Ravi Zacharias Speaks, Fernando Ortega Sings … at the Mormon Tabernacle

"Famed apologist once made history as first evangelical leader in 100 years (since D. L. Moody) to address Latter-day Saints leaders. Now he’s the fifth big name in five months."

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Dave Gilbert's picture

I've seen quite a bit of this sort of thing over the years, and one facet of apostasy versus another...Whether it be Protestants speaking in Roman Catholic venues, Methodists speaking at Baptist venues or Evangelicals speaking at Mormon venues, nothing much surprises me anymore. The freight train that is apostasy is gathering downhill speed at an ever-increasing rate, and things are falling together in preparation for the one world church, IMO.


I find it fascinating, albeit in a very sobering way, that the prophecies of 1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 3 and many other books of the Bible are becoming real right before my eyes decade after decade. When I was younger ( and even before my birth, as I look back in history ), I saw various "denominations" that were once separated ( quite starkly, in fact ) over various traditions and teachings, starting to have "dialogue" despite those differences, and then I watched ecumenism almost explode in the 1980's and 1990's. I've seen whole denominations who once appeared to stand firmly on God's word, capitulate to the "warm and fuzzy" spirit of unity which exists now...a spirit of unity at the expense of truth. This "spirit" is growing at a phenomenal rate, and is sweeping everything along in its wake.


In the past, documents like ECT, ECT II, and other avenues of ecumenism have only sought to reinforce my personal belief that true, spirit-led believers are ( and have historically been ) a very small minority...and they are increasingly being surrounded by tares, who are only showing their true colors by abandoning God's word in favor of man-made methods of justification and fellowship...a "whatever feels good" approach to the God of the Bible, instead of reading and heeding His precepts. This has been recently manifested in the current belief that it is somehow "OK" to be a blood-bought believer and still actively practice something that God has declared an abomination, to list one very high-profile example.


On a side note, I am also becoming more and more grateful for God's grace that He has shown towards me, not only for my past, present and future sins against Him in this life, but also that as I grow in my walk with Him, He continues to increase my own personal discernment with respect to what is of the world and what is of God.


Secondly, I'm reminded that I cannot stand in judgment ( as Christ does ) over Ravi Zacharias  or anyone else who calls themselves a brother or sister, who compromises with those outside the truth; But I can ( and am commanded to ) withdraw myself from them because they are walking disorderly ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6 ). I personally will not have fellowship with those who set God's word aside in favor of what they might have " in common ". I will not come together with those who do not or will not accept what God's word says on a given subject, in favor of unity in the face of a "common enemy", no matter what the case. Abortion, religious freedom, freedom of speech, etc. have no bearing on who I work with and who I fellowship with. I base my own personal fellowship upon two things: 1) Does the person I fellowship with or intend to fellowship with ( make lasting friendship ) profess Christ, and 2) declare their willingness to believe God and obey Him.


Finally, it's not about perfection or performance,  it's about willingness. Those that are led by the Spirit will follow Him...those that don't, won't ( John 10:4-5, John 10:27 ). Those that form friendships or attempt dialog with those that deny whole portions of Scripture ( heretics ) are walking disorderly, IMO; I couldn't care less how "popular" they are...and if those that are walking disorderly start teaching things falsely, then they become heretics themselves, which after the first and second admonition I am commanded to reject ( Romans 16:17-18, Titus 3:10 ).





JC's picture



You have it wrong about Ravi Zacharius.  I heard him speak last Sunday when he announced he was going to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle.  He expressly and clearly said that he never compromises the message, but thanks the Lord for the opportunity to take the gospel to all places.   If you are going to separate from Ravi, then to be consistent, you would also need to separate from D L Moody too.



Dave Gilbert's picture

JC wrote:



You have it wrong about Ravi Zacharius.  I heard him speak last Sunday when he announced he was going to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle.  He expressly and clearly said that he never compromises the message, but thanks the Lord for the opportunity to take the gospel to all places.   If you are going to separate from Ravi, then to be consistent, you would also need to separate from D L Moody too.




