Recently we reviewed The Case For Faith DVD in HM Magazine. The author of the book and the host for the DVD documentary was available for interviews, so we put Levi Macallister on the assignment. We think he did a good job with the interview, which follows Levi’s introductory thought:
Halfway through this interview Lee stopped and asked me if I was typing fast enough to keep up with him. I told him, “Lee, I don’t think anyone could type that fast!” He’s a good dude (we can say “dude” right?) – open and personal. Here’s some insight as to the latest video installation for A Case For Faith.
Uh … I was just going to say … I remember when you were, like, the new kid on the block, sort of. My mom came up to me with a student’s version of Case For a Creator. She was like, you’ve got to read this – it’s awesome. So I was wondering, uh … what’s it like knowing that the Lord has used you to strengthen so many people’s faith during your, uh … your career? And, back in your Missouri or Yale days, what would you have done… uh, you know, if somebody would have come up to you and told you that God was going to use you in the way that he has?
Well … I would’ve laughed at ‘em, man. I mean, having been an atheist, uh … you know, ‘till age 31 or so, I mean … I was deadest against faith in general and Christianity in particular. And, um … I never, ever would have foreseen what I’m doing now! Even after I became a Christian, I mean, I just expected to serve in my local church and uh, you know, reach out to my friends and so forth. And, you know, when God called me into church work full time, it just flabbergasted me. And now, being able to write books that reach millions of people and, now, DVDs that reach a new generation … um, it’s really gratifying, because it gets us great letters from people – emails from people – whom God has used my stuff to help them come to faith and … or strengthen their faiths as Christians. And, uh … I just … it just blows my mind.
Cool. Um … so, I was looking up your … your “Case For Faith” um … you know, all the stuff. And I just typed it into Google and one of the first top hits is this site that comes up called “Case Against Faith.” I was going to say, I think you probably know you’re popular when people are writing counter-arguments specifically for your … your findings, you know?
Yeah. I get a lot of atheist who, uh … I mean, most of them are good guys. I’ve become friends with some of them. Uh, one of them has a website where the atheist have submitted questions for me to answer. And, I’m glad to do it. I’m in the process of answering those questions for them. On the other hand there are some that, um, publish a lot of one-sided stuff that tries to answer my material and really fails. And, um, some of them get really ugly I mean, there was one atheist who was online fantasizing about murdering me. I had another atheist down in Texas who was a professor who was spreading all kinds of lies about me and I finally called him up and challenged him and he apologized and stopped. But, you get some of that. But I don’t mind when people ask legitimate questions, or have legitimate points of view to discuss. It just gets a little hurtful sometimes when people attack you personally, or accuse you of things that aren’t true.
Right. Right, for sure. Um … what, uh … what’s probably one of the most difficult questions you’ve been asked in regards to your career … or, journalism?
Uh … you mean my books and so forth?
Yeah. Yeah … or just, like, like, when you find answers unquestionable. Or, excuse me, when you find questions unanswerable.
Yeah. I mean … I don’t get a lot of objections that, kind of, leave me scratching my head. I mean, normally, uh … somebody will raise and say, “Yeah, but what about this?” And, um … I’ll look at it and say, “Okay! Well, that’s a good question.” And often I’ll know the answer, a lot of times I won’t. But then I do the research and sure enough! – there are good answers! I mean, I’ve never had a question come up that I haven’t at least found an answer that has satisfied me. It may not satisfy everybody – it satisfies me. I think some people misunderstand my books and they think that somehow I’m going to ask scholars every possible question. We just can’t do that. And so I ask the questions I had when I was an atheist. And, uh, I ask the follow up questions that make sense to me, and that were objections and obstacles for me. And then I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not the scholars have given answers that satisfy them. And often they do – I mean … I had an incredible experience with Evil Keneivel who um … read my book Case For Christ and uh, that was a factor in him coming to faith. And he had a remarkable conversion experience and became quite an evangelist in the last month of his life before he died. We became friends.
