Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

A Master Apologist Answers the Questioner

ravi zacharias master apologist answers questioner

The church sanctuary was standing room only—a standard condition when author and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias comes to share the word of God.

I reserved my ticket months ahead of time and got a sitter for the kids. My wife graciously allowed this long-deserved night together to be combined with “A Night with Dr. Ravi Zacharias” hosted by Highlands Church in Phoenix.

I had long been a fan of Dr. Zacharias and the work of his colleagues at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He was about to release his book Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, and his visit to Phoenix would become a catalyst for my own ministry efforts.
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Although I would never pass up an RZIM event, my motivation for attending that night was more specific:

I had a question.

The Question

It was a difficult question, and I knew that in order to come close to an answer I would need a man with extraordinary experience, wisdom, and grace. I would need Ravi Zacharias.

The online venue for submitting questions for the Q&A period was already closed out.

No!!! I’m already too late!

I would have to find another way to submit my question on the night of the event. We arrived to find herds of people funneling into the worship area set up for the presentation. I sought out anyone who looked like church staff and asked if I could somehow submit a question for the Q&A period, but I could not find the right person and the event was starting.

I sat down next to my beautiful wife who was still adjusting to my tie and blazer—something different from the Dress Blue Alphas she’s accustomed to on formal occasions. I furiously scribbled notes during his presentation and enjoyed every bit of the message.
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But I was mostly waiting to ask my question.

As he began to close, I became nervous. Microphones waited in the aisles for those lucky enough to interact with the powerful speaker.

How are they going to do this? Are they going to read the questions submitted online? Is there a line I can stand in?

I printed my question on an index card; it was too important to misstate.

Finally, Dr. Zacharias invited the audience to approach the microphones with questions. Being the courteous fellow that I am, I gave everyone else one full second to respond. Then I sprang from my seat and darted to the mic.

I was a standing in front of one of the world’s most respected Christian ambassadors. This was no time to panic. I went to the card.
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This was the heart of my question:

“What is the best way to share the Gospel with someone who claims that they are content with contradictions?”

The Answer

First, Dr. Zacharias answered the question:

“For a person to say, ‘I know that it is not coherent, and I’m willing to live with incoherence,’ is actually saying they don’t care about reason and meaning anymore. If reason and meaning are pointless, reasoning in a meaningful way with that person may also become a pointless exercise. . . Sooner or later, incoherence will come back to haunt everybody, in this generation or the next, and they’ll find out that incoherence does make a difference, and God will bring that moment in the individual’s life.”

But after he answered the heart of the question, he focused on the more important task of an apologist:

Ministering to the heart of the question-er

The Questioner

Dr. Zacharias left me with three encouraging suggestions for reaching that person:

  • Live your message, and show what a life of coherence actually looks like
  • Give them an opportunity to hear the words of Christ, but do not push too hard
  • Show them that they will have everything they have in the peace of their soul already, plus more. When you find Christ, you find the source of all peace and the source of all truth

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The question didn’t need an answer; I needed an answer.

This master apologist answered both.

The most important lesson for us to learn from question and answer sessions is to care more about the person than the question.

If you had one night with Dr. Zacharias, what would you ask?

Related Briefs

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

37 Replies

  1. arkenaten

    have a question for you , Jason.
    Why do you believe?

    1. Ark, An honest question which deserves an honest answer. I lived many years with a strictly secular worldview. But the more I asked difficult questions about life, the more I found the inability of naturalism to answer them. I decide do begin a search for truth with a commitment to follow it wherever it led. I delved into philosophy, theology, and books written by Christians, atheists, and other worldview apologists. The more I read Dawkins and others like him, it became apparent that their arguments lacked the depth required to address questions about first things. Other world views were full of contradictions. Only the Christian message was able to adequately answer questions about origins, meaning, morality, and destiny. On the experiential level, my life was fine without God. But it definitely felt like shades of grey. I cannot express to you how much better my life is after living a Christ-centred life. Subjective as personal testimony is, it cannot be discounted. I believe truth exists, and is knowable, and I believe anyone truly searching for it will find their answers in Christ. The fact is that we must all give an account for the person of Jesus. There are no good reasons to believe he was crazy or a liar. There are very good reasons to believe that he claimed he was God, and the very fact hat his message continues to give hope to billions around the globe is at least cause for intrigue. Although I was alive before learning about Christ, indeed I felt a little bit dead. He brings life to all those who would seek it with honesty and humility. Thank you for this important question.

