In 2006, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) held an open forum at the Fox Theater in Atlanta to address the subject: "Has Christianity Failed You?" Tickets were sold for the event and---to the complete surprise of everyone---the event was sold out, with a capacity crowd of over 5,000. People lined up, offering to buy tickets from folks in line for higher prices.
Before the event, an RZIM cameraman walked the streets and asked people if they had rejected the faith they held at one time. One answered that, because of a Christian's rejection of his gay lifestyle, he had done just that. Another answered that she had left her faith because she had fallen into adultery and could never live it down in the church. Others had their own reasons. Some said it was just intellectually untenable in an age of reason. They chose to come to the event to judge if there were adequate answers.
It is estimated that for every one person who writes a letter or attends an event, there are one thousand who agree. If the Atlanta crowd was any indication, the question is real and troubling. Why is it that many live with silent doubt, many leaving the "evangelical fold" for something else? Is there something wrong with the message, the communicator, the hearer...or is it all three? It's time to ask the hard questions of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and why it seems as though God has made it so hard to continue believing. In fact, the son of a prominent U.S. Senator phoned me with that very question: "Why has God made it so hard to believe in Him?" Such skepticism is not just representative of the hostile; it also represents many honest questioners. This book attempts to lay out the response to those within as well as those outside the Christian faith so as to understand what it is we believe and why it is so hard to do so.
©2010 Zondervan (P)2008 Ravi Zacharias
Heard him on the radio while channel surfing. Then had to look him up. This was my first introduction to apologetic s and I feel that it really helped me understand my christian faith even though I have been a Christian for a long time. Shared the information with my 30 year old daughter and her husband and they were amazed on the way he presented the information about defending the Christian faith. If you have an i-tunes account there is a lot of free lectures by him and other apologetics Christian leaders.
I can't speak against the book because it may help those who feel that god has abandoned them or that christianity has failed them as a believer. It is not for those who no longer believe the bible to be true. You have to believe that the bible is the inerrant word of god still, but that people and churches have faltered and caused bitterness in you for this book to be of use. You have to believe scripture for this book to help resolidify your faith, which it may very well do for those who believe. If you are like me though, you once believed but studying the scriptures and then looking at the science changed your mind...you are not bitter, no one angered you, god didn't
Honest in place of arrogance. Evidence instead of blindly assuming the bible to be true.
Done research and not made nonsensensical accusations such as "atheism is a religion."
Disappointment and incredulity.
During his introduction, Ravi regales us with a story about his family's Border Collie, GK, named after one of their favourite authors, GK Chesterton. Immediately I was struck by their callous attitude in forcing a member of their family to suffer the ravages of a natural death from cancer rather than put it quietly and peacefully to sleep. Sadly, Ravi takes a similar stance when he addresses the readers in the greater part of this book.
The author attempts to delineate "true" Christianity from the Christianity practiced in some churches today, and blames this for the reason people are leaving it in droves. He won't even entertain the idea that Christianity is false. The superficial saving grace in his book is his call to churches to be more supportive and understanding of those who have fallen away and "sinned" (a vacuous religious concept to begin with). He criticises the liberal media for condemning the Pope's stance unequivocally condemning contraception, asking if they would show compassion to someone who had used a condom and contracted HIV. In doing so, Ravi is denying the human impulse towards pleasure, one that he believes his god bestowed upon us, and is giving tacit support to a Puritanical worldview that has made the AIDS crisis worse. Condoms reduce the rate of HIV transmission, this is an undeniable fact. Why he would lend succour to a malicious jerk who covered up and perpetuated child rape and indirect murder speaks volumes about the author. Perhaps he should write a new book on his own shortcomings and failures as an apologist and evangelical preacher.
Ravi claims that although his god is sovereign, he has also blessed us with free will. Anyone who has read Exodus should know that this is nonsense. A god who would violate Pharoah's free will to shunt himself up onto a pedestal and cause further gratuitous suffering is not only a deity brimming with malfeasance, but has no respect for free will. On a related note, Ravi complains that if one amputee was cured, this would be unfair to all other amputees, and we would demand more evidence and miracles. What, you mean like what allegedly occurred in the Old Testament? This flimsy excuse holds no water, especially since his god is supposedly all-powerful and could never get weary.
