Ravi Zacharias (born 26 March 1946) is an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist. A defender of traditional evangelicalism, 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" and Christian bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. Zacharias is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and host of the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking. Zacharias held the chair in Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary from 1981 to 1984. Evangelical Christian leader and Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson referred to Zacharias as "the great apologist of our time."
Zacharias in 2004
|Born||Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias
26 March 1946
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|
|Alma mater||Trinity International University|
|School or tradition||Christian philosophy|
|Main interests||Philosophy of religion, Christian Apologetics, Worldview|
|Notable ideas||Four Criteria for a Coherent Worldview|
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. 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, 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." 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 he did a two to three month sabbatical at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, England. It is not part of Cambridge University. Zacharias has multiple honorary doctoral degrees.
Zacharias spent the summer of 1971 in Vietnam, where he evangelized to the American soldiers, as well as imprisoned Viet Cong. After graduating from the Ontario Bible College, he began an itinerant ministry with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (C&MA). 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 by the C&MA 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 to pursue his calling as a "classical evangelist in the arena of the intellectually resistant." 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. He was later ordained by the Christian and Missionary Alliance and commissioned as an international evangelist.
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. 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.
In 1990 he wrote his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. In 1993 Zacharias was invited[clarification needed] to speak at his first Veritas 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 dialogue 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. He also participated in the ecumenical Together 16 meetings in July 2016, which Pope Francis addressed, describing the event as a valiant effort.
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.
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. In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio appointed Zacharias to his pro-life “Dignity Of Life” advisory panel.
In 2017, Christianity Today reported accusations that Zacharias had exaggerated his academic credentials. Zacharias was alleged to have referred to himself in multiple articles and videos with the "Dr." prefix, despite lacking a PhD qualification. The veracity of Zacharias's purported teaching positions at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge was also questioned. In a statement, RZIM indicated that "[in] earlier years, 'Dr.' did appear before Ravi’s name in some of our materials, including on our website, which is an appropriate and acceptable practice with honorary doctorates. However, because this practice can be contentious in certain circles, we no longer use it." Christianity Today reported that Zacharias's online biography was edited following the accusations regarding his credentials.
Zacharias was also the subject of allegations of impropriety involving sexting and exchanging inappropriate emails with a Canadian ministry supporter, Lori Anne Thompson. Thompson released email exchanges in which Zacharias, in response to the disclosure of impropriety, appeared to threaten suicide. Christianity Today reported that Zacharias filed a RICO suit against Thompson in response to a demand letter containing explicit allegations against Zacharias. The case was settled in November 2017. In a December 3, 2017 statement, Zacharias said, "Let me state categorically that I never met [Thompson] alone, publicly or privately. The question is not whether I solicited or sent any illicit photos or messages to [her]—I did not, and there is no evidence to the contrary—but rather, whether I should have been a willing participant in any extended communication with a woman not my wife. The answer, I can unequivocally say, is no, and I fully accept responsibility." Zacharias added that he had been "absolutely faithful" to his wife Margie throughout their marriage, but acknowledged that he "failed to exercise wise caution and to protect [himself] from even the appearance of impropriety..." Zacharias declined to commit further on the original allegations, citing the terms of his non-disclosure agreement with Thompson. Ministry watchdog "Ministry Watch" concluded that these developments "[raised] legitimate questions about Zacharias' character and judgment."[better source needed]
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.
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. He routinely speaks on the coherence 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 the logic of the argument; the arts, to illustrate; and "kitchen table talk", to conclude and apply. Zacharias' style of apologetic focuses predominantly on Christianity's answers to life's great existential questions, with defense of God.
