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Ravi Zacharias (born 26 March 1946) is an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist. A defender of traditional evangelicalism,[1][2] Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including the Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? in the category "theology and doctrine"[3] and Christian bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad[4] and The Grand Weaver.[5] 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 has been a visiting scholar at Ridley Hall, where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era. Zacharias held the chair in Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary from 1981 to 1984.[6] Evangelical Christian leader Chuck Colson referred to Zacharias as "the great apologist of our time."[7]

Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias.jpg
Zacharias in 2004
Born Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias
(1946-03-26) 26 March 1946 (age 71)
Madras, Madras Presidency, British India
Residence Atlanta, Georgia, US
Nationality Indian, Canadian, and American
Occupation Christian apologist, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Academic background
Alma mater Trinity International University
Academic work
Era 21st-century philosophy
School or tradition Christian philosophy
Main interests Philosophy of religion, Christian Apologetics, Worldview
Notable ideas Four Criteria for a Coherent Worldview


Early lifeEdit

Zacharias was born in Madras, India. He is descended from a woman of the Nambudiri Brahmin caste and a Christian man of the Boatman caste. His mother was from Madras (now Chennai) while his father was from Kerala. He grew up in Delhi.[8] According to Zacharias, before her marriage, Swiss German missionaries had spoken to his Brahmin ancestor about Christianity and she had converted and had been made an outcast by her Brahmin family and community. Zacharias grew up in a nominal Anglican household,[9] and says that he was an atheist until the age of 17 when he tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. While in the hospital, a local Christian worker brought him a Bible and told his mother to read to him from John 14. Zacharias says that it was John 14:19 that touched him and meant to him as the defining paradigm: "Because I live, you also will live." He said that he thought, "This may be my only hope: A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of Life." and that he committed his life to Christ praying, "Jesus if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth."[10] In 1966 Zacharias emigrated with his family to Canada, earning his undergraduate degree from the Ontario Bible College in 1972 (now Tyndale University College & Seminary) and his M.Div. from Trinity International University. In 1990 Mr. Zacharias did a 2-3 month sabbatical at Ridley Hall in the town of Cambridge. Zacharias has multiple honorary doctoral degrees.[6]


Ravi Zacharias talks to pastor Joe Coffey at Christ Community Chapel about answering objections to Christianity.

Zacharias spent the summer of 1971 in Vietnam, where he evangelized to the American soldiers, as well as imprisoned Viet Cong.[11] After graduating from the Ontario Bible College, he began an itinerant ministry with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (C&MA).[12] In 1974 the C&MA sent him to Cambodia, where he preached only a short time before its fall to the Khmer Rouge.[13] In 1977, after graduating from Trinity, Zacharias was commissioned by the C&MA to preach worldwide.[14]

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.[15] 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 to pursue his calling as a "classical evangelist in the arena of the intellectually resistant."[16] Today its headquarters is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and has offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Romania, Turkey, Austria, Spain, and South Africa.[17] He was later ordained by the Christian and Missionary Alliance and commissioned as an international evangelist.[16]

In 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Zacharias was invited to speak in Moscow.[clarification needed] While there he spoke to students at the Lenin Military Academy as well as political leaders at the Center for Geopolitical Strategy.[18] This was the first of many evangelism opportunities towards the political world. Future events included an invitation to Bogota, Colombia in 1993,[clarification needed] where he spoke to the judiciary committee on the importance of having a solid moral foundation.[19]

In 1990 he wrote his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism.[20] In 1993 Zacharias was invited[clarification needed] to speak at his first Veritas Forum at Harvard University,[21] and later that year was one of the keynote speakers at Urbana.[22] Zacharias continues to be a frequent guest at these forums,[23] both giving lectures and answering students in question and answer sessions at academic institutions such as the University of Georgia,[24] the University of Michigan,[25] and Penn State.[26]

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 dialogue between the camps.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29]

Zacharias is a frequent keynote lecturer within the evangelical community at events such as the Future of Truth conference in 2004,[30] the National Religious Broadcasters' Convention and Exposition in 2005,[31] the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in 2006.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] He also participated in the ecumenical Together 16 meetings in July 2016, which Pope Francis addressed, describing the event as a valiant effort.[35][36][37]

Zacharias was interviewed in Focus on the Family's Truth Project. In November 2009, Zacharias signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration which affirms the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good.[38]

In 2014, Zacharias republished his book The Lamb and The Fuhrer, an imaginary conversation between Adolf Hitler, Jesus Christ and Dietrich Bonhoffer, as a graphic novel.[39] In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio appointed Zacharias to his pro-life “Dignity Of Life” advisory panel.[40]

In 2017, Zacharias was accused of exaggerating his academic credentials by atheist blogger Steve Baughman.[41][42][43]. He claims that Zacharias refers to himself in multiple articles and videos as a Dr, despite lacking a PhD qualification. He also disputes the veracity of Zacharias' purported teaching positions at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.[44][45] In a statement, Zacharias' Christian organization RZIM responded to Baughman's claims. It claimed that they had previously been unaware of any instances where Zacharias had been referred to as a 'Dr', and that any such reference was accidental.[46]


In May 1972, Zacharias married Margaret "Margie" Reynolds, whom he met at his church's youth group.[47] They have three children: Sarah, Naomi, and Nathan.


