Throwback Thursday plus new info, “On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said”

By Elizabeth Prata

Three years ago I wrote a review of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. I wrote a follow up 6 months later. Mr Zacharias is a roving apologist who speaks at conferences or singly in various venues around the world.

Zacharias is an Indian-born, Canadian-American whose ministry is called Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. (RZIM)

I have heard him speak in person. I have listened to or watched his speeches online. My main concern with his approach to apologetics is that he seems to speak more of philosophy than straight Bible, dancing around the edges of the Gospel rather than being direct about our sin and our need for Christ. He tells lots of personal, experiential anecdotes rather than authoritative Bible stories.

There were some credibility issues also, which I recounted. Finally, on his website and in person when asked, there is a hesitation to declare issues biblically, such as pronouncing the Catholic Church anathema, coming down on one side or another on evolution, and a refusal to discuss Reformed Doctrines. Also troublesome was his partnering with Mormons, his appearing on Joyce Meyer’s television program where he called her ‘a great Bible teacher’, declaring Rick Warren’s Saddleback church “one of the great churches, and including what appears to be dishonest credentials on his resume.

All these are re-posted below below the fold.

In my first piece I’d concluded of Mr Zacharias,

If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist.

Yesterday I was listening to the most recent discussion between Phil Johnson and Todd Friel on ‘Too Wretched for Radio’ and the subject of Ravi Zacharias arose. Their discussion Mr Zacharias comprised the first ten minutes of the show.

Too Wretched for Radio 9/16/2019

Phil summed up his own notion of Mr Zacharias’ approach to apologetics very similarly to the conclusion I’d come to in 2016. I’m glad. I don’t want to be a single outlier but instead am pleased when I seem to be on the right track. Mr Johnson said of Zacharias’ approach,

He sees it as a philosophical issue. The approach to faith seems to be that the groundwork needs to be laid first with rational arguments and then scripture can come in. But first a platform needs to be built for scripture to come in so that people can be persuaded by it.

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Repost “On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

Ravi Zacharias is an Indian born,  Canadian-American Christian whose ministry is apologetics. Zacharias speaks at large gatherings, conferences, and events on the topics of Christianity and defending the faith. He also has a radio program, “Let My People Think.” He is well known for being intelligent, philosophical, and an excellent speaker in his command of the English language.

Even though there are some towering men of the faith, we must continue to do our duty and test all things against scripture. No one is immune from error or sin. Let us examine Mr Zacharias.

The link below brings you to an essay written in 2008. Since that time Ravi has descended further into questionable associations. At one point he praised Catholic Mystic Henry Nouwen, in addition to compromising on Mormon theology as you will read in the link below of that, and other compromises.

Ravi’s slide downward

Though Ravi later retracted his endorsement of Nouwen and Merton here

But let’s take a look at his activity and statements over time, and compare to scripture.

2009: Ravi signed the ecumenical document called the Manhattan Declaration which calls for Catholics and Protestants to partner on moral issues (source). This is a violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 5:11.

2012: Ravi appears on Joyce Meyer Today, and says to Meyer, “God has used you” and calls her a ‘great Bible teacher’ (youtube clip). This is a violation of one of the qualifications of elders, that they protect the sheep and remain in sound doctrine according to the biblical qualifications of teaching elders as per 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. His endorsement of Meyer was also a violation of the advice on Proverbs which says leaders use their wisdom to guide and lead. (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

Ravi Zacharias calls false teacher Joyce Meyer a great teacher?

2014: Ravi waffles on age of earth, Ken Ham has response. This denies the clear and straightforward text of Genesis and is a setting aside of Romans 15:4.

2015: Credible allegations were made that Ravi has allegedly inflated/exaggerated/misrepresented his scholarly credentials. Proverbs 19:9 says he who breathes out lies will perish. When the allegations surfaced, certain information was immediately removed from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) website. The allegations claimed,

-He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
-He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree, they are all conferred.
-He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
-He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer reviewed research.

Next, sadly, from the RZIM FAQ page,
Ravi Zacharias Ministry holds no official theological position on:

Creation: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the age of the earth. The focus of RZIM is apologetics and evangelism, and thus we do not address particular questions about creation…”

Calvinism v. Arminianism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of Calvinism or Arminianism, and we have staff members holding to a variety of views in both of these doctrinal traditions.” (PS you’ll notice errors in their explanation of Calvinism on the linked page)

Eschatology: “Dr. Zacharias has not spoken on matters relating to the end times, nor does RZIM endorse any official view on matters of eschatology.”

Catholicism: “RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of the Catholic tradition; RZIM focuses its ministry on evangelism and apologetics and strives to stay true to that vision. Some of Ravi Zacharias’s favorite authors are Catholic (namely G.K. Chesterton and Malcolm Muggeridge), yet he recognizes that there are significant doctrinal differences between Protestants and Catholics.” [doctrinal differences?]

