Ravi Zacharias is such an icon in the evangelical movement that his works warrant consideration. He was born in India, became a Christian minister, and has lectured at major universities worldwide. Jesus Among Other Gods (JOG) distinguishes the major religions, from the Fundamentalist Christian perspective (for which Zacharias is known) and, once again tries to make the case for Jesus as God. The author, predictably, presides over his own “Ministry” (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), providing a ready market of buyers for his numerous books.
The undersigned earlier read RZ’s The Lotus and The Cross (L&C), where Zacharias engaged Jesus and Buddha in a mock debate of sorts (mimicking the Hindu scripture, Baghavad Gita). However, a debate requires people of different views on opposite sides, not one person stating both cases, such as the result-oriented Minister Zacharias. As such, his book proved little to the unconvinced. In JOG, he explains how “sad” he was before he found Jesus and how happy his faith has made him. Unfortunately, for those who see no logic to the belief in a Superpower, RZ’s “faith” in the unknown doesn’t help. He populates his views with folksy anecdotes about his earlier life, which lends human interest and entertainment (especially for his devout followers) but no weight to his conclusions. RZ spends much of his time interpreting what Jesus allegedly said or did and instructs us as to what Jesus really meant to say or do – reminiscent of Simon Cowell, on American Idol, telling us “What Paula meant to say is…” Some of us are comfortable reading the Bible on our own and supplying our own reading between the lines. Thus, RZ’s wishful thinking and result-oriented interpretaions don’t help us, anymore than do RZ’s entertaining personal anecdotes.
The biggest problem with RZ, his books and his peers, for those who reject faith for faith’s sake is that they don’t accept the veracity of the Bible, because it reads like a grossly inconsistent, endlessly rewritten series of stories by evangelists, like Paul, all of whom had axes to grind and a reputation and living to make. In all societies, evangelists live well; religion has always been a good business, and it will attract charlatans, as well as those with good intentions. RZ offers nothing to dispel the non-believer’s issues. His endless reliance upon what Jesus is reported to have said or done or meant won’t convince anyone who doesn’t accept the accuracy of his source (the Bible) in the first place. In such circumstances, RZ’s strained arguments and theories, however well said, vaporize like a morning mist.
Reverand (or Pastor?) Zacharias’s many books are best directed to those with “faith”, who will view his conclusions and logic with similar faith. Those looking for logic and supported conclusions will need to continue their search elsewhere.