      1. arkenaten

        You start off all right then toward the end meander down the fundamentalist past.
        The first question I would ask, is why were you searching? What made you feel the desperate need to ask these difficult questions?
        Life is, Jason.
        It’s a kick ass ride and one should enjoy it for what it is.

        And how on earth does Christianity or any religion answer the meaning of life?
        The meaning of death , maybe. It certainly offers some very inventive answers for when we kick the bucket…including Hell.

        Christianity is as full of contradictions as any of the world regions.
        More I would suspect, when one considers the number of sects…30,000 and climbing.
        Have you actually ,em>read the bible, Jason, rather than merely scanned it?

        Two of the foundation bricks of Christianity, the Virgin birth and the Resurrection cannot be reconciled without a complete suspension of critical thought.
        This is generally regarded as comparmentalism, something many religious people use to cope with cognitive dissonance.
        Many that cannot compartmentalize often deconvert when critical thought will not allow the superstition to take precedent.

        You pilot a multi-million dollar piece of technology. What do you think keeps it in the air( aside from your skill of course!)?

        Prayer? ”God’s” grace?

        It truly is a sad state of affairs to try to assimilate that one of such obvious intelligence as you suspends it all for a nonsensical superstition; one that was cobbled together by the first century Catholic Church and a despotic Roman Emperor.
        Here’s something you will find interesting.
        It’s by Raymond E Brown , a highly respected Catholic Theologian.
        Read it all. It is really worth while.
        http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christian_Credibility.htm

        1. For me it was my family. Once I became a father, I realized that I would be unable to give my children good answers to life’s biggest questions, and we owe our children more than “figure it out for yourself.” One day we may be called to give hope to others. On naturalism, there can be no hope because life is ultimately meaningless; however, if it is possible for there to be ultimate meaning after death (in eternity), then what follows is in alignment with what we intuitively know to be true: life does have meaning.

          You may have a bit of cognitive dissonance from a melancholy fighter pilot’s faith. I encourage you to investigate it further. It is not about wishful thinking, and it’s not about acquiescing to fundamentalist religious indoctrination.

          It is simply about examining all the possibilities and accepting the best explanation. Part of that process requires filtering out emotionally charged statements and arguments based on presuppositions the expositor has no desire to see challenged.

          But those who are truly in search of truth will continue to seek it.

          1. arkenaten

            On naturalism, there can be no hope because life is ultimately meaningless;

            Really? I suspect what you actually mean by this is that
            you aren’t prepared to accept that death is just that , death, that you want to have something after you exit this life?

            Now this is an indication that you place less than a full quota of value in the life you have, that somehow you are banking on there being an eternity of …something, once you are lowered in to the ground.
            Based on what, Jason? The bible? Oh my goodness. If this is the case then you really need to do a secular course in bible studies and critical thinking before you place all your chips on that square.
            This is writing cheques with you mouth that ultimately your body will not be able to cash.
            This is faith, for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
            That you have been indoctrinated to believe that materialism, naturalism or whatever spin you wish to put on it is meaningless is the gravest indictment of Christianity that you can imagine.

          2. Enjoying our conversation. Going to give it some breathing room to see if anyone else would like to join in.

          3. arkenaten

            Smile…no problem.

