ISSUE 6 AUTUMN 2010
THE ZACHARIAS TRUST MAGAZINE
How can I believe in God when there’s so much suffering? INSIDE THIS ISSUE...
A NEW home for all our team!
Get involved with Lausanne 2010
Isn’t the Bible sexist?
Z AC HA R IAS T RU ST
Welcome to the sixth
A new home for all our team!
Dates for your diary
How can I believe in God when there’s so much suffering?
Get involved with Lausanne 2010
issue of Pulse, the apologetics magazine published by our ministry. This includes all the latest information about the Zacharias Trust and the Oxford Centre for
Around the world
Isn’t the Bible sexist?
Christian Apologetics, as well as articles on evangelism and apologetics, details about training
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opportunities and much more.
Meet our Associates
l e a h c i m The past few months have been a very exciting time for the Zacharias Trust and the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. not only has its biggest intake of students so far, but a number of exciting new developments have occurred, including the move to a new premises (see page 2), the strengthening of the faculty with the appointment of Vince Vitale, and the gaining of accreditation for the course with Oxford University, through Wycliffe Hall’s new Certificate in Theological and Pastoral Studies (CTPS).
Back at the office, we received wonderful reports from one particular mission, led by one of our associates and some of the OCCA students, with over 300 people attending different events and talks, with the opportunity for many oneto-one conversations. Thirty people made commitments to Christ during the week.
The key reason cited by candidates for coming to the OCCA is that they desire to be trained by practising evangelists. This, of course, is at the heart of the Zacharias Trust – to help the believer think and the thinker believe. No wonder then, that the OCCA is becoming a natural training ground not only for leading ministries around the world, but also for RZIM, as we train more and more evangelist-apologists. Sharon Dirckx, our new Science Tutor, studied on the first one-year OCCA programme and both Grace Lee, RZIM’s Regional Director in Hong Kong and Onur Yos, the new apologist in Turkey, studied
It is six years since its birth and, in the past 12 months, the OCCA has really “come of age.” This has been a remarkable journey which is still unfolding in the palm of His hands. The Centre
on our one-year course. As Dr Ravi Zacharias states: “The OCCA is perhaps the greatest legacy RZIM will leave.” The OCCA’s role and sphere of influence is certainly expanding in an exciting way, helping to support the increasingly global role of the RZIM team at large. We have been blessed to see the Lord provide in so many ways this year; do join us in prayer as we move ahead. Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.
RZIM Zacharias Trust was founded in 1997 as the European office of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Our mandate is to engage people’s hearts and minds for Christ in an increasingly secular Europe. Working alongside the church, the Trust seeks to address the many objections and questions about Christianity so that lives can be transformed and renewed through the gospel message.
Amy, Tom, Sharon and other staff at the OCCA are increasingly utilising the emerging evangelists studying on the OCCA’s eight-week and one-year programmes to join them in a variety of outreach activities. Within the UK, we have had many opportunities to share the gospel with students, including missions in the universities of Southampton, Leicester, Oxford Brookes and St Andrew’s.
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r o f e m am! o h w e e t n r u A all o
We are pleased to announce that, this month (September), the Zacharias Trust is moving to new premises situated at 76 Banbury Road in North Oxford. Having operated from two different sites for the past few years (our head office at St Aldate’s and the OCCA in Norham Gardens), we are all delighted to be finally under one roof. The new building will house our speaking and administrative staff (both for the Zacharias Trust and
the OCCA) and it will also be used for hosting tutorials for the OCCA students (with the lectures still being given at Wycliffe Hall). We are also delighted to be joined in the building by Naomi Zacharias, who runs RZIM’s humanitarian charity, Wellspring International (“apologetics with a touch” – www. wellspringinternational.org), as well as Gordon Showell-Rogers of the World Evangelical Alliance (www.worldevangelicals.org). Finding a suitable property in the right location has proved to be quite a challenge and we are very thankful to be in situ before the new academic year begins. We would also like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have prayed