And uh … it was just a remarkable thing to see God changing his values and character in the last month of his life after he put his trust in Christ. Um … and there’s so many stories like that. They keep me going. Because there’s people that have legitimate questions, and find answers that come to faith. There are some people that rule out the possibility of God at the beginning. A lot of atheists just draw lines and say there is no supernatural, there is no God. Now, bring on your evidence. And I think that illegitimate. I think that intellectual honesty would say, “Let’s follow the evidence wherever it takes us!” And, uh … I think that makes sense and if it takes us towards a conclusion that God exists, then we ought to consider that. Um, Anthony Flew (CRAPCRAPCRAP — this is what Levi writes when he can’t find the proper spelling or something. Comment below if you agree/disagree that it’s funny) – you know – maybe the greatest philosophical atheist in the world, um – who wrote the book The Presumption of Atheism, and spent fifty years preaching atheism in universities around Europe, and wrote many books about it – as you probably know, a couple years ago and now, he admits that he was wrong! And he had pursued the evidence and became convinced that God exists! And uh … I actually interviewed him. I have the interview up on my website – leestroble.com – you can watch it. And I asked him you know … this is unbelievable! I mean, you know, here you are the greatest philosophical atheist on the planet … and you’ve now said my whole life was wrong! All of my writings … that God does exist – that took a lot of guts! He said, “Well, I had to pursue the evidence wherever it took me!” And I thought, well, okay. That is intellectual honesty. He was, um … willing to pursue it even though it came to a conclusion that he didn’t like, which was, you know … that he had been wrong all those years.
Yeah. Yeah, I uh … on that part about coming to a conclusion you don’t necessarily like … um, you start out the movie with that quote on faith being, you know, believing in things that are often unseen or unanswerable. How do you feel about that? I mean, just because it’s Biblical doesn’t necessarily mean that we, as humans, like it. And I know that … I mean, it’s obvious from the field that you’re in that you definitely do like finding logical answers to things.
Right. I definitely do think it’s true that faith is believing in unseen things. But, the evidence … where does the evidence take us? I mean, is that an irrational belief? To believe in God because he is unseen and so forth …? Well, no. We’ve never seen dinosaurs either. We have bones, we have footprints. We have things that point in the direction of dinosaurs having existed. Therefore, it’s not irrational to conclude that they existed even though I’ve never seen them, and will never see a live dinosaur. Um … and the same thing I think is true of faith. Yes, God is unseen, and yet, having said that, we do have evidence from science and history that points in the direction towards God existing and for Jesus being his son. And we prove that through the resurrection. And, uh … so I think it’s logical and rational to kind of go in the direction the evidence points. Um … you know, I think … it’s not proof like mathematics where four plus four equals eight. But it’s more like in a court of law, where the evidence points in a direction and the best explanation for that evidence is the existence of God and Jesus as his son. So I think that’s logical and rational and certainly not Biblical – excuse me, certainly not unbiblical – I think it is Biblical because 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have. So, the Bible specifically tells Christians to be able to engage with people on their spiritual experience. You know, to help them maneuver through that faith mine field and find faith. Um … so, uh … I think it’s entirely Biblical to look at: where does the evidence point? I think that’s the key.
Mmhmm. Well, in A Case For Faith, you say that you thought your skeptical attitude would change with your Christianity, but then you found that you might even have more questions than you had before. And you’ve helped so many people overcome doubts in certain aspects of their faith. What about you? Do you still struggle with doubt?
