Ravi Zacharias and Friends

Apologetics Beyond the Pew: A Conversation with Ravi Zacharias and Friends
Source http://tiu.edu/ Carl F.H.Henry’s Center for Theological Understanding on April 12, 2010. This lecture was given before Ravi Zacharias’s trip to  Romania and Armenia (2010).

  • When you look back upon the landscape of  the last 25 years, or 30 years, there were voices, sounding forth at that time,  of the changes that were coming. I remember listening to Everett Coop and Francis Schaeffer in the 1980’s sounding the alarm of what were then being seen as the moral underpinnings from which extensions would be made and decisions would be made. Who would have ever thought that you would hear ethical theories that we now listen to from the voice of Peter Singer and others. Not just liberal in their thinking, but radically so. At the end of a spectrum of thought, where we not only do not know how to define human life, but, we define it in ways that could actually be stunning and shocking. And, once the shock value is gone they become common ideas and carried into ramifications.
  • We no longer can define what life is. We cannot define what sexuality is. We do not know how to define what marriage means. I remember when Chuck Colson had invited me and a few others to New York some months ago, from which emerged the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, I remember phoning my wife from New York and saying, „I never dreamed of the day when you would have a room full of men and women trying to define a thing like life, marriage, sexuality. Things that you thought would be self evident or that would have some input of the sacred…now totally desacrilized and almost defying any kind of definition or any kind of parameter. But people like Schaeffer warned us of this.
  • Zacharias lists 4 changes he believes have come about in the last 25-30 years:
  1. The popularization of the death of God of the atheistic mindset and the willingness (popularizations) to live with its ramifications a la Hitchens and Dawkins and Dennett and Harris who say what Huxley said, „I want this world not to have meaning because a meaningless world frees me to my own exploits of sexual and political freedom. (Hypocrisy is the charge that vice brings to virtue …deep in their own thinking they know some things are wrong)
  2. It is the third world’s attack upon Western ideas with the pantheistic and postmodern underpinnings to it that has actually made the ideas that shaped the West look juvenile and everything else that comes from abroad look very sophisticated. I have a question for people like that. „Why did you come to the West?” Because there were some moral assumptions that were a quest of the Judeo-Christian framework; even if you didn’t want to give credit to the world view  that framed them, you liked what you saw in the outworking. Do you know that the Chinese government has just commissioned writers to rewrite the history of missions in China because the leadership in China recognized that Missions has not been given a good and fair name? They want to acknowledge the benefit that Missions has done in the last century, principally in two arenas: in education and health and well being for the Chinese people. Think of this statement, „We take these truths to be self evident that we are all created equal…with inalienable rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Let me ask you this question, „Do you know of any other world view that would have framed that statement, other than the Judeo-Christian faith?” There are ideas in the Gospels that are not presented anywhere else. Take for example that no where else is there an offer of sacrifice, or of forgiveness,  such as the cross of Christ.
  3. The power to inform through the visual. We now take truth through the eye gate not through reason and so it comes through the back door of the imagination. We’re intended to see through the eye with the conscience. Most people see today with the eye, devoid of a conscience. We’ve got a visually conditioned culture. On the movie Avatar- brilliant in cinematography and now English movies are just beginning to resemble Hindi movies. That’s all it is. Bollywood was 30 yrs ahead on this kind of stuff and 30 yrs ago we would have sat and laughed at this kind of stuff and now it is so engaging. Isn’t it interesting? A Hollywood technocrat, who sees the military as the culprit for destroying lives has never bothered to ask how many souls and consciences Hollywood has destroyed.  We’ve got a generation raised with the visual that has never cerebrally addressed these issues of systemic contradiction.
  4. A youth oriented world as a culture molding point, which means the young ought to really be an audience to whom we speak and how we speak to them. The question is how we reach a generation that thinks with its eyes or listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? That’s the challenge.
  • I’ll give you 3 simple responses
  1. We are going to need an apologetic that is not merely heard, but is also seen. If the Christian life is not seen, it will become nothing more than theoretical.
  2. An apologetic that is not merely argued but that is also felt. You cannot have a persuasive preacher if the preacher is not coming through as being persuaded. woe be to me if I preach not the Gospel. Passions are very real, therefore the passion for the Gospel will also have to be real, if it is to appeal to a generation that lives so much with the pathos and the reality of the felt word.
  3. It is an approach that rescues not only the ends of bringing them into the knowledge of Christ, but the means where we do not compromise the Word in process. The Word has a lasting, abiding value as a carrier of truth.

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