Throwback Thursday: Ravi Zacharias impersonates Fred Astaire while compromising the Gospel

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment! Today, we’re revisiting a post that was originally published back on October 29, 2015, but has been revised substantially.



Ravi Zacharias is a very familiar name to many evangelicals. The apologist has written several popular books, makes appearances all across the country, and his half-hour daily radio show is broadcast by many Christian radio stations. Mr. Zacharias* is an intelligent and very well-spoken orator and can be a pleasure to listen to regarding some topics. But, as an ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone, it troubles me greatly that Mr. Zacharias often references committed Roman Catholics in his presentations as if they were Gospel Christians. I have personally heard him extol St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and Malcolm Muggeridge. All three were committed to Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Mr. Zacharias also appeared as a speaker at the “Together 2016” ecumenical event in Washington D.C., which included a video-greeting from pope Francis.

Above is a 6-minute YouTube video that gives some additional perspective on Mr. Zacharias’ accommodation of Roman Catholicism. At an evangelical seminar, a young man has a question for Mr. Zacharias. He states that he’s been involved in street evangelism for six or seven years and has often encountered members of religious groups widely identified as cults, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But he also mentions that he regularly encounters Roman Catholics. The young man asks Mr. Zacharias, albeit somewhat inarticulately because of nerves, to clarify for him whether Roman Catholicism is a cult or an apostate church?

Well, Mr. Zacharias tap dances around the question like Fred Astaire for about five minutes and manages to avoid giving anything resembling a forthright answer. It’s actually quite stunning to witness. Why the great hesitancy, Mr. Zacharias? Why the obfuscation? Can people be saved through the Catholic church’s standard theology of salvation via sacramental grace and merit or not? Is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone the only way to Heaven or not? What was so extremely difficult about the young man’s question, Mr. Zacharias, that caused you to hem and haw for five long minutes? Yes, Gospel-preaching churches and denominations have their secondary-belief distinctives, but, at its core, does the Roman Catholic church preach the genuine Gospel or not? That was the crux of the question as you very well knew.

The audience heartily applauded Mr. Zacharias for his “wise” and “gracious” non-reply, but that young man left the hall more confused than when he entered.

Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem proclaiming that their church is the “one true church” and that it alone possesses the “fullness of the gospel.” Catholic apologists and priests have absolutely NO problem disparaging “Bible-thumping evangelicals” and their “easy-believism” Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. So why then are evangelical preachers and apologists, like Mr. Zacharias, so deferential when it comes to Roman Catholicism? What are Mr. Zacharias and the others so afraid of? What spirit is driving them to cooperate, accommodate, compromise, and tap dance on egg shells? The young man mentioned Charles Spurgeon and his uncompromising stand regarding Catholicism. Where are the Spurgeons of today?

Lord, thank you for watchmen who are faithful to the Gospel of grace and who continue to work the ripe fields of the Roman Catholic lost.

*Some may be assuming that I am being disrespectful by referring to Ravi Zacharias as “Mr.” rather than “Dr.” in this post. In my first draft of this Throwback Thursday revision, I did refer to Ravi Zacharias as “Dr. Zacharias,” however, I subsequently learned that questions were raised recently regarding his academic credentials and, as per a statement on his own website, he is requesting that no one refer to him any longer as “doctor.” I point that out not as an attack (academic credentials can be absolutely meaningless as we all know), but for purposes of clarification.

34 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Ravi Zacharias impersonates Fred Astaire while compromising the Gospel

  1. Ravi Zacharias recently spoke at my church, drawing a big crowd. A friend of mine, a new believer, was there and commented, “Wow, what a big crowd to hear this speaker. I wasn’t impressed though. He never once mentioned the name Jesus”.
    We must get away from this celebrity worship syndrome. I always think of the first who are listed for the Lake of Fire (Rev 21:8), the “cowardly”. Afraid to preach and stand for the truth of God, maybe afraid to lose popularity and funding.
    God, embolden us to stand for Your truth!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. Zacharias is a “delight” to listen to, because he speaks so well, but, yes, what of the content? As another example, Zacharias was invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and he gave a very shallow, ecumenical talk, never challenging the Mormon’s false gospel. Very sad that this accommodator and compromiser is held up as a premier apologist.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. LOL. Here are excerpts from the encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in response to Pius IX. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered fanatical Romanists who claim solidarity with the Eastern Orthodox, so as to paint us Protestants as a heretical sect. So I study Eastern Orthodox theology and history to debunk their claims.

    Seriously, I bet ecumenists would label these as hate speech:

    “Of these heresies diffused, with what sufferings the Lord hath known, over a great part of the world, was formerly Arianism, and at present is the Papacy.”

    “…an Encyclical Letter addressed to the Easterns, consisting of twelve pages in the Greek version, which his emissary has disseminated, like a plague coming from without, within our Orthodox fold.”

    “Usurping as his own possession the Catholic Church of Christ, by occupancy, as he boasts, of the Episcopal Throne of St Peter, he desires to deceive the more simple into apostasy from Orthodoxy…”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sad isn’t it? I bet George Salmon would be called a bigot today.