Yeah, yeah. You know, it is true that Christians in general – and often me in particular – you know, wrestle with many of the same questions that skeptics have. Um … Christians wrestle with the question of, “Where is a loving God when there’s pain and suffering in the world?” I mean. You know, I got the phone call a couple of months ago from the doctor saying, ‘Hey Lee, I’ve got bad news, you’ve got cancer.” Well, you know … where’s God in that? Um, you know, you start asking the “Why me?” questions. You start asking, “Here you’ve given me this ministry and now I’ve got cancer?” You know, it’s natural to ask those kinds of questions. If you look in the Psalms … um, many of them are laments where they ask, “Where is God in the midst of this?” So I think it’s totally legitimate for Christians to wrestle with these sorts of things. Um … and I think that’s okay. I think the danger is when we hold them in because we’re afraid that people will think we’re not spiritual if we talk about our doubts. And when we hold them in, they gloom larger than they really are. And they, um, they can really undermine our faith. Whereas, if we talk about them, all of the sudden they seem to really lose their power us. And, so, I think it’s healthy for Christians. And we actually have a lot o bonus features on our DVD dealing with doubt, and how to process doubt. It’s okay to have questions and doubts as a Christian. It’s not something that, uh … drags me down a lot, um, in terms of having doubts. But uh, questions come up. I remember when I was a fairly new Christian I encountered a scientist who pestered with really tuff objections to the faith that I’ve never heard before. And I felt what I call “spiritual vertigo” – that sense of dizziness or disorientation that you feel when people challenge your faith and you don’t know how to respond.
I mean, I was really kind of lost. And I thought maybe I swallowed a hook, line and sinker. Maybe I didn’t ask the right questions. And so, uh … but I investigated. I used that as an emphasis to check it out. When I did I found that there was an answer to every single one of his questions! And so, it just … it built my faith. I think, faith is stronger when we’ve looked doubt in the eye and dealt with it than when we hide in a corner and wish it would go away.
Right. Right. Yeah. I love the part in the movie about Joni Eareckson Tada’s suffering. I’ve uh … I’ve been reading a lot in Job and just thinking about the joy that comes out of pain and, uh, one of the verses that’s always struck me as … I don’t know … just one of my favorite verses is in Ecclesiastes where it talks about how it’s better to be in the house of sorrow than the house of joy because there comes a glad heart out of that.
Yeah. I agree. The interview with her … and, of course, everybody knows her story. It’s been told a thousand times. And yet, when I first watched the film, I cried! And that’s not typical for me! And I did – I cried three times watching this film. It was because of her story, and the way that she told it, and hope that she drew from it … and the story of Mark Erringer (CRAPCRAPCRAP), who was involved with the accidental death of his little girl and the driveway incident … I mean, I just cried when he told that. And yet, I know Mark, and um … I know how God has used that not just in his life but in many other lives, and drawn good from it. And uh, when he looks in the camera and says, you know, “Someday I’ll be in heaven and my daughter will be there and she’ll be healthy.” Um … that’s, that’s the hope that we have. It’s not an irrational hope, either. Peter, eh, specifically ties hope to the resurrection. And, you know, if Jesus was resurrected from the dead, then we have confidence that we will be, too. And we’ll see that his teachings on heaven are true. And, uh … we have actual and historical evidence of the resurrection really happening. Really did take place. And so, uh … we can have confidence that, uh, these issues ultimately will be resolved. But, uh … you’re right, I think there’s an emotional punt with these issues that the film doesn’t shy away from. I think that’s important because these aren’t just head issues, they’re not just intellectual conundrums. They are real heartbreaks that people deal with.
Right. Yeah, I think it’s cool, too, that the film can … I mean, obviously and actual video of someone’s emotion is portrayed a lot better on film and from the person than it is in type.
Yeah, when you see the pictures of Joni, you know, right after the accident, laying in that hospital bed, and realizing she will never walk again. She will never … she’ll be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Um … and she talked about, “Why shouldn’t I have my friends give me an overdose of pills and slit my wrists. Or, why shouldn’t I die? I have no hope.” And yet, how God has … what he has done in her life and encouraged many other lives is just … it’s inspiring. And it’s true. And it’s not “Pollyanna-wishful-thinking” but it’s a real life example of God’s ministry to us and through our suffering.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, uh, a little bit off topic – considering this is a music magazine – five favorite bands?
My favorite band?
Yeah. Or five … top five.
Well, I figure that’s easier than number one!
Hahaha! I’ll tell you my favorite band – and this might be a little weird because, um … but I’ll tell you the story behind it.
You know the Barlow Girls?
