Ravi Zacharias on The Ben Shapiro Show

Ravi Zacharias recently appeared on The Ben Shapiro for an hour-long interview covering topics from suffering to autonomy and human rights. There has been a great amount of social media chatter and news coverage.

I’d encourage you to listen through the entire interview, as there are many great topics. Here are a few quotes I found especially powerful,

The most important phrase to me is 'I am the Lord your God that brought you out of the land of Egypt … redemption is prior to righteousness and righteousness leads one to worship. So when you get to Exodus 20 and you are reading that beautiful moral law and then you move five chapters later and you move into the tabernacle and the framework of reference, I think it is the change of heart that is the only answer to the moral framework.

What happens in the first three chapters of Genesis happens in this world every day … On the one hand we claim to be autonomous, but when it goes wrong we blame someone else.

The perfection of the law was not violated but performed and endorsed [through Christ] … He goes to the cross- the redemptive factor of the purist paying for the impure.

[David, when repenting for his sin] says, ‘Against and you only have I sinned.’ Sin is a vertical thing. Morality can very easily become a horizontal term … [The prodigal son] says, ‘I have sinned against heaven and against you.’ In that order.

Additionally, several news outlets have summarized the interview,

Conversation starters

  1. As our world becomes more polarized, how does this discussion illustrate how to disagree well?
  2. How do Ravi’s definitions of ‘morality’ and ‘sin’ contrast with other approaches to these topics?
  3. How could this podcast help you start good conversations with your friends?

Thanks for sharing this, Brittany! I missed it and wouldn’t have seen it without your post…



yes I enjoyed this as well and watched it a couple of weeks ago.

  1. Ravi explained to Ben that he had moved away from debates years ago towards dialog - a back and forth sharing of ideas.
  2. I can’t remember if it was in this talk or another, but I remember Ravi saying that as soon as you mention the word ‘sin’ to a news reporter the conversation is over. He said he says (and I can’t remember his exact words); that humans have fallen short of their intended purpose; and then goes onto say you don’t blame a car-maker if a car goes and runs over a lot of people in a shopping mall. The car-maker has designed it for transportation.

If you watch Ben Shapiro’s other shows, especially the political ones, he talks a lot and argues fast and strongly; almost to the point of not being able to understand what he’s saying. Interesting how much listening he does in this video. I hope he will come to the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is.

I would love to see Ravi sit down and have a discussion with Jordan Peterson; I still remember in the video discussion(debate) with Peterson, William Lane Craig, and Rebecca Goldstein (Is There Meaning in Life) how Peterson recounts his dream of Jesus as being the greatest figure in history - towering over the achievements of the rest of history’s great figures. I have in the past, prayed that Jordan Peterson would come to know Christ personally.


@kumquat, glad this post is an encouragement. Once you listen to it, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do reply back so we can share ideas!

@matthew.western, thanks for sharing the “Is There Meaning In Life” video. I enjoyed hearing the two other speakers’ perspectives. Yes, let’s pray they come to know Christ as personal savior.

You know, I listened to the talk a few times and completely missed the point in the first question. Thanks for highlighting the importance of dialogue rather than debates. It reminds me of the talk by Vince Vitale, Everyday Conversations.

Would you be willing do a deeper dive into the definition of sin as a “violation of purpose?” I’ve pondered that definition a while, and I wonder how I’d respond in conversation after I said it. Two things come to mind for me- relationship and work. I think with the relationship topic I’d go with the C.S. Lewis quote in this thread. The work topic isn’t something I initially imagined when I heard Ravi Zacharias’ definition of sin. However, upon further reflection I thought of 1 Timothy 6:10, which says the love of money is the root of all evil. That verse came into my mind after reading the last paragraph of this article by The Gospel Coalition.

What would be your response to a friend asking about why you would define sin as “a violation of purpose”?