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 religion makes exclusive claims about truth, the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions.[48] He routinely speaks on the coherence of the Christian worldview,[49] saying that Christianity is capable of withstanding the toughest philosophical attacks.[50] Zacharias believes 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.[51] Zacharias' style of apologetic focuses predominantly on Christianity's answers to life's great existential questions,[52] with defense of God.



  1. ^ Enrichment Journal.
  2. ^ website.
  3. ^ "1995 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association. 1995. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  4. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, August 2002". Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association. August 2002. Archived from the original on 19 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  5. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, October 2007". Christian Booksellers Association and the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association. October 2007. Archived from the original on 19 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  6. ^ a b "Ravi Zacharias | RZIM". 
  7. ^ Staub, Dick (January 2004). "The Dick Staub Interview: Ravi Zacharias's Wonderful World". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  8. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 42–43.
  9. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 45.
  10. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 101–105.
  11. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 170.
  12. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 163.
  13. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 173.
  14. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 178.
  15. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 185.
  16. ^ a b Edward Plowman (March 1998). "Meet Ravi Zacharias". National and International Religion Report. Evangelicals Now. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  17. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 192–193.
  18. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 197–199.
  19. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 200–201.
  20. ^ Zacharias 2006, p. 203.
  21. ^ Zacharias 2006, pp. 205–206.
  22. ^ Zacharias, Ravi. "Jesus Christ Among Other Gods: Urbana 1993 Address". Archived from the original on 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  23. ^ "NEWS: Truth Makes a Comeback in University Settings". Christianity Today. 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. 
  24. ^ Parker, Pearman (2007-09-28). "Celebrated evangelist attracts thousands". The Red and Black Publishing Company Inc. Retrieved 2008-02-18. [permanent dead link]
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ Colella, Kristin (2005-02-17). "Author shares insight on faith". Daily Collegian online. Collegian Inc. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  27. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (2004-11-15). "Evangelical preaches at Salt Lake Tabernacle". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  28. ^ Chang, Pauline J. (2004-12-24). "Evangelical Defends Decision to Speak at Mormon Tabernacle". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  29. ^ Beverley, James A. (January 2005). "Evangelist in Brigham Young's Court". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  30. ^ 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. 
  31. ^ Chang, Pauline J. (2005-02-13). "Thousands Flock to Anaheim for Largest Christian Communications Convention". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  32. ^ Vu, Michelle (2007-03-02). "MissionFest Opens Asking 'What Does it Mean to be Human?'". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  33. ^ Key, Lindsay (2007-10-10). "Virginia Tech audience hears Christian speaker". The Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  34. ^ "National Day of Prayer Task Force - Dr. Ravi Zacharias Bio". National Day of Prayer Official Website. Archived from the original on 30 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  35. ^ "'Together 2016': July 16 D.C. event to see Evangelicals, Catholics forging 'historic unity' to 'pray for a reset for our nation'". Christianity Today. 2016-06-11. Archived from the original on 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  36. ^ "'Together 2016' Confirmed Speakers". Official website. Archived from the original on 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  37. ^ "Together 2016: Update from Washington, D.C." Ravi Zacharias' personal account. 2016-07-21. 
  38. ^ "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience". Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ Zacharias 2006.
  48. ^ Zacharias, Ravi (1997). Deliver Us From Evil. Nashville: Word. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-8499-3950-X. 
  49. ^ Duin, Julia (2003-07-04). "Christian worldview; Theologian-author Zacharias decries media double-standard". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  50. ^ "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. 
  51. ^ Zacharias, Ravi; Norman L. Geisler (2003). Is Your Church Ready?. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. ISBN 0-8499-3950-X. Retrieved 2008-03-17. [dead link]
  52. ^ For example: Zacharias, Ravi (1994). Can Man Live Without God. Dallas: Word Publishing. Introduction, page xvi. ISBN 0-8499-1173-7. 

Works citedEdit

  • Zacharias, Ravi (2006). Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-25915-0. 

External linksEdit