Regardless of compromising the message, shouldn't Ravi be trying to avoid the possible appearance of evil? ( 1 Thessalonians 5:22 )


Following the example of Paul, we clearly see that he did not go into the temple of Diana ( for example ) to present the Gospel message, neither did he deliver the Gospel ( or the details of any part of the truth ) INSIDE the confines of something considered sacred, to a group of people well-known for their stand against certain parts of God's truth.


Wouldn't it be just as fitting to give Mormons the Gospel WITHOUT going IN to them and declaring it from their "tabernacle"? Hoping to persuade men to the truth is something that genuine believers do...but "going in to them" isn't something I, nor any child of God should do, IMO. I say, " Stay outside and give them the truth", rather than giving people the idea that he is somehow their friend by going IN to them that could result in someone getting the wrong idea. I watched Billy Graham do similar things with the Roman Catholic Church, and he ended up not being offensive to them...in fact, Mr. Graham is counted as a friend of the Roman Catholic Church by many. I say that Ravi should be careful with who he "goes in to"...who he preaches the Gospel to isn't the concern, because we all need to hear it. Smile


As for DL Moody, he was well-known for preaching the Gospel...He was also known for his errors: http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/moody.htm, if this is to be believed. I personally would not have fellowshipped with him, because, as far as I know, up to the point of his death he never believed that salvation was entirely a work of God, but that people could believe in Christ at their whim...in other words, "decisional regeneration", which I do not hold to ( and the bible does not teach ). His campaigns ( or revivals ) from what I understand, contained mainly people who had already made professions of Christ, and not a whole lot of those who hadn't.  Many subsequent preachers of the Gospel in the last 100 years have studied D.L. Moody's methodologies for obtaining converts and have implemented or emulated them: R.A. Torry, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham and Jack Hyles, to name a few. Knowing what I know now, I would have stopped fellowshipping with any of these men due to our differences between what the Bible teaches, and what their actions had become.


Perhaps I am wrong about Ravi Zacharias, perhaps I'm not. True, it is unfair of me to label him as a false teacher unless and until I get to know the man by his actions as well as his words, but at this point I am not labeling him as such. However, my internal "this is odd" meter starts to peg when I consider all the information I am seeing about him.

PhilB's picture

I have the opportunity to go tonight with my boss, who is a LDS bishop. He will not go to an evangelical church, even on a Saturday night, but will go tonight since it is at the tabernacle. I'm thrilled for the opportunity for him to hear the true Gospel in another format than just me and him chatting. I'm looking forward to speaking about the night with him as we go to in and out afterwards with some other pastor friends we are going with. I do find it interesting he was shocked and not happy Mohler will be going back to BYU after what he said last time. God is starting to do some really cool things here in the least evangelical place in the US. May God greatly use Ravi to challenge people to read the Bible and respond to the truth of it and grace alone!

Matthew J's picture


I went tonight to hear the good Dr. speak. I was pretty saddened. I gave Ravi the benefit of the doubt. But was even hesitant myself. To God our master each servant will stand or fall, it is not my place to determine if Ravi should or should not have been in that venue. A couple of observations, do what you will with them. 

1. The group standing together. org that promotes and brings Ravi to SLC (did so 10 years ago and I went then too). Is as ecumenical as you can get. That group can't stop fawning over itself and back slapping how tolerant and loving they are. 

2. Greg Johnson (president of that group) started the evening with some touching story about how he was moved and grew closer to God by having a field trip with his Mormon friends to Navou, Ill a while back and how he wept over how they must have felt being driven from their lands, but that better days have come now as Mormonism is alive and well in SLC. 

3. A professor of "spiritual transformation and ministry" at Wheaton college also spoke. He wanted to be very clear that he had deep friendship with his mormon friends and that they all loved the Bible and God very much. He also wanted to be certain that we all understood that the nights events were about friendship and partnership.

