Throughout the month of February, this column will be featuring stories of noted atheists who experienced dramatic shifts in their views, eventually becoming Christians. The stories will highlight the reasons why they held their atheistic views to begin with, and the reasons they became convinced of the truth of Christianity.
As a confirmed atheist, journalist Lee Strobel was surprised and intrigued when his wife had a sudden and dramatic conversion to Christianity – something he had unabashedly looked down upon his entire life.
As a teenager, he had simply accepted by default that the belief in – and worship of – any kind of invisible being in the sky was a laughable position to accept. This contempt toward all things religious was further cemented as he grew and read a variety of atheist authors and books. An all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful creator of everything? Preposterous.
Strobel’s powers of intellectual discernment were not to be dismissed too quickly, either. After graduating High School, his academic career took him to the University of Missouri, from which he graduated with his Bachelors of Journalism. From thence, he went to Yale Law School to receive his Masters of Studies in Law degree. Thus armed with a keen legal mind and a skillful writing craft, Strobel obtained a position at the prestigious Chicago Tribune as the legal editor.
The Tribune was, and is, known for being a respectable, cosmopolitan paper with leanings left of center, and no special sympathies with the religious right. This seemed like the perfect placement for a man like Strobel, as he daily brushed shoulders with wry cynics such as himself who tended to look down upon anyone who might hold to some kind of fundamentalist faith.
It was into this seemingly ideal life that a bomb was dropped. Strobel’s wife, Leslie, experienced a surprising conversion to Christianity. This became a shock and a strain upon their marriage (a story told in their book Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage). Lee, who always held an underlying disrespect for Christians, was forced to confront the fact that now his wife was one of them. They began to experience conflict – not simply over the existence of God, or not – but over things like finances and child-rearing. For a journalist and legal examiner such as Strobel, there was but one recourse: launch an investigation into this new belief system his wife held to so strongly.
This turned out to be a much longer process than Strobel had anticipated, taking nearly two years. Strobel left no stone unturned, examining religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Because he was a journalist, his method involved skeptically interviewing a variety of scholars: people like Bruce Metzger, J. P. Moreland, Craig Blomberg, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas and more. Strobel was surprised to find that, not only was Christianity an intellectually rigorous position, with a firm basis of scholarship – but that it actually appeared to be true. In 1981, Strobel found himself joining his wife at the altar of conversion.
When Strobel began his process of investigation, he did so purely for personal reasons, with no intention of publishing the results. However, after his startling conclusion, he found he could not keep the information to himself. In 1988, Strobel published his findings in his book The Case for Christ.
Since then, Lee has gone on to become one of the most widely known defenders of the Christian Worldview, authoring and co-authoring over 20 books – New York Times best sellers among them – speaking at venues throughout the world and heading his own ministry.
As vocal and intelligent as Lee is in the evangelical community, he has not gone unnoticed in the secular one. He has appeared as the voice of Christian reason on such networks as ABC, Fox, PBS and CNN. He has also had articles in the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.
Of the many atheist converts to Christianity, Strobel is one whom many skeptics work hardest to discredit. This is because he stands as an example of an extraordinary intellect who was persuaded of the truth of Christianity largely through investigation of the facts.