Friday, July 04, 2008


I recently read this interesting post 'The Apologist's First Question' from Ravi Zacharias (excerpted from his new book Beyond Opinion) on Slice of Infinity, It was quite a challenging read: "perhaps the greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel is not its inability to provide answers, but our failure to live it out". Ravi Zacharias told two stories from his experience:
I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He ... said something I have never forgotten: "If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?" His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the Gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.
After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, "My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all." He paused and then continued, "Do you know what she said?" Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. "She said, 'That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'"
Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor's case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, "There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.
He then goes on to make a few points about the spiritual character of the apologist:

The spiritual condition and character of the apologist are of immense importance. This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate call of everyone who wishes to do apologetics. [...] Likewise, we cannot simply vanquish the person in an attempt to rescue the message. The value of the person is an essential part of the message. This means the apologist's task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist's first question.
And therein lies quite a challenge.


  1. That Gypsy Smith quote is great. I found your blog while looking for "A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces," as I've taken a bit of interest in storytelling recently.

    I've also been reading some of C. S. Lewis's books on Christianity in an attempt to better understand my faith. I'm adding you to my reader, as it seems we're on a similar journeys.

  2. Thanks for your comment, I quite liked the Hero with a thousand faces .. quite an interesting read.

    I've found CS Lewis to be quite an encouraging, stimulating and challenging read.