4. I can't remember if this was the right order, I have my program but am too lazy to get it right now. But I think that one of the elders in the quorum of the 12 from the LDS side spoke now. He was very warm and winsome and wanted everyone to know we are all brothers and sisters and that we all love Jesus. Then he bore his testimony and in that he was explicit concerning Mormon doctrine. He was very clear that it was suffering in the garden that purchased our redemption and anything about the cross was clearly left unspoken. Interestingly, I though he spoke more clearly about his doctrine than everyone else. Although everyone said that there were doctrinal and theological divides. Funny, but the mormon elder was the only one to say that they were not their to bridge the gap of theology and doctrine. 

5. Everyone time one of the people prayed, I struggled and was unable to partner in prayer. They used such inclusive language that a Christian or Mormon could use. I am probably a little bit harsh about this, but clarity is the most important way to love a Mormon, and that was absent in the prayers.

6. Fernando Ortega was great and his song selection was wonderful. Although everyone singing "My Redeemer" together was a little weird to me since the Mormon lady near me was singing with all her heart and I couldn't help but cry a little inside as I considered how she is singing about a different Jesus and doesn't even get it. 

7. Ravi spoke as he usually does. Not he did not compromise, he spoke clearly and he said true things. His text was about Mannasseh and the historical path toward moral destruction in a culture. It was not billed as nor was a Gospel presentation. I knew that going in. He alluded to the Gospel, and at one point, he illustrated how one man can lead many to believe a lie and it takes a long time to disbelieve that lie. He applied it to Stalin and Hitler, but I wondered if he was also applying it to Joe Smith. A few doctrinal differences I have with Ravi made me shake my head a few times, but not because I thought he was compromising the truth. However, he did not give the Gospel clearly (don't take that as criticism necessarily). He alluded to it, he spoke of reading the Scripture and praying. he spoke of coming to Jesus, He spoke of redemption, righteousness, and worship being critical in that order. He mentioned needing a new birth. But he did not explain any of it and simply mentioned them along with his own testimony. I and an guy with me (both long time living in mormon area-he whose family was mormon pioneer stock) agreed that nothing was said that would necessarily cause a Mormon to think his religion disagreed. This has mostly to do with the fact that Mormons use much of the same verbiage and without explanation would not understand the differences. 

8. My take away, Kind of a let down. For many years, I (and many other conservative evangelicals, not just fundamentalists) have decried "standing together" and Greg Johnson as causing harm to our gospel efforts. Ten years ago, Richard Mouw along with this group apologized to the Mormons and said that they and Joseph Smith were alike in that they both were seeking Truth. So I knew that going in and was expecting the worst from this highly ecumenical group, They did not disappoint. I was happy to hear Ortega and he did not disappoint. I was disappointed with Ravi, but kind of expected it, knowing that his topic was not the Gospel. I do believe that if his topic was the Gospel, he would not have compromised but would have been more articulate. There was a lot of appeal to emotion, and a lot of appeal to intellect, but sadly, I think that this will be forgotten in a week and that LDS will go about their business unless God regenerates a heart. If a conversation starts as a result and someone gets saved from that, glory be to God, but I believe it will be in spite of this event, not the direct cause of it. 

Two cents from someone who was there, of course, this is my opinion and someone may have interpreted things differently.  

Lee's picture

I like Ravi and listen to him routinely.  He is a brilliant man with uncanny insight in many areas, gifts of the Holy Spirit for his ministry, no doubt.  I have no question but that he loves the Lord and His Gospel.  But he was wrong on this one.  The LDS is an idolatrous organization, and he should not have been a part of this idolatry.  I Cor. 8 - 10


TylerR's picture


I appreciated your report. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Shaynus's picture

Has anyone seen Dr. Mohler's talk in front of the same group? I gather that he was more confrontational in his manner. If I were to speak to a bunch of mormons on a political or cultural issue, I wouldn't start out with a text of scripture as if we hold anything in common related to scripture and what it is.