Ravi holds his personal experience (a supposed visit from Jesus while he was hospitalized after a suicide attempt). A cursory examination of NDEs, OBEs and similar experiences reveals that the only religious experiences humans experience is based on the religions that they were raised in. Why don't we see Muslims visited by Buddha or Krishna? I do not doubt Ravi's sincerity when he recounts this, but as he concedes, that doesn't prove the existence of his god. I would bet my life that Ravi would not place the same credence that he places in his own experience that he would place on the personal experiences of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And besides, if his god is willing to reveal himself, it would be a simple matter to replicate such revelatory experiences for everyone on the planet. But we don't see this. It is very rare for adults who have been raised in religion to break free of the religion they were brought up in. Capital punishment for apostasy doesn't account for all of this, and the benefits of Christian missions and "charities" often do more harm than good. Myths and edicts about how to deal with "witches" have caused African villages to murder their children. The baggage that burdens Christianity and its teachings often end up doing more harm than good. And as for the bible, I found it quite telling that Zacharias does not mention whether or not he is a biblical literalist or whether some verses were not divinely inspired, in his view. And he doesn't even come close to explaining why we can trust the bible, since it was written by fallible humans, rehashed and manipulated depending on the era and translators. Perhaps simply thinks that the sheer quantity of obfuscation he spews forth will be enough to convince the reader.
He initially attempts to tackle arguments for the validity of theism over naturalism. He immediately falls flat at the starting gate by appealing to the sheer unlikeliness of life arising from random chance, and mentions monkeys randomly mashing keys until they produce the works of Shakespeare. According to him, the chances are too high for it to occur naturally during the alleged age of the universe. What he doesn't realise is that incredibly unlikely things occur every day - every person, every sperm and egg combination, is one in several hundred million. Add the chances of our parents meeting, and the thousands of human generations throughout our 200,000-year history, and the odds are far more unlikely than the "astronomical" odds Ravi mentions.
He also rails against secularism and "relativism", although situational ethics would be a better descriptor for what he is decrying here. Moral differences generally stem from the plurality of upbringings and the lack of complete information available or willing to be considered by parties in a given situation. When information is more detailed and situations and players considered more deeply, concurrence towards a single moral outcome is more likely, no matter who is considering the issue. That is why, for example, support for the right to die has risen considerably in Western countries over the past few decades, even in countries that have a majority of Christians, such as Australia.
In attempting to bolster his case for the truth of Christianity, he mentions William Lane Craig. This is a feeble attempt. Anyone who has seen Craig debate should know that intellectual rigour is not his strong suit. The opposite, in fact. Craig has mentioned several times that if the evidence should go against Christianity and the "internal witness of the holy spirit", the latter should take precedence against the former. Such an apologist, who decries the scientific method as being based on "the shifting sands of evidence and argument" himself uses arguments, and has therefore undermined at least half of his own case. There is no such thing as "reasonable faith", and few demonstrate this better than Craig himself. Baseless claims such as "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" don't help him either. There's no evidence for Zeus, Thor or the Greek pantheon, and yet we don't see shills like Craig writing long-winded apologetics for them.
Ravi's chapter on prayer is the longest, and perhaps the worst. In this rambling, incoherent pile of flopped justifications, excuses and blame-shifting, Ravi redefines prayer, and what Jesus "really meant" when he said "knock, and the door shall be opened." Prayer isn't supposed to work "instantaneously or magically." Well, then why pray?! It would seem that Ravi doesn't seem to realise that he is making his god out to be a highly skilled huckster, by redefining his promises and covenants to suit himself.
In the final chapter, Ravi arrogantly assumes that anyone who has reached that point has understood that Christianity has not failed them, but people and/or institutions such as the church have. Well, all I have to say about this is that the actions of those who purport to act in god's name reflect either well or poorly on that deity, and any deity who would not clearly make his will and endorsements known to all is responsible for the impressions made by such believers (assuming, of course, that such a deity exists in the first place). Ravi attempts to gloss over the shortcomings of the CEO, using the employees as scapegoats. He rails against Islam and their mighty birth rate (implying that Christians must outbreed and out-brainwash them), and in a further act of incoherence and mental gymnastics, Ravi mentions the declining fish stocks worldwide. We cannot fix a perceived problem by making it worse. Woman's suffrage in the Muslim world is the only way to both stop the tide of Muslim takeover that he fears, and the scythe of overpopulation that will destroy us from within.
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