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How Do We Unify the Church? | Ravi Zacharias and Francis Chan


– How do we unify the church when our culture views our beliefs as oppressive without
compromising our convictions? – Yeah, you know, it’s interesting when you look at the flow of, I’ll leave the closing words
for you on this, Francis, so let me take the first part of it here. You’re looking at, the word
is epistemology in philosophy. The word epistemology means, you know, it’s the subject of dealing with how do you know something is true. So if you are dealing with a historian, he has a different epistemological grid. A historian will look
for various documentation in order to see whether
his philosophy of history and his facts of history are right. You talk to a scientist, he or she works with a different series of
tests for truth and so on. So whether it’s a historian or
a philosopher or a scientist, they have their own grid of truth testing. The Lord also tells us to
test the truth, you know, to prove it to be right. Look at where secular philosophy has gone. From rationalism, reason
alone, to empiricism, science sort of being the
ultimate arbiter of everything, to existentialism, your
experience is the final test. So you move from rationalism
to empiricism to existentialism and then what was left? Post-modernism. Post-modernism repudiated all of those. No truth, no meaning, no certainty. And fascinatingly, by the way, all of these had their seed beds in Europe coming from the
rationalistic view and so on. America had a different starting point as did the United Kingdom. The starting point was not reason, the starting point was moral reasoning. This had been pointed out
by Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book “The Roads To Modernity,” professor emeritus from
Columbia University. So while Europe went from rationalism all the way down to post-modernism, America’s starting point
was moral reasoning. That’s why we talked about
being endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. The problem is now we have an America that deals with rights without
ever defining what is right. We have no more the moral reasoning on which to arrive at all of this. So I think the last bastion
of this that is left as far as I’m concerned, you
can go to scientific proofs, you can go to design proofs, you can go to so many other things, but the average person who
really opens up their eyes and is listening to you recognizes there has to be a moral framework with which I do my thinking. What is it that makes me a
person or a creature of value? So in that essential
nature is the image of God. The image of God gives
to me moral reasoning. We cannot communicate truth while compromising the
implications of truth. So I would say how you
communicate in this society is conviction with compassion. Convictions are very
different to opinions. Opinions are something that you hold to. Convictions are those which hold you. You can change an opinion. One time you might like blue, next year you might like green, it’s okay. But you cannot change your convictions about the sacredness of life
or the sacredness of sexuality or love and those that you
put into this category. The challenge for the Christian is how to communicate
conviction with compassion. My mother used to say, “Once
you’ve cut off a person’s nose, “there’s no point giving
them a rose to smell.” So we have these issues come up on the university floor all the time. If they know you really care about them and they know you’re authentic
in what you are saying, you can’t often go directly to the answer but you can circle and form
and arc and come into it. When Billy Graham was in his heyday, the invitation was given to the masses. But now we’ve got the hard picking to do. Not everybody is ready
in that kind of setting. So we have to find ways
of dialogical thinking, ways of rational discourse,
and I could say much more, but I don’t wanna eat up the clock here. Let me give it to Francis
to say the rest here. – Yeah, let me complete
your thoughts for you. (laughing) So many quotes, people, where
I’m like, Gertrude Himmelfarb? Or whatever, like, wow. I look over at my daughter, she’s just like laughing over there. Giggling, “My dad doesn’t
know what he’s talking about!” And I do know the word
epistemology though, I do. You probably think I didn’t. It comes from the word “pistis” for faith. Thank you.
(laughing) Now that’s all I have to say. – [Moderator] Which works very well, ’cause we’re almost out of time, but I would like to take
one more question live. – Did you finish your thought? – I do have a thought. – [Moderator] Okay, all right! (laughing) – Because, okay, here’s where
I feel like I can contribute. Okay, you know, it’s this war. I mean, you described it perfectly. This whole idea of we’re
all fighting for our rights. And these are real things, real pain, real things that we feel. It’s so close to home. And I love how the church has been so compassionate towards people. This has been a new move into this, really trying to understand people, hear where they’re coming from. But it really does come down
to this worldview at the core. I’ve been saying recently that I think one of the
most important passages for our generation is Isaiah 55. Starting in verse eight where God says, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, “‘neither are your ways my
ways,’ declares the Lord. “‘For as the heavens are
higher than the Earth, “‘so are my ways higher than your ways “‘and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” So a lot of our reasoning comes
from, and I read a lot of, well not a lot, I’ve read
a couple of modern books where they’ll just say,
“Well why would God do this? “I wouldn’t do it. “That’s not the way I think.” You know, well I wouldn’t
flood the Earth either, I wouldn’t do this either, but it’s coming from this mindset
whether you know it or not that you believe your
mind is the ultimate. And what God’s saying is,
“I don’t think like you.” You know? So I read the Old Testament
and so many times I go, “I wouldn’t have done that,
I wouldn’t have done that, “I wouldn’t have done that.” Exactly, He says there’s a reason, “because you don’t think like I do.” And so in this compassion for people, we’ve lost this understanding
that, yes, I feel your hurt, but my biggest concern is you’re not seeing the center of it all. And you’re not seeing this
being who’s so far beyond you that you have to answer to and that’s bigger than the hurt that you’re currently facing. And his thoughts are so far beyond ours and there needs to be a
way in which the church no longer apologizes for the
way that God thinks and acts and what he says is right and wrong. – We should probably end. I want to say, you know,
I meant to say earlier to the gentleman who raised the question. Secularism, going through all
of those isms that I mentioned ended up at post-modernism. What the mistake is there
in each one of those cases, I want you to hear me carefully now, in grabbing the finger of one discipline, they thought they had
grabbed the fist of reality. There is a place for rationalism. There is a place for the
existentialist thought. There is a place for the empirical. There is a place for post-modernism. One thing in defense of
post-modern thinking, they believe in community,
which is precisely what the church is really all about. It is only the Christian worldview that distributes its authority
between all of these methods, because they all have a place. But the fist of reality ultimately is precisely the reasoning of God Himself who has the rational aspect,
who has the existential aspect, who has the community aspect, who has the investigative,
empirical aspect. So while secularism is
going to one ism at a time, God’s probably sitting there saying, “You know, you’ve just got one
little sliver of truth here. “I’ve got all of these in my orb.” And when you put it together, it has a cohesiveness of a composite and a worldview that fits together with all of these having
their legitimate place. – [Moderator] That’s good.

Jean Kelley

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