            Though I’ll leave you with this thought.
            If you can accept that the Pentateuch is fiction how can you believe that Jesus of Nazareth walked on water?
            But if you consider the Pentateuch is fact then you must consider yourself as fundamentalist and now you are faced with explaining the claim of biblical inerrancy.

            I don’t envy you this task, especially explaining to your children.

          4. Ark, You’ve given me something to think about, so I should be so kind and provide you the same. Antony Flew, one of the world’s most famous atheists, wrote a book in his old age titled There Is a God. He does not proclaim to accept Christianity, but after all his studies (and extremely critical thought), he could no longer rationally accept the non-existence of what many call “God.” Here is a quote from his book: “As I see it, five phenomena are evident in our immediate experience that can only be explained in terms of the existence of God. These are, first, the rationality implicit in all our experience of the physical world; second, life, the capacity to act autonomously; third, consciousness, the ability to be aware; fourth, conceptual thought, the power of articulating and understanding meaningful symbols such as are embedded in language; and, fifth, the human self, the ‘center’ of consciousness, thought, and action.” These are the things inexplainable by science alone. If you read this book, you will understand how people can come to these conclusions; and it is not by a lack of critical thought or through manipulation by fundamentalist whackos. It is simply following reason, logic, experience, and truth to an inevitable conclusion. Rationality, autonomous life, consciousness, awareness, and conceptual though–If you have children, you too will have a difficult time explaining these realities via naturalism alone.

          5. arkenaten

            I am fully aware of who Anthony Flew was and his story, one of the Old Stalwarts , and I mean that literally as well as figuratively, that the religious like to haul out , mothballs and all, when the issue of god belief is raised.

            Have you fully investigated the circumstances surrounding this book? There is a fair amount of controversy about what he actually said and what was written down.

            You offer one very old man and a story steeped in controversy.
            How would you react to a dozen Christian deconvertees? Relatively young, healthy and fully compos mentis?
            Do you know what their detractors often fling at these people? Even family?
            “Oh, you were never a real Christian in the first place”, or similar.

            And for what its worth, a sudden belief or conviction that there is a god, does not in any way make this a claim for theism, and certainly not the god you worship either.

            I have a friend, also a blogger, who was a Christian and is now a deist. Would you like to read his story and why he realised the fallacious nature of the bible convinced him it was all man made?
            And we are talking full blown Christian with all the bells and whistles.
            Would you accept his story and become a deist?

            You must try to understand that what you believe is not based on evidence but exclusively on cultural indoctrination and faith ( also a product of the same indoctrination)
            Why do you think you are not Muslim or Hindu?

            Inexplicable things of science:

            You mean like how an aircraft stays aloft.
            How a muli- million dollar missile guidance system in said aircraft operates.
            How a Harrier Jump Jet functions without a runway.
            How the development of high tech flight suits are helping pilots overcome massive g-forces.

            Show me god in this….show me your god in this.

            As for explaining ”these things” to my children.
            I would say exactly the same as what the Wright Brothers might have said to their kids had they been asked about all the statements concerning aircraft I listed.

            “I don’t know”

            And in context, neither do you , Jason. The difference between us is that I would never, ever tell my children, ”Goddidit” based on the erroneous writings in a theologically motivated collection of ancient documents.

            And, quite frankly, I am surprised that you would mislead your children over such matters.

          6. maize

            What age are you?
            What kind of nonsensical thoughts do you have?

            “Inexplicable things of science:

            “You mean like how an aircraft stays aloft.

            “How a muli- million dollar missile guidance system in said aircraft operates.

            “How a Harrier Jump Jet functions without a runway.

            “How the development of high tech flight suits are helping pilots overcome massive g-forces.

            “Show me god in this….show me your god in this.”

            Show me how man figured out how to use and harness his discoveries. Show me what man discovered–discovered–discovered–not invented–discovered. Uncovered. Found existant. Used and copied what he found. Explain that.

            Frankly, I pity any child in your care.

          7. arkenaten

            Really? And why is that?