for us during what has turned out to be a protracted process of identifying and securing a new site. We really believe that this property represents an important part of our future plans and we hope that this base will enable our ministry to make a much greater impact for the kingdom. Our web and email addresses will remain unchanged, but please note that both our phone number and postal address have now changed to the following:
RZIM Zacharias Trust 76 Banbury Road, Oxford. OX2 6JT Tel: (01865) 302900
1 - 2 OCTOBER
OICCU Welcome, Oxford (John Lennox)
1 - 4 OCTOBER
Irish Evangelical Fellowship (Michael Green)
Proclamation Evangelism Forum, Birmingham (Michael Ramsden)
16 - 25 OCTOBER
Lausanne, Cape Town (Team) – see page 9 for further details
22 - 24 OCTOBER
Oxford Northwest Conference, Gig Harbour, USA (John Lennox)
29 - 31 OCTOBER
RZIM Founders Event, Florida (Team)
DNA Course, Dartford (Tom Price)
4 - 5 NOVEMBER
Trinity College, Bristol (Michael Ramsden)
10 - 14 NOVEMBER Washington, D.C. (Michael Ramsden) 20 NOVEMBER
SOLAS Centre for Public Christianity Launch Event, Dundee (Team)
Kingham Hill School, Oxon (Michael Ramsden)
Christchurch New Frontiers, Piccadilly Theatre (Amy Orr-Ewing)
Revive, Llandaff (John Lennox)
6 - 10 DECEMBER
Hong Kong (Amy Orr-Ewing)
Unspeakable, 2nd Annual Michael Green Lecture, London (Os Guinness)
4 - 8 JANUARY
UCCF Staff Conference, Shropshire (John Lennox)
10 - 13 JANUARY
OICCU Houseparty, Oxford (Michael Ramsden)
Doubt: Helping the thinker believe and the believer think, Zacharias Trust Training Day, Oxford (Team) – see page 8 for further details
25 - 27 JANUARY
Agape Conference, Slovenia (John Lennox)
14 - 18 FEBRUARY OICCU Event, Oxford (Michael Ramsden) 23 FEBRUARY
Open Forum, Atlanta (Michael Ramsden)
25 - 28 FEBRUARY Detroit (Michael Ramsden) 4 MARCH
Women Walking with God Conference, Edinburgh Church of Christ the King, Brighton (Michael Ramsden)
CICCU Lunch Bar, Cambridge (Michael Ramsden)
“Is Faith a Delusion?” Event, London (John Lennox)
Kings Arms Church, Bedford (Michael Ramsden)
For further information about any of the above or to be added to our email list to be notified about upcoming events, please contact our Oxford office. All of the events listed are correct at time of print, but some may be subject to change.
(Amy Orr-Ewing) 6 MARCH
How can I believe in God when there’s so much suffering?
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“How do you expect me to believe in God,” asked Woody Allen, “when only last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of my electric type-writer?” For a while now, at least in the Western world, the existence of any form of pain, suffering or evil has been regarded as evidence for the non-existence of God. If a good God
existed, people say, these things wouldn’t. But they do and, therefore, He doesn’t. My job takes me around many different parts of the world in order to answer people’s questions
about the Christian faith. I find it fascinating that I have never been asked this question in India, which I have visited on many occasions and which certainly knows a lot more
There are so many ways in which the question concerning pain can be raised. It can be because of personal loss and pain, or because of a personal interest in the issue of theodicy – to name but two. However, regardless of which way the question is raised, it normally comes down to a moral complaint against God. “How could you allow this to happen?” The complaint is against God’s moral character. “Can I really trust God if I see this happen?” If you are sure that you can trust Him, regardless of the pain you find yourself in, there is no temptation to turn away from Him as he is the only one who can help. Firstly, let’s deal with the argument against God’s existence. Ravi Zacharias has dealt with this brilliantly in his book, Can Man Live Without God? If you argue from the existence of evil to the nonexistence of God, you are assuming the existence of an absolute moral law in order for your argument to work. But if there is such a law that would also mean that there is such a God, since he is the only one who could give us such a law. And if there is such a God to give us this law, then the argument itself is flawed, since you have had to assume the existence of God in order to argue that He doesn’t exist. It is an attempt to invoke the existence of an absolute moral law without invoking the existence of an absolute moral law giver, and it cannot be done.
