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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beyond Opinion: Living The Faith We Defend

I appreciate every time I have the chance to hear Ravi Zacharias teach on Moody Radio.  He makes you think and motivates you to search out truth and understanding for yourself.  So, I jumped at the opportunity to read his book Beyond Opinion from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  They gave me a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

First Peter 3:15 exhorts us to "set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect."

Dr. Zacharias and his colleagues in Beyond Opinion equip the reader to do just what that scripture says intellectually, spiritually and relationally.  In this work you get to hear from 12 other apologests besides Dr. Zacharias himself.  They cover the following topics:
  • Postmodern Challenges to the Bible
  • Challenges from Atheism
  • Challenges from Youth
  • Challenges from Islam
  • Challenges from Eastern Religions
  • Challenges from Science
  • Conversational Apologetics
  • Broader Cultural and Philosophical Challenges
  • Existential Challenges of Evil and Suffering
  • The Trinity as a Paradigm for Spiritual Transformation
  • Cross-Cultural Challenges
  • The Role of Doubt and Persecution in Spiritual Transformation
  • Idolatry, Denial, and Self-Deception:  Hearts on Pilgrimage
In the introduction to Beyond Opinion Dr. Zacharias says,
"We are fashioned by God to be thinking and emotional creatures.  The emotions should follow reason, and not the other way around."
In Beyond Opinion the reader is taught how to relate to the questioner and how to make sure that the answers are couched in a relevant context.  He explains that if apologetics is to be done effectively, it won't be the experts doing it; rather, it will be me and you connecting on a personal level with those that ask us for the reason for the hope that we have.

The book is 360 pages long and is not a book you will sit down and just read through easily.  However, the book is very well organized into three sections:
  • Part 1:  Giving an Answer. The reader will take a look at skeptics' and believers' difficult questions.  "We will suggest that we cannot begin to understand these questions until we ourselves have also wrestled with them intellectually and personally.
  • Part 2:  Internalizing the Questions and Answers.  In this section the reader takes a look at how one's answers must be internalized - the essential, lifelong process of spiritual transformation.
  • Part 3:  Living out the Answers.  The reader begins to understand the importance of living out the answers with the compassion for the lost and a passion for the gospel.  
Because there are multiple smaller chapters within each section, the reader can take a small portion at a time and not feel so overwhelmed with all the material.  This is how I approached the book and it was helpful in digesting such rich information.

I highly recommend this book.  It is one I will go back to often.  The book can be purchased at Amazon.com.


One last quote from Dr. Zacharias:
"I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out."

2 comments:

Mariel said...

sounds meaty, but worth the read. thanks for sharing this, jen!

jodi said...

Yeah, sounds like a great reference book. Definitely wish I had something like that last week when I got into a debate with my aunt who claims the bible is not to be taken literally and anyone who does so is "misguided". To her, the bible is symbolically written and therefore only those who understand symbolism actually know what it means. So much for the whole "come to me as little children..." hoopla, right? Can you tell I'm still irritated by this??? :)