          8. maize

            What an interesting set of questions. They say a whole lot more about your ignorance than about what you are asking Jason to consider.

            You are aware that no where in the Pentateuch is it mentioned that Jesus of Nazareth walked on water.

            Is it Biblical inerrancy you question or your own inability to be correct.

          9. arkenaten

            Do you?

          10. arkenaten

            Let me expand on this for you.

            That there may well have been a 1st Century, escatological preacher called Yeshua running around Galilee is perfectly feasible. After all, Josephus mentions a couple.
            However, the miracle performing ,divine god-man biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is in all likelihood, a narrative construct. There is no evidence whatsoever for him.

          11. Ark, lumping Jesus in as just another person mentioned by Josephus fails to acknowledge the most unique thing about Jesus–and a quality not shared by any other serious prophet–he claimed to be God. Miraculous events are well documented, and dismissing them as mass hallucinations is more problematic than allowing of the possibility of the miraculous. Given that some of these amazing things things actually happening is the best explanation, a Divine character would also become a contender for the best explanation. I think “no evidence whatsoever” is a strong statement, considering that in light of evidence presented by archeology, cosmology, biology, and philosophy, concluding that Jesus of Nazareth is both God-man and creator of the universe is a more than reasonable explanation.
            I’m doing well, thank you 🙂

          12. arkenaten

            Sorry , Jason, the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth did not claim to be a god and in fact he emphatically denied it.

            Furthermore, it is crucial for a believer such as yourself to recognize and acknowledge there is not a single scrap of contemporary evidence for the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth.
            Also there is no archaeological evidence that concludes that the character Jesus of Nazareth even existed let alone is a god-man and creator!
            This, I am afraid is outright falsehood.

            Therefore, Christians only have the option of faith.

            And remember, faith is not evidence so one cannot claim any historicity for the unverified divine nature attached to the character portrayed in the gospels. None.

          13. maize

            “And remember, faith is not evidence . . .”

            On what basis are you engaging with a non existent entity named Maize?
            I can assure you that Maize does not exist.

          14. arkenaten

            And on what basis are you, a non-existent entity replying?
            Oh, that’s right. Because you are simply a non-entity.

          15. arkenaten

            I notice the comments by Maize have been deleted?
            That is disappointing. I hope he/she deleted them himself/herself
            I realise the comments may have transgressed your comment policy but I always feel it is important that such folk are allowed ”air time” as it gives others reading the thread the opportunity to challenge any or all of the assertions.

            By the way, I have just read the of the loss of your child. My sincerest condolences, to you and your wife.

            I had not realised, so I hope you did not think my ”I hope you are well” comment was in any way flippant or insensitive?
            Again, I am so sorry for your loss.
            Peace
            Ark.

          16. Thank you for the condolences. I took no offense.

            I didn’t notice Maizes comments were removed. I didn’t remove them.

          17. maize

            What a load of blather.

          18. arkenaten

            And you , Maize, come across as little more than a Troll.

        2. maize

          Obviously, to understand Fr. Raymond E. Brown one needs to know the history of the times: the traditions of the Jews and their holy days; the rules surrounding their holy days and how they were viewed by the Romans; the actual holy days of the Jews and the times of their pilgrimages and why; the fact that the geneologies are not both of Joseph etc; and that the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is about one person–Christ.
          An imprimatur (an okay to publish) and nihil obstat ( free of doctrinal or moral error mean that Raymond E. Brown is not attempting to write doctrine or to commit a moral error) certainly do not mean that anyone thinks that Brown is writing Church doctrine.
          Fr. Brown is simply a scholarly priest applying historical critical biblical scholarship to an ancient text and trying to reconstruct what he can from what he finds much like an archeologist would. Just as we know that archelogists make guesses with what they unearth in the pyramids, try to draw conclusions, are wrong, are criticized, are disagreed with by other archeologists, so it is with Fr. Raymond E. Brown. He was not the only historical biblical scholar and certainly many of the others disagreed with him and with each other.
          That you are simply clueless about the Gospels is apparent in the absence of knowledge revealed in your questions:

