Monday, November 16, 2009

Ravi Zacharias - God's Prophet of Logic

The last time I heard Ravi Zacharias speak, I was riveted. Who Are You, God?, his sermon delivered at Calvary Church about a dozen years back, made the 45 minutes seem like less than 4.5.

Razi Zacharias is eloquent, verboise and strong. His mission is absolute/exclusive truth, absolute morality, absolute meaning. Zacharias' no.1 target is moral relativism, religious pluralism i.e. the idea that morality is entirely a private matter, that it's "up to us" to choose our beliefs. His main instrument is logic, the system of thought seeminlgy hard-wired into our thought-lives.

His chief tactic of demonstrating this is to throw the issue back to the questioner. For example:

1. "How can you say that your religion is the absolute, exclusive truth? Isn't this disrespectful of other religions?" (Response: All statements are necessarily exclusive. When you insist that "All religions are the same", are you not excluding those who DISAGREE with you?")

2. "How can you say that logic is an Either/Or affair? What about those worldviews in which logic is Both/And?" (Response: For these worldviews with a Both/And way of thinking, is it EITHER Both/And OR nothing else?)

3. "How can you believe in absolute truth? Aren't all truths relative?" (Response: Is that statement, "All truths are relative" also itself relative?)

4. "Who says life must be coherent? Can't people live incoherent lives?" (Response: Do you want my answer to you to be coherent or incoherent? This last one was a (relatively) new one I picked up from the Mp3.

It is not surprising that Ravi Zacharias is the model (almost) every young Christian thinker aspires towards. There are few occasions more scintillating in intellectual dialogue than to be able to demolish another's argument using the person's own explicitly stated premises or theses. Trust me I've had my share of such fun a long time ago (of course, problems arise if we get life from such occasions, as if every apologetics question is a chance yet again to use such intellectual judo).

Like Aristotle, who once said to someone who challenged the laws of logic, "I can prove you're wrong. Just say something.", Ravi Zacharias' intellectual ministry is securing this foundation of truth and using it as a platform to bring out the message of Jesus. In this endeavor, Zacharias is second to none.

He has made the "toughest questions" also the easiest to respond to, at least on a logical basis.

Perhaps Zacharias could consider moving on to the "other", less logically-oriented questions and issues. For whilst he has established there is no other answer to given set of questions, one sometimes wonders if apologetics all about the law of non-contradiction?

Must one establish absolute truth/meaning/morality before, or as a precondition to, one's sharing of the story of Jesus? The lectures sound great in a public forum but I get a feeling there's demonstrably less enthusiastic response if used in private. Do we really expect people to say, "Oh, yeah, I didn't realise I was being illogical?" to you?

And if a person remains reluctant to submit to the law of logic, can the law of Christ work via another less absolute route?


U-Liang said...

I've noticed something about Ravi. He always seems to close his eyes and look down at the stage (and not at the audience when he speaks).

Your photo shows it, and I saw a Youtube video of him doing it. He was preaching for at least 5 minutes, no pausing, just kept on going...and pointing his head at the floor. He only looked up when he delivered the 'punchline' so to speak.

But related to your post. I think Ravi's style suits the people he wants and whom he believes God wants him to minister to.

Unless he is led otherwise, I don't forsee him changing his 'modus operandi' anytime soon.

alwyn said...

yes he does tend to speak with eyes closed; plus he always like to recite poems, esp. "Tiger tiger in the night"