Ravi Zacharias


Ravi Zacharias

Infobox Person
name = Ravi Zacharias


birth_date=1946
birth_place=Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
nationality = Indian, Canadian and American
residence = Atlanta, Georgia, USA
occupation=Christian apologist, President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
religion=Christian
website=http://www.rzim.org

Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias (born 1946) is an Indian-born, Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist, and evangelist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner "Can Man Live Without God?" [cite web | title = 1995 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners | publisher = Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association | date = 1995 | url = http://www.ecpa.org/christianbookawards/gm1995.php | accessdate = 2008-07-05] and bestsellers "Light in the Shadow of Jihad" [cite web | title = Christian Bestsellers List, August 2002 | publisher = Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association | date = 2002-08 | url = http://www.ecpa.org/bestseller/bestseller0802.php | accessdate = 2008-07-05] and "The Grand Weaver". [cite web | title = Christian Bestsellers List, October 2007 | publisher = Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association| date = 2007-10 | url = http://www.ecpa.org/bestseller/bestseller1007.php | accessdate = 2008-07-05] He is also president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, host of the radio programs "Let My People Think" and "Just Thinking" (heard weekly and daily, respectively, on Christian stations across the U.S.), and visiting professor at Wycliffe Hall of Oxford, where he teaches apologetics and evangelism.cite web | title = Wycliffe Hall - Dr. Ravi Zacharias | url = http://www.wycliffehall.org.uk/content.asp?id=186 | accessdate = 2008-07-05] Previously, Zacharias studied as a visiting scholar at Cambridge University and held the chair in Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary from 1981 to 1984. [cite web | title = RZIM - About Ravi Zacharias | date = 2008-04-30 | url = http://www.rzim.org/ravi/ | accessdate = 2008-07-05]

Early life and family

Zacharias was born in Madras, India and converted to Christianity following a suicide attempt at the age of 17.cite web |url=http://www.e-n.org.uk/369-Meet-Ravi-Zacharias.htm |title=Meet Ravi Zacharias |accessdate=2008-03-04 |author=Edward Plowman |date=March 1998 |work=National and International Religion Report |publisher=Evangelicals Now] He immigrated with his family to Canada in 1966, earning his undergraduate degree from Ontario Bible College in 1972 (now Tyndale University College & Seminary) and his M. Div. from Trinity International University.

In May 1972 Zacharias married Margaret ("Margie") Reynolds, whom he met at his church's youth group.cite book |title=Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows |last=Zacharias |first=Ravi |year=2006 |publisher=Zondervan |location=Grand Rapids |isbn=0310259150 |pages=In order of use: pages 170, 163, 173, 178, 185, 192-193, 197-199, 200-201, 203, 205-206 ] They have three grown children, Sarah, Naomi and Nathan. [cite web | title = Ministry Watch - RZIM | date = 2008-05-12 | url = http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/F_FullRpt.asp?EIN=133200719 | accessdate = 2008-07-05]

He was later ordained by the Christian and Missionary Alliance and commissioned as an international evangelist. He founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in 1984 to pursue his calling as a "classical evangelist in the arena of the intellectually resistant."

Ministry

Zacharias was invited to spend the summer of 1971 in Vietnam, where he evangelized to the American soldiers, as well as to POWs and Viet Cong. After graduating from Ontario Bible College he became an itinerant ministry with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. In 1974 the C&MA sent him to Cambodia, where he preached only a short time before its fall to the Khmer Rouge. In 1977, after graduating from Trinity, Zacharias was commissioned to preach worldwide.

