Ecumenists Ravi Zacharias & J.I. Packer

Whenever I hear about an evangelical pastor, theologian, apologist, or para-church leader that I’m not familiar with, the first thing I want to know about them is where they stand on ecumenism with Roman Catholicism. If they view the Roman Catholic church as a Christian entity and the pope and Catholic prelates as “brothers in Christ,” then I’m really not interested in their views on anything else. Harsh? If it was you that had been saved out of a false gospel, pseudo-Christian institution, such as LDS, Watchtower, or Christian Science, only to witness certain evangelical leaders declaring that your former “church” was fine, you would not be pleased either.

Two very well-known evangelicals died recently. Apologist, Ravi Zacharias (b. 1946, photo left), passed away on May 19th and theologian, J.I. Packer (b. 1926, photo right), died on July 17th. Both were highly-regarded by many evangelicals.

There is no doubt that both men accomplished some incredibly good things. Indian-born Zacharias began his career as an evangelist in 1971 at the age of twenty-five. He impacted many in his 49 years of ministry. English-born J.I. Packer was ordained an Anglican minister in 1953 and had a large influence within evangelicalism as the writer of “’Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God” (1958), a defense of Biblical inerrancy and infallibility, and the popular, “Knowing God” (1973). Packer also served as general editor of the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.

Regrettably, both men also promoted ecumenism with Roman Catholicism. Zacharias signed the Manhattan Declaration (2009), which affirmed the Roman Catholic church as a Christian entity. In his lectures, he often made it a point to cite Roman Catholics as exemplary Christians, including G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, Mother Teresa, St. Francis, and Henri Nouwen. In addition, Zacharias was a featured speaker at the Together 2016 ecumenical gathering, which also featured a video address by pope Francis. Zacharias’ evasiveness regarding the legitimacy of Roman Catholicism in comparison to genuine Gospel Christianity was more than troubling (see the article far below).

J.I. Packer was even more outspoken in his support of ecumenism with Rome. Packer began his accommodation with error in 1970 when he privately and publicly broke with Martyn Lloyd-Jones over the question of cooperation with unbelievers/modernists in the Anglican church. Packer would go on to be one of the principal leaders of the ecumenical “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (ECT) initiative, from 1994 until 2012. Like Zacharias, he also signed the Manhattan Declaration.

Yes, Zacharias and Packer both did some