Dr. Ravi Zacharias, an alumni of TIU, returns to TIU for another lecture and an update on his ministry – RZIM. He announces that Os Guinness and John Lennox have joined RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) as they further train 3 young phD’s coming out of prestigious universities in order to ensure the next generation is prepared in biblical apologetics. Three young phD’s coming on board at RZIM are experts in Islam, with one being expert in Sharia law (whom the House of Commons and the House of Lords are using as a consultant in the UK). RZIM’s North American base will be at Trinity International University (TIU) in Deerfield, Illinois (a short drive from Chicago). Dr. Zacharias aim is to develop as many young apologists as possible.
The first post modern building
Many years ago at an open forum at Ohio State University, with Alvin Plantinga and Hugh Ross, as this businessman was driving us to the venue, past a new building, he informed us that it was the Wexler center for the Arts. He informed us that Time magazine described it as the first post modern building. I asked him, “What is a post modern building?” He said, “The architect believed since life itself has no purpose or meaning, why should our buildings have any purpose and meaning. So he designed the building without any particular purpose in mind. There are stairways that go nowhere, there are shapes of rooms that are absolutely unusable.
People come to see this building but, it serves no particular purpose. When asked what I think I said, “I have only one question for the architect. Did he do that with the foundation as well?” Did he just do it whimsically? Or did he have to follow certain guidelines because the infrastructure can look magnificent, but, if the foundation doesn’t hold the whole thing will collapse and there’s no city council that I know that will allow you to do it on a whim, without having a purpose to sustain what you are putting above it. This is the backdrop to Dr. Zacharias’ lecture.
In the Scriptures we are reminded that if the foundations be destroyed, what should the righteous do? Last week I was in Belgium. What a scene in Europe and Belgium is at the helm of that. Fascinatingly, 25% of the population of the city of Brussels right now claims to be Muslim and the rest of them are of an anti theistic mind. You should have seen the questions. They were actually in a state of shock that you are presenting a defense for the existence of God. I had a 20-30 minute conversation with a doctoral student who was just astounded that I actually believed there was such a thing as a moral framework to reality. And you tend to say to yourself, “What foundation does this person use to really build his or her life upon? What is the point of reference from which they make their choices? Is every choice ad hoc? Do you just face the options of the day and determine at whim- this is the path I’m going to take, this is what I’m going to choose?”
Uploaded by tiuchannel on Feb 23, 2012
Solzhenitsyn: It is because we, have forgotten God
You know, the entire economic crisis today, globally, was built upon a false premise that you can borrow without necessarily having to be able to afford it. That you can keep printing an instrument of trust with nothing to really back it and you watch this implosion taking place globally and when you talk to political leadership and others in high office ….I’ll never forget the scene on television when Mr. Paulson was literally kneeling in front of Nancy Pelosi saying, “I beg you, please pass this bill or we’re finished… I am not an economist, I don’t understand all of these theories and I say to them, “How did we get here?” We wake up one morning and we find that the whole globe is in a financial mess.
There are some foundational issues about life itself and I often hark back and think about Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he gave his talk at Harvard, which wasn’t very welcomed. Here’s what he said in the midst of that talk, “The West is on the verge of collapse, created by its own hands. Between good and evil there is a unreconcilable contradiction. One cannot build one’s national life without regard for this distinction. We, the oppressed people of Russia watch with anguish the tragic and enfeeblement of Europe. We offer you the experience of our suffering. We would like you to accept it without having to pay the monstrous price of death and slavery that we have paid. This was somewhere in the 70′s. Solzhenitsyn would tell the story of his memories of his grandfather whose ideas as a child he didn’t quite understand. However, the one phrase his grandfather repeatedly said, “It’s because we have forgotten God”, stuck with him to old age. In his old age, when asked what has gone wrong in europe and the world, he said he would give the same answer his grandfather gave, “It is because we have forgotten God”.
There are foundational issues that this world has to cling to
One thing we have to give credit to Friedrich Nietzsche for is that he realized, when he popularized the phrase “God is dead”, that something ominously (was) ahead of us. Remember the metaphors he used? Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the horizon? Is there any up or down left? Will lanterns, now, not have to be lit in the morning? Poignant ideas. What he was really saying was that we have eroded distinctions. We have nothing by which to make our judgements. Then he said this, “What sacred games will we need to invent?”
Foundations that God has laid in Scriptures
Who gave us the power to do this and to remove the greatest belief that the world has ever held. When you open the Scriptures and see the foundations that God has laid. What is it that God wants of you? I present to you 4 dimensions that he wants to have to the foundation of your life :
1) The dimension of eternity defines existence.
