Ravi Zacharias, the great Christian Apologist, has departed from this earth. He is greatly beloved and deeply missed. His ministry did not depart with him as he had spent the time to build a team of 100 speakers with physical presence in seventeen nations across the globe to continue his work.
It has been about seventeen years since I first encountered a book and cassette tapes of Ravi Zacharias. At the time it was my heart’s dream to become an apologist. Upon reading his books and learning about his organization RZIM, I longed to be counted among his apologists. Twice I had the privilege of hearing him speak in person up in northern Virginia. The C.S. Lewis Institute hosted these events. He even signed my copy of The End of Reason at one of these events.
I could relay the magnificent bio of Ravi Zacharias, but his obituary does this better than I ever could. What I wish to convey is what he did for me.
Prior to learning from Ravi, I felt apologetics armed me against those who disbelieved. I had the artillery, if you will, to crush their arguments and in the process very likely crush them. I did not want to crush them but destroying their arguments in the way I wanted to would have had this consequence. Ravi demonstrated a better way.
One of the most memorable moments that stands out to me was when he spoke of a Hindu asking him to speak on why he was not a Hindu in his native nation of India. He declined. The Hindu persisted in asking him to give a talk on this subject. Ravi offered to speak instead on why he is a Christian and, in that context, he it would be communicated why he was not a Hindu. In this manner he could respect the people who value Hinduism while communicating Christ. Ravi would never use his intellectual prowess to attack a person’s beliefs. He always brought truth first allowing Him who is Truth to shine forth and become the desire of hungry people.
My Twitter handle is “answerbearer.” I also used this handle on an apologetics blog I once had with an atheist readership. I chose this term, coined by Ravi, after reading him on how we should bear Jesus to people. We carry the Answer. We are not just giving intellectual answers to questions. We are bearing the Answer to Questioners.
Our approach must be one which carries Jesus to the Questioner from any worldview. The intellectual answers are ensconced in that context or else we lack humility born by love and become argument winners rather than people lovers. Ravi knew when a Questioner needed an intellectual answer or when the Questioner needed a listening ear or a hug.
GK Chesteron said that “people quarrel because they do not know how to argue.” Ravi Zacharias made intellectual arguments with great clarity of thought without ever quarreling with anyone. These arguments compel thought rather than repel thought. Quarrelling draws upon emotions instead of thought. When quarrelling employs thought it does so against people instead of for people.
I am no longer perusing the ministry of apologetics. Reading and listening to Ravi Zacharias created a hunger in me for worldview studies rather than apologetics. Today my interest extends beyond apologetics, but I it still includes helping people think about truth from truth.
Ravi Zacharias had a special place in developing my thinking and my character. I look forward to seeing the massive fruit of his ministry continuing after him to disciple and create thinkers. I will miss his huge presence in this earth, but will rejoice that he is alive with Jesus.
Favorite Quotes by Ravi Zacharias
“Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.” ― Ravi Zacharias
“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”
― Ravi Zacharias
“A worldview tested by truth will inform imagination and meditation, not the other way around. That is why the rigorous way of testing truth has always been through logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance.” ― Ravi Zacharias
“Whatever worldview we espouse, dialogue and debate should take place with civility and courteous listening. But our times make that ideal so elusive. Holding a supposedly noble belief and reducing it to ignoble means of propagation makes the one who holds that belief suspect.”
― Ravi Zacharias
“The goal in most conflicts is to destroy your opponent. The goal in apologetics is to win your opponent.” ― Ravi Zacharias
“I am totally convinced the Christian faith is the most coherent worldview around.”― Ravi Zacharias
“We are commanded by God to love our fellow human being no matter how much we disagree with them.”― Ravi Zacharias