Erm, kind of hard to engage in solid apologetics without an official position on many of the Bible’s doctrines.

2016: In April 2015, Ravi Zacharias was part of a conference which was set to scrutinize The New Apostolic Reformation, during the Worldview Apologetics Conference held at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. The co-authors of two books outing the NAR (R. Douglas Gievett, professor of philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, and Holly Pivec, journalist) wrote the following at their blog:

My co-author, Doug Geivett, will speak alongside other high-profile evangelicals–including Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, and Calvin Beisner–who will present on other important topics. Doug will give two presentations on the NAR, titled “The New Apostolic Reformation: What You Need to Know” and “God’s Super-Apostles: Where They Fall Short.”

And yet in January 2016 Ravi will partnered with Domininist/NAR teachers at a conference called Synergize, the very movement a previous conference which Ravi attended that had sessions exposing these people as false teachers.

Finally, the smooth talk. If you listen to enough of Zacharias you notice he uses mostly rhetorical contrivances, philosophy, and looong anecdotes but not a whole lot of Bible. He is an ecumenical philosopher, not a solid apologist. The reason he uses fine sounding arguments and rhetorical tricks is that he is the kind of man Paul is describing being the opposite of himself, in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5,

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, (like Ravi) but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, (Ravi again) but on the power of God. (as Paul does).

I also personally attended a Ravi Zacharias speech in Athens GA and I enjoyed it mainly because he is a smooth talking man who uses language so well.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:4)

What does everyone say when they mention Ravi Zacharias? “The Spirit is powerfully using Ravi!” No, but they do say, “Ravi’s so smart!” What would people say if they had heard Paul preach, who is just as smart as Ravi if not smarter? “Paul’s so smart!” or would they say, “Paul preaches in the power of the Spirit of God!” They would say the latter, and they did (1 Corinthians 2:4).

THINK about it.

philosophy

10 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday plus new info, “On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said”

  1. I just heard that same episode of Too Wretched and so I’ve been thinking about Ravi and his organization a lot lately. Thank you for writing this article. Exactly what I needed! 🙂

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  2. Ravi is an apologist. His use of proper methodology and proper sequence of levels as it pertains to his epistemology is top notch. We can all agree that he uses many metaphors, analogies, etc., This is part of his personal ‘style’ and it works well for him.

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    1. I disagree. He compromises the Gospel, isn’t clear in defending it when asked pertinent and important questions (such as ‘Is Catholicism Christian?’) and prefers ecumenical philosophy, anecdotes, and friendship evangelism to straightforward defenses and evangelism, as clearly demonstrated in the article. With links.

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  3. In regards to his calling Joyce Meyer ‘A GREAT BIBLE TEACHER’ and making other such comments about other questionable churches. If you look in context, he is humoring them and showing humility in these moments rather than endorsements. You can see similar language by the apostle Paul in his epistles as well as similar language from major and minor prophets. Thanks for your write-up!

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    1. I an skeptical that calling a heretic and a total rebel against God “a great bible teacher” is being humble. Can you cut and paste some of the statements where you say Paul indulged heretics by calling them great? Thanks.

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      1. Again, NO ONE who studies the Word would agree that Joyce is a great bible teacher. I am simply saying you should have posted the entire YouTube video and not just one that was clearly aimed at proving a narrow point and not entirely in context. He is humoring her in a loving manner. Imagine you are a parent telling a child “I know you are really quite smart and you probably know exactly what I am talking about, but….” and then going on to explain something that you know they clearly aren’t aware of. This is not a direct representation of what he is doing. It will allow you to understand if you watch the whole video in context. You can see that he is very evidently not endorsing Joyce Meyer.

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      2. There’s not much more to be said about Ravi’s statement, because it is a very plain statement. Posting “the entire video” would not have helped nor hurt the point. He IS endorsing her; in deed, by appearing with her on her program, and in word, by telling her she is a great Bible teacher. Simple facts. As an apologist, if he chose to appear on her program, it should have been to share the true Gospel and to tell her to stop preaching to men. Ravi did the same again by appearing at the Mormon Tabernacle and failing to be the apologist he says he is, by neglecting to share the true Gospel and instead sing Amazing Grace with them and give platitudes and anecdotes. If you would like an example of good evangelism and a man who clearly but gently defends the faith as both an apologist and an evangelist, witness the video of John MacArthur sharing the truth with Ben Shapiro. Compare the two approaches.

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  4. What God Did Today, thank you for your comments. I am not going further with any more back and forth on this. As you said, it’s opinion. We’ve both had our say. You can continue to follow the links I’ve provided… or not.

    As you mentioned, Ravi is a “world renowned apologist”…and remember what Luke 6:26 warns. Have a pleasant evening.

    Liked by 1 person

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