Secondly, we must also ask the question, which we often fail to do, about what it would take to create a loving world. A world in which love is capable of meaningful expression and experience would also imply a world in which there is choice. If someone tells you that they love you, those words mean something because they are freely given. If you learnt that someone had told you that they loved you and that they had been forced to do it, their words would not mean very much. If you want to create a loving world, you must also create a world in which choices can be exercised. And in such a world, there is also the possibility of choosing a course of action that is not loving, i.e. evil. However, these observations do not answer the heart of the question as I think people most commonly ask it. Can I trust God even when faced with great evil? Is He morally trustworthy? Can I trust Him even if I don’t understand what is happening? These are profound questions, and whole books could be written about them. But I would like to offer one observation for your thoughts. Maybe the reason we question God’s moral character when bad things happen is that we live lives largely independent from Him – in other words, do we really trust Him even when things are going well?
countries riddled with the realities of it. In fact, when I visit churches in parts of the world where they are faced daily with the horrific realities of suffering, I normally leave inspired. They trust God in everything, even when things are going well. When times are hard, they cling onto Him because they have already learned to trust Him. God hasn’t changed, even though the circumstances have. Maybe we struggle with suffering so much in the West because we are so comfortable most of the time that we feel we don’t need God. We don’t rely on Him on a daily basis, and so we don’t really know Him as we should. When suffering comes along, therefore, it is not so much that it takes us away from God, but that it reveals to us that we haven’t really been close to Him in the first place. I haven’t attempted to answer all of the intellectual issues. Apart from the books already mentioned, let me also suggest The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis, God, Freedom and Evil by Alvin Plantinga, and Evil and the Cross by Henri Blocher. However, what may challenge the critic of God in the face of suffering is not another book on the subject, but rather more lives lived out in dependence on Him, regardless of what is going on around us.
“Maybe we struggle with suffering so much in the West because we are so comfortable most of the time that we feel we don’t need God” I said earlier that I have never been asked questions about God and suffering when I am travelling in
Michael Ramsden European Director, Zacharias Trust
about suffering than we do. I find it even more intriguing that Christians who write books in situations where they have known unspeakable torment because of the Gospel, also do not normally raise this as an issue for themselves. Why?
Why the OCCA? Apologetics is a growing area of interest for the 21st Century Christian. Many recognise the need to be ready to answer difficult questions and to give reasons why Christians believe what they do. But what format should training take? Should I pursue online, distance learning? Or a larger-scale formal course? Or be self taught? Or follow a series in my local church? The options are wide-ranging. As a former student myself, let me share some of the reasons I was drawn to the OCCA. Firstly, the OCCA is a place where our students are trained in apologetics to a high academic standard with the option of obtaining an Oxford University accredited certificate. Lectures are given by experts in small class sizes of about 20, and written assignments are set and marked directly by the lecturer. Assessment is via tutorials in which the students meet in groups of 2 or 3 to receive and discuss feedback. As part of their preparation for written assignments, the students are also encouraged to develop research skills and make use of the Bodleian Library within Oxford University.
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Secondly, at the OCCA, students are given practical training and ‘hands-on’ experience to sharpen their effectiveness in evangelism. All students receive training in communication skills through preaching workshops, discussion seminars and giving presentations to their peers. They learn how to respond to difficult questions through interactive question-and-answer seminars. They receive Biblical teaching to deepen their encounter with and understanding of God’s Word in order to apply it to present the gospel. The opportunities to apply this practical training are numerous. All students are involved in weekly placements in local churches and also participate in periods of concentrated outreach in other universities or cities. They might be involved in anything from street outreach and evangelistic preaching to answering questions as part of a panel or outreach using art and music. The OCCA student is never short of opportunities to put theory into practice. Thirdly, at the OCCA, we are interested in the whole person. The Biblical mandate for apologetics (1 Peter 3:15,16), ‘Always be prepared to give an answer’, is sandwiched between the requirement for personal devotion to Christ (‘But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord’) and a fair treatment of others (‘But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience’). In other words, our effectiveness as apologists and evangelists is inextricably linked to Christian character. For this reason, we dedicate time at the OCCA to encouraging and exhorting our students to become even more devoted to Christ and to allow Him to continue to shape and transform them into His likeness.
Our weekly fellowship group meetings are a focus-point for this in which the students enjoy a time of sung worship together and then divide into fixed smaller groups of 4 or 5 that meet throughout the year with the same tutor for the Bible study, spiritual formation for leadership, and prayer. During the year students are also given opportunities to assess their spiritual giftings and explore calling and future direction. Fourthly, time at the OCCA offers a unique opportunity to invest in Christian community. Our students spend time together on a daily basis in lectures, tutorials or fellowship groups and this provides a setting from which long-lasting friendships have emerged. Not only that, but OCCA students are also full members of the Anglican theological college Wycliffe Hall, which is a Permanent Private Hall within Oxford University. As such, they are welcome participants in the sporting, social and devotional life of the college. Finally, the OCCA is set within the historic city of Oxford, home of the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It offers the opportunity to become an excellent apologist, an effective evangelist and a more devoted follower of Christ within a city of rich history and great architectural beauty. Why would you study anywhere else?
