Evangelist Lee Strobel delivered a guest sermon at First Baptist Church in Dallas on Sunday, opening the message with a story about a strange encounter he had with Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner two decades ago.
Recounting his conversation with Hefner, Strobel indicated that Hefner understood the central message of Christianity and the life-changing implications of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s just that he found it doubtful that Jesus really did rise from the grave.
“I want to talk about something that happened to me almost 20 years ago,” Strobel began. “I found myself in a highly unlikely place for an evangelical Christian. I was there in the living room of the opulent Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California, about to interview Hugh Hefner.”
“Now, I was no fan of Mr. Hefner’s. I mean, I had seen how his work had corroded and corrupted our culture in many ways,” Strobel clarified. “But I’m a journalist; I’ve interviewed all kinds of infamous people in my life. And at the time, I had a national TV show, and my assignment was to interview him about his religious beliefs.”
Strobel went on to say that Hefner expressed a “minimal belief in God.”
“He said, ‘Oh yeah, I kind of believe in God as a word for the beginning of it all and the great unknown—but certainly not the God of the Bible,’” Strobel recalled.
It was then that Strobel brought up the resurrection of Jesus Christ, at which point Hefner’s eyes suddenly “grew wide.”
“Because even a skeptic like him saw the implications of the resurrection of Jesus,” Strobel said. “He said, ‘If one had any real evidence that indeed Jesus did return from the dead, then that’s the beginning of a dropping of a series of dominos that takes us to all kinds of wonderful things. It assures an afterlife and all kinds of things that we would all hope to be true.’”
It’s just that Hefner didn’t believe it was possible that Jesus rose from the dead, though Hefner admitted to Strobel that he had never examined the evidence.
According to Strobel, Hefner said, “Do I think that Jesus is the Son of God? I don’t think he’s the Son of God anymore than you and I are the Son of God.”