- A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism (1994, 2004) ISBN 0-8010-6511-9
- Can Man Live Without God? (1994, 1996) ISBN 0-8499-3943-7
- Deliver Us From Evil (1996, 1998) ISBN 0-8499-3950-X
- Cries of the Heart (1998, 2002) ISBN 0-8499-4387-6
- The Merchant and the Thief (1999) (Children’s) ISBN 0-7814-3296-0
- The Broken Promise (2000) (Children's) ISBN 0-7814-3451-3
- Jesus Among Other Gods (2000, 2002) ISBN 0-8499-4327-2
- Jesus Among Other Gods (Youth Edition) (2000) ISBN 0-8499-4217-9
- The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha (2001) ISBN 1-57673-854-X
- Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde (2002) ISBN 1-59052-014-9
- Light in the Shadow of Jihad: The Struggle For Truth (2002) ISBN 1-57673-989-9
- Recapture the Wonder (2003) ISBN 1-59145-276-7
- Is Your Church Ready?: Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life (2003) (Editor, with Norman Geisler) ISBN 0-310-25061-7
- Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith (2003) (General Editor, with Norman Geisler) ISBN 0-310-24710-1
- The Kingdom of the Cults (2003) (Editor) ISBN 0-7642-2821-8
- I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah: Moving From Romance to Lasting Love (2004) ISBN 0-8499-0822-1
- The Prince and the Prophet: Jesus Talks With Mohammed (Copyright 2004, to be released posthumously) ISBN 1-59052-319-9
- The Lamb and the Führer: Jesus Talks with Hitler (2005) ISBN 1-59052-394-6
- Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows (With R.S.B. Sawyer) (2006) ISBN 0-310-25915-0
- The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (2007) ISBN 0-310-26952-0
- Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (2008) ISBN 0-8499-1968-1
- The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (2008) ISBN 0-310-28251-9
- Is There Not a Cause (2008) (National Day of Prayer Feature Book) ISBN 978-1930107212 (Audio CD ISBN 978-1612560168)
- New Birth or Rebirth: Jesus Talks with Krishna (2008) ISBN 1-59052-725-9
- There is a Plan (2009) (excerpts from The Grand Weaver) ISBN 0-310-31849-1
- Has Christianity Failed You? (2010) ISBN 0-310-26955-5
- The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha (2010) ISBN 1-60142-318-7
- Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality (2012) ISBN 978-0-89296-319-5
- The Lamb and the Fuhrer--Graphic Novel (2014) ISBN 978-161328-137-6
- Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense (2014) ISBN 978-1-45554-970-2
- with Vince Vitale, Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Countercultural Claims of Christ (2017) ISBN 9781455569151
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- "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.
- "Ravi Zacharias | RZIM". rzim.org.
- Staub, Dick (January 2004). "The Dick Staub Interview: Ravi Zacharias's Wonderful World". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- Zacharias 2006, pp. 42–43.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 45.
- Zacharias 2006, pp. 101–105.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 170.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 163.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 173.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 178.
- Zacharias 2006, p. 185.
- Edward Plowman (March 1998). "Meet Ravi Zacharias". National and International Religion Report. Evangelicals Now. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Zacharias 2006, pp. 192–193.
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- Zacharias 2006, p. 203.
- Zacharias 2006, pp. 205–206.
- Zacharias, Ravi. "Jesus Christ Among Other Gods: Urbana 1993 Address". Archived from the original on 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- "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.
- Parker, Pearman (2007-09-28). "Celebrated evangelist attracts thousands". redandblack.com. The Red and Black Publishing Company Inc. Retrieved 2008-02-18.[permanent dead link]
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- 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. (January 2005). "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. Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. 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 30 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- "'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.
- "'Together 2016' Confirmed Speakers". Official website. Archived from the original on 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
- "Together 2016: Update from Washington, D.C." Ravi Zacharias' personal account. 2016-07-21.
- "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience". Demossnews.com. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "First Graphic Novel by Apologist Ravi Zacharias". Religion Press Release Services. Religion News Service. 18 June 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
- Gryboski, Michael (21 January 2016). "Rubio Forms 'Dignity of Life' Board Featuring Al Mohler, Ravi Zacharias". Christian Post. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
- Shellnutt, Kate; Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff (3 December 2017). "Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique". News & Reporting. Christianity Today. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
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- Zacharias 2006.
- Zacharias, Ravi (1997). Deliver Us From Evil. Nashville: Word. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-8499-3950-X.
- 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 0-8499-3950-X. Retrieved 2008-03-17.[dead link]
- For example: Zacharias, Ravi (1994). Can Man Live Without God. Dallas: Word Publishing. Introduction, page xvi. ISBN 0-8499-1173-7.