Reformer, I would like to follow up with your comment here regarding Ravi Zacharias Ministries. He sold out to the Mormon Church years ago. Now John Hagee to the Catholic Church.
We need to stay in the Truth, not in people or ministries. This is what apostasy.
This letter was written by Margie Zacharias after many questioned what was obviously against obedience to scripture...separation!
TO THE READER: The following documentation was provided to Christian Research Service in the form of a five page FAX on January 17, 2005. It was written by the wife of Ravi Zacharias, Margie, on November 19, 2004, and is a summary of the notes she took during Ravi Zacharias' meetings and speaking engagements in Salt Lake City, Utah between November 11-15, 2004. The font-size has been enlarged for easier reading. The original five page FAX is on file.
Bud Press, Director,
Christian research Service
November 19, 2004
Thank you for your prayers before and over this weekend. I know many were praying and several left phone messages to let us know that they were praying. Thank you...it means more than I know how to say. Thank you also to those of you who came here to lend your physical support. It is much appreciated and it was great to see you.
Ravi and I (with Nate Elwell) arrived in Salt Lake City on Thursday. We were met at the airport by Greg Johnson and his assistant, Eric. A group of about fifteen local pastors had also come to the airport to welcome Ravi but as our flight was over an hour late they had all left except for one pastor and his wife from a C&MA church in the city. It was great to see them. This whole event, and the dialogue that has been going on between Christian philosophers and Mormon philosophers, has been 'brought about by Greg Johnson of Standing Together (www.standingtogether.org ), an organization committed to bringing Christians together in their efforts to reach Mormons. Greg himself is a former Mormon and is a bundle of seemingly unlimited energy. It was Greg who was responsible for bringing Ravi to Brigham Young University ten years ago.
Friday morning Greg and Ravi had an appointment with the top three leaders of the Mormon Church, the First Presidency, which consists of the President/Prophet and his top two advisers. President Gordon Hinckley in 94 years old but Ravi said he is sharp and astute and looked to be in his 70?s. (President Hinckley's response to Larry King's question about one become president of the Mormon church was that first you are appointed as one of the Twelve Apostles and then you outlive the others!) The meeting was formal but very cordial as they sat around a long conference table and Ravi answered the President's questions regarding RZIM and Ravi's ministry. Greg asked President Hinckley why he had agreed to invite Ravi to the Tabernacle and his response was, "I thought it sounded like a good idea and I was glad to help out!" It is apparently his predecessor who opened the door to what is happening now by encouraging his people to read the Book of Mormon, which had in turn led them to begin to read the Bible. President Hinckley himself has lent support to the dialogues that are taking place between Christian philosophers and apologists and their Mormon counterparts by not objecting to them and by not being dogmatic and legalistic in his remarks about certain Mormon doctrines. After about 25 minutes, Ravi and Greg were taken on a tour of the facility by a member of the ruling council, and the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States was ushered into the room for his audience with the First Presidency.
About 10:30 that morning Greg and Ravi, Nate and I headed to Provo Utah, and Brigham Young University to be hosted for lunch by some members of the faculties of the Religion and Philosophy Departments of BYU. There were about twelve of us altogether. They were very gracious and warm and the lunch was delicious! The conversation was very interesting and ranged among many subjects, including Charles Templeton from Canada. For those who don't know who he is, he was a friend and contemporary of Billy Graham's in Canada. He led Toronto YFC and actually brought the Avenue Road Church in Toronto into the Christian & Missionary Alliance. He had a great ministry and influence in Canada but lost his faith when he went to Princeton and became one of Canada's leading antagonists against Christianity writing many books and hosting a radio program. One of the faculty members at the lunch was from Sudbury, Ontario, and he was thrilled that I am a Canadian; in fact, it was he who brought it us and it was he who opened the conversation about Templeton and his lost faith. They graciously presented Ravi with two gifts, the Book of Mormon and a bronze bust of Brigham Young.
