Book Review: Why Jesus? by Ravi Zacharias
“A new spirituality has crept into our culture, and spiritual truth, specifically the truth about Christ is often its target. In today’s culture, young and old alike are bombarded from many directions by false teachings about spiritual matters. Many in the Western society are departing from traditional beliefs to embrace a New Spirituality rooted in Eastern mysticism as our culture seeks to be less ‘religious’ and more ‘spiritual.’
In his latest book, Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, Dr. Ravi Zacharias shows why Jesus alone is the Truth in a world of spiritual relativism. Having been born and raised in India, Ravi Zacharias provides a unique perspective as he defines what the New Spirituality is, how it came to have such an influence in Western society, and examines the teachings of its primary advocates.
Why Jesus? begins with an informative look at how Western culture arrived at this point. Citing the movies ‘Inception’ and ‘Dark Knight’ as illustrations, Ravi gives a candid review of the media and entertainment industry’s role in the advancement of the New Spirituality.
Pointing out how a ‘supernatural’ aspect is often interweaved throughout so many movies, Ravi shows how the media can reach and influence an entire culture. He reminds us that two of humanity’s most precious traits are those of feelings and the imagination. He states,
‘From the news to the weather to advertising to entertainment, we are sold feelings, not truth.’
Ravi points out that this is not accidental, as all humans search for answers that connect with our feelings as well as at the philosophical level of logic and truth. Ravi identifies the broad relevance of the issue stating,
‘We cannot get away from the assault of the visual even if we don’t watch television, because of its impact on the way the rest of society makes its judgments.’
In interesting detail, Ravi describes how, over several decades, in the midst of the cultural rebellion of the 1960’s, the Transcendental Meditation movement of the 70’s, the religious scandals of the 80’s, and the influence of postmodern relativism, the culture has thrown off the old for the new. Finding an often-gullible Western audience, the New Spirituality has taken root and spread.
In the middle section of the book, Dr. Zacharias both assesses and challenges the works of Elizabeth Lesser, Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, E. Stanley Jones and Deepak Chopra. He then details the influential roles of Hinduism and Buddhism within this New Spirituality. Ravi reveals how Eastern mysticism was ready and willing to tell any and all how to find their ‘essence.’
Importantly, Ravi shows how the New Spirituality, while claiming to offer the follower ‘consciousness,’ lacks the one thing that all humans deeply need—relationship. The New Spirituality is about the ‘I’ as the individual is guided inward to seek the ‘ultimate state.’ Relationship, and consequently worship, are incomplete in the New Spirituality as it points followers into themselves. These first sections of the book provide an excellent background for the Christian apologist seeking information regarding the New Spiritualism, including addressing the issue of pain in the world while presenting the moral argument syllogism.
Dr. Zacharias highlights a key point contributing to the spread of the New Spirituality—the current culture’s lack of knowledge about the biblical Jesus linked with the deliberate misrepresentation of Jesus by New Spirituality proponents. The author states,
‘This is the strongest indictment I make against the New Spirituality. They have violated the true Jesus and formed Him in their own image. While exalting themselves, they have denigrated Him.’
In the final chapters Dr. Zacharias, citing several examples in Scripture, lifts up the biblical Jesus as the clear truth against the distorted image portrayed by the New Spirituality. Ravi rightfully reminds the reader,
‘True spirituality is not a game we play. It is not merely a preference for some position over another.’
Addressing the key areas of truth, authority, and relevance, Ravi reminds us how much these things matter, showing why the message of Christ alone fully meets all of these while bridging the greatest gulf within each of us. In a thoughtful and sensible way, Ravi brings together the deep human need for spiritual fulfillment with the uniqueness of Jesus while showing why Jesus alone is the Truth that brings rest for the soul.
While seeking ‘fulfillment,’ the world today increasingly pursues eastern mysticism, paganism, and a new spirituality. In Why Jesus? Ravi Zacharias directs the reader not to a mystical idea, not to a place of inner essence, but to a real person… Jesus Christ.”
Web August 18 2013