I think I might ask them about recent terror attacks in Europe in which someone used a truck to intentionally run over and kill people and their thoughts related to that. The truck was built as a way to transport goods from place to place, not as a weapon, although it could be repurposed for such (and was). God’s purpose in creating is always for a good purpose but a created being hijacking something created for their own purpose, one for which it wasn’t intended, leads to bad outcomes. Sex might be a topic to bridge into moving from things to beings. The Bible tells us 1 man and 1 woman for life in a monogamous relationship is God’s created purpose and that any other combination is a marring of purpose. God made a way for mankind to be fruitful and multiply and made it fun to boot. But mankind doesn’t like to be limited and runs to any potential application of a created thing and explores it, even when it goes against creation intent and is to their detriment/destruction. As I’m writing this, my mind goes back to when I was putting a bike together for my son as a Christmas present. There was literally a full page of disclaimers about how the bike and parts of the bike were not meant to be used. I was floored that so much would need to even be written when the obvious intent was for transportation for a child, one that can be a lot of fun. Ravi tells a story of noticing the in plane lavatories how it must be stated “don’t tamper with, destroy, remove, deface, disconnect or impede the function of this device” and wonders “why isn’t it enough to say leave it alone? Why are all of these restrictions even necessary? It’s because of man’s nature to always try to do what he wants and call it what he will.”

Anyway, some initial thoughts. You?


I must confess; I haven’t analysed the video deeply, I watched it from start to finish and didn’t take notes. I think Ravi might recognise that because the word ‘sin’ shuts down a conversation, he uses the phrase ‘violation of purpose’ in order to spark curiosity in a person. As you say, there is no point using that term (or any other term in a form of a question) unless you have already thought about where you are going to take the train of thought if a person asks you to explain yourself.

I think when we talk about ‘violation of purpose’, as @kumquat said, about the purpose of a vehicle, you could think about ‘a thing is designed for a purpose’. The question is what are humans designed for? Design, and knowing what is our purpose, then gives us meaning. If we reject God as designer, this erases our purpose, and takes away all meaning (secular humanism, where humans are merely an accidental blip of mass/energy in the universe).

I think the Biblical principal of being creating in God’s image also gives humans intrinsic value; and as theBibleProject video says; we were designed to be co-rulers with God, with delegated authority over creation in order to do good; to partner with God. This gives us our purpose.

at the fall; humanity decided to redefine good and evil on our own terms; and in the process this is where our relationship with God (vertical morality), our relationships with others (horizontal morality), and our relationship with work (part of the curse that work would be by the sweat of our brow and the ground would have thorns and thistles), all broke.

I’ve also heard theBibleProject guys speak of sin in a picture of a fish out of water. The fish needs the water to survive. We’re the fish, and God Himself and his life giving presence is the water. When humanity sinned, it was as if the fish has jumped out of the water and is slowly dying on the riverbank. I did wonder about this picture initially when I heard it; but it was another way to think about it.

Yes it’s a great interview and well worth a watch - really makes you think. :slight_smile:


@kumquat thanks for the description of the bicycle- I’ve not assembled one before, but I hadn’t thought of instructions now becoming “what not to do” instead of “what to do.”

I’m reminded of positive freedom (“freedom for”) and negative freedom (“freedom from”) that Abdu Murray touches on in his book Saving Truth. While we all want freedom from constraints like poverty or oppression, until we are trained through Scripture to understand our “freedom for” and the beauty in a relationship with God, we can’t be fully free. The most recent episode of “Cover to Cover” digs deeper into it.

In the core module, we discuss how stepping away from God’s plan causes us pain. The progression we see in Genesis and The Fall is: temptation => doubt => disobedience => shame => hiding => finger-pointing => suffering. In thinking back to the imagery @matthew.western gives of a fish out of water. Shame, hiding, and finger pointing can be so suffocating, just like a fish. It makes me think back, too, to our “violation of purpose.” The definition of sin being vertical rather than horizontal is interesting because in that order of sin progression in Genesis, it’s the crumbling of a relationship with God that precedes the crumbling of human relationships. When we’re in right relationship with God, there is a proper alignment towards others.


thankyou Brittany, that’s well explained. I’m reminded of a picture that my wife showed me once; the so called marriage triangle; but I guess it can apply to any relationship. The closer people are to Jesus, the closer they are to each other.

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