The courses offered are:
One year full-time certificate in Christian Apologetics This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate a whole year immersing themselves in evangelism and apologetics. The emphasis of the course is upon training in practical evangelism and, as well as indepth teaching in apologetics, students are given the opportunity to use what they have learned in real ministry settings. An integral part of the course is the close mentoring of our students to equip them according to their specific gifting.
Eight week full-time programme
Academic Tutor, OCCA
Sharon Dirckx is a scientist with a PhD in brain imaging from Cambridge University who has worked internationally in both industry and academia. She graduated from the OCCA in 2005 and until recently her time was divided between scientific research, and evangelism and apologetics ministry in a variety of different settings. Her passion is to unashamedly communicate the gospel in a culturally relevant way and to mentor and train others to do the same.
This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate themselves to an intensive period of apologetics. It covers teaching in evangelism, apologetics, Biblical studies and workplace evangelism. Students also attend the annual Oxford Summer School (see page 8 for further details).
For further information and for details of how to apply please visit www.theocca.org
Zacharias Trust Summer School Affluenza: Money and Power
Zacharias Trust Training Day Doubt: Helping the Believer Think and the Thinker Believe Oxford, 22 January 2011 “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) neatly sums up the unease that many Christians feel at certain times. We not only live in a postmodern age that is highly sceptical of any truth claim, but believers are told by the new atheists that there is almost certainly no God. The result is that many people experience a nagging sense of uncertainty; an attitude epitomised by the journalist John Humphrys in his book, In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist. How then should Christians deal with the issue of doubt? Do other competing worldviews really offer the kinds of proof that Christianity supposedly lacks and what responses should we give to those who are sceptical about aspects of our faith? Could it even be possible that doubt might actually be a positive force that invites us to grow in our faith and understanding?
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Doubt is a day of apologetics training, held at St Aldates church, designed to tackle vital questions such as these. The event aims to help Christians develop a confident faith that is able to respond to the important issues today without ducking the difficult questions.
Oxford, 17 – 23 July 2011
‘The test of your generation will not be how well you stood up under adversity, but how well you endured prosperity’ Robert McNamara gave this strong challenge to our cultural understanding of prosperity, which we normally understand as something to be enjoyed rather than endured. We find ourselves perplexed that although we’re becoming richer, we don’t feel happier or more fulfilled. Oliver James coined the term ‘Affluenza’ to describe and to help address this issue: that our surge in material affluence seems to produce the opposite of personal affluence and sets us on an unending quest for more. During the course of the week we will look at the causes, conditions and consequences of this global social phenomenon and question how we should live and engage in a world suffering from Affluenza. Week at a Glance The Summer School is an intense week of training in Evangelism and Apologetics from members of the international RZIM team as well as a number of guest speakers. The event is held at the Queen’s College (where the majority of the delegates stay) and St Aldate’s Church. Morning sessions include a devotional Bible study, perspectives on the pervasive ‘me’ culture (the ‘Narcissism’ series), and insights from contemporary challenges to implementing the Christian worldview (the ‘Social Justice’ series). There will be afternoon sessions offering options addressing Workplace & Calling, Evil and Suffering, Living out your Faith, and Power and Politics.
For further information about the training and for details about how to book, please visit our website at www.rzim.eu. Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
THE HE WE WESTE STERN R CAP RN CAPE
Although the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization may not receive the same level of attention that the football enjoyed, the conference is,
nevertheless, likely to be one of the most significant Christian gatherings for many years. Julia Cameron, Director of External Relationships for the event in Cape Town,
explains more about the history and vision behind the movement and how you can get involved with it:
This summer the worldâ€™s attention was focused on South Africa as teams from around the globe competed against one another for the most prestigious prize in international football. Although many of the results may now be forgotten (or we may wish they were!), this October the country will again host another notable international event, this time attended by members of the Zacharias Trust team.
THE LAUSANNE MOVEMENT: A covenant, a process, and a global conversation Evangelicals bring passion to what we believe - how can we not? And we do so in a big way. At one level, it is the most natural and honourable thing to do; on another level, it brings subtle danger. We are fallen human beings and can care more about secondary matters held dear in our own tradition than we do about the advance of the gospel. We never intend this, but our splintering shows we do it.
