Indian Scholar Ravi Zacharias Defended the Christian Faith


Article #340

by Bill Nugent


Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020 ) was one of the greatest intellectual apologists in the contemporary evangelical church. Apologist means “Defender”  i.e. defender of the faith. He was born in Madras India. As a very young child, he moved with his family to Delhi, where he was raised. The family was Anglican, so young Ravi got some basic exposure to Christian teaching. In spite of this, by his teen years, Ravi had become an atheist.


In his despair and frustration with life, at age seventeen, Ravi attempted to end his life by drinking poison. He was seriously ill from this and was hospitalized. He was visited by a Christian worker who gave his mother a Bible and asked her to read the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John to Ravi. God spoke to Ravi through this Bible chapter and the Spirit of God opened Ravi’s heart with saving faith. Ravi believed in Jesus and received Jesus as Savior and pledged to follow Him as Lord. He became born-again!


Ravi continued to grow as a young Christian for three more years in India. He and his family immigrated to Canada when Ravi was twenty years old. He went to Ontario Bible College and graduated in 1972. He would go on to get his M. Div. at Trinity International University in 1977.


Before he had completed his undergraduate work, Ravi began to stand out as a very gifted young man. Ravi was affiliated with The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), a very prominent conservative evangelical denomination.The CMA is very focused on evangelism, Christian education and foreign missions. Ravi began an itinerant ministry with the CMA in the early 1970s.


He spoke at venues in North America and also in Vietnam and Cambodia. His earnest, persuasive speaking style and his well prepared logical arguments for biblical truth made him well known and sought after, especially among university students.

I was a member of a CMA church in the late 1970s. I remember my pastor returning from a CMA conference and saying: “We had this young Indian man named Ravi Zacharias speak to us and he just blessed us . . . . he just blessed us!”


While ministering at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Amsterdam Evangelism Conference in 1983, Ravi began to sense more intensely the need to conduct apologetics (defense of the faith) to reach the intellectually resistant. He formed Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), and expanded his outreach to go on radio and TV with his popular show “Let My People Think.” Ravi is a regular keynoter at many major conferences in religious and secular venues. Ravi is a regular at the well known Veritas Forum at Harvard from 1993 onwards. His books, including “A Shattered Visage: the Real Face of Atheism” (1990) are best sellers.


Ravi has a gift for boiling things down to their most basic and poignant elements and giving incisive, penetrating answers that reveal truths. One way he does this is through the analysis of “worldview.”  Every religious, philosophical and political ideology operates from an explicit or implicit overall view of the world. Ravi digs down to discover, dismember and analyze the worldviews of all ideologies. He finds the strengths and flaws of each worldview and the ideology built atop it.


Ravi has said that a worldview must answer each of four questions:


1) Origin: Where do I come from? Do I come from random collisions of atoms in the prebiotic sea or was I brought into being by an intelligent Creator who designed and built the universe?


2) Meaning of Life: What is the purpose of my existence? What am I here on earth to accomplish? Does my life have any real value?


3) Morality: Is there right and wrong? Does it matter what I do to hurt or help? Is there a difference between kindness and cruelty? Is there a transcendent lawgiver and judge?


4) Destiny: Where will I be in the future when my brief life on this earth is over? Will I descend into the void? Will I dissolve into spinning atoms? Will I be conscious and happy or will I be conscious and miserable?


Ravi dissects and hammers out worldviews on the above points. Ravi exposes the trivialities and self-contradictions of worldviews. False ideologies built on superficial worldviews simply collapse.


Ravi has said that a Christian apologist operates on three levels:


1) Stating the logic of the argument (dissecting a worldview using the four points listed above)

2) Using the arts to illustrate (using everything from creative writing to the visual arts to present biblical truth)

3) Sitting down at a kitchen table to discuss and apply the truth (frank discussion on how to live according to God’s truth).


Let’s take a brief look at the dominant worldview of western civilization which is the materialistic worldview. The materialistic worldview claims: 1) humans evolved from animals and have no souls, 2)  humans have no real purpose for living beyond self-gratification, 3) humans have no transcendent moral lawgiver or any objective standard of right and wrong or absolute truth, 4) human consciousness ends at death and therefore there is no future for any human being.


Space obviously forbids me to do a thorough analysis and breakdown of the secular worldview using all four points of Ravi’s method. The way I would expose the flaws of the secular worldview is to show that new findings in science disprove its origins myth, which is evolution. Evolution is the way the materialist answers the question “Where do I come from?” One way I disprove evolution is to show that the science of genetics gives much evidence against evolution. Scientists have shown that genetic mutations are destructive errors that do not add useful information to the DNA that would add new features to an animal to cause uphill evolutionary change. I’ve also written about many other scientific proofs showing the impossibility of evolution to form life from molecules to man or as some put it: “from goo to you by way of the zoo.”