The conversation was very interesting but I felt there was an elephant in the room that no one was acknowledging. They talked around some doctrinal issues without actually discussing them (all who were there have been involved in the doctrinal dialogues over the last three and a half years). As Ravi stated it, there seems to be a growing awareness among them that the emperor has no clothes but no one wants to be the one to blow the whistle! One of the faculty members is a former Presbyterian minister from the PCUSA who was dismissed from his church because he was too liberal. For a while he had no job, other than driving a taxi, and when a position became available at BYU he decided that Mormonism was where it's at and joined the Mormon church. He's probably seen as a trophy.
We were back in Salt Lake City by about 2:30 pm and that evening there was a dinner for about 120 pastors and others who have supported Greg's efforts to bring a cordial atmosphere between the evangelical Christians and the Mormons in Utah, where they can discuss their differences without being antagonists. This weekend was an important event in reaching that goal. There were brief comments brought by Greg, Craig Hazen from Biola University, Craig Blomberg from Denver Seminary, Joe Tkach the leader of the Herbert Armstrong Worldwide Church of God (it is he who has led them back into Orthodox Christianity), Ravi and one other. The others have all been involved in the dialogues. There was a sense of real anticipation and the belief that only God had brought about the events of this weekend.
The theme for the event was In the Pursuit of Truth. Saturday night was the first open forum at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Ravi's talk was entitled The Basis for Truth: Defending the Notion of Absolute Truth. There were about 1500 in the audience. They were not antagonistic, at least outwardly, although one of our group sitting in the audience said he could hear several contrary reactions to what Ravi was saying. Ravi answered their questions, which were good, for about an hour, and when he finished they gave a standing ovation. One questioner turned out to be one of those from the counter cult movement that has tried to convince Ravi not to speak at the Tabernacle. Ravi had spoken to him previously over the telephone but had never met him so he didn't recognize him. Ravi's response to his question was that there in no point in cutting off a person's nose and then giving them a nose to smell, which was the perfect answer for his question, according to those who knew him.
Sunday morning our group met together at the hotel to pray for the Sunday night event. We were joined by Craig Hazen and his wife Karen, and by Greg Johnson and his wife, Jill. Craig and Greg were wonderful as they answered questions from our group about Mormonism, how this dialoguing had begun and how it has progressed and what they were hoping would come out of this event. Before we ended Michael Card had joined us.
The Sunday night event at the Tabernacle began at 6:00 pm. Our people arrived there at about 4:30 and there was already a lined formed outside the building. The Tabernacle was packed by the time the evening started, with around 1000 in an overflow room. Altogether, over 7500 people took part. It is a beautiful building. The organ itself, with 11,000 pipes, is fantastic. I would have loved to hear it played. Unfortunately, there were also protesters outside the Temple Square area with placards, people who claimed to be evangelical Christians and objected to this coming together of Christians and Mormons. The topic of the evening was Who is Truth?: Defending Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Ravi?s talk was The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Michael Card sang about four songs and Ravi spoke for about an hour to a very attentive audience. When he finished with the quote from Malcolm Muggeridge that he ends with, "amid the debris of these solemn supermen and self-styled imperial diplomatists stands the gigantic figure of One because of whom, by whom, in whom and through whom alone mankind may still have peace---the Person of Jesus Christ," the audience rose to its feet in a prolonged ovation. It was a powerful message and a powerful moment. When the meeting closed in prayer a couple of Mormon philosophers who were on the platform with Ravi told him that there was not one word he had said that they didn't agree with, even though he had touched on the biblical doctrines of the fallenness of man and the Trinity, which are very different from Mormon doctrine. And the former Presbyterian minister came to Ravi with tears in his eyes and said, "Tonight I have fallen in love with Jesus all over again!"
We were also told after the event that 15 minutes before the service began President Hinckley had asked that it all be piped into his apartment so he could hear it. Although he wasn't present in the Tabernacle one of the quorum of seventy, the president's representative, was present and was on the platform, as well as several Mormon Elders who were present in the audience. Fortunately there was no problems with the protesters, although an email that we received in our office the next day from a Christian who was there described the evening as "worse than I had thought it would be...to see Christians and Mormons praying together and singing worship songs together."