The harvest is plentiful, and we are sent by the Lord of the Harvest to make disciples of all nations. We are, in the words of the Apostle Paul, to ‘strive side by side’ for the sake of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). May we follow the Apostle’s lead in doing so ‘with all the energy he [Christ] mightily inspires within us’ (Colossians 1:28). We need each other, and we must link arms around the world, pouring all our passion and our conviction into the great task of getting the gospel out. Out into the marketplace, out into the media, out into the universities and among the policy-formers, out into megacities, and into the villages. To seize opportunities, we must work together.
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Lausanne Legacy begins In July 1974, Billy Graham convened a congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, to look at the critical need for world evangelization. 2,300 gathered from 150 nations. It was an extraordinary gathering.
TIME Magazine described it as ‘formidable’, and as ‘possibly the widest-ranging meeting of Christians ever held’. Now known as Lausanne 1, that congress led to the birth of The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, commonly known as The Lausanne Movement. It was a seminal event; an historic and pivotal moment in church history.
Partnerships and strategic alliances The second Lausanne Congress was held in Manila, Philippines in 1989, and its ‘Manila Manifesto’ may be read on the Lausanne.org website. Over 300 strategic partnerships were born out of this Congress, giving rise to many new initiatives in western and non-western nations.
“The harvest is plentiful, and we are sent by the Lord of the Harvest to make disciples of all nations” There were three remarkable outcomes from those nine summer days, each bringing a lasting legacy. (i)
The Lausanne Covenant: widely regarded as one of the most significant documents in recent church history. Its 15 paragraphs define what it means to be evangelical. The British pastor theologian John Stott was its chief architect.
(ii) A commitment to bring the gospel to those still unreached, and from here missiologist Ralph Winter’s term ‘unreached people groups’ gained strong currency. (iii) A rediscovery of the holistic gospel, for which our debt of gratitude under God goes to two Latin Americans, then young men whose names had not yet travelled far, Prof Samuel Escobar and Dr Rene Padilla.
Creativity in working together for gospel advance continues to be a hallmark of The Lausanne Movement. A phrase coined in 1974, ‘the spirit of Lausanne’ serves to remind of the Movement’s distinctives. While the very feel of the phrase suggests ‘the spirit’ is not anything which can be pinned down, the Lausanne senior leadership is clear as to what it embodies. It is a spirit of fellowship, of prayer, of study, of partnership, of hope. And underlying these runs a spirit of humility in serving the global Church.
Join the Lausanne Global Conversation We are now just a month away from The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization: ‘Cape Town 2010’. Seismic changes have taken place since 1989 and we need to engage with new realities. We now live in a post-Communist world;
The AIDS virus has killed millions; genocide and ethnic cleansing have traumatised nations; Islam has developed strategies to penetrate new nations, through strategic funding of the universities - not least here in the West; and new technologies have not only changed the way we live, but have raised profound questions about the nature of human life. As Doug Birdsall, Executive Chairman, said: ‘Global issues need global conversations to find global solutions.’ To that end, Cape Town 2010 gives us a new possibility. For the first time in history, evangelicals can take part in a truly global conversation. It stretches beyond the web to a wide network of radio stations across Africa. You are invited to join the Lausanne Global Conversation online at www. lausanne.org/conversation. We want to hear your voice. Through the Conversation website, you will have access to sessions in Cape Town. The Congress will have remote sites in 60 nations.
