Ravi Zacharias is an author I cannot read without a highlighter pen in hand, and now I’ve taken up marking with the little sticky marking tab things.
Zacharias you see is a Christian apologist who packs so much wisdom in every paragraph he writes that at times it seems I must mark the entire page. But then why bother with highlighting.
An apologist, for those not not familiar with the term, is one who gives a defense of something, in this case Christianity. In no way is there any apology in the sense that the word is commonly used today, as being sorry for something that was wrong.
After reading (and marking) his book Jesus Among Other Gods, I thought it might be interesting just to write down those comments, phrases and sentences that really caught my attention, with maybe just a little commentary of my own once in awhile to explain why it caught my eye.
So here goes:
- We would do well to remember, however, what Augustine said: We are never to judge a philosophy by its abuse.
- Young dreams may be wild ones, but they are never corrected by ridiculing them. They must be steered by a loving voice that has earned the right to be heard, not one enforced by means of power.
- We resent the indictment purity brings.
- Truth is not only a matter of offense, in that it makes certain assertions. It is also a matter of defense, in that it must be able to make a cogent and sensible response to the counterpoints raised.
- Jesus is charging that the very motivation that impelled them to demand a sign revealed not only that they were not genuinely seeking the truth; their resistance to truth, though they were religious, made the hardened pagan look better than they. In other words, it was not the absence of a sign that troubled them. It was the message behind the signs that provoked their discomfort. If Jesus could sustain who He was, the ramifications for them were cataclysmic. Everything they pursued and owned, every vestige of inordinate power they enjoyed, was dependent on their being the determiners of other people’s destinies. Sometimes religion can be the greatest roadblock to true spirituality.
- From then on, all the way to His death on the cross at their hands, Jesus proved that it was not evidence they were looking for, but control of their enterprises, even at the cost of truth.
- I asked them a couple of questions. “If the Big Bang were indeed where it all began [which one can fairly well grant, at least to this point in science’s thinking], may I ask what preceded the Big Bang?” Their answer, which I had anticipated, was that the universe was shrunk down to a singularity.
I pursued “But isn’t it correct that a singularity as defined by science is a point at which all the laws of physics break down?”
”That is correct,” was the answer.
”Then, technically, your starting point is not scientific either.”
There as silence, and their expressions betrayed the scurrying mental searches for an escape hatch. But I had yet another question. …
- In losing the high value that God has placed on the body, we are in a free fall, at the mercy of greed, cruelty, and lust.
- The scourge of violence and vileness is the offspring of a mind that has lost respect for the body while the body has lost its sanctity.
- Ask yourself this question: What kind of a following would result if the sole reason for the affection towards the leader is that he provides his followers with bread? Both motives would be wrong – for the provider and the receiver. These are the terms of reward and punishment that are mercenarily tainted and have diminishing returns, at best engendering compliance, but not love. Their appeal, too, is soon lost when offered as enticements or when withheld to engender fears. Dependence without commitment will ever look for ways to break the stranglehold.
- There is an old adage that says you can give a hungry man a fish, or better still, you can teach him to fish. Jesus would add that you can teach a man to fish, but the most successful fisherman has hungers fish will not satisfy.
- Jesus did not only teach or expound His message. He was identical with His message. “In Him,” say the scriptures, “dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He did not just proclaim the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” He did not just show a way, He said, “I am the way.” He did not just open up vistas. He said, “I am the door.” “I am the Good Shepard.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the I AM.”
- Teaching at best beckons us to morality, but it is not in itself efficacious. Teaching is like a mirror. I can show you if your face is dirty, but the mirror will not wash your face.
- Our greatest hunger, as Jesus described it, is for a consummate relationship that combines the physical and the spiritual, that engenders both awe and love, and that is expressed in celebration and commitment.
- Do you see what has happened? The skeptic started by presenting a long list of horrific things, saying, “These are immoral, therefore there is no God.” But to raise these issues as moral issues is to assume a state of affairs that evolution cannot afford. There is just no way to arrive at a morally compelling ought, given the assumptions of naturalism. What then does the skeptic do? He denies objective moral values because to accept such a reality would be to allow for the possibility of God’s existence. He concludes then that there really isn’t such a thing as evil after all.
- (Speaking of Buddhism.) As a nontheistic path, it is a road strewn with kamma. It recognizes evil, and then, fatalistically, shuts its eyes to it, seeking escape.
In striking contrast, the Christian message recognizes the horror of evil and seeks to offer a morally justifiable reason for God to allow suffering.
- The God of the Bible reveals Himself as the Author of life and as the Being in whom all goodness dwells.
- God has a script. He has spoken of it in His Scriptures. Finding the script moves us closer to solving the mystery.
- Love can only be what it was meant to be when it is wedded first to the sacred.
- God conquers not in spite of the dark mystery of evil, but through it.
- Aristotle went so far as to say that justice was the cornerstone of all ethics. Why? Because justice is the handmaiden of truth, and when truth dies, justice is buried with it.
- It often happens that when the moral law protects the innocent, a ceremonial law is invoked to accomplish immoral ends. (Speaking of the conniving to accomplish the death of Jesus.)
- I am convinced that there are tens of thousands of students turned out of our universities whose minds have been trained to disbelieve in God, any contrary argument or evidence notwithstanding. (Zacharias speaks regularly at many universities, and I have heard him speak at Yale.)
- Jesus never came to establish a government upon the people by force. He did not even talk about political systems. He came to rule in the hearts of people, and not by the establishment of political power. He asks to live in you, not to control your state.” ( A conversation with a Communist general in the Soviet Union.)
- (Napoleon on Jesus)
Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for him. … I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all of these were men, and I am a man: none else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man. … I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me … but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. … Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, become an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
- In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith.
- … to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel.
- Sir Thomas More reminded them that the word of a person was only as good as he is. One’s word was one’s life.
- The story of Jesus of Nazareth could be succinctly told around the setting of four gardens. … to present some of the most convincing evidence of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in history and in the religions of the world.
There is so much intelligibility and specified complexity in this world that it seems willful and prejudiced to try to explain it away with no intelligence behind it. Can morality, personality, and reality be reasonably explained without a personal, moral first cause? How does one explain some of the features of a garden apart from their being a gardener? What kind of proof for a gardener will suffice anyway? What if the gardener did come and was seen and desires that our trust in his work not be dependent on only a direct sighting of him, because the essence of our relationship is not the constancy of sight and intervention, but the steadfastness of trust and sufficiency.
- I would liked to have asked Mr. Darrow (of Scopes Monkey Trial fame) to explain how the “Big Bang” came to confer on sexuality the enormous combination of intimacy, pleasure, consummation, conception, gestation, nurture, and supererogatory expressions of care and love.
Well, there you have it. Oh, by the way, here’s a brief description of the book contained in the fly leaf:
- Apologetics scholar and popular speaker Ravi Zacharias demonstrates the uniqueness of Jesus in a postmodern culture that has willingly embraced a multitude of religions.
- Jesus Among Other Gods provides answers to some of the most fundamental claims about Christianity, such as:
- Aren’t all religions fundamentally the same?
- Was Jesus who He claimed to be?
- Is the Christian claim to His uniqueness valid?
- Can one study the life of Christ and demonstrate conclusively that He was and is the way, the truth, and the life.