          (1) The Gospels teach that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. We are unclear, however, whether those appearances took place in Jerusalem or in the Galilee (or at both locales). According to our reading, the Galilean accounts seem to rule out prior Jerusalem appearances. Where did Jesus actually appear? If he appeared in Jerusalem, how should we read the Galilean accounts?
          A.) Both. read the Gospels.
          B.) No they don’t. Read the Gospels and the Acts.
          C.) At the tomb; in the room above; on the road to Emmaus; on the bank. Read the Gospel accounts.
          D.) Read the entire New Testament.

          2.)

          1. I appreciate your comments. Ark, are you still listening?…

          2. arkenaten

            Still here …

          3. I was a bit surprised to see you again, but then I remembered–mummies can lay around for thousands of years and then cause excitement when someone new discovers them. You’ve obviously struck a chord with one of my readers. If you continue to engage, please do so with more than summary labels or taunts. Two more years in your pyramid is plenty of time to think of intelligent and constructive ways to engage those people you disagree with. I don’t think crying “Fundamentalist” has the sting you might think it has, and it is far from checkmate. If you’re interested in an honest exploration of truth, then by all means stick around. If you’re looking for someone to poke a stick at, please look elsewhere.

          4. arkenaten

            I take it you are a fundamentalist?

  2. KJ Smith

    Can you tell me exactly what you mean by someone who is “content with contradictions”? I do know what that means but I suppose I don’t understand or have not heard that response (being content with contradictions) to the presentation of the Gospel. Would you mind elaborating?

    1. Many worldviews contain contradictions which cannot be reconciled. A very simple example is any worldview which denounces any form of judgment. Those who demand others refrain from being judgmental are being judgmental themselves. The same example can be applied to intolerance. Anyone who condemns the intolerant are being intolerant of the intolerant. Contradictions lead to circular reasoning and self-defeating claims. However, these kinds of contradictions are inescapable within some world views. Once they are pointed out, some people would rather continue living their life based on the philosophy, often because it “works for them.” They simply ignore the contradictions. The other option they have is to jettison the contradictor worldview in search for one which passes the tests of logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance in a non-contradictory way.

      1. KJ Smith

        Thank you for taking the time to explain. I very much like Dr. Zacharias’ encouragement for you in response to your question: live your message. I’ve heard so many people express that the Christians they know don’t practice what they preach. In other words, the actions of these Christians contradict their message. Unfortunately, I think that gives people another reason to remain content with their contradictory worldview.

        1. I think you are right on with your assessment. Too many people talking the talk, but not walking the walk. We could all use some work.

  3. Susan Irene Fox

    Jason, what an honor to have been in the audience and heard in person Ravi’s presentation. I thought your questions was interesting because as a believer, in light of Isaiah 55:8-9, I am content with some contradictions (although I’m not speaking of Biblical contradictions since apparent contradictions can be answered with reason and logic). I have learned however, that the closer I come to Him, the more He reveals to me and one by one, contradictions fall away. There are things I will never know until I meet Him face to face, and I must be content with that, for He is God and I am not.

  4. Sue Nash

    Jason, how awesome that you got to hear Ravi in person. What a wonderful question and response. He has always impressed me by how, no matter the question, Ravi shows such respect and love for the questioner. A fabulous apologist with a true servant’s heart.

    1. Indeed, it is hard to find a more eloquent speaker, and always full of substance.

  5. How exciting that you were able to pose a question to Ravi in person! Hmm… I’m not sure what I would ask, but I love listening to his Q&A sessions.

  6. rolerrol

    An audience with Zavi Zacharias… What an amazing privilege to have. I don’t know what I would ask him if I had the opportunity.
    A great post. And thank you for liking my post.
    Rolain

    1. It was quite a treat! Glad to find your site.