Beyond Opinion is an apologic work from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) with Ravi Zacharias as an author and general editor.

The format of the book is broken out into three parts along with a conclusion.  The parts being:
– Part One: Giving An Answer
– Section One: Addressing the Difficult Questions
– Section Two: Addressing the Questions behind the Questions
– Part Two: Internalizing the Questions and Answers
– Part Three: Living Out the Answers
– Conclusion

Within each of these parts there are individual chapters written by authors associated with RZIM that deal with apologetic issues relevant to the given area.  For example, in Part One, Section One there are chapters written about various challenges against the Bible including postmodernism, atheism, youth, Islam, Eastern Religions and Science.

Overall I felt the book was good at giving a high-level introduction to challenges that are leveled against the Christian faith.  Certainly none of these chapters are exhaustive and much more research would be needed to better understand each area, but as an introduction they served their purpose.

There were a number of good points made in the book which helped me in thinking more critically and being better able to give an answer to those I encounter in our skeptical society. For this, it was helpful.

My biggest problem with the both the book stems mostly from RZIM’s ecumenical view of Christianity, specifically as it relates to Roman Catholicism.  Here, instead of dealing truthfully in exposing the radical differences between the religion of Rome and that of classic Protestantism, RZIM does the opposite and treats both as valid expressions of Christianity.  This evidenced by the way both Protestant and Catholic apologists are interchangeably quoted such as Greg Bahnsen on the one hand and Peter Kreft on the other.

My point is not to veer off into debating Catholicism vs. Protestantism but any Catholic who reads this review and really knows their doctrine and history, understands full well that “outside the [Roman Catholic] church there is no salvation.” (Para 846)  Rome is Mother Church; she is the one entrusted to “give an authentic interpretation of the Word of God.” (Para 85)  She is the one and only one, who through her priests, is able to “make present the one sacrifice of Christ” (Para 1330) as “the Eucharistic sacrifice … become[s] his [Jesus’] body and blood.” (Para 1350. She is the only one who holds the keys and can forgive sins via Penance, regenerate the dead via the waters of Baptism, and bind the baptized more perfectly to the Roman church and enrich “with a special strength of the Holy Spirit” through Confirmation.  And on and on we could go.

With all these differences, ones that Roman Catholic apologists such as Jimmy Aiken, Karl Keating, Robert Sungenis, etc. are quick to point out in their writings, RZIM is shockingly silent. A quote from 7KidsRUCatholic gleaned from forums.catholics.com summarizes how at least a representative sampling of Catholics view Mr. Zazharias:

“Ravi is an excellent speaker and is not anti-Catholic in any way. I have had the pleasure of some business dealings with his organization and I have spoken with him. He knows I am Catholic and has never tried to “convert” me.

Honestly, I’d think that he might be closer to Catholic than a Reformer.”

That about sums up Mr. Zacharias and his unwillingness to truthfully and honestly deal with the Catholic religion.  Something that is both tragic and inexcusable, especially in a book heralded by Norman L. Geisler as “the best book of its kind in print.”

Final recommendation: There are some good points in the book that will help you think and analyze the Christian worldview as it relates to other worldviews, whether they be religious, atheistic, scientific or humanistic.

Yet I cannot fully endorse the book due to the the mixing of light and darkness and ecumenical slant of RZIM.  Especially for those who, after reading the book, will seek out works written by the Catholic apologists/philosophers referenced.

Disclaimer: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”