“Helping the thinker believer. Helping the believer think” is the motto that not only sums up the essence and drive of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries but is perfectly embodied in the ministry of its founder, Dr Ravi Zacharias.
Ravi is a prolific author and speaker, with over forty years of ministry experience, and is considered one of the most influential Christian apologists of our time. I have been immensely blessed by his ministry which I first encountered through syndicated radio broadcasts in my country. The sheer scope of his work would make it impossible to provide a comprehensive review. However, I have listened to the majority of his messages on his podcast. I wish to give a quick summary of his approach to apologetics, particularly how he analyses worldviews.
Ravi goes by what he calls the 3-4-5 grid, an approach he developed early on in his career as a basic guide and not as he would say an exhaustive format for all. From closely observing his teaching I would add a 1-2 layer on top of the 3-4-5 grid. Due to how he uses the additional layer I think it is worth attaching to the rest of his heuristic. I will discuss these two levels separately. Ravi is a Christian philosopher so that characterises his apologetic method. This is how he analyses the validity of a worldview.
Truth is a characteristic of propositional statements. Therefore when a person posits something he is making a truth claim. Ravi first tries to figure out what the truth claims of a particular worldview are. Once this is done it can be rationally assessed.
- Coherence – Correspondence:
These are the two major theories of truth. Coherence theory generally says that truth claims should be made up of propositions that are consistent with each other. Correspondence theory on the other hand says truth claims must make reference to objective reality.
- Logical consistency – Empirical adequacy – Experiential relevance:
Logical consistency means when we assess a worldview rationally it should pass the test of logic. At this point Ravi loves to emphasise the inescapability of the law of non-contradiction i.e. two or more contradictory statements cannot all be true. An empirically adequate claim must be supported by some form of evidence when it is tested. When something is experientially relevant it pertains meaningfully to reality. Simply put it works in real life. These are the three tests for truth.
- Origin – Meaning – Morality – Destiny:
These are the fundamental questions a person must answer in establishing a worldview. They are origin – where do I come from, meaning – why am I here, morality – what is right and wrong, and finally destiny – where am I heading?
- Theology – Metaphysics – Epistemology – Ethics – Anthropology:
We have applied the tests and seen how the claims answer the fundamental questions. We still need these disciplines to properly study how the worldview works. In the order these disciplines are mentioned respectively, they ask who is God, what is there, how do I know it, how should I behave and who am I?
I must reiterate this two-tier grid is not exhaustive. There are things you could definitely add or modify. As far as Ravi is concerned when he applies the grid to major worldviews it is only the unique person of Jesus and the Christian faith in him that stands the test. No worldview passes all the tests and does so convincingly like the Christian worldview. These things assure him that Christianity is right. I must whole heartedly agree.