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New Birth or Rebirth?: Jesus Talks with Krishna (Great Conversations) Hardcover – June 17, 2008

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About the Author

Born in India, Ravi Zacharias earned a master of divinity degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School before he began an international speaking ministry as a recognized authority on comparative religions, cults, and philosophy. Zacharias holds three doctoral degrees and is the author of numerous award-winning books, including Can Man Live without God? He also hosts a weekly international radio program called Let My People Think. Zacharias lives with his wife, Margaret, in Atlanta. They have three grown children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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 that all religions subscribe to (either explicitly or implicitly) is the notion of exclusive truth. Populists like to deny that premise, but all religions either make this claim or try to covertly smuggle it in.

The question, therefore, is not whether one enjoys a discussion like the one that follows in this book but whether the arguments are fairly presented. That is much harder to do, especially where length is limited. I have, therefore, selected to write about what I consider to be the greatest differences between Jesus and Krishna.

As always, putting words into the mouths of historic figures is a challenge. I have done my best to take ideas straight from what has already been quoted in each faith’s sacred texts and put them into context here.

Hinduism is a complex belief system. At times the following conversation will become quite philosophical and intricate. Please be patient as we work through these areas of belief so that the truth and beauty of Christ’s gospel is fairly presented against the backdrop of Hinduism’s complexity. To present either of these beliefs as simple is to not understand them fully.

As with the other books in this series, I have introduced a third personality who can raise questions legitimately, since any known conversations between Jesus and Krishna do not exist. Subramaniam was a real person. Born a Hindu in the early part of the twentieth century, his is one of the most remarkable stories I have ever read. He challenged the religion of his birth and faced immense persecution for his actions, being ostracized and finally fleeing from his hometown to avoid death.

Incidentally, I have always marveled that so many religions exact this kind of revenge against dissenters. It only weakens the appeal of their own faith and contradicts any claims they might have made that “all religions are basically the same.” If all religions are indeed the same, why not let someone be "converted” to another religion?

I also marvel at the fury sometimes evident in those who attack others for examining and questioning their own worldview. If the repercussions of converting weren’t so serious, it would almost be comical to see the animosity of the responses. But what this revenge demonstrates so strongly is an inbuilt belief that conversion is wrong. And why is conversion so forbidden?

It circles back again to the one notion that all religions subscribe to—the notion of exclusive truth. I have also introduced a fourth character, Richard, a fictional traveler to India who converses with Subramaniam on the road to Mathura and later eavesdrops on the conversation between Jesus, Krishna, and Subramaniam.

Richard does not lean heavily behind the curtain, as Subramaniam does, but it is my hope that he will someday—as it is my hope that all people who seek spiritual truth will. Another factor is at stake in the following discussion: it is easy to take the weakest aspect of a worldview and exploit it. But that is not what I wish to do. When one encounters expressions of belief that are openly affirmed and followed, even when they seem bizarre, one must ask the hardest questions. One must examine the stronger
aspects of any worldview as well.

At base, one of my consistent premises throughout this series is that the popular aphorism “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.

