I am the youth minister at a local church in North Texas, and twice a year I walk some of our students through a discipleship course. This time I presented them with a number of Bible studies to choose from, and they landed on Jesus Among Secular Gods, a study written by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale and published by LifeWay (2017). It is a companion to their book of the same name which was published by FaithWords in early 2018.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching through the study, learning many things myself, and thought I would write a brief review here. The version I am reviewing is the student edition, but there is an edition for adults that I assume is very similar, especially the teaching content.
Jesus Among Secular Gods is a six-week study following this outline:
- Week 1: Be Prepared
- Week 2: Atheism and Scientism
- Week 3: Pluralism
- Week 4: Humanism and Relativism
- Week 5: Hedonism
- Week 6: Conversations That Count
Some of my students thought this study would be about other religions, such as Buddhism, Scientism, Islam, etc. It is about several “isms,” just not religious ones. Instead, as you can tell from the chapter headings, it is about secular belief systems that discount the existence or the need for a god.
According to the study’s introduction, “The popular ‘isms’ of the day leave the most fundamental questions unanswered.” It then asks, “But how can believers learn to respond with grace and truth to these secular gods?” Herein lies the purpose of this study: “Jesus Among Secular Gods is designed to equip believers to give a reason for the hope they have (1 Pet. 3:15).”
This purpose is achieved first by introducing the concept of apologetics and the need for believers to be able to give a reason, or defense, for the hope within them. It also highlights how faith and reason are not enemies but rather close friends that can and should work together.
Then, beginning with atheism, it walks through several secular belief systems, highlighting where they go wrong and what can be done and said to engage someone of this persuasion in a gospel conversation. The 18-20 minute teachings sessions from Zacharias and Vitale are both informative and encouraging (these come on a DVD with the Jesus Among Secular Gods leader kit).
Throughout the study, students are introduced to terms and concepts such as worldview, existentialism, post-modernism, and the law of non-contradiction. The topics also allow you to introduce many other apologetic arguments, such as the watchmaker argument and the law of ultimate regress. Personally, one of my favorite parts of the study was the explanation of what a worldview is, including the components of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Every world view has an answer to where we came from, what we are here for, what we should and should not do, and where we are going. The only question is this: which worldview is tenable?
Ultimately, Bible study participants will be equipped to have meaningful and insightful conversations with both skeptics and nominal “Christians.” They will learn that God does exist, that science is helpful (but cannot prove everything), that there is only one way to secure eternity with God, and that truth is not relative (contrary to what many, many people claim today).
Jesus Among Secular Gods will open your eyes, expand your horizons, and prepare you to be a better apologetic witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Its in-depth teaching and philosophic background means it is not for everyone; it is best suited for those willing to think deep about several topics and issues they may or may not be familiar with. It is challenging, but also very rewarding.
You can view a trailer for the study here.
 Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Jesus Among Secular Gods: Confronting the Claims of Culture (6-session Bible Study for Teens), (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2017), 5.