Prepare to be part of what’s happening We hope many churches will work through John Stott’s reissued study guide to The Lausanne
Covenant, published under the title “For the Lord we Love.”1 As the congress draws nearer there will be recommended study and reading around the keynote issues to be discussed. This will be available to all who register through the website. Perhaps you could plan to join 200 nations on Sunday 17 or 24 October for the Opening or Closing Ceremony of the Congress, to be webcast live? The theme for Cape Town 2010 is taken from 2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself’. Let us seek God in a humble spirit, and work together, uniting around the great central truths of the gospel, as we hold out the word of life. We live at a time in world history when there has never been more opportunity for the advance of the gospel in more countries. We also live at a time when the West is in a process of moral disintegration. As the digital age, the new ‘nano’ world, and the biotech century all converge, we need to bring the best minds together to think and reason and dissect argument, and to present Christian critique. There is no ism or ideology, no religion or humanistic mindset which can outflank the gospel. Christ is the sovereign agent of Creation; the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is not taken by
surprise at human cleverness, nor at any new manifestation of human pride. Our model is the servant Apostle, whose commanding intellect towered above all in the ancient Academy; he would have been rated off-the-scale on any attempt to measure passion or conviction. Yes, it is time for Christians to be more intentional about claiming the intellectual high ground, and about sending our best to do battle at the toughest frontiers of thinking and ideas.2 These as, never before, are the mission frontiers, as well as those where the gospel is pitted against other belief systems. But let us do so in the spirit of the servant Apostle. We have a range of Lausanne Occasional Papers on Lausanne. org which could prove stimulating for you. But more than that, we trust you will find the spirit of Lausanne - that spirit of fellowship, partnership, study, prayer, hope and humility - a provocative friend, as do thousands of us the world over.
Julia Cameron Julia has served for many years in world mission, largely through communications and publishing. She is Director of External Relations for Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress, and founding editor of The Didasko Files (www.didaskofiles.com).
1 Available as a free download or from www.christianbook.com/lausanne. 2 The Lausanne Movement has several working groups looking at trends in a range of areas, including its Theology Working Group chaired by Dr Chris Wright of Langham Partnership International and its Strategy Working Group chaired by Paul Eshelman of Campus Crusade.
a post 9/11 world; a digital world; a world of ethnic cleansing and alienation; a biotech world; and the emerging giants of Brazil and Russia, as well as India and China, dominate our new map.
BOOK REVIEW C
ountless encounters with those who once called themselves Christian made clear to Ravi Zacharias the need to write a book that dealt directly with the widespread and deeply rooted dissatisfaction that many felt towards Christian faith. In his latest book, Has Christianity Failed You? Ravi identifies what he believes to be one of the central reasons causing so many to abandon their faith: the difference between what we believe about God and our own experiences. In other words, God has not lived up to our expectations Combining compassion and intellectual rigour, this book is a timely reminder about the importance of getting to know God’s character better, in order to provide a firm foundation for our faith. He encourages us to trust that God is bigger than our circumstances and urges us not to allow our changing emotions to govern our view of reality. He turns our assumption that our disappointment is God’s fault on its head and shows us that it is not a result of God’s abandonment, but rather our turning away from him. No-one is abandoned by Christ. He therefore offers a gentle challenge for the reader to turn back to Jesus, the only one who is able to ultimately deliver us from disappointment and despair and the only one through whom we can know the true God. He asks the reader to face up to the question: Is it possible to make sense of life once one has denied faith in Christ?
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Ravi deals sympathetically with the heart-felt concerns and disappointments that many feel and he acknowledges both the failures of the church and the tensions that are common to our experience. But he returns the reader to the crucial central question: on what do we want our lives to be based? “Truth,” he reminds us, “is no respecter of mistaken judgements,” and so we must not allow our experiences to dictate what we believe as this cannot lead us to truth. Has Christianity Failed You? acts as a poignant reminder that it is only in Christ that we will find life to the full.
Nicole Ashton Zacharias Trust Team
“To find contentment and purpose in our lives we must turn back to Jesus Christ and place our trust in him.” DAVID LIMBAUGH
To purchase this book, or to see the other apologetics resources that we stock, please visit www.rzim.eu.
e h t d n u o r a
. . . d worl
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has offices in the following places:
HEAD OFFICE Atlanta, USA
INDIA HEAD OFFICE Chennai, India
CANADA OFFICE Toronto, Canada
ASIA PACIFIC OFFICE Singapore
EUROPE OFFICES Oxford, UK (Head Office) Arad, Romania
HONG KONG OFFICE Hong Kong
MIDDLE EAST OFFICE
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Isn’t the Bible There is a widespread belief about the Bible that it is some kind of powerful patriarchal conspiracy that has been used to oppress women. As a female speaker I find that this question is frequently asked: “How can you as woman promote such a sexist book?”, “The Church has tried to keep women down!” As Christians we need to be sensitive to the issues that underlie such an emotive question.
