Ravi Zacharias Speaks at the Mormon Tabernacle in Utah
Now here's some interesting news! One of evangelicalism's most distinguished apologists, Ravi Zacharias, recently spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City—and he received a standing ovation when he was finished.
Photo above: Ravi Zecharias speaks at the Mormon Tabernacle on January 18, 2014.
It's no secret that the Mormons have been craving acceptance by mainstream Christendom for a long time. The Mitt Romney candidacy in 2012 helped, especially among political conservatives, because he and his family (who are lifelong Mormons) presented such a wholesome image—something many people (but apparently not enough) admire in our postmodern age.
Mormons are not particularly fond of being known to most evangelicals as a "cult," but the stark and unavoidable reality is that Mormon theology diverges from historic Christianity on its core beliefs about the identity and nature of the Son of God. (In Mormonism, God is an exalted man and Jesus is Lucifer's brother.) A religious group or movement can be right about everything else, but if it's wrong about who Jesus (Yeshua) is, then there's no other way to slice it—it's really not authentic, historic Christianity.
So then, is it a cult? Well, there are different definitions for the term "cult," but that doesn't change the fact that whether or not it fits the dictionary definition, Mormonism is not the Christian faith that we see in the Bible. That’s why our Mormon friends need additional books of revelation (like The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants)—because support for some of their beliefs is so scant in the Bible itself, if it’s there at all.
And what about Ravi's speaking at the Tabernacle? Should he have done it, or not? Did it lend credibility to a false religion that proclaims a false gospel of human effort and works? Or was it an opportunity to speak truth in a venue where the true Gospel is seldom heard? Years ago, I asked a dear friend, a Baptist evangelist, why he accepted an invitation to speak at a Catholic seminary in South America. He said, "Gary, I would preach in Hell itself as long as no one censored my message and they agreed to let me out when I was done."
It's not the first time an evangelical has spoken at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. D.L. Moody did it twice in the late 1800s (and according to Ira Sankey's eyewitness account, two of the Mormon president's daughters responded to the invitation and got saved!), Ravi did it in 2004 (facilitated by Utah evangelical leader Greg Johnson), Nick Vujicic (the dynamic evangelist who was born without arms or legs) did it in 2010, and now Ravi has had a return engagement. And there have been others, as well.
In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis (who had formerly been an atheist) wrote, "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere .... God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous."
God is, at times, unscrupulous. I like that. And He sets traps, even for Mormons. They hear the Good News of Jesus the Messiah in the most unlikely of places—like the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Where can a Mormon safely go these days? What is this world coming to?
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