In 1983, Zacharias was invited to speak in Amsterdam at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's annual evangelist's conference. It was here that he first noticed a lack of ministry in the area of Christian apologetics. After Amsterdam Zacharias spent the summer evangelizing in India, where he continued to see the need for apologetics ministry, both to lead people to Christ and to train Christian leaders. In August 1984 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries was founded in Toronto, Canada. Today its headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia, and has offices in Canada, England, India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

In 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Zacharias was invited to speak in Moscow. While there he spoke to students at the Lenin Military Academy as well as political leaders at the Center for Geopolitical Strategy. This was the first of many evangelism opportunities towards the political world. Future events included an invitation to Bogota, Colombia in 1993, where he spoke to the judiciary committee on the importance of having a solid moral foundation.

Zacharias took a sabbatical in 1990 and spent part of that year as a visiting scholar at Cambridge University. There he heard lectures by men such as Stephen Hawking and studied under professors such as John Polkinghorne and Don Cuppitt. He also wrote his first book, "A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism."

In 1993 Zacharias was invited to speak at his first Veritas Forum at Harvard University, and later that year was one of the keynote speakers at Urbana. [cite web |url=http://www.urbana.org/_articles.cfm?RecordId=591 |title=Jesus Christ Among Other Gods: Urbana 1993 Address |author=Zacharias, Ravi| accessdate=2008-07-05] Zacharias continues to be a frequent guest at these forums, [cite journal |year=1996 |month=01 |title=NEWS: Truth Makes a Comeback in University Settings |journal=Christianity Today Magazine |volume=40 |issue=1 |url=http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1996/january8/6t1061.html |accessdate= 2008-02-18 |quote=While certain speakers such as Zacharias, sociologist Os Guinness, law professor Phillip Johnson, and philosopher Eleanor Stump have made repeat appearances, the actual presentation differs from school to school.] both giving lectures and answering students in question and answer sessions at academic institutions such as the University of Georgia, [cite news |first=Pearman |last=Parker |title=Celebrated evangelist attracts thousands |url=http://media.www.redandblack.com/media/storage/paper871/news/2007/09/28/News/Celebrated.Evangelist.Attracts.Thousands-2998652.shtml |work=redandblack.com |publisher=The Red and Black Publishing Company Inc. |date=2007-09-28 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] the University of Michigan, [cite news |first=Karen |last=Schwartz |title=U. Michigan: U. Michigan speaker discusses American culture's ties to religion. |url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-22303345_ITM |work=The America's Intelligence Wire |publisher=Financial Times Ltd. |date=2003-02-04 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] and Penn State. [cite news |first=Kristin |last=Colella |title=Author shares insight on faith |url=http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2005/02/02-17-05tdc/02-17-05dnews-06.asp |work=Daily Collegian online |publisher=Collegian Inc. |date=2005-02-17 |accessdate=2008-02-18]

Zacharias attracted media attention when in 2004 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) opened its signature pulpit at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to an outside evangelist for the first time in over a century (the last being Dwight L. Moody in 1871). Zacharias delivered a sermon on "Who Is the Truth? Defending Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth and The Life" to some 7,000 lay-persons and scholars from both LDS and Protestant camps in an initiatory move towards open dialog between the camps. [cite news |first=Carrie A. |last=Moore |title=Evangelical preaches at Salt Lake Tabernacle |url=http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595105580,00.html |work=Deseret Morning News |publisher=deseretnews.com |date=2004-11-15 |accessdate=2008-02-15 ]

Some evangelicals criticized Zacharias' decision not to use this opportunity to directly address the "deep and foundational" differences between the historic Christian faith and that of the LDS church. He responded by asserting that Christians should not immediately condemn Mormonism's theological differences but "graciously build one step at a time in communicating our faith with clarity and conviction". He said this is just as effective as showing someone the faults of their faith. [cite news |first=Pauline J. |last=Chang |title=Evangelical Defends Decision to Speak at Mormon Tabernacle|url=http://www.christianpost.com/article/20041228/7363_Evangelical_Defends_Decision_to_Speak_at_Mormon_Tabernacle.htm |work=The Christian Post|publisher=christianpost.com|date=2004-12-24|accessdate=2008-03-20 ] The speaking engagement was nearly sabotaged by a claim by event organizer Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, that Zacharias had nothing to do with editing the book "The Kingdom of the Cults" and had only loaned his name to the latest edition. Johnson later apologized for his comment. [cite news |first=James A. |last=Beverley |title=Evangelist in Brigham Young's Court |url=http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/january/2.20.html |work=Christianity Today |Publisher=christianitytoday.com |date=2005-01|accessdate=2008-03-20 ]

