by George Brahm
Ravi Zacharias’ ability to communicate ideas was unparalleled among his fellow apologists and lived up to his motto of reaching both ‘the head and the heart’. Both his talks and books were formative in my own spiritual and intellectual formation, making him the one Christian thinker who has influenced me more than all the others combined. In fact, this very blog wouldn’t exist without him — it was at his prompting many years ago that I took up writing on apologetics and related issues, and he remained a constant source of encouragement ever since.
News of his recent passing has sent shockwaves around the world, drawing tributes from people of all walks of life. In an attempt to add my voice to this chorus, I have decided to list five of my favourite books by Ravi — the ones that have had the greatest impact upon my life. If any of you reading this have not had the chance to pick up one or more of them, I would wholeheartedly recommend doing so; they are bound to bless your walk with Christ, just as they did mine.
5. The Grand Weaver (Zondervan, 2007)
While retaining the incisive erudition that punctuates Ravi’s more intellectual writings directed at the mind, The Grand Weaver is more a work for the heart. Weaving together heart-warming stories with eye-opening insights about topics ranging from our life’s disappointments to worship to our ultimate destiny, Ravi introduces us to a Grand Weaver who has a purpose for every minuscule detail of our lives. In fact, I have met many a Christian who would put The Grand Weaver at #1 on their list of Ravi books, simply because of how it has changed the way they view God and His sovereignty.
4. Jesus Among Other Gods (Thomas Nelson, 2002)
Jesus Among Other Gods is Ravi’s finest work on comparative religions, a field considered by many to be his strongest suit. In it, he leans on his vast experience interacting with the religions of the East that have since gained a foothold in the West — whether they be Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age spirituality, or Islam — and juxtaposes their ideas with the absolute claims of Christianity. Yet, it is by no means a dry intellectual read; like any book of his, Jesus Among Other Gods is nothing short of a thrilling mix of personal stories, wit, erudition, and ultimately, a message of love and hope that only Christ can provide. You are bound to come away with a clearer understanding of how Christianity stands unique in the pantheon of worldviews.
3. Walking From East to West (Zondervan, 2006)
Those of you familiar with Ravi’s talks know him to be a master storyteller. Walking From East to West features the master storyteller telling you his own story. It traces his journey from his childhood in India, his obsession with the sport of cricket, his dramatic conversion after a suicide attempt, his move to Canada (and later, the United States), and the birth of a ministry that would go on to defend the Christian faith before believers and skeptics alike for about half a century.
2. The End of Reason (Zondervan, 2008)
Following the runaway success of his The End of Faith (which also ushered in the era of ‘new atheism’), Sam Harris published Letter to a Christian Nation, aiming “to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms.”
The End of Reason is Ravi’s response, intending to expose the “utter bankruptcy of [Harris’] worldview”, although it also serves well as a standalone book for anyone who is interested in a powerful defense of Christian theism against common atheistic challenges, including charges of wishful thinking, religious intolerance, and a disregard for science. I consider it to be one of the finest demonstrations of Ravi’s ability to blend both wit and intelligence while engaging in apologetics.
1. Can Man Live Without God? (Thomas Nelson, 1994)
Can Man Live Without God? is a compilation of four Veritas Forum lectures that Ravi delivered at Harvard and Ohio State University, as well as an extended Q&A session. It is arguably his best statement of both his unique ‘three-tier’ view of philosophical argumentation and the scathing existential and moral case against atheism that he is well known for, and closes with a remarkable defense of the unique claims of Christ and the credibility of Christianity against challenges like the problem of evil. In short, it is Ravi at the height of his intellectual prowess. It’s no surprise, then, that the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association conferred it with its prestigious ‘Gold Medallion Book Award’ in 1995.
- Deliver Us From Evil (Thomas Nelson, 1998)
- The Real Face of Atheism (Baker Books, 2004)
- Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan, 2010)
- Recapture the Wonder (Thomas Nelson, 2005)
- Why Suffering? (with Vince Vitale) (FaithWords, 2014)
- Seeing Jesus From the East (with Abdu Murray) (Zondervan, 2020)
What are some of your favourite books by Ravi? And how did his ministry impact your life? Let me know in the comments below!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other authors at Cogent Christianity.