“Has Christianity Failed You?” A review of new book by Ravi Zacharias

I picked up this book as soon as I saw it. The title intrigued me, and I love Ravi Zacharias, the Indian Oxford graduate who travels as an itinerate speaker, apologist, and evangelist for Christ. Also, at several low points I’ve gotten the feeling that Christianity has failed me; and certainly many other people have left Christianity totally with some story of how inadequate this religion was in one way or another. Ravi’s aim is to discuss this question with just such people.

I liked the tone of the book. Ravi is both sympathetic to the straggler and uncompromising in his convictions. I found this commendable because it is not easy to strike that balance. It is easy to try to be so sympathetic that you compromise truth to make them feel better, but this doesn’t do anybody a favour. It is also easy to say with a hard-nose “this is how it is” without any sympathy.

My favorite chapters were the ones on who is Jesus, does prayer make any difference, and points of tension, which was about the tensions of life and how Christianity handles them. That chapter had a good sections on pain, loneliness, and sexuality. Ravi’s approach is to expound beautifully on what Christianity is, and how it answers our deepest needs.

On the negatives side, this is not a definitive defense of the Christian faith if that’s what your looking for. Ravi speaks in generalities rather than specific details, does not have much in the way of analytic argument, and tells many stories and illustrations, or “fluff” if you’re looking for carefully crafted, to-the-point arguments. But I don’t think that was Ravi’s intention. He is basically expounding on various aspects of the Christian faith in a way that is keen to the questions of disillusioned, yet open and sensitive people.

So, I think this book will only convince a certain kind of person. Someone who is already open-minded and has a keen sense of feeling, longing, and sensitivity; Who is doubting or has left the faith for emotional reasons.

It definitely made a surprising impression on me that is hard to describe. Ravi’s strengths as a communicator is to show the existential strengths of Christianity, and this book was him at his best in doing so. It’s worth a read!

Quotes:

“The skepticism about God arises from what we perceive as unanswered questions about life. But in spite of our skepticism, our hearts still beat with those persistent, unanswered longings, and in desperation or cynicism our minds continue to ponder the deep issues of our existence.” (p 27)

“Not only did he [Jesus] love every human being, especially the downtrodden; the core of his message is that he came to embody the rejection and suffering of every person who has ever lived.” (p 38).

“The language of lust and the language of love are much the same. Both say ‘I love you,’ but one says it for a night and the other for life.” (p 46)

“We resist pain because we think of the ‘now’ rather than of life’s ultimate purpose; Jesus endured pain in order to restore ultimate purpose to us and to our existence.” (p 110).

“To all the searches of men and women, boys and girls, kinds and emperors, cities and realms for another way to assuage their thirst for the eternal by any means other than what God has provided – digging their own streams or denying the existence of eternity or giving themselves full autonomy – the Lion of the tribe of Judah revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible says, ‘There is no other stream.'” (p 146).

“The paramount need in the church today and in the individual Christian is the indwelling presence of God.” (p 156).

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3 comments

  1. Trudi

    ya i will! the only other book ive read by him is I Isaac take thee rebecca. it was pretty neat.
    Ive been enjoying all your links you posted as well…well i havent read them all yet.

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