Ravi Zacharias Writes Like C.S. Lewis ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ravi Zacharias Writes Like C.S. Lewis

One of my favorite contemporary authors, Ravi Zacharias, scored a quick review of his recent autobiography, Walking from East to West, from decorated scholar and apologist J.P. Moreland. Noting the narrative structure of the book, Moreland writes:
This is storytelling in the fashion of C. S. Lewis: rational argumentation expressed in narrative. Read Walking from East to West and give thanks for Zacharias and the God who resides in the shadows.

This book was already a must-read (waiting on my shelf with all the patience of a cagey intellectual), but the C.S. Lewis reference bumps it up to the category of must-read-within-two-months. If you're not familiar with Ravi's work, you're most definitely missing out. (Original link from Justin Taylor.)

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Ched said...

The writing style of Lewis and Zacharias make the content of their discussions so vibrant. Good stuff indeed!

Jamie said...

I've only read one of Zacharias's books (Jesus Among Other Gods), but I was a little disappointed in it. Though the book was interesting in some ways, I was looking for C.S. Lewis-style apologetics, and Zacharias's arguments seemed a little weak and only marginally compelling. I also heard him speak here in Atlanta and was very disappointed in that presentation.

I've heard such good things about him, though; maybe I just need to give him another chance.

Ariel said...

"I've only read one of Zacharias's books...but I was a little disappointed in it... I also heard him speak here in Atlanta and was very disappointed in that presentation."

Out, out, you heretic! Ah, not really. Actually, I think you're correct about Ravi's earlier books - they are definitely not on par with C.S. Lewis. I'd go so far as to say that writing is not Zacharias' strong point, perhaps because English is his second (or 3rd or 4th?) language. Thus I'm very interested in his autobiography, having heard Moreland make the comparison.

I find Zacharias' arguments very compelling, however. Extremely so. Keep in mind that he is not trying to build an iron-clad case to compel belief in God, but rather to eliminate (i.e. smash) opposing truth claims so that Christ is the last God-man standing. I think he excels at this.

As to what you say about hearing him live...maybe the acoustics were bad? Maybe you had something near-lethal for dinner? Maybe you were battling a cold? ;) When I heard him live here in KC, I found him incredibly moving and persuasive. But then, I tend to find his talks that way. Structurally excellent, intellectually rigorous, emotionally compelling.

Any others have good/bad experiences with Zacharias? By all means, Jamie, give him another chance.

colleen said...

I love Ravi Zacharias...everything from his sincerety, to his intelligence, to his accent. (:
My mom used to listen to him on the radio in the car when i would ride wiht her. It's been a while since i've heard him, and i've never read one of his books. I'll have to look into that...

tim said...

My experiences with Zacharias are similar to Jamie's. I listened (on tape) to a series of talks he did (think it was related to Jesus among other God's). Thought he was a good communicator but not too intellectually rigorous. I have a book of his on my shelf that I haven't read yet, Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure. Great title and brilliant juxtaposition (I am fascinated by Wilde), but I haven't read it yet due to my minor disillusionment with Zacharias (perhaps I should expect more?).

Ariel said...

"Thought he was a good communicator but not too intellectually rigorous."

Ravi's approach is to argue at the propositional level, illustrate at the level of the arts, and apply at the level of the practical. Given this approach, I'd grant that his talks are intended to be "popular" in a sense. But, also given that he routinely speaks at Harvard, Oxford, and the UN, apparently people find him intellectually convincing as well.

I'd be hard put to choose one of his books as a fav, but I particular liked The Lotus and the Cross, a conversation between Jesus and Buddha. Recapture the Wonder, while less of an apologetic work, is also excellent.

Jamie said...

Alright...this heretic is giving him an other chance. ;-) I bought Walking From East to West today, and I'm hoping to start it tonight. We'll see whether Ravi can redeem himself!

Anonymous said...

I think Ravi is an incredible communicator...no need to apologize by saying English is his second or third language. He speaks more elequantly and powerfully than most native speakers I know!

I have a deep love for his speaking and writing abilities because he is an expert at weaving intellectual ideas, cultural concepts, and matters of the heart together to demonstrate that Christ is supreme over all of life- there's no little dark corner of existence that Christ's person hasn't spoken into. Basically, Ravi doesn't allow you to dismiss Christ as irrelevant.

Plus, having listened to him and seen him live, I can say I have observed in him a spirit of humility and love which doesn't always go hand-in-hand with those as brilliant as he is!



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