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While it may indeed seem to be the case that women have been discriminated against by religion, the Bible itself deserves closer examination on the subject. How is it that many of the greatest Jewish and Christian pioneers have been women? What does the Bible really say about this subject? Throughout the Bible, there are numerous positive images of women. In the Old Testament, women share the image of God at creation. At the second coming of Jesus, the Church is represented as the bride of Christ. From beginning to end, the Bible includes the feminine as an integral part of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. While it is true that the Bible is written over a long period of time into specific cultures, and that some of these contexts did not give equal social advantages to women, it would not be true to say that the message of the Bible is sexist or discriminatory against women. In the New Testament, there is a telling
little sentence in John 4.27 that sheds light on just how radical the Bible is in affirming women. The disciples come across Jesus during His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, and we are told they ‘were surprised to find Him talking with a woman.’ Jesus goes against these cultural trends time and time again. Besides talking to female strangers, he has female disciples. In a culture where the idea of women travelling around with a group of men or having the status of disciple was seriously questionable, Jesus had a number of women who are included in His circle who contributed financially to the needs of the group. We also see Jesus teaching women in the New Testament. In Luke 10.38, we read of Mary who sits at the feet of Jesus and engages in theological study, much to her sister’s chagrin.
great theological truths to women. We must not underestimate how radical this is – Jesus was turning cultural taboos on their heads by teaching women and allowing women to be His disciples. Not only does Jesus act in a countercultural manner that affirms the feminine, His teachings include female imagery. For example, the parable of mending the garment, an everyday image from the female sphere, is coupled with the parable of making the wine, an everyday image from the male sphere (Luke 5.36-39). In Luke 15, Jesus follows a parable about a shepherd searching for a lost sheep with one about a woman searching for a lost coin. God is depicted as a woman down on her hands and knees, searching through her house for a coin!
”It is clear that women played a full and vibrant role in the ministry of Jesus…we must remember how radical this was in first century Palestine” This is exactly how Paul describes his training under Gamaliel (Acts 22.3). The clear implication is that Mary is worthy of a rabbi’s theological instruction. Indeed, it is interesting that we later read of Martha, Mary’s sister, who is the first to be taught one of the most astounding theological statements of the New Testament when Jesus says to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies’ (John 11.25). In contrast to the cultural norms of the time, Jesus made a habit of revealing
This passage follows on from Jesus likening Himself to a mother hen: ‘0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings’ (Luke 13.34). It is also important to note that it was a group of women who stood at the foot of the cross, watching Jesus die and hearing His last words. It was a group of women who first witnessed the resurrection. Again, it is striking for us to remember that in this society the
sexist? word of women was perceived as having less value than that of men. It is therefore enormously important that the most significant events of Jesus’ death and resurrection were witnessed first-hand primarily by women. It is clear that women played a full and vibrant role in the ministry of Jesus, both as examples within His teaching and as recipients of it. While this may seem absolutely right and proper in our 21st century context, we must remember how radical this was in first century Palestine. Jesus intentionally affirmed and included women. We see a continuation of this in the early Church, from Lydia and Tabitha to Philip’s daughters. The New Testament ascribes numerous roles to women in the early Church - as teachers of theology, deacons, church leaders and prophets, and there is even a disputed reference to a female apostle called Junia.
Amy Orr-Ewing European Training Director, Zacharias Trust Reproduced by kind permission of the Evangelical Alliance’s Idea Magazine (www.eauk.org/idea/), July 2005.
While it is true to say that there are two particular passages in Paul’s writings which seem to go against all of this, by commanding some women to be silent and forbidding others from teaching, these must be read and interpreted in their specific context. Paul himself gives guidelines for women when they publicly prophesy and also affirms women who teach, like Priscilla. When we come to the text of the Bible with the issue of sexism in mind, we must be clear that while God is predominantly spoken of with male imagery and ultimately incarnates Himself as the man Jesus, female imagery is also used for God, and Jesus constantly affirms the value of both men and women.
It has been a tremendously exciting year for Vlad Criznic who opened the Romania office last year. A three-day event, entitled ‘Making the Gospel message clear and relevant for all,’ was held in April and was one of the largest interdenominational conferences on evangelism and apologetics to be held in Romania. In a country where the church is divided, this event did much more than just equip pastors in apologetics skills.
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Vlad Criznic is the Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust, Romania. He grew up in a non-Christian family and became a Christian when he was 16. Ever since, he has been involved with various ministries, including the Josiah Venture, the Romanian Missionary Society and youth events for Romanian evangelical churches. He graduated in 2008 from Emanuel University of Oradea with a B.A. in Pastoral Theology and he has also completed apologetics training as an Associate of the Zacharias Trust. He is married to Dora and they live in Arad, Romania.
