Ravi Zacharias, the famed Christian apologist, has died today at the age of 74. Zacharaias had been battling sarcoma and died in his Atlanta home, according to CNN.com. He was a leading figure among Christian Apologists — a branch of Christian theology that defends Christian doctrines against objections.
During the beginnings of my journey with Christ I used to listen to Zacharias and his wonderful conversations with opponents of the faith. Zacharias always came off as thoughtful, well-spoken and loving as he defended the faith. He had a gentleness and tender-heartedness in the way he approached his apologetic ministry, something that is very sorely needed today. It was always a delight to hear him speak and he will be sorely missed among the elect. He is now with the Lord as we await the coming of Christ’s kingdom.
With the death of brother Zacharais, the question that we have to ask ourselves is where does apologetics fit in the Kingdom of God in this day and age, if it even fits at all? Ever since the rising of new atheism with critics such as Richard Dawkins, Chrisopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, there have been countless debates, books, articles, sermons, conversations, and overall battles to conform or prove scientifically and intellectually that everything the Bible says is true, God is real, and Christ rose from the dead.
The fact is, the Bible only ever addresses atheism once in the Bible with this simple passage in the Psalms.
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
This does not mean the person who says there is no God is ignorant, or unintelligent by any means. What it does say is that those who deny God’s existence are characterised by a sinful lifestyle. Those who don’t believe that God is real have a corrupt heart and their deeds are evil. Indeed, all of us at one point or another have denied God’s existence with our actions and words as no one does good. No one is good before a perfect and holy God. Paul also explains in the passages of Romans Chapter 1 that men, by their unrighteousness, suppress the truth about God, that God’s invisible attributes have been clearly perceived since the beginning. This isn’t just the complex nature of the universe and the cosmos, but also the matter of the human condition and what is good and what is evil. We do not honor God and become futile in our thinking, our sinful hearts were darkened. Now that Jesus Christ, the living word of God, died, was buried and rose again, we are without excuse. The true nature of God and the true nature of His love for us through his only begotten Son, Christ Jesus has been revealed to humanity.
It is sad seeing what many testimonies, many street preaching, and what many arguments with those who do not believe boil down to the question whether or not God exists or whether the resurrection happened, or if the Bible is true. As I matured into the faith I found myself switching off many of these debates and arguments as they were unfruitful. But I guess this is all a part of the capitalization of western christianity, as debates and books attacking atheism bring the mega bucks and monies for Christianity Inc. The sad fact is, these debates often draw crowds, draw eyeballs, and sell tickets and books.
Can a man be led to Christ by the Holy Spirit through apologetics? I guess it can happen. And so can a lot of things. But… To be honest, faith in God and faith in Jesus is a true gift from God. After all, Jesus said of Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, that this revelation by Peter was revealed to him by God. It all comes down to either you believe Jesus rose from the dead or not. It all comes down if you take the narrow path, that leads to life. Or the broad path, that leads to destruction. It all comes down if you decide to take the red pill and know the truth and live by that truth no matter how painful it is. Or take the blue pill, and live life blissfully ignorant of the coming destruction of both body and soul. You either believe the Bible. Or you don’t. If you can’t get past Genesis 1:1, then you cannot be helped. God will have to reveal the truth to you. This goes for every miracle, every passage and the resurrection of Christ himself. If you do not believe in any of it, you cannot be helped, God has to reveal the truth to you.
I believe the new millennial generation of preachers, elders, teachers and pastors of the gospel need to repent and analyze how we deal with the question of how to approach the atheistic unbeliever. We need to stop asking and answering the fruitless and unproductive questions of the 2000s and 2010s and start asking the real, deep, questions of the times. God being “real” is not up for debate, nor should any believer defend this fact. The fact is that we live in an increasingly evil and wicked generation. And as the evil grows and darkness descends upon the world, God’s word and the cross of Jesus Christ is shining brightly in the scourge of darkness. The time for debating is over. The time to proclaim the good news is now. The time to proclaim the coming of Christ’s kingdom is now. The time to preach Christ crucified and the resurrection of the dead, is now. The time to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins is now.
This is not a proclamation that apologetics is dead. In fact, it is needed and wanted and I believe there is a time and a place for everything, including apologetics. After all, Zacharais and his ministry has helped countless amounts of people and I do believe God almighty works through apologetics. What I am saying to my fellow millennials and the zoomers is we need to reanalyse and refocus what the real questions and problems of our lives are. Do atheists really need to be explained how God is real? Or do they have a deeper, more visceral heart problem and they need to hear the good news about God’s love to them through the cross of Christ? Do atheists need to hear the scholarly details about the legitimacy of the Bible? Or do they need to hear the naked truth about what the Bible says and what the Bible is trying to point out? It’s time to stop giving the pegan the microphone when street preaching and just start preaching the good news in general.
To end, I wish to share my favorite Ravi Zacharias moment…