        George Salmon: I think I have made good my assertion, that the present Roman Catholic position is one taken up in desperation by men who have been driven from every other. And I will add that they have taken it up with immense loss ; for the few whom they have gained from us do not make up for the larger numbers, both in our communion and their own,, whom they have driven into infidelity. In their assaults on Protestantism they have freely made use of infidel arguments. Their method has been that of some so-called Professors of biology : first to bewilder and stupefy their patients, that they may be ready to believe anything, and do anything, their mesmerizer tells them. And it has happened that men who have been thus driven to the verge of infidelity, when they saw that abyss yawning before them, have eagerly clutched at the only hand which they believed had power to save them from it. But for one convert made in this way, many have been spoiled in the making ; many, when offered the choice — Ultramontanism or Infidelity—have taken the latter alternative. It is a very short way from the doctrine that Pius IX. and Leo XIII. were as much inspired as Peter and Paul, to the doctrine that Peter and Paul were no more inspired than Pius or Leo. George Salmon, The Infallibility of the Church (London : John Murray, 1888), pp. 43

        George Salmon: That submission to the Church of Rome rests ultimately on an act of private judgment is unmistakeably evident, when a Romanist tries (as he has no scruple in doing) to make a convert of you or any other member of our Church. What does he then ask you to do but to decide that the religion of your fathers is wrong ; that the teachers and instructors of your childhood were all wrong; that the clergy to whom you have looked up as best able to guide you are all mistaken, and have been leading you in a way which must end in your eternal destruction ? Well, if you come to the conclusion to reject all the authority which you have reverenced from your childhood, is not that a most audacious exercise of private judgment ? But suppose you come to the opposite conclusion, and decide on staying where you were, would not a Romanist have a right to laugh at you, if you said that you were not using your private judgment then ; that to change one’s religion indeed is an act of private judgment, but that one who continues in his father’s religion is subject to none of the risks to which every exercise of private judgment is liable ? Well, it is absurd to imagine that logic has one rule for Roman Catholics and another for us ; that it would be an exercise of private judgment in them to change their religion, but none if they continue in what their religious teachers have told them. An act of our judgment must be the ultimate foundation of all our beliefs. George Salmon, The Infallibility of the Church (London : John Murray, 1888), pp. 48

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post Tom and great questions! If he can’t answer those questions straight up, then it seems he does not believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ found in Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 14:6. Someone who is on fire in the Holy Spirit will preach the truth boldly and won’t back down! They will rebuke the Catholic lies of Mary worship and sacraments and call it out for what it is too. Yes, the Catholic Church is a cult right alongside Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the rest of the cults that don’t believe in Jesus. I have always said, you either believe in Jesus or you don’t. There is no middle ground. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ryan, for the encouragement in the Lord and for the uncompromising stand for the Gospel of grace! I mentioned to someone else that Ravi was invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City several years ago and he was careful not to say anything to the LDS that would offend them in any way. His accommodating speech to the Mormons is on YouTube as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ” But, as an ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone, it troubles me greatly that Mr. Zacharias often references committed Roman Catholics in his presentations as if they were Gospel Christians”
    Response: Very disturbing indeed.
    He also quotes GK Chesterton favorably. I even read him because Ravi spoke so highly before I found out he’s Catholic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for mentioning G.K. Chesteron as another Catholic who Ravi endorses. I may have heard Ravi praise Chesterton on his radio show also, but it’s been years since the last time I heard his radio show. His ecumenicity was so blatant that I had to stop listening to him. I can listen to a conservative Catholic apologist like Anders attack the Gospel because I expect that of him, but an “evangelical” apologist who praises Roman Catholic works-religionists is painful to listen to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ” can listen to a conservative Catholic apologist like Anders attack the Gospel because I expect that of him, but an “evangelical” apologist who praises Roman Catholic works-religionists is painful to listen to.”
        I feel you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jimmy. I know you’re well-versed in the evangelical debate with atheists especially using presup. apologetics. Can you imagine one of the respected voices on the evangelical side suddenly saying, “You know, I really think many of these atheists are fine, well-meaning, and sincere people and that God is going to grade them on a curve.” It’s not exactly apples and apples but that’s Zacharias.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah that’s still a good point you made of what’s going on. In the case of Chesterton, I sometimes wonder if most of the people that think these guys are ok either have bad and weak theology or never fully read these authors. While observant and good wordsmith Chesterton clearly is heretical.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I know I’ve mentioned to you that the young pastor of the previous church we attended was especially smitten with Chesterton and Lewis. It was as if the appeal of identifying with C’s and L’s Oxford intellectualism overrode any problems with their theology.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bonnie, although I’m not a pastor. 🙂 Yes, so many pastors and para-church leaders like Zacharias have crossed over into accommodation, compromise, and betrayal of the Gospel by accepting works-religionists as Christians. Many evangelicals look up to Zacharias and he is muddying the Gospel by his accommodation and compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Also the doctorate thing with Ravi was somewhat shady. Ravi has claimed to have had certain educational experience including profs that was a bogus lie; I was grieved to hear that. I felt his story and intellect already speak for itself without the false credentials

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I mentioned to you that in the fundamentalist Baptist newspaper I subscribed to thirty-five years ago, every older gentleman pastor was trying to outdo the other with the number of honorary doctorates appended to their by-line. It was comical.

      Liked by 1 person

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