To complement the conference, two of Ravi Zacharias’ books were published in Romanian - Is your church ready? and ‘Who made God?’ – as additional tools for the Romanian speaking pastors. Here Vlad gives a few of the highlights of the conference: The most exciting part of our year was the Apologetics and Evangelism Conference, held in Sinaia (in the middle of the mountains), intended to launch RZIM Zacharias Trust Romania. We organized this non-denominational conference in conjunction with Metanoia Baptist Church (Arad) and B.I.G. Impact Organization (Churches with Global Impact) and it was attended by 550 pastors and church leaders from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria. The main speakers for the event were Ravi Zacharias and Michael Ramsden, with the other contributors including Cristian Barbosu, Gelu Paul, Radu Gheorgita and myself. It was an amazing time for us as well as for the participants. All our feedback
forms were filled with very positive responses, such as amazing stories of changed lives and decisions to serve the Lord by living a transformed lifestyle that was itself an apologetic, rather than just occasionally preaching apologetics. With great enthusiasm, we left the conference with about 100 invitations to follow-up this event with further training and evangelistic events all over the country and in the Eastern Europe. This will start right after the summer ends and will take at least three years to complete! An additional blessing of the conference was to have the RZIM vision trip attendees as part of the conference. The vision trip is an annual event which enables RZIM partners to see the ministry in action first hand in a variety of settings. This year’s group travelled with Ravi to Armenia before joining us in Romania, and then spending time with the team in England at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. The conference in Sinaia was preceded by an evangelistic event in Arad, where Ravi spoke to 1,500 people. This spectacular event was held in the most prestigious hall in Arad with many intellectuals and leaders from the city there to hear the message on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. After the sermon finished many people accepted Christ and came to the front for prayer or counselling. Having so many ideas to work on and so many events to follow-up, please keep us in your prayers - that I might be able to know what is right and not to get burn out. Thank you.
is a student at Károli Reformed University, Budapest, about to finish his MDiv there. He does voluntary work for the local IFES movement, striving to pass on an evangelistic vision to the younger generation in Hungary. He’s a committee member of the annual IFES European Theological Student Conference. He loves jogging, reading and spending time with his friends.
and things suddenly sped up. I read more books, listened to more talks, went to conferences and then, eventually, I ended up studying at the OCCA. There, I acquired tools and techniques, which I now regularly use. I spend much of my time preaching and chatting about the gospel to non-Christian youngsters, which is probably when I feel the most alive. I also love expository preaching, and sometimes I do talks at conferences primarily on philosophical questions (I’m even flirting with the idea of doing a Masters degree in it). But I had to realise that this is the less taxing part of apologetics – that which occurs on the outside. You can fight and even win battles with the techniques that you learn, but there is, however, a much more desperate war occurring on the inside. I guess this is what the first half of the much-quoted 1 Peter 3:15 talks about, when it says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
“apologetics is not something that you find: it’s something that finds you” My theological training didn’t help a great deal either, to be honest. At university we learned how to get by nicely in the Bible and the Church, but we had no concept of communicating to “outsiders”. I must have been a second year undergraduate when I came across Alister McGrath’s Bridge Building
From September onwards, I will be doing my curacy (a probation or practical year) in a town called Kiskunhalas, working mainly with teenagers, which is very exciting! If you would like to pray for me, please pray that whilst I am there I will be able to fight and win the battle on both fronts.
If you ask me, apologetics is not something that you find: it’s something that finds you. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a person who sought the truth diligently, and it was this that played a key role in me becoming a Christian at the age of 16 (after all, my conversion text was “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jn 14:6). Yet apologetics was a different kettle of fish and, funnily, it started just before I became a Christian – you know the kind of limbo state when you defend non-Christians to Christians, and Christians to non-Christians! Once I made a commitment, however, I constantly found myself caught up in conversations in which I had to give a reason why I believed in, talked to, and loved persons I didn’t see. I got into random chats with random people in random places, often when I didn’t even want to. This can become rather tiresome, you see, especially if you don’t really know how to go about doing it!
RZIM Zacharias Trust 76 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 6JT T: +44 (0)1865 302900 F: +44 (0)1865 318451 www.rzim.eu RZIM Zacharias Trust is the European office of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England. Company No. 3449676. Charity No. 1067314.
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Published on Oct 1, 2010
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