In the pages to come, I hope that the vast differences between Christianity and Hinduism will become very evident in this imaginary dialogue. Yet it is important to remember that, as different as these faiths are, we must learn to accept those differences peaceably. Still, let us not be so mindless as to think that Christianity and Hinduism are saying the same thing and that, in the end, the differences do not really matter. Both claim to be true and legitimate. This rationally implies, then, that it does matter what you believe. That is what this imaginary dialogue is about.
—Ravi Zacharias
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Conversations
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590527259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590527252
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For over thirty-five years, Ravi Zacharias has spoken all over the world in great halls and universities, notably Harvard, Princeton, and numerous universities internationally. He is listed as a Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford university. He has appeared on CNN and other international broadcasts. The author of several books for adults and children, he powerfully mixes biblical teaching and Christian apologetics. His most recent works include Walking from East to West, a memoir; The Grand Weaver, an exploration of God's intention in both the ordinary and the startling elements of life; and The End of Reason, a rebuttal of the claims of the so-called New Atheists. His weekly radio program, Let My People Think, is broadcast on 1,692 stations worldwide, and his weekday program, Just Thinking, is on 412. He is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children and reside in Atlanta.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As the leading religion of the west is Christianity, so one of the leading religions of the East is Hinduism. "New Birth or Rebirth: Jesus Talks with Krishna" is a unique and scholarly examination by Ravi Zacharias of the two religions and how they relate. Written as a fictional conversation from the perspective of Subramaniam, a Hindu, it asks many questions of both religions, pointing out several intriguing facts, and asking interesting questions. "New Birth or Rebirth" is a fascinating book on religion, offers a fresh perspective, and is a welcome addition to personal and community library Religion/Spirituality reference collections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is written quite as well as all of Dr. Zacharias' other books, but seemed to have significantly less information on Hinduism than some of his other books had on the religions they addressed. Still, worth the read and worth the buy.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Kaye Oldner on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus talks with Krishna" is a 90 page religious book by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. From the press release: This is a resource book for students of Christianity who would like to connect with Hindus and communicate intelligently about spiritual things. Drawing on the sacred texts of both religions, he has crafted an imaginary conversation between Jesus, Krishna, and Subramaniam, a twentieth-century Hindu who has closely examined both faiths.

Dr. Zacharias says "My premise is the popular aphorism that all religions as 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." And that is the purpose of this book.

The conversation in the book is basically Krishna explaining the Hindu belief under questioning from both Jesus and Subramaniam. Jesus contrasts key elements to show the fundamental differences between the two by using examples of Hinduism and leading Swamis and excerpts from the Vedas quoted by Krishna. However, the book seems more to illustrate the rituals of the Hindu religion instead of the basics of the belief.

On the other side, Jesus does take aim against the religion in his name. Jesus says "I did not come to offer a religion. I did not come to offer a system of rules by which a person reaches the right destination. I am not so much interested in pointing you to a place as I am in pointing you to a Person and a relationship. That is the key." In fact, you could probably substitute any religious system that has a caste system such as Roman Catholic, Easter Orthodox Catholic, Islam, Judaism or Mormonism in place of the Hinduism used in this book to illustrate the teachings of Jesus.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard H Hess on July 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As per usual Ravi Zacharias comes through with slam-bang insight, and most readable presentation. His intellect is evident and his way of framing history and logic compelling. He is worth reading again and again and giving/sending his material to friends. I have followed him for many years and have never been disappointed in/with any of his presentations, whether in print or voice.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judy Wiles on May 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great little book that brings understanding to the differences between Hinduism and Christianity. It's an easy and enjoyable read because Ravi set it up as a conversation, and gives great insight for someone looking to understand the differences between these faiths. And you can easily read it in a sitting or two. I highly recommend it!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John G. Barbour on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is rare. It covers a subject that has not been written about very often and it does so in a short, creative way. Ravi Zacharias presents us with a fictional dialog between Jesus and Krishna. I think both Hindus and Christians will benefit from this short book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Wainner on February 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really liked the way the main thoughts and principles of Jesus claims and those of Hinduism were contrasted and compared. Get your thinking cap on before you read!
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stacey VINE VOICE on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"New Birth or Rebirth - Jesus talks with Krishna" by Ravi Zacharias is a fascinating way to gain perspective on Hinduism in relation to Christian beliefs. A brief introduction by the author explaining the topic is followed by a scripted conversation between Jesus, Krishna, Subramanian and a fictional character named Richard designed to enlighten the reader about the differences between Christianity and the Hindu faith.

This sometimes easy to digest, other times philosophical, dialogue brings to light the major differences in the beliefs of Hindus and Christians in a very creative way. As a drama ministry participant, I can almost see this book being used to put on a play to educate my congregation. I look forward to reading Zacharias' other "Great Conversations" books: "The Lotus and the Cross - Jesus talks with Buddha" and "The Lamb and the Fuhrer - Jesus talks with Hitler".
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