Ravi Zacharias,
Jesus Among Other Gods
(Word, 2000)

In Jesus Among Other Gods, noted Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias sets out to prove that not only is Jesus Christ the son of God, but that God the Father is the only God. He does this by setting forth Christ's answers to some of the world's universal and most nagging questions, which he then compares to the answers of the founders of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.

He begins with anecdotes that show how he came to Christianity, how during his teenage years, he found religions empty and meaningless. But he became a Christian while still in the hospital after a suicide attempt. He then goes on to his arguments and proofs of the veracity of Jesus's claim.

What Zacharias is attempting to prove, of course, is the superiority of Christianity over other religions, but he has carefully limited his field to Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. He states that other religions are inferior because their messengers (Buddha, Mohammed, etc.) were not divine. It doesn't matter that they were pointing the way to the divine -- they were not themselves divine, so their teachings are inferior! One of his proofs that Jesus alone is divine is that he rose from the dead, forgetting (or perhaps not realizing) that the sacrificed god motif is fairly common in world mythologies and other gods have also risen from the dead. His proof ultimately boils down to "Jesus is the Son of God because he said so."

Zacharias attacks evolutionary theory and spends pages on the Scopes Monkey trial (assuming that all his readers will be intimately familiar with the famous case in which a Tennessee schoolteacher was arrested for teaching evolution instead of creationism in his classroom). He denounces scientific theories, then two pages later works them into his own argument! Apparently the reader is not going to notice.

A great deal of Zacharias's logic is circular. For instance, he states at one point that we know God exists because we have morals -- which were given to us by God. I don't remember too much about my college philosophy courses, but I don't think that works as an argument.

The logic and arguments in this book are extremely unlikely to be convincing to someone who is not already an ardent Christian. Zacharias is, in effect, preaching to the choir -- and much of the book is structured like a Sunday morning sermon. His tone is self-congratulatory (Hurrah! We're all Christians here!) and smug (Alas, for those poor, deluded fools who are not!). There is a disturbing note in that Zacharias in several places ridicules the "wisdom" of religious tolerance. Those who have some background in comparative religions or who are not already Christian are likely to find Jesus Among Other Gods more frustrating than edifying.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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