Ravi Zacharias

Having read his Jesus Among Other Gods and his Lotus and Cross, this is my third foray into the mind of this captivating, Indian-born evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, who fathers his own Ministry (the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), to which large group of devotees and captive-market buyers, he regularly dispenses his books.

He salts his religious essays with personal anecdotes to make them more interesting, personal and entertaining, and he largely succeeds in that effort. His problems begin with his assumptions, which have been called by some, “the fundamentals of faith”, which are common to most Fundamentalists Christians. These fundamentalists dogmas (as I have read in a variety of Christian sources) include the infallibility of the Bible, the virgin birth, Christ’s atonement for our sins, the validity of Christ’s “miracles”, and Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Zacharias’ assumptions work just fine for his followers and other Fundamentalist Christians, because they accept all of those assumptions, but the same arguments and conclusions don’t work at all for non-believers, because, when you strip away RZ’s assumptions, his arguments, logic and conclusions fall with the assumptions.

In the instant case, the very question (“Can man live without God?”) ignores the fact that likely a billion or more people do exactly that. My son, Dean, who kindly gave me this and two other Zacharias books (which is the only reason that I read any of them), notes, in his cover note to me, “Zacharias explores why God’s existence matters in our daily lives.” Of course, it does matter to those who believe in God, and to all others who benefit from the improved conduct of those believers! To those who don’t believe, it doesn’t matter at all.  The principles of conduct, which emanate from a belief in God, do matter a great deal!  Believers in God tend to assume that that God is the only option and the only way to live principled lives and to gain comfort or peace, but that simply ignores the fact many people are very comfortable with other options, which can and do lead to adherence to equally high standards of conduct and to mental peace.

RZ raises the name of many great thinkers, including theist, deists, agnostics and atheists, and strives to debunk the latter two groups with partial and fleeting treatments. Nothing, however, resolves his the biggest problem with RZ, his books and his peers, for those who reject faith for faith’s sake: They don’t accept the veracity of the Bible; to them, it reads like an inconsistent, endlessly rewritten series of stories by evangelists, like Paul, all of whom had axes to grind and a reputation to build and a living to make. RZ “preaches to the converted”, but he offers nothing to dispel the non-believer’s issues, and he attacks evolution in the face of now overwhelming scientific evidence.  This works, when addressing those who don’t read such data, but will not dissuade those who do.  As such, RZ’s endless reliance upon what Jesus is reported to have said or done or meant won’t convince anyone who doesn’t believe 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.

As noted with regard to his other books, Reverend (or Pastor?) Zacharias’s many books are better directed to those with “faith”, who will view his conclusions and logic with similar credulity and faith.  Those looking for logic, hard scientific data and supported conclusions will need to continue their search elsewhere.  Regardless, to the extent that RZ and other evangelists raise the general level of human conduct, I commend his efforts and support him wholeheartedly.