Francis Steven Dokka on Ravi Zacharias Never Wanted to be the Best But He Wanted to Do His Best for God

Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias speaks to tens of thousands of young adults in Atlanta’s Philips Arena on Sunday, January 3, 2016. Students in Houston were able to watch Zacharias through livestream for the first time in Passion’s 19 year history. | (Courtesy of Passion Conference/Phil Sanders)

Ravi Zacharias, one of the greatest Christian apologists of our time, died Tuesday at the age of 74, following a battle with a rare form of cancer.

During my stint as a journalist with Bangalore Mirror, I got to interview Zacharias in December 2012, when he came to Bangalore to deliver a talk on Christmas.

Ravi — who was compared to Christian apologetics titan C. S. Lewis and authored many Christian books, including the Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? — came across as a very humble person. He said, “To the best of my ability, I attempt to serve God. I have never wanted to be the best. I have wanted to do my best for God.”

He spoke his mind in an interview ranging from the prosperity doctrine to how he prepares to preach.

Excerpts:

As a leading Christian thinker, what do you think are the challenges facing the world today?

Cumulative wisdom is unable to meet the daunting challenges of our time. Biblical leadership is all I see here. We really don’t have any answers. So we swing from one extreme to another.

When I spoke at a breakfast meeting at the United Nations this year — my third time there — in private, many world leaders will tell you that they really don’t believe there are political answers to the world’s problems. The real challenge they face is how to go public with their own spiritual hunger. They must realize the moral imperatives of the Christian faith are important for societies to survive.

How would you respond to someone who asks you, “Why is Jesus Christ the only way? Why not Islam or any other religion?”

I would ask that person a very simple question: Is truth by definition exclusive or all inclusive? Truth by definition is an affirmation of a fact, the contrary position of which is denied.

It is a false question to think that only the Christian faith propositions exclusivity. All faiths proposition exclusivity. If you ask a Muslim scholar what is the final authority, he will tell you it’s the Koran. If you ask a Hindu scholar, he will tell you it is the Vedas. If you ask him what the ultimate non-negotiables are, he will say karma and reincarnation. Now, exclusivity is intransient to truth.

The question is, does the Christian faith stand up to the test of truth? That is what he should ask. And I find the message of Jesus — not just talking about the exclusivity of truth — brings relevance, hope and love. The last words of Jesus on the cross were, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Love and grace are at the core of what we need. This world needs a savior, and I believe in Jesus we find that savior.

If people react angrily to my answer, then I have to ask them, “What is your worldview that allows you to legitimately get so angry at an answer or to not in seriousness or sincerity pursue it? If you have an issue with my answer, let us discuss it.” Just to take a broad idea or logic and reject the whole thing is simply not in keeping with our fundamental laws of rationality.

What would you say to an atheist who says if God were a CEO of a company, he should be fired?

I would ask him, “Why?” And I know what he would say. He would probably give you a moral analysis of what is going on in the world. But the atheist does not have a right to a moral absolute he has already denied. So what is the moral absolute on which he bases his statement? He has to either justify moral reasoning or surrender moral reasoning. He cannot justify moral reasoning in a natural framework. Pragmatically, it may work.

But there is no rationally compelling reason why I should be moral. And if he denies the existence of God what moral framework is he using to judge God? Basically, he has his feet firmly planted in mid-air. So the problem has not been solved. God has to be in the paradigm for it to be resolved.

I would also ask the atheist a very simple question. Can you show me in your scientific world or naturalistic framework how a non-moral being with an amoral process brings about a moral framework? Can you tell me how consciousness can come from non-consciousness? Can you tell me how something can come from nothing? That quantum vacuum is not nothing. We know that they just try to tell you that within that framework there are all the primordial beginnings — the capacity for design.

The process of design is a legitimate debate. But the fact of a designer cannot be debated. You may as well tell me the dictionary came about from an explosion in a printing press. The astronomers say that the possibility of this universe happening by accident is infinitely greater than one of a jumbo jet developing because of a storm going through a junkyard. Think of the mathematical improbability of that happening.

So what do people like scientist Francis Crick say? They propose Panspermia theory which says that a spaceship brought some spores from another planet to seed the earth. And they accuse the Christian of having faith.

With that kind of a starting point, one of my professors of philosophy at postgraduate school used to say, “A naturalist is better at smelling rotten eggs than at laying good ones.”

What are your thoughts when people call you the C. S. Lewis of our times?

I feel bad for C. S. Lewis when anybody gets compared to him. How do you compare someone who lived two generations ago? Next year will be his 50th death anniversary. He was way ahead of his times. We are talking about his writings in the 50s and 60s — a brilliant combination of art, literature, philosophy and argument. He was unique. I think he was probably the greatest apologists in history. I am nowhere in the ranks of such a person. I live under no such illusion. People are very kind when they say things like that. If a speaker/writer takes any glorifying description of himself or herself seriously, it is the beginning of the end of their calling. I came through a life of successive failures. It’s only the grace of God that has opened doors and equipped me to do what I’m doing. I’m not in the ranks of giants like C. S. Lewis.

You keep coming to India often, where you have strong roots. You’ve seen India grow since the economic liberalization of the 90s. What do you think of India’s spiritual condition and its young generation?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Francis Steven Dokka