Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias

I was delighted with the premise of Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias. He writes, "I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out. Apologetics is seen before it is heard."

The book address three components of discipleship: Giving an Answer (addressing the questions of non-believers), Internalizing the Questions and Answers (spiritual transformation), and Living out the Answers. I have to admit I was hoping for more emphasis on the third component since that is what the title implies, but much of the text is given over to apologetics and thus requires a slow, careful reading.

Beyond Opinion covers everything from the authority of scripture, atheism, Islam, the "science vs. faith" dilema, to the importance of understanding the Trinity in order to defend one's faith.

The lack of trinitarian thinking and preaching has exacerbated the prevailing individualism of our culture and has brought it right into our Christian life and practice. If we do not think of God as a relational being in himself, we cannot appreciate the point that we are made to reflect his image in our relationships with one another. (p. 246)

The most helpful chapters to me were on Islam (written by Sam Soloman, a Muslim scholar who later converted to Christianity), Buddhism and Hinduism. I was fascinated by Stuart McAlister's story of imprisonment (for handing out Bibles in a communist country) and his subsequent realization that his theology of suffering was completely inadequate. Chapter 13 (Idolatry, Denial and Self-Deception) was more psychological and didn't quite seem to fit with the others, but every chapter had important ideas to mull over. I even highlighted many of the footnotes.

Great quotes:

The task of the apologist is plainly and simply to remove the doubts and point people to the cross.

Tossing a verbal grenade down the chimney chute will not do.

This is the age of therapy, the domination of market values, where looking good and feeling good replace being good and doing good - and most people don't know the difference.

Our role is to win the person, not the argument.


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