Once evolution is shown to be a secular origins myth without scientific support, the other aspects of the secular worldview simply collapse. Once evolution is disproven, the only alternative to account for human life is the Creator God.


Let’s say that we have an atheist friend and we convince him that evolution is disproven by sound science. The atheist is convinced that there must be a Creator God. He goes from atheist to believer in God. Then the former atheist says: “I agree that there had to be some kind of Intelligent Designer or Supreme Being or cosmic force to create planet earth but why would you think that it must be the Christian God? Why not the gods of other faiths or even a mindless being like the Star Wars ‘force’?”


I would answer this by saying that once a person makes the leap from atheist to believer, he begins to slide down a slippery slope toward belief in the God of the Bible. This is because once he concedes that there is a God, he would logically have to admit that God must have certain attributes to be able to create the extreme complexity of the universe and life. One attribute would be intelligence. God would have to be intelligent in order to design and build the galaxies, the sun, earth, moon and all living things. The former atheist immediately concedes that God is intelligent.


Our new believer in God would also have to concede that if God is intelligent, God must also be a person. Where there is intelligence there must be personality. Intelligence is the very basis of personality. God is an intelligent person. To be logical, he must admit that we have a personal God as Creator. No Star Wars, mindless  “force” will make the grade!


Our new believing friend would also have to admit that if God created the universe He must have all knowledge about the universe. Aside from the intelligence needed to create the universe, God would also have all information about the universe.  God knows the past and future of the universe because He set it in motion. God designed and built the human mind and will. God knows what human beings will do. God has all knowledge. God is all-knowing or omniscient. This is starting to sound a bit like the Christian God. Let’s continue.


If God has the ability to create the universe, He must have an immense amount of power. It’s fair to say that God would have all power over His universe. If God has the power to create it, He has power to destroy it or change it or expand it or shrink it or do whatever He wants to do with His universe. God has all power. God is omnipotent. This too, is what the Bible teaches us about God.


It’s also fair and rational to say that if God created the universe, He owns the universe. The universe is God’s personal property. Everything, from the coins in our pockets to the most distant star systems, ultimately belongs to God. If God owns the universe, it means He can do whatever He wants with the universe. Therefore God is sovereign over the universe and has all authority over the universe. Therefore God is the ultimate determiner of right and wrong in the universe. God gives the moral absolutes. God is the ultimate lawgiver. God’s moral laws apply to all people at all times and in all cultures. God is the transcendent moral lawgiver because He owns the universe. This too, is what the Bible teaches about God.


It’s also reasonable to expect that God, as moral lawgiver, would desire to speak to His people and tell them what He wants them to do or not do. This is the principle of divine revelation. If God speaks to people, it’s reasonable to expect that His words would be written down. It’s also reasonable to expect that an all-knowing and all-powerful God would confirm His written revelation with predictive prophecies that come to pass in human history. God would also confirm His words by the working of miracles. This is exactly what we see in the Bible.


It’s fair to say that since God is the lawgiver, He would also be the divine law enforcer. We are thankful that God is not only a law enforcer but is also a forgiver of those who break His laws if they repent of their folly. God is the redeemer.


To recap: God is the creator, He is intelligent; He is a person, He is all-knowing; He is all-powerful; He is owner of all things and He has final say on right and wrong. We are thankful that God reveals His moral laws and He enforces His moral laws but He has also provided forgiveness for those who violate His laws.


At this point our former atheist friend speaks up and says: “That’s a pretty impressive daisy chain of logical statements about God but are there any other things that logically prove that the Creator God must be the Judeo-Christian God?”


To answer him, I or Ravi Zacharias would say to him: “Islam, Hinduism and the gods of the cults aren’t backed by prophecies and fulfillments of prophecies like we find in the Bible. No holy book of any other faith, including the Quran and the Hindu Vedas, has anything to compare to the many hundreds of prophecies written in the pages of the Bible. The prophecies in the Bible and their fulfillments in human history are like God’s signature on His holy book. Then there’s the miracles. Jesus worked miracles in front of eyewitnesses. Miracles and answers to prayer still occur frequently today among Christians. The Quran doesn’t even claim that Mohammed worked miracles. The religion with the best miracles wins. Christianity is the faith that is backed by the best prophecies and the best miracles.”


We ask our friend: “Would you like to turn to God right now, in repentance, and ask Jesus to forgive your sins and be your Lord!?” The former atheist says “yes” and we lead our friend to pray and repent and to ask Jesus to forgive his sins. We lead him to pledge to obey Jesus as Lord. Our former atheist friend is now a Christian!!


“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).


God provided for forgiveness of sins by sending Jesus Christ who came in fulfillment of over 300 Old Testament prophecies. The biblical prophets foretold that Christ would suffer and die, taking upon Himself the penalty we deserved for our sins. This is called substitutionary atonement. One Old Testament prophet wrote:“He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NASB). Once He paid the penalty for our sins, Christ was raised from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins to all who call upon Him. I invite you to turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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