Zacharias is also a frequent keynote lecturer within the evangelical community at events such as the Future of Truth conference in 2004, [cite news |first=PR |last=Newswire |title= Future of Truth Conference Explores Biblical Realities, Exposes Theological Heresies to Present a More Convincing Picture of Truth in Today's Society; Conference Will Feature Trusted Theologians Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Phillip Johnson, Erwin Lutzer, Emir Caner and Frank Peretti at The Moody Church in Chicago. |url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-21985798_ITM |publisher=PR Newswire Association LLC |date=2004-07-15 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] the National Religious Broadcasters' Convention and Exposition in 2005, [cite news |first=Pauline J. |last=Chang |title=Thousands Flock to Anaheim for Largest Christian Communications Convention |url=http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050213/13287_Thousands_Flock_to_Anaheim_for_Largest_Christian_Communications_Convention.htm |work=The Christian Post |date=2005-02-13 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in 2006, [cite web |url=http://www.apologeticsindex.org/372-national-conference-on-christian-apologetics |title=(Past event) The National Conference on Christian Apologetics |accessdate=2008-02-18 |work=Apologetics Index ] and MissionFest Toronto in 2007. [cite news |first=Michelle |last= Vu |title=MissionFest Opens Asking 'What Does it Mean to be Human?' |url=http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070302/26103_MissionFest_Opens_Asking_'What_Does_it_Mean_to_be_Human%3F'.htm |work=The Christian Post |date=2007-03-02 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] On successive nights in October 2007, he addressed first the students and faculty of Virginia Tech, then the community of Blacksburg, Virginia, on the topic of evil and suffering in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. [cite news |first=Lindsay |last=Key |title=Virginia Tech audience hears Christian speaker |url=http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/135261 |work=The Roanoke Times |publisher=roanoke.com|date=2007-10-10 |accessdate=2008-02-15 ] In addition, Zacharias has represented the evangelical community at occasions such as the National Day of Prayer in Washington, DC, the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations, and the African Union Prayer Breakfast in Maputo, Mozambique, and was named honorary chairman of the 2008 National Day of Prayer task force.cite web | title = National Day of Prayer Task Force - Dr. Ravi Zacharias Bio | publisher = National Day of Prayer Official Website | url = http://www.ndptf.org/press_room/index_2269.cfm | accessdate = 2008-07-05]

Thought

Zacharias argues that a coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. He claims that while every major religion makes exclusive claims about truth, the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions. [cite book |title=Deliver Us From Evil |last=Zacharias |first=Ravi |year=1997 |publisher=Word |location=Nashville |isbn=084993950X |pages=219-220 ] He routinely speaks on the coherency of the Christian worldview, [cite news |first=Julia |last=Duin |title=Christian worldview; Theologian-author Zacharias decries media double-standard. |url=http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-3078820_ITM |work=The Washington Times |date=2003-07-04 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] claiming that Christianity is capable of withstanding the toughest philosophical attacks. [cite news |title=Ravi Zacharias: Defender of the FAITH; Alpharetta minister takes the Gospel to intellectuals. |url=http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AT&p_theme=at&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EADA2FFC6CF5BD0&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM |work=The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution |date=1997-03-01 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ] Zacharias asserts that the apologist must argue from three levels: the theoretical to line up the logic of the argument, the arts to illustrate, and "kitchen table talk" to conclude and apply. [cite book |title=Is Your Church Ready? |last=Zacharias |first=Ravi |coauthors=Norman L. Geisler |year=2003 |publisher=Zondervan |location=Grand Rapids |isbn=084993950X |url=http://www.rzim.org/resources/jttran.php?seqid=90 |accessdate=2008-03-17]