Craig Hazen closed the service in prayer but before he did he suggested that this become an annual event, suggesting "Don't you have a larger hall than this across the street?" They have built a beautiful 21,000 seat conference center across the street. Isn't that something to pray about?
Monday night at Weber State University in Ogden was the final event of the weekend. The topic that night was The Loss of Truth: The Crumbling Moral Foundation. There were between 700 and 1000 there, mostly students. Ravi's presentation was anointed and when he finished the students stood and applauded. Then we went into the Q&A, with the request that students or those associated with the universities be allowed to ask their questions. The questions were fantastic, most of them obviously coming from Mormon students because of their subjects, from the role of experience in faith to the sovereignty of God. (I have been interested to note in each of the open forums that I have attended that as the question is being asked it seems as if the audience holds its collective breath and then as Ravi begins to answer they relax and shift in their seats.) The questions were very difficult ones and Ravi answered them with sensitivity and honesty. One student prefaced his question by saying, "First Ravi, you're a stud, man!" Another man, who was obviously working hard to hold back his tears, said that he had married a girl who was part Indian "like Ravi" and that when she was seven months pregnant he lost both her and the baby. He wanted to see her again, to be able to look into her eyes and see that same face. Mormon theology teaches that marriage is eternal and that he will see her in heaven exactly as she was on earth, as his wife. But his understanding of Christian theology teaches that she would be a spirit... he didn't want a spirit, he wanted to be able to hold her and feel her and, in fact, they wouldn't even be married in heaven. Ravi answered him with great tenderness and spent quite some time assuring him that the experience of heaven would be so beyond the relationship of marriage here that it was hard for us to even begin to understand but it would involve no loss. It was a beautiful exchange between them. And then the same man from the counter cult group that spoke up Saturday night came to the microphone and said that he understood how this man felt as he had lost his mother before she has repented from Mormonism and he understood the loss as he knew what this meant for his mother's place in eternity. He then proceeded to drop several well-known names in evangelical Christianity who "send you their love." Ravi was incensed with the man's crassness and insensitivity to the other man's situation and he responded to him quite firmly. In a sense, it cast a pall over the event but at the same time it showed the reality of what is at stake here. And when the Q&A finished, the audience stood to their feet again in appreciation of what had been said.
As we drove back to Salt Lake with Greg and Jill, there was a sense of thankfulness to the Lord for what He had accomplished over the weekend. There was also a sense of great fatigue on the part of all of us. I always think at times like this about the incident in Scripture where it is recorded that Jesus knew that someone had touched Him because He had felt the power going out of Him. To do the Lord's work takes a lot out of you, whether you are on the planning side of things or the speaking side of things. And we know it's not over, as there is bound to be a lot of reaction to what took place, both good and bad. Please especially pray for Greg and Jill; they will take the brunt of reaction as they remain here while we leave to take on other challenges.
Again, I want to thank you all for your prayers and encouragement as it is only by the power of God and His strength that this weekend could have taken place. And please continue to pray for these whom God also loves and for whom Christ also died, that the eyes of their understanding might be opened and that they may see Jesus. Please pray for Craig Hazen, Craig Blomberg, Ron Enroth, David Neth, Richard Maouw, Joe Tkach and Greg Johnson as they continue to interact with these men like Bob Millet, Andrew Stiller, David Paulsen, Roger Knolls and others in their dialogues and discussions over what the Bible actually says on doctrinal issues. And also for President Hinckley, that God will continue to use him to keep the doors open, even though he may not know it, and that even he will recognize the sufficiency of Christ. I am so glad that God is the ultimate judge. Though we may never really be certain here on earth where some of these folk stand, it will be wonderful and another reason to praise the Lord Jesus Christ, who looks on men's hearts and not on outward appearances, when we see many of them in heaven.