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DD: So it sounds like there are a few essential questions that every Christian ought to be able to answer. You mentioned the existence of God and the uniqueness of Christ
RZ: Very much so, Danielle, for two reasons. The first one talks about the existence of God in general terms, a theistic framework. We assume as Christians that God exists. But I was just in Paris talking to two leading French businessmen and neither of them thinks within a theistic framework. They were talking about the French elections, and somewhere in the conversation around the table somebody asked if they taught ethics or on anything spiritual. “Oh no, no we don’t deal with that at all,” they said. Then they talked about three candidates that were in the running for election and one of the businessmen—who was one of their students—said that the first candidate was addicted to alcohol, the second was addicted to women, and the third was addicted to corruption. These are their words! And so my wife, Margie, said, “Maybe they do need to start teaching something about spiritual values and ethics.”
Then something very strange happened. As we were having dinner, we looked out of the window into the Paris night sky and there was a beautiful streak of white across the dark clouds. The man sitting next to me, a leading businessman who is very well known in France, said, “Maybe there is a God.”
We need to recognize that without the theistic framework, this world will implode under the weight of our own addictions, principally to ourselves. So you move beyond the theistic framework to the Christian framework in the presentation of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about the presentation of Christendom nor in a sense of even Christianity. Rather, who is Jesus? What did He claim? Why it is that He is the one who is able to redeem the heart, transform our lives, and give us that new hunger that we so need to make life meaningful in this world?
DD:We’re talking about critical thinking skills, but of course we’re not dismissing the fact that it’s the Word of God that converts and changes people’s lives, transforming them.
RZ: Absolutely. I think that’s an important point to make: that really, critical thinking is to lay bare what is readily visible to reason, but it is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, says John 6, that draws us. We will never come to Him; transformation of the human heart is ultimately a spiritual thing. I saw that happen even on this trip with a man for whom family and friends have been praying for eleven years. He was hard-nosed tough. We were sitting on a sofa chatting on a yacht that they had chartered because they wanted to ask me their questions. He was talking about a broken relationship and how he went to the one with whom the relationship was broken and said, “I’d love to rebuild this if you would turn your back upon these other things that are drawing you away from the family.” He said the partner was hesitant and just put it in a corner.
And I kid you not: he suddenly just burst out into tears. A man in his fifties, he literally got on his knees and just sobbed and sobbed. For the first time, he saw that if we are to enjoy the love of God, we are going to enjoy it only when we deal with it within the framework that God has designed it to be enjoyed.
So critical thinking sounds like such an abstract thing but rightly applied leads us to the crises of reasoning in life apart from God. He is the transcendent point for reasoning, hope, meaning, and destiny. The Bible says, “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). God is a reasoning God, and He pleads and calls to show us that his way is the way that puts it back together. Our way is the way that destroys it.
DD:You’ve already alluded to some of the amazing opportunities that you’ve had recently to speak in the Middle East and with atheists in Europe. Would you tell us about your invitation from the sheik?
RZ: Iwas in Bahrain, Dubai, and then in Abu Dhabi. In Bahrain I was asked to speak on “Is Peace Possible?” and then in Abu Dhabi I was hosted by the sheikh who actually funded the whole event and came and sat in the front row. It was a phenomenal moment. In Bahrain, when I finished speaking on the possibility of peace, which I subtitled, “Our Way or God’s Way,” the brigadier from my table walked right up towards the platform as I stepped down and gave me a hug in his flowing robes. He said, “Please take this message to the rest of the world; we need it.” In Abu Dhabi, the sheikh, who is a member of the royal family, sat through my whole talk of 45 minutes on “Foundations for Living.” He also walked up to the platform, embraced me, kissed me on both sides of the face, and said, “I hope this is the beginning of a long friendship.” Then he had me visit their university the next day and to speak at their national library.
Here’s what I want to say: I have to be very careful. Sometimes I wish I could give the whole nine yards in the first setting; there’s nothing I’d want to do than that. But as Christian apologists, we take one step at a time. You have to earn the right to be heard. I did bring the gospel. I did present Jesus Christ. Would I have liked to have done more? Absolutely. I think the opportunity is coming as I’ve been invited back.
You open these doors very carefully because you know you’ve not opened them, God’s opened them, and you have to walk wisely. They have absolutely no doubt what I believe, why I believe it. So we have to know there are genuine seekers. Coming from India, I know exactly what all that means. I think even of Elisha in 2 Kings 5. When Naaman was healed of his leprosy, he asked Elisha, “What do I do now? When I go back and my master leans on my arm, by virtue of his weight on my arm I have to bow before the Temple of Rimmon.” Elisha didn’t tell him, “Do it” or “Don’t do it.” Elisha said, “Go in peace.” That is, “Go, and God will be with you.” I think it is interesting that he said essentially that at the right time, you will know exactly what to do and God will give you strength.
In the rest of the interview, Ravi shares some more of his experiences and encourages everyone, especially the Christian, to study Logic and Critical Thinking.