Ravi Zacharias (full name Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias, born 1946) is an Indian-born, Canadian-American evangelical Christian philosopher, apologist and evangelist. Zacharias is a descendant of two rich religious traditions, first Hindu priests (of the Nambudiri Brahmin caste), and later as Christian ministers. In one of his lectures, Zacharias asserts that a Swiss-German priest spoke to one of his ancestors about Christianity, and thereafter that branch of the family was converted and the family name was changed from Nambudiri to Zacharias. The biography Zacharias offers about himself is that he grew up in a nominally Anglican household, and was an atheist until the age of 17, when he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. According to one of his books (Cries of the Heart), someone instructed his mother to read out the Gospel of John to him as he lay on a hospital bed in Delhi. Following that, he made the decision to become a Christian. He began preaching while still in his teens, and in 1974, shortly before the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, he was sent there to minister to the people in the country. He was also sent to Vietnam during the Vietnam War to minister to U.S. soldiers.
Zacharias was born near Madras, India and grew up in Delhi. In 1966, he and his family emigrated to Toronto; he is currently based outside Atlanta, Georgia. He holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship.
He briefly attended the University of Delhi as a pre-med student before transferring to the Institute of Hotel Management in Delhi. After moving to Canada, he worked in the hotel management business before enrolling in the Ontario Bible College in Toronto. Following that, he completed his Master of Divinity degree at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago. He was a visiting scholar at Cambridge University when he wrote his first book, A Shattered Visage: the Real Face of Atheism. Zacharias received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Houghton College, NY, and from Tyndale University College and Seminary (the renamed Ontario Bible College). He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Asbury College in Kentucky. He is presently a Visiting Professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.
Zacharias is a frequent speaker at international conferences for Christian ministers, and has been the keynote speaker for both the National Day of Prayer at Washington, D.C. and the Annual Prayer Breakfast for the United Nations in New York City. He has spoken at the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. He has written several books on Christianity, including Can Man Live Without God? (1994), The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha (2001), "The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler" (2005), Light in the Shadow of Jihad (2002) and Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde (2002).
He is the president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which is headquartered in Norcross, Georgia. RZIM was formed in 1984 in Toronto, Canada and now has offices in India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Zacharias holds ministerial papers with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Zacharias regularly speaks at various American and Canadian university campuses, and at events such as the Veritas forum. He is well-known for his question and answer sessions where he fields questions by college students about the Christian faith. He is also frequently invited to speak at international venues including war-torn countries and his native India.
On November 14, 2004, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) opened its signature pulpit at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, for the first time in over a century, to an outside evangelist. Christian evangelist Dwight L. Moody was the last non-Mormon to speak at the tabernacle. Zacharias addressed some 7,000 lay-persons and scholars from both LDS and Protestant camps with a sermon in an initiatory move towards open dialog between the camps. The sermon was on "Who Is the Truth? Defending Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth and The Life".
In 2003, while Zacharias was ministering in Tirana, Albania, he and his ministry companions were given the honor of examining a handwritten copy of the Greek New Testament by John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople, composed in the 5th century and later excavated in Albania in the 10th century. He noted that the words were lined up remarkably straight, as if produced by computer, and each letter was written in golden ink.
He is also the general editor of the latest editions of the Christian apologetics book written by the late Christian apologist/polemicist Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (2003), ISBN 0-7642-2821-8, which contains a 66-page chapter on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
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