Friday, August 15, 2008

New Birth or Rebirth?

Ever wonder what Jesus would say to Hitler or Buddha or Krishna? Ravi Zacharias has written a series of books based on that curiosity. Zacharias, a well-known author and speaker and scholar, has examined the teachings of spiritual philosophers and then written a fictional conversation between Jesus and the philosopher.

Zacharias has already published the first two books in this series and his latest will come out in September, dropping Jesus and Krishna into a conversation about Hinduism.

Often in these kinds of conversations, the positions are not fairly presented. It’s easy to knock down a caricature of a philosophy, but Zacharias does not present Hinduism unfairly. He probes the complex teachings of Hinduism, examines its sacred texts, and presents the points in context.

Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion, behind Christianity and Islam. Depending on whose statistics you believe, there are anywhere from 837 million to 1.2 billion people in the world who practice this faith. Though Hindus currently make up only 0.5% of the U.S. population (approximately 76% of the population considers itself Christian), their number and influence on Western society are growing, as notions of Karma and reincarnation, the practice of yoga and books on topics like tantric sex have been co-opted by popular culture. In recent years, much has been made of a supposed Krishna-Christ connection, leading many to wonder if, aside from the obvious differences in dietary practices (Hindus revere cows, while most Christians enjoy them grilled to perfection and served with a baked potato), these faiths are, in essence, preaching the same message.

In his new book, New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna (Multnomah, 2008), Zacharias takes readers on a journey into India's holy city of Mathura. This is the birthplace of Krishna, the name revered and worshiped by millions of Hindus. The teachings of Krishna in the Gita are often referred to as being closest to those of Jesus. But as you walk through the streets and visit the temples, you will be a witness to an imaginary conversation between Jesus and Krishna you will soon see where the message comes close but where the differences lie.

Questions of human dignity, Karma, and reincarnation are faced head-on. What is the teaching of this most popular of Hindu books? How does the Gospel differ? New Birth or Rebirth? gets to the heart through the mind of these two, both of whom claimed to give the ultimate answers. Jesus and Krishna will engage your intellect and emotions in life's soul- searching struggles.

“My premise is that the popular aphorism that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different’ is simply not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different,” Zacharias reflects. “Both Christianity and Hinduism claim to be true and legitimate. This rationally implies, then, that it does matter what you believe.”

With three doctoral degrees under his belt, Zacharias is clearly qualified to teach on comparative religion, particularly the Christian faith he practices and Hinduism, the majority religion of his native India. His creative approach to the topic is far more user-friendly than any textbook. A gifted writer, Zacharias peppers the philosophical intricacies of the discussion with moments of wit and humor.

New Birth or Rebirth? is an excellent evangelistic tool. As the characters converse, Zacharias presents the truth and beauty of the gospel of Christ against the backdrop of Hinduism’s complexity. The book is also a helpful resource for Christians who have asked questions like: Who do Hindus worship? Why do they revere cows? Why do they believe in reincarnation? Most importantly, readers will find the answer to this question: Who should I believe?

New Birth or Rebirth? is the fourth installment in the Great Conversations series, an innovative line of apologetics that includes previously released titles The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler, and Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks to Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure.

New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna by Ravi Zacharias

Multnomah Books/June 2008/ISBN-13: 978-1-59052-725-2/hardcover/90 pages/$11.99

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Sounds like it might be something I might like to read.