Beyond Opinion, Edited by Ravi Zacharius

Reading to Know - Book Club
Well, the Reading to Know Book Club has started off with a bang.  Beyond Opinion:Living the Faith We Defend is a giant of a book.  It's academic and philosophical.  And, well, I am not.  I began it before Christmas.  Pretty much the only other book I read during this time was the Bible because I knew if I tried to read other books I would never finish this tome by the end of the month.  (I actually began a book for the L.M. Montgomery reading challenge and quickly realized that I had to stop.)  Though I highly recommend this book for Christians or those interested in learning more about Christianity, I would suggest buying a copy so that you can read it in small doses throughout the year.  Beyond Opinion has much to ponder, and really, I do not even know if I could hold an intelligent conversation about it.  (I borrowed mine from one of my libraries and its final due date is tomorrow.  Yes, I go to two two different states, plus my church library.)

Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We DefendBeyond Opinion brings together a dozen people (often who are now educating others) who each share from their perspective about a certain area of apologetics, and is edited by Ravi Zacharias.  This book addresses the idea that, as Christians, we need to be transformed and changed by the faith that we are defending.  We need to answer our own questions of faith honestly and even wrestle with our own doubts before trying to ask someone else to share our beliefs.

While reading, I placed about thirty tabs (similar to Post-It notes, but smaller) throughout the book.  Before writing this review, I typed nearly four pages of quotes from the book of things that I wanted to remember.  Seriously.  (Imagine my GPA potential if I had done that with all of my textbooks in college!)  Despite the difficult nature of Beyond Opinion, I really learned a lot...or at least I have the potential to learn a lot.  Without having those tabs, I fear I would not remember much of anything.  From those notes and quotes, I want to share a few things with you.

One of the first things to really hit me was the need for us to educate ourselves and our children in our faith.  Having not grown up in the church, I often feel that my understanding is limited.   (Really, it's not just an impression, my knowledge IS limited.  I have grown by leaps and bounds in my church though.)  Alison Thomas writes, "We can teach teens to practice and defend their faith by helping them develop their conversation skills.  Teens need to practice out loud how to use biblical terminology and imagery winsomely in a conversation without sounding churchy, obnoxious, or offensive."  However, I would like to suggest that this can apply to all of us.

Throughout Beyond Opinion, I appreciated the sense of respect toward other religions.  (The writers' former religious practices help them to portray an accurate word-picture, I'm sure.)  Too many Christians are put to shame by those who practice other religions.  We must be wholly devoted to God, and that devotion must play out in our every-day lives.  And while talking with others, we must truly listen to what they have to say and respond with compassion.  It's never about winning the debate.  It's about earning trust so that they may one day trust Jesus as Savior.

In the final pages of Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharius summarizes much of this book beautifully.
"As we have noted in this book, the ultimate calling upon the Christian is to live life reflecting the person of Christ.  This involves a threefold process.  First, we cannot take seriously the skeptic’s difficult questions until we have also worked through them.  Second, when such answers are known, they must be internalized (the process of spiritual transformation) so that, third, these answers will be lived out before a hurting and hungry world."
I would suggest that you read another book clubber's thoughts on Beyond Opinion.  Tim had much to say here.   You can also read the first thirty-five pages here.

This may not have been an easy read, but I am grateful for having read it.  I would even highly recommend it--even if you do not consider yourself a "thinker."  There is much to be gained from this book!  (Personally, I do recommend taking notes, using tabs, or something to help you if you are like me!)

Thank you, Carrie, for hosting the book club!  Readers, feel free to jump in any time!

I am now considering reading more books like this BUT MUCH EASIER TO COMPREHEND AND DIGEST.  What would you suggest?  


  1. Annette, you did a great job summing up what you gleaned from this book. One of the chapters that made the biggest impression on me, too, was the one about college students. I don't have any other book suggestions, although I think you might benefit from reading The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I've never read the whole thing, but in it she does discuss how to go about reading through the various "stages" of learning, as well as give suggestions abuot what to read. Most of these are classic works of fiction, but it's a starting place for sure.

  2. great review! you make me want to take the challenge of reading it!

  3. Hmmmm........... I've enjoyed some Phillip Yancey for interesting and well thought out, but not overwhelming. I'm trying to think of other ones, but can't offhand.

  4. It was AWESOME reading your thoughts on this! I'm seriously proud (and impressed) that you read it. (After all, I didn't.) But I think I'm leaning towards taking your advice and others' to take this book slowly. I think there's a good point for that. And I have it sitting here, intending to finish it. You and Stephanie both took such interesting things from Youth and Apologetics that I'm anxious to read that chapter alone! Seems to have hit home for both of you in one way or another.

    "Imagine my GPA potential if I had done that with all of my textbooks in college!" <-- LOL!!!!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Whew boy, I feel like I have a JOB in front of me!

  5. I passed this one up because I read the first few pages on Amazon and just knew this wasn't a time I could give it my best. If/when I do I'll take your advice to read in smaller chunks. I like using those little tabs to mark places in books, too.

    I have listened to Ravi, a few times on his radio program and one taped message, and I really appreciate his ministry.


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