Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias (born 1946) is an Indian-born, Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, host of the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking, and visiting professor at Wycliffe Hall of Oxford, where he teaches apologetics and evangelism. 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. Commentator Chuck Colson referred to Zacharias as “the great apologist of our time.”
Zacharias was born in Madras, India. Zacharias descended from a line of Hindu priests (of the Nambudiri Brahmin caste). Missionaries spoke to one of his ancestors about Christianity and thereafter the family was converted and the family name was changed from Nambudiri to Zacharias. Zacharias grew up in a nominal Anglican household, and he himself was an atheist until the age of 17, when he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. While in the hospital, a local Christian worker brought him a Bible and instructed his mother to read to him out of John 14. Zacharias says that it was John 14:19 that touched him and caused him to commit his life to Christ.
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. They have three children, Sarah, Naomi and Nathan. 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.”
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 began 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 evangelists’ 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 is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and has offices in Canada, England, India, Singaporeand 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 Cupitt. He also wrote his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. In 1993 Zacharias was invited to speak at his firstVeritas Forum at Harvard University, and later that year was one of the keynote speakers at Urbana. Zacharias continues to be a frequent guest at these forums, both giving lectures and answering students in question and answer sessions at academic institutions such as the University of Georgia, the University of Michigan, and Penn State.
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 him for a series of messages. 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.
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. 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.
Zacharias is a frequent keynote lecturer within the evangelical community at events such as the Future of Truth conference in 2004, the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention and Exposition in 2005, the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in 2006. 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. 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.
Zacharias was interviewed in Focus on the Family’s Truth Project. In November 2009, Zacharias signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox to engage in civil disobedience with regard to laws which the declaration claims would force them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage or other matters that go against their religious consciences.
Zacharias states that a coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning of life, morality and destiny. He says that while every major religionmakes exclusive claims about truth, the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions. He routinely speaks on the coherency of the Christian worldview,saying that Christianity is capable of withstanding the toughest philosophical attacks. Zacharias believes that the apologist must argue from three levels: the theoretical, to line up thelogic of the argument; the arts, to illustrate; and “kitchen table talk”, to conclude and apply.
Zacharias’s style of apologetic focuses predominantly on Christianity’s answers to life’s great existential questions, with logical and scientifically inclined defense of God. In some discussion Zacharias appropriates to scientific matters, he answers 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 believes that evolution is incompatible with the second law of thermodynamics, saying that the two areinconsistent and irreconcilable. This view is rejected by most in the scientific community and accepted by others.
- 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
- There is a Plan (2009) (excerpts from The Grand Weaver) ISBN 0310318491
- Has Christianity Failed You? (2010) ISBN 0310269555
- The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha (2010) ISBN 1601423187
- Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality (2012) ISBN 9780892963195
- ^ ”1995 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners”. Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association. 1995. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”Christian Bestsellers List, August 2002″. Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association. 2002-08. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”Christian Bestsellers List, October 2007″. Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association. 2007-10. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”Wycliffe Hall – Dr. Ravi Zacharias”. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”RZIM – About Ravi Zacharias”. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ Staub, Dick (January 2004). ”The Dick Staub Interview: Ravi Zacharias’s Wonderful World”. Christianity Today. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Zacharias, Ravi (2006). Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. In order of use: pages 42–43, 45, 101–105, 170, 163, 173, 178, 185, 192–193, 197–199, 200–201, 203, 205–206. ISBN 0310259150.
- ^ ”Ministry Watch – RZIM”. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ a b Edward Plowman (March 1998). ”Meet Ravi Zacharias”. National and International Religion Report. Evangelicals Now. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- ^ Zacharias, Ravi. ”Jesus Christ Among Other Gods: Urbana 1993 Address”. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”NEWS: Truth Makes a Comeback in University Settings”. Christianity Today Magazine 40 (1). January 1996. Retrieved 2008-02-18. “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.”
- ^ Parker, Pearman (2007-09-28). ”Celebrated evangelist attracts thousands”. redandblack.com (The Red and Black Publishing Company Inc.). Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Schwartz, Karen (2003-02-04). ”U. Michigan: U. Michigan speaker discusses American culture’s ties to religion.”. The America’s Intelligence Wire (Financial Times Ltd.). Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Colella, Kristin (2005-02-17). ”Author shares insight on faith”. Daily Collegian online (Collegian Inc.). Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Moore, Carrie A. (2004-11-15). ”Evangelical preaches at Salt Lake Tabernacle”. Deseret Morning News(deseretnews.com). Retrieved 2008-02-15.
- ^ Chang, Pauline J. (2004-12-24). ”Evangelical Defends Decision to Speak at Mormon Tabernacle”. The Christian Post (christianpost.com). Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- ^ Beverley, James A. (2005-01). ”Evangelist in Brigham Young’s Court”. Christianity Today(christianitytoday.com). Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- ^ Newswire, PR (2004-07-15). ”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.”. PR Newswire Association LLC. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Chang, Pauline J. (2005-02-13). ”Thousands Flock to Anaheim for Largest Christian Communications Convention”. The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Vu, Michelle (2007-03-02). ”MissionFest Opens Asking ‘What Does it Mean to be Human?’”. The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Key, Lindsay (2007-10-10). ”Virginia Tech audience hears Christian speaker”. The Roanoke Times(roanoke.com). Retrieved 2008-02-15.
- ^ ”National Day of Prayer Task Force – Dr. Ravi Zacharias Bio”. National Day of Prayer Official Website. Archived from the original on May 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- ^ ”Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience”. Demossnews.com. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
- ^ Zacharias, Ravi (1997). Deliver Us From Evil. Nashville: Word. pp. 219–220. ISBN 084993950X.
- ^ Duin, Julia (2003-07-04). ”Christian worldview; Theologian-author Zacharias decries media double-standard.”. The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ ”Ravi Zacharias: Defender of the FAITH; Alpharetta minister takes the Gospel to intellectuals.”. The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. 1997-03-01. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- ^ Zacharias, Ravi; Norman L. Geisler (2003). Is Your Church Ready?. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.ISBN 084993950X. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- ^ For example: Zacharias, Ravi (1994). Can Man Live Without God. Dallas: Word Publishing. Introduction, page xvi. ISBN 0849911737.
- ^ Zacharias, Ravi (2004). The Real Face of Atheism. Baker Books. pp. 45–47. ISBN 0801065119.
- ^ Robert N. Oerter (2006). ”Does Life On Earth Violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics”. physics.gmu.edu. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- ^ Henry Morris. ”Does Entropy Contradict Evolution?”.icr.org. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
- Ravi Zacharias Radio Broadcasts Just Thinking and Let My People Think