A report live-blogged by Andy Naselli
Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Here’s how the Henry Center advertised this address:
Someone from India recently quipped to me, “India has gone from ancient to postmodern and skipped over the modern period.” Indeed, in distilling truth, it has been rendered to neutrality. How then, in a climate of cultural preferences (whether in the East or in the West), does one share the Gospel graciously and winsomely without it seeming like a cultural chiding or contravention? This is the essential challenge before us in the church today.
This address is available via live-stream.
The ATO Chapel is packed—over 500 people have filled the room.
The only thing worse than nostalgia is amnesia. (Ravi earned his M.Div. here at TEDS from 1973 to 1976.)
Two weeks ago Ravi responded to the “Man Vs. God” Article in The Wall Street Journal, and WSJ printed his letter to the editor (though WSJ cut the length in half).
It has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct. Many, like Spengler, have envisaged the future in such terms, and now what they prophesied is upon us.
Thoughts on Postmodernity in the West
- “We don’t know who we are, and he doesn’t know who he is.” That sums up postmodernity.
- Descartes should have said, “I think, therefore, thinking exists.” A pantheist could question his leap.
- You can ascribe intrinsic worth only if we are created by a creator. Talk of morality and intrinsic worth is not consistent with a worldview that embraces empirical knowledge as the only knowledge.
- “It all depends on what the word ‘is’ means.”
- Cf. Nietzsche’s skepticism re objective truth.
- But when we are the victim of a lie, undoubtedly we will lay claim to the truth.
The Problem in the East
- Philosophy in the West has gradually moved to the existential, learning to the skeptical, art to the sensual, and spirituality to the mystical. Here’s the problem: While the West was moving unhinged from all these categories, the East was digging in its heels.
- Ravi has to be very careful that he not appear as a brainwashed Westerner when he speaks in the East.
- The West and East view Christianity, religion, and truth very differently.
Ravi closed with four stories that raise hard questions for postmodern thought. Here are the essential points of the stories:
- How do you affirm individuality?
- We often don’t want to own up what goes on inside us.
- Guilt is a terrible thing.
- A prominent sheik told Ravi that it’s time to stop asking if Jesus died on the cross and start asking why he died on it. This shows an abiding interest in the significance of the God-man.