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Who was Ravi Zacharias?

Ravi Zacharias
Question: "Who was Ravi Zacharias?"

Ravi Zacharias was an influential speaker, writer, evangelist, and apologist. Born in India, Zacharias considered himself an atheist until a suicide attempt at age 17. While in the hospital, he encountered the Gospel of John, and he became a Christian. Over a period of nearly fifty years, he traveled and spoke worldwide in defense of the Christian faith. Zacharias also wrote numerous books and founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He was also well-known for his radio programs Just Thinking and Let My People Think.

A hallmark of Ravi Zacharias’s ministry was his emulation of 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” His ministry focused on the critical need for a Christian worldview, with special emphasis on how only biblical faith can provide suitable answers to the deepest questions of human existence. Among evangelists and apologists, Zacharias was noted for his approachable style and ability to confront without being confrontational.

Among the more celebrated books written by Ravi Zacharias are Can Man Live Without God?, Jesus Among Other Gods, The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists, and Has Christianity Failed You? He also co-authored a well-received series of books imagining conversations between Jesus and other major figures of world religion and history such as Buddha, Muhammad, Adolf Hitler, and Oscar Wilde. Thanks to the impact of his speaking, radio, and writing ministries, as well as the training and humanitarian efforts of RZIM, Zacharias has been described as one of the most influential Christian figures of the twentieth century.

As with any long-standing public figure, Ravi Zacharias’s career also experienced moments of controversy. His use of the honorific “Doctor,” based on conferred rather than earned titles, was criticized by some in the academic community. In response, Zacharias largely removed such references from his materials. A 2004 invitation to speak at the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City resulted in complaints from some evangelicals who felt Zacharias did not use the opportunity to aggressively counter the false doctrines of the LDS. He responded with his view that open hostility would not have been a productive use of that unique chance to speak truth to an LDS audience. For more information on concerns that were raised about Ravi Zacharias, ChristianityToday.com has a detailed article.

The following quote is perhaps the best example of the ministry of Ravi Zacharias. In response to being asked by a student, “How can there be a God when there is so much evil in this world?” Ravi Zacharias responded, “When you say there’s too much evil in this world you assume there’s good. When you assume there’s good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that’s Who you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s no moral Law Giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is your question?”

Zacharias died of cancer in 2020 at the age of 74.

Recommended Resource: The Ravi Zacharias store at Christianbook.com

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