Posted in discernment, theology

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

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Further discerning of Ravi Zacharias

In January 2016 I’d written an essay questioning whether well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias was solid and should be listened to or not. It’s called: On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said.

In discerning whether a teacher is qualified, we first look to the Bible for its benchmarks and standards to see if the teacher meets them according to their ability, gender, and age. We also look to their lifestyle and behavior, as the Bible exhorts.

What we don’t do is jump on one little error or mishap and make a global, dogmatic declaration about or against a teacher. We are patient, kind, and watchful with grace. Over time however, if the teacher’s errors or mishaps continue to accumulate, one becomes cautious in absorbing his or her material. At some point the Christian makes a final decision using their God-given level of discernment whether to follow that teacher any more or to abandon him.

That’s usually why I include in my essays several examples from a teacher I’m considering following or abandoning, and I also usually include the time frame. Because of grace, I need to see a total picture over time before deciding against someone who professes Christ.

In my January essay, I’d raised concerns about Mr Zacharias in the following spheres:

–Personal ethics. Allegedly inflated and exaggerated credentials, violating Titus 2:7 and 2 Timothy 2:15;

–Doctrine. Refusals to take positions on critical doctrines of the Bible (creationism, Calvinism, Catholicism, and eschatology) which violates Acts 20:20, Acts 20:27, 1 Peter 3:15 and Titus 2:1;

–Being unequally yoked. Partnering with Joyce Meyer in spiritual endeavors, and calling her “a great Bible teacher”), violating 2 Corinthians 6:14.

All these added up to highly doubtful solidity. I made the personal decision not to listen to Mr Zacharias any more and to refrain from recommending him to friends.

I read The Berean Examiner‘s screen shot today that Mr Zacharias had published on his Facebook page. Here is Mr Zacharias’s comment-

There are two obvious problems with Ravi’s compliment of Saddleback and Pastor Rick Warren. The first is that Rick Warren is an apostate pastor whose emphasis on entrepreneurial business practices, extra-biblical methodsmishandling of the Bible, pragmatism, waffling on major issues, and failure to preach the Gospel is of high concern and have done tremendous damage to the twentieth century church and have led many astray. Mr Warren’s errors have been seen over decades and discussed long enough so that any Christian with a modicum of discernment would be troubled. That Mr Zacharias partnered with Mr Warren and worse, praised him, is another strong strike against Mr Zacharias.

Second, Mr Zacharias’ comment that Saddleback is “one of the great churches…across time” is also troublesome. We can compare great churches across time. We have the Bible. The Lord Himself commended churches He declared worthy and these commendations of greatness are recorded in the book of Revelation. Let us take a look at these ‘great churches across time’ to see what made them great.

The Church at Philadelphia was a church commended by Christ and having no negative remarks associated with it. None. (Revelation 3:7-13). They were so commended by the Lord, He said He will make that church’s enemies “come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9).

The church at Smyrna, recorded in Revelation 2:8-11, was also a great church across time because it was commended by Jesus with having no negative strikes against them. He said that that particular church was temporally poor but spiritually rich. Wow.

What Mr Zacharias is saying is that from across that time to ours, Saddleback compares favorably to those beloved Philadelphian and Smyrnian churches. I disagree, strongly.

The one part of Zacharias’s statement with which I agree is his comment that Warren and Saddleback has “touched the world for life-changing impact”. In my opinion, Rick Warren has been one of top negatively influential people of the entire twentieth century that has most negatively impacted the global church with a doctrinal pollution of untold proportions. Warrens’ band of pragmatic, market-driven, seeker sensitive, felt-needs doctrines are no better than those merchants Jesus condemned of making His Father’s house a den of thieves.

I am sorry to see these statements from Mr Zacharias but in the end I’m glad. It confirms for me the biblical and personal necessity of putting him aside and strengthens my resolve to warn against him.

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Further Reading

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