What happened to philosophy?
Have all the thoughts been thunk?
I guess we’re tired
Of truth now mired
In apathetic funk
I ask these questions from time to time, but I ask them more frequently after hearing men like Dr. Ravi Zacharias.
Rightfully touted as the world’s most renown living Christian apologist, his recent visit to the Anchorage area included a presentation on Apologetics in the 21st Century. Each speaking event was booked solid and bookended by standing ovations from people visibly quenched by the eloquence of his truth-laden insights.
Dr. Zacharias and his team of apologists with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) travel the globe preaching the Gospel, serving the community, and defending the faith. Statesmen, dignitaries, and citizens alike come bringing questions and leave with transformation.
For some reason, their ears are opened, and their hearts are softened.
What is it about this man and his team that draws people near?
Of course, Dr. Zacharias has read the Bible, believes in God, and in his Son Jesus Christ. But so have many of us. What then, sets him apart?
Could it be that he’s doing something that we are not?
3 Radical Practices
When men like Dr. Zacharias speak, the words flow from a lifetime of reflection on life’s most important questions. The answers to these question form what can be described as a worldview and seek to explain origins, meaning, morality, and destiny.
The words flow from a heart that burns for the wicked and grieves for the lost.
To be sure, Dr. Zacharias has credentials enough to satisfy the most curious of challengers. But let me suggest that his influence is about much more than formal education. Surely, a fool can rise through the ranks of academia and gain a following.
Let me suggest a more simple theory: he’s doing what the Scriptures command all of us to do.
1. He Knows the Scriptures
I can say I have read the Bible, but that means very little. In grade school, I would assignments as fast as possible just for the satisfaction of being done. The task was complete, but purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the text—and more important, context—was left unfulfilled.
Saying you’ve read the Bible is like saying you believe in God. By itself, it is unremarkable.
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (NIV, James 2:19).
If you’re like me, you’re just not in the Bible as much as you should be. And until we are more than simply acquainted with Scripture, we are wise to follow those more intimate with its author.
2. He Lives the Scriptures
Still, it is one thing to know something. It is another to apply it to your life, to actually live by it.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control” (NIV, Galatians 5:22).
Would your closest friends and family describe this kind of fruit as falling from your tree? The Book of Matthew also says false prophets will be known by their fruit—a harvest with an entirely different taste.
3. He Shares the Scriptures in Truth and Love
Have you shared the Gospel with someone you know?
Be reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Sharing Biblical knowledge and commandments in their proper context is one of the most loving things you can do for your neighbor. And for those who insist on taking your love and calling it hate, we can only lament in the spirit of Isaiah in Chapter 5 verse 20:
“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter” (NIV).
What is the key to an effective apologetic in the 21st Century?
To paraphrase Dr. Zacharias, there are several requirements:
- We must have an apologetic that is not only heard, but seen.
- We must live a life that is beautiful.
- That beautiful life must be felt.
And in the midst of all that is happening, a person must have an encounter with Jesus Christ.
What does that encounter look like? I can’t tell you. But they will know it when they see it.
We must defend the Word of God. We must build strong churches. And above all, we must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
Maybe it’s not so radical to preach.
But have you tried putting it into practice?