Um … Barlow Girls grew up in my church. And, um … I knew them when they were little kids. And in fact, I did a sermon at Willow Creek Church many, many years ago where one of them sang as a child, and opened her mouth and it was the most incredible voice… and it’s just a great family. Um, they’re just the salt of the earth. They’re just the best. So, I love their music because I love them And I love the rock and roll, and yet they are just absolutely wholly devoted to Christ.
Awesome! Well, you have any … uh … this is up in a couple of minutes, isn’t it?
How much … how long do we have? It’s up in a couple …
Uh, I think we have a few more minutes.
Okay. Well, do you have any last things you’d like to say about anything?
Well, you know it think, um … having been a writer of books for so long, I’ve come to realize that not everybody wants to wade through 120,000 words. Um … and, uh, that many people, especially my kid’s generation – I have a son that’s thirty and a daughter that’s thirty-two – and you know, they’re really so involved with music and film. And, um … I’m just so thrilled we can take this important information about the truth of this faith and present it in a visually dynamic way that tells a story and yet contains teaching in it that’s really helpful. And it’s just … I’m just hoping that it will reach a bunch of people that would never pick up the book, for whatever reason. It’s not that they’re not readers; it’s not that they’re not smart. It’s just that they would prefer to put in a DVD and to, uh, have an experience that hits them emotionally as well as intellectually. So, um, I’m just thrilled about that. And, you know, one of the amazing things about this whole thing is that Lionsgate, which is the big Hollywood distributor – they did Crash and Saw and you know, award winners and stuff – they’ve never done a faith film, and they picked up these three films because they really loved them, and said, you know, “We’ll distribute them.” And you know, it’s kind of amazing that a secular, kind of a hardcore Hollywood distribution company like Lionsgate would pick this up and make it available everywhere. It’s kind of one of those God things that’s, uh … who knows? It’s un to interact with them and Lionsgate. Some are Christians but many of them are not. And, you know, there’s a personal ministry there as well as having them getting behind it and making it available everywhere. The other thing I’ll mention that’s just been really fun is, uh … I’ve been a big proponent for a long time of what the Internet can do spiritually. And my website at leestrobel.com now has hundreds and hundreds of free video clips…
Yeah, it’s totally free. You can go in there, type in a tough question in the search engine and we’ve got scholars from all over the country and talk in terms we can all understand …
Oh, that’s awesome!
Yeah. So you can type in “Islam” or “Resurrection” or “Virgin Birth” or whatever you want … Boom! Up will come fifteen, or whatever, videos that you can just click and there’s, you know, an expert saying not just what Christians believe, but why we believe it.
That’s really cool.
And so, yeah, I’ve really had fun with that. I‘ve been blessed because some guys have said, you know, we’ll pay for it so it can be all free. And um, we’re just kind of adding to this number of videos almost every day and hope to eventually get a thousand video clips in there.
Man, that’s crazy. I didn’t even know about that. I had no idea.
You should go by there, it’s really fun!
For sure. I will. That’s really cool, too … like you were saying about – type in a search engine and get a video response, an actual interview. That’s really cool.
Yeah – and like, my interview with Anthony Flew’s in there. We have debate clips in there. We have clips from my old TV show Faith Under Fire where we had debates on a lot of spiritual topics. That’s in there. And, uh … so that’s kind of a fun thing and we found a … I forget the number, but we were really shocked at the amount of time the average person spends on the site is really amazing. It’s encouraging. So yeah, stop by there.
I will, I will. Thanks so much, Lee.
Yeah sure! Glad to chat with you! Glad we could do it.
Absolutely! You’re officially my favorite interview so far. Everybody’s been … everybody that I’ve interviewed … it’s always been so awkward. I’m just going to start asking people… I’m just going to make it more awkward. You know? First question: “Why are interviews so awkward?” And they’re gonna be like, “Uhh….”
Yeah! Right! Believe me – I’ve had a lot of awkward interviews when I was a journalist.
For sure, for sure. Well thanks so much man. God bless, and bless all the work you’re doing.
Hey thanks man, God bless you.
Alright. Talk to you later.