Ravi Zacharias answered “Life’s Toughest Questions” at an October 2011 Q&A. This is his thoughtful response to the question, “Is Mormonism the same as Christianity?”
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Ravi Zacharias is a great man . I like the way he articulates the truths of the Christian faith.
I appreciate the way he advises the use of the word “cult” . We need to know how to use
this word and also when to use it. His comments about the possibility of voting for a Mormon
for President was also food for thought . Does make you wonder though why Mormon
leaders would ask him to preach on Temple square .
His definition of a cult is correct I would say as regards the departure from normative Christianity.
However there are other definitions of a cult. Now whether it’s wise to use the term in a general discussion with Mormons, I would say no. But if we look at Mormon recruitment practices and the way ex-members or those who have left the religion are treated, I’d say that that has elements of a cult attached to it.
The fact that Mormons have departed from the person and work of Jesus Christ I think is the main point. Whether or not they are a cult is really a minor point in comparison to the Mormon doctrine of God.
Here’s an interesting overview of characteristics of a cult.
For the life of me I can’t understand why the LDS church would invite Ravi to come and speak at Temple Square. It makes no sense. He basically went in and told them where they had it wrong about the Lord Jesus. The whole point of the NT message is that Jesus, God incarnate, manifested Himself and took upon Himself the sin of mankind. He ended the enmity between God/Himself and man.
Now this stands in sharp contrast to the view of who Jesus is, what He did and why He did it as postulated by Joseph Smith. Smith was a religious entrepreneur who was not unlike many of his era in conjuring up his own vision of spiritual reality.
I wish Mormons would see fit to transfer their sincerity, piety and devotion to the living God instead of this idol that Smith created.
Falcon, I think the only reason why Mormon leaders would invite someone like Ravi
Zacharius to preach at Temple square is that it might help the public embrace Mormonism
as a bona-fide Christian church etc. We can only pray that there were many Mormons that
were influenced by Mr. Zacharius to start them into seeking more about the Jesus he
I’m convinced that Mormons need a straight-up presentation of who Jesus is. The Christian doctrine of the nature of God/Jesus is consistent with what the apostles taught. Through-out the history of the Church, there have been various challenges to the orthodox view. At the same time we often see a challenge to the veracity of the Bible, the Virgin birth of Jesus and the Blood Atonement.
There’s a reason that the apostle Paul warned Timothy, Titus and others to maintain the standard of sound doctrine. It is also why Paul said that we don’t battle against flesh and blood but spiritual forces.
I’ve talked before, on this blog, how I made sure I “cult proofed” my daughter as she was growing up. By that I mean I made sure that she knew the fundamentals of the faith and how those (fundamentals) were under attack by cults. I also made sure she was well aware of the techniques these groups use to seduce and recruit unsuspecting souls.
While Mormons may object to being characterized as a “cult”, I think Ravi’s definition is accurate and appropriate. I also think that his advice on how to use the term “cult” is wise.
Andy Watson and I have discussed that the best defense against cults, is an understanding of who God/Jesus is and what he did for us. Comparing this with the claims of the cults is the best defense and offense of the faith that was once and for all delivered to the world.
There is a significant difference between a complete relationship with God through Jesus
Christ as compared to what Mormonism offers . Insight into this difference is shared by
Jac Redford, former Missionary and Temple married , he shares his story in his book
” Welcome All Wonders, A composers Journey” [ a review of his book is on Sharon’s
website AnsweringLDS .org]. Mr Redford struggled with his inability to measure up
to all the requirements of the Mormon gospel: ” Mormonism was ill equipped to handle
the powerful visceral challenges of my growing anxiety. After all, my feelings were supposed
to be the medium through which I would receive personal revelation, the manifestation of
God’s will in my life…What was I to make of the continuing sense of emptiness I felt? In the
rigid terms of my faith, I could only conclude that I must have failed in some significant way
and grieved the Holy Ghost. The diagnosis was unworthiness and the prescription was to try
harder…” Mr Redford and his wife were also finding that there were issues in Mormon history
that they just could not reconcile with historic fact and the Bible: ” These distinctions between
Mormonism and the Bible are authentic, fundamental, and mutually exclusive. They require
that one choose between the two and only one can be the final arbiter of the truth…Ultimately
I felt that I would be betraying the very principles I held most deeply if I did not take a stand
against Joseph Smith and the church he founded. But was there anything to stand for beyond
Mormonism? ” Mr. Redford found out there indeed was as he surrendered his life to Jesus !
He found that his Bishop’s warning was wrong, because there was life after Mormonism.
When Mr Zacharius asked the Mormons who had come to invite him to speak why they had
picked him specifically , they responded by saying they felt he had a message for them (LDS) to
hear. I wonder if they fully realized just how much of a word he indeed had for all LDS to hear.
He has the true Jesus for them to hear about , not the Mormon Jesus ; he has the One True
God for them to hear about , not the Gods of Mormon apostles ; he has the true gospel of
salvation for them to hear about , not the unstable “gospel ladder” of requirements that
has comprised the ” restored ” gospel advocated by Mormon apostles . Mr. Zacharius has
indeed a lot of truth to share with the Mormon people. So may these precious people
listen , and may this start them to get off from the detour Mormon apostles have steered
I do have to say that as much as I truly admire RZ, I believe that two parts of this clip need to be addressed. The first is, if “cult” is a word that is reserved specifically for Christian-on-Christian conversation then what is the word that should be used to contrast denominations that have seriously deviated from historical Christianity in public discussion? Ravi did not provide a universal label for Mormonism that could be used when talking to Mormons and non-Christians, which is when the conversational rubber actually hits the road. I could see how someone could get the impression that Ravi is yet again not coming down hard enough on this heresy.
The second point is that I disagree with his rationale for electing a candidate. I do agree with him however whenever he prefaced that opinion with, “For me, I believe…” Moral societies and immoral societes will both see the lake of fire in the end if they do not have Christ. Furthermore I could just as easily argue that if Christianity is to achieve explosive growth then it needs to experience persecution and immoral oppression first. Look at where all of the places where all of the martyred saints are dieing today. How sure is their faith! Look at the birth of the Church, it brought down the entire pagan Mediterrannean world in 300 years, and it thrived under extreme oppression. Then look at the moral western world. You have atheists and secularists saying, “see, without christ we aren’t murdering alcoholic bank robbing perverts.” How many lukewarm Christians live in this posh moral society? There are no lukewarm Christians in Iran and Somalia. The elect are all over the planet, not just in moral societies.
But I digress.
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