage with, is just, “Let me just ask you one thing: If you could ask God any one question, and you knew He’d give you an answer right now, what would you ask Him?” And I used to ask that of skeptics, because it helped crystallize what their objections are.

But nowadays, I don't stop there. So I'll ask that question, and eight times out of ten, the answer is something along the lines of, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?’ I mean that's a very, very common response. And instead of then giving a five-point sermon on why God allows suffering, I ask a follow-up question. And the follow-up question is: “Of all the possible questions in the universe, why did you choose that one?” And now it gets down to heart, because they’ll say, “Because my wife was just diagnosed with cancer, and I want to know, if there's a God, why would He allow that?” Or, “We lost a child in childbirth five years ago. Where was God when that happened?” Now we're getting to the real issues.

So I want to get—yes apologetics. Evidence for faith is important, but the heart is important. And that is ultimately where decisions, whether we want to admit it or not, are generally made. And so I want to diagnose: What is the impediment? What is the obstacle? And a lot of times, what that person needs is not, as I said, a five-point sermon on why God allows suffering. He needs someone who's going to be Jesus to them, who’s going to put their arm around their shoulder and is going to sit with them and is going to cry with them and is going to commiserate with them and empathize with them. And sometimes it's not the words, it's the actions, it’s the empathy, it's the love of Christ that they feel, that we care enough about them to resonate with whatever it is that's the impediment between them and God.

So I like that follow-up question: “What's the number one question you would ask God?” But then, “Why did you ask that question?” And I’ve found that, in my conversations with skeptics, to be very helpful. Sometimes it is just an intellectual issue, but many times there's emotional issues behind it, like there was with me with my father. And we need to delve into those as well.

Again, as someone who feels like you're singing my song, in terms of that we are more than just rational creatures. And we believe things and reject others for more than just rational reasons. You are bringing forth the apologetic to love and hospitality and being there and demonstrating who Christ is, who God is. And then, of course backing that up with reason, for good reason. But yeah.

It's all part of being salt and light.

Yes.

I always see myself, not as an apologist, but as an evangelist. My prayer, my hope, my dream is to help people find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He'll change your life and eternity. That's what I'm about. A lot of times, I use apologetics because the evidence reached me in a lot of ways, and it can reach others, but I don't want to get into arguments that take us down all kinds of paths that don't really amount to anything. I want to deal with the obstacles that are in a person's way through evidence, through logic, through reason, through philosophy and science and history. Yes, that's great, but ultimately, as you say, it's a decision of the heart to receive God's grace. And that’s what I want to help facilitate.

Yes. That’s amazing! Lee, this has been such a joy and a privilege really to down across from you, to really hear you fill in some of the backstory of some of the things that we may not have known about you.

Well, thank you. I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it.

Yeah! I think another thing that… and I know you were probably just a joyful person before coming to Christ, but when I think about someone like you—and we were talking how you just open yourself up. If you’re sitting in an airport, you'll tweet, “Come talk to me!” And I love that about you. You have such an infectious joy. It is contagious-

Oh, that's very kind.

I'm sure people say, “Well, I may not believe that, but he’s got something incredible and that I want that.” Meeting someone like you would make me think that someone would want it to be true.

That’s very kind. That makes my day. Thank you. It’s very sweet.

Is there anything else we need to add before we close?

I’ve really enjoyed it, and I feel jealous because the dissertation that you did, really analyzing atheists who’ve come to faith, I thought, “Man, I wish I’d thought of that!” I would love to have done that! So I appreciate what you're doing. It's so important to have academics that study these things and probe them and ask tough questions and ask probing questions. And, as I say, my son’s a theology professor, so I get that world, and I appreciate it. It's important.

Again, what a joy to have you on, Lee, and I hope that this touches so many lives. I appreciate your coming on.

Thank you. My pleasure.

Thanks for tuning in to Side B Stories to hear Lee Strobel’s story. You can find out more about his book, Is God Real? his Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics, as well as recommended resources from the episode in our episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our email. Again, that’s [email protected]. Also, if you're a skeptic or atheist who would like to connect with a former atheist with questions, please contact us, and we'll get you connected.

This podcast is produced through C.S. Lewis Institute, with the wonderful help of our producer, Ashley Decker, our audio engineer, Mark Rosera, and our video editor, Kyle Polk. If you enjoyed it, I hope you'll follow, rate, review, and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we’ll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.


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