The Day Lee Strobel Shared the Gospel with Hugh Hefner: 'He Saw the Relevance of the Resurrection'
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Ex-atheist turned-Christian evangelist Lee Strobel is sharing more about a powerful moment in which he presented the Gospel to Hugh Hefner.
Speaking at First Baptist Dallas over the weekend, Strobel recounted the time he found himself in the "unlikely place for any Evangelical Christian."
As CBN's Faithwire reported, it all started back in 2004 when Strobel was hosting a national TV show called "Faith Under Fire."
One of his producers had a connection with someone who was employed by Playboy and Strobel's team ended up successfully pursuing an interview with Hefner about his views on theology, life and the Almighty.
"We went over to the Playboy mansion, which for me was just freaky," Strobel said. "It was the last place I ever expected to go."
Yet, Strobel found himself in the living room of the infamous mansion waiting for Hefner to emerge. The Playboy magnate didn't disappoint, either, as he emerged donning "his typical pajamas and smoking jacket." Hefner immediately offered Strobel a tour of the mansion, to which the author responded, "No, thank you." From there, the duo had a captivating conversation.
"He was quite engaging in terms of the conversation. We talked about what he believed and he had a very minimalistic, deistic view of God," Strobel said. "He said he has a minimal belief in God."
It was a theological stance that Strobel said is "quite convenient" for people like Hefner, because it removes any real and viable moral responsibility on behalf of human beings.
"A God like that, of course, does not put any moral demands on anybody," he said. "(Hefner) said, 'The God of Christianity is a little too childlike for me.'"
At one point in the interview, Hefner seemed surprised to realize, though, that Strobel was a Christian, with Strobel reflecting on the moment years later with some laughs. He said, "Apparently nobody had told him that I was an evangelical Christian."
But despite Hefner's surprise, Strobel said the two continued to have "a great conversation" that took an interesting turn when the author brought up Jesus and, in particular, the resurrection. While Hefner said he didn't think Jesus was the "son of God" anymore than any other human being is, he "perked up" when it came to the resurrection.
In fact, the Playboy founder said that any evidence for Jesus' resurrection and return would drop "a series of dominoes" that would prove a number of theological claims, including the existence of an afterlife. Strobel said that Hefner told him he was at "the head of the line hoping it's all true" but that the "rational" part of him held him back from embracing such sentiment.
"He saw the relevance of the resurrection, he saw the significance of it," Strobel said, adding, though, that Hefner never had considered that there could actually be evidence that it really unfolded — and Hefner hadn't really investigated.
It was after the cameras turned off, though, that Strobel said he had a deeper conversation with Hefner and presented him with the gospel, explaining how humans are "separated by our sin, by wrongdoing" and that Jesus "offers forgiveness as a free gift of his grace."
Strobel also revealed that he, himself, had once been an atheist journalist who went on a quest to disprove Christianity and ended up embracing the faith due to overwhelming evidence; Hefner reportedly listened intently.
“He wasn’t dismissive,” Strobel said. “He seemed genuinely curious.”
Strobel left Hefner with a copy of his bestselling book, “The Case for Christ” and expressed his hope that he would read it.
While Strobel left thinking that it could have been the beginning of an ongoing friendship and dialogue, Hefner didn’t reach out for further meetings; he did, however send Strobel a Christmas card that year.
Hugh Hefner passed away on September 27, 2017.
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