These days, the pursuit of vague spirituality has replaced our search for absolute truth. Politically correct opinion dictates, “It doesn’t matter what you believe --- as long as you sincerely believe something.” Admittedly, people of different faiths will sometimes disagree. For example, even as devout Hindus regard cows as sacred beings, the average Christian would envision those same cows grilled to perfection and served with a baked potato. But once you set aside dietary practices and other peripheral issues, don’t all religions basically preach the same message?
World-renowned speaker and author Ravi Zacharias is a recognized authority on Christian apologetics, comparative religions and philosophy. In his new book, NEW BIRTH OR REBIRTH? Jesus Talks with Krishna (Multnomah, June 2008), Zacharias weaves an intricate and philosophically rich narrative that guides readers through the basic tenets of both Christianity and Hinduism, proving that the differences do matter. Drawing on the sacred texts of both religions, he has crafted an imagined conversation between Jesus, Krishna and Subramaniam, a twentieth-century Hindu who has closely examined both faiths. The book highlights what he believes to be the greatest differences between Jesus and Krishna, a central figure of Hinduism who lived in the 33rd century BCE.
“Krishna is revered by millions of people worldwide and writing on any figure honored that greatly is difficult. But I am doing so because the one notion to which all religions subscribe (either explicitly or implicitly) is the notion of exclusive truth,” Zacharias states. “Populists like to deny that premise, but all religions either make this claim or try to covertly smuggle it in.”
The character of Subramaniam is based on a real person. A Hindu who challenged the religion of his birth, he faced immense persecution for his actions and was eventually forced to flee his home or face certain death. Zacharias believes that this kind of revenge exacted against dissidents and those who convert to another religion serves as a compelling contradiction to any religion’s surface-level claims of universalism.
“My premise is that the popular aphorism that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different’ simply is not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different,” he 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 CORSS: 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.