In particular, Zacharias' own style of apologetic focuses predominantly on Christianity's answers to life's great existential questions, [For example: cite book |title=Can Man Live Without God |last=Zacharias |first=Ravi |year=1994 |publisher=Word Publishing |location=Dallas |isbn=0849911737 |pages=Introduction, page xvi] rather than any scientifically inclined defense of God. What little discussion Zacharias does appropriate to scientific matters, he devotes to the question of human origin. He has voiced skepticism over what he believes to be inadequate empirical evidence in the fossil records for an honest endorsement of the theory of evolution. He also questions the claim that evolution is compatible with the second law of thermodynamics, believing the two to be irreconcilable and inconsistent. This stems from the belief that the second law of thermodynamics dictates that all material systems in the universe will, if left to their own devices, tend to disorder. This notion, says Zacharias, does not conform to the key tenets of evolution, which postulate a marked increase in the order of biological life. [cite book |title= The Real Face of Atheism |last=Zacharias |first=Ravi |year 2004 |Publisher=Baker Books |isbn=0801065119 |pages=45-47]

Works

*"A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism" (1994, 2004) ISBN 0801065119
*"Can Man Live Without God?" (1994, 1996) ISBN 0849939437
*"Deliver Us From Evil" (1996, 1998) ISBN 084993950X
*"Cries of the Heart" (1998, 2002) ISBN 0849943876
*"The Merchant and the Thief" (1999) (Children’s) ISBN 0781432960
*"The Broken Promise" (2000) (Children's) ISBN 0781434513
*"Jesus Among Other Gods" (2000, 2002) ISBN 0849943272
*"Jesus Among Other Gods (Youth Edition)" (2000) ISBN 0849942179
*"The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha" (2001) ISBN 157673854X
*"Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde" (2002) ISBN 1590520149
*"Light in the Shadow of Jihad: The Struggle For Truth" (2002) ISBN 1576739899
*"Recapture the Wonder" (2003) ISBN 1591452767
*"Is Your Church Ready?: Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life" (2003) (Editor, with Norman Geisler) ISBN 0310250617
*"Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith" (2003) (General Editor, with Norman Geisler) ISBN 0310247101
*"The Kingdom of the Cults" (2003) (Editor) ISBN 0764228218
*"I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah: Moving From Romance to Lasting Love" (2004) ISBN 0849908221
*"The Prince and the Prophet: Jesus Talks With Mohammed" (Copyright 2004, to be released posthumously) ISBN 1590523199
*"The Lamb and the Führer: Jesus Talks with Hitler" (2005) ISBN 1590523946
*"Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows" (With R.S.B. Sawyer) (2006) ISBN 0310259150
*"The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives" (2007) ISBN 0310269520
*"Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend" (2008) ISBN 0849919681
*"The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists" (2008) ISBN 0310282519
*"Is There Not a Cause" (2008) (National Day of Prayer Feature Book)
*"New Birth or Rebirth: Jesus Talks with Krishna" (2008) ISBN 1590527259
*" Kingdoms at War: Points of Tension Between Islam and Christianity" (Forthcoming, February 2009) ISBN 1590527267

References

External links

* [http://www.rzim.org/ Official website for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries]
* [http://www.rzim.org/USA/Resources/Listen/LetMyPeopleThink.aspx Let My People Think radio archives]
* [http://www.rzim.org/USA/Resources/Listen/JustThinking.aspx Just Thinking radio archives]
* [http://www.rzim.org/USA/Resources/Watch.aspx RZIM Video Archives]
* [http://www.e-n.org.uk/1998-03/369-Meet-Ravi-Zacharias.htm Evangelicals Now - March 1998 bio]
* [http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/januaryweb-only/1-12-22.0.html Christianity Today interview]


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