Jesus Among Secular Gods is the latest book from Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale. Following on from their well-received Why Suffering?, Zacharias and Vitale return to collaborate on a book that speaks strongly to our present age.
Atheism, the belief that there is no God, isn’t new. The writers of the Old Testament certainly spent time arguing for the existence of God, and against the position to the contrary. However today it feels like, in the West at any rate, atheism or secularism – Godless positions of belief – is prevalent, and in many places fast becoming the norm.
Secularism, like belief in God, is really a bit of a catchall position. When we talk about religion, we need to take care to define what God/gods we’re talking about. A cursory glance at the major world religions quite quickly shows that they’re not all taking about the same things. Likewise, secularism is really a group of positions, with a diversity of ideas, values, and priorities. To talk about secularism well, and how it compares to the Christian faith, requires the different categories of thought within the secular worldview to be independently analysed. It’s to this end that Jesus Among Other Gods takes aim, and does so in this reviewer’s mind, pretty well.
Answers for Questions of Truth
Zacharias and Vitale take turns (2 chapters at a time, for a total of 8 chapters) to outline the breadth of secularism and dive into major areas of thought within, including: scientism, pluralism, humanism, relativism, and hedonism. Without making God the highest good (as in the Christian worldview), the atheist will have to choose some other value as supreme. Whether that’s science (scientism), humanity (humanism) etc. something has to be top priority. Knowing what we celebrate as best is extremely important, as it often goes on to define how we live, what we work towards, what we promote and what we avoid etc.
By comparing the message of Jesus Christ with the alternative positions offered from secularism, the authors seek to offer the reader strong reasons for the supremacy of Christ, over secularism as a whole. By affording different secular positions of thought individual chapters, the book lends itself well as a reference tool to dip in and out of to read about these positions one at a time. However, read as a whole (my preference) the cumulative case for the Christian worldview emerges strongly, equally provoking the unbeliever to re-evaluate their beliefs and at the same time reaffirming and strengthening the faith of the believer. You will find that Jesus Among Secular Gods doesn’t just provide answers to your questions; it provides answers for your friends’ questions and the questions of those half way around the world too.
About the Authors: Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
Zacharias’ experience, garnered over 40 years of tackling the questions posed by secularism, is laid out for the reader to soak up. The wisdom of a life spent listening and then responding to questioners and critics of the Christian faith gives Zacharias a charitable, yet pin-sharp accurate voice of reason in defence of Christianity. He is a clarion voice for our age, and this book reflects his established skill at getting to heart of a matter with truth in love.
Vitale, in my experience (he was my tutor and has become my friend) doesn’t do anything half-heartedly. His reasoning, honed through his academic work in philosophy at Princeton and then Oxford, is coupled with his generosity and this combination presents in an articulate and winsome manner, which is both emotionally and logically satisfying.
Jesus Among Secular Gods is written by authors who have studied at some of the best universities in the world. Yet this book isn’t a book of abstract, philosophical thought, but reflections bourn out of relationships. Zacharias and Vitale both draw heavily on real stories to provide their examples, at once capturing the imagination of the reader and inviting them to relate to the positions laid out. This perhaps is the core strength of the book, in that the style of writing is positively apt; the religion it seeks to defend is itself centred on relationship.
I enjoyed reading Jesus Among Secular Gods, learning from it and finding much food for thought. In particular, Vince’s chapter on Hedonism was at once haunting and deeply incisive. I am happy to heartily recommend this book, and am sure that I shall be stocking copies to provide to friends with deep questions, and looking for good answers.
Jesus Among Secular Gods is released in the UK on 26th January and is available to buy online from Amazon.co.uk