To build your life on eternal values. To build your whole value system on that which is not merely temporal, but that which will outlast merely what time has to offer. However we define time, what it boils down to is really a calibration or measuring change. But, the sense of the eternal, of the awe inspiring vision of ultimate reality.
C.S.Lewis’s book Apologetics was actually launched form one word – “longing”. He saw the sense of longing. He talks about how sometimes when you listen to music, it throws you back into a memory years and years ago and it plants in your mind afresh a longing that you had. It’s for a city you never been to. It’s for an experience you never had and therefore commenting on that same sense of longing in his writing on heaven he says this, “In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves, even now I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I’m trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you, the secret that hurt so much that you take revenge on it by calling it names like “nostalgia” and “romanticism” and “adolescence”. The secret which also pierces with such sweetness that in very intimate conversation on a dimension of heaven when it becomes imminent we grow awkward and in effect laugh at ourselves. The secret we cannot hide and we cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of the name “heaven”.
That glimpse of the future, that glimpse of the eternal…When you understand eternity you define existence!
2) The dimension of morality defines essence.
Moral reasoning. The sense of ought. The sense of right. The sense of wrong. As long as there are men and women that are totally in the naturalistic framework, they try to do away with the causal argument, with the design argument. They only do it in the particular aspect to do with creation, but they will never do away with the causal argument in the laboratory. They will never do away with the design argument and try to express whenever they see intelligibility deposit intelligence. It is only in this cosmic scene of the world itself that they like to get rid of a causal connection and they’d like to get rid of a design connection. But, this keeps haunting them: the whole idea of a moral framework and that’s why maybe the Da Vinci Code and others come along because if you can push a hatpin into the heart of morality of Jesus Himself, then you’ve probably done away with the moral argument as far as the Christian world is concerned. They would have no problem finding moral duplicity if they went to the founders of the other religions, but, they want to live longer, so they don’t attack those. They will go for the Christ.
When you take the 10 commandments, what is it that is really summed up in that, in one word? Sacred. Sexuality is sacred. You remarriage is sacred. Your property is sacred. Your word is sacred. Your worship is sacred. Your time is sacred. That is what it was all about. Moses had to write 613 laws in order to try to rescue them from the one law that they broke in the day that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and became as God and redefined everything. It took about 613 laws and each one dying the death of a thousand qualifications because people end up justifying everything, by qualifying it. All it boils down to is that the human heart is desperately corrupt and the moral reasoning abused again and again.
3.) The dimension of accountability defines conscience
The dimension of accountability, whether in a vertical direction when your’e talking just about moral reasoning, right or wrong. I remember a 3 hour discussion with the leading Shiite Cleric Hussein in Damascus, after which he said, “Maybe it’s time for us in the Muslim world to stop asking “if” Jesus died on the cross and to start asking :why? And, as men like him are probably looking out of the window and seeing lives slaughtered in Syria, and men and women just mangled on the streets for political tyranny, all over again, I wonder whether he is thinking now, himself, as the cross for he answer for the evil that is in the heart of man. For forgiveness. For grace. For transformation.
For those of you studying here (TIU), no matter where you defend the faith, no matter where you present a defense of the Christian faith, never end without telling them about the cross. At the heart of the Gospel is precisely that message that your heart and my heart are desperately wicked and the son of man came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. To offer you and me that forgiveness and that grace and that cleansing and the imperative of transformation. This is at the heart of the Gospel message. Forgiveness is a gift, unearned. You and I are accountable before God, and there’s a cross offered for you and me for redemption and that daily reminder that, “but for His grace, we would be condemnable, also”.
4) The dimension of charity defines beneficence
It is very easy in our time to get angry with the opposition. You look at those who seek to eradicate what we believe and that anger wells up within you. You know, apologetics, if it’s not undergirded by love is really nothing more than a sword intended to decapitate the person in front of you. That’s not what apologetics is all about. It has to be undergirded by love. I love the way the Lord handled the woman at the well. So gently, so graciously so that she goes and says, “Come and see the One who knew everything I had done. Maybe Messiah has come.”
There is the gift of love in the Gospel and one of the main reasons the church suffers today, often, is that we have not even displayed that love to each other; let alone to the world. If we are going to win this it will be with the conquering, disarming love of Jesus Christ. Life is not gratuitous and purposeless. It is built on the foundation of an eternal God who revealed to us a moral law and reminded us of how we had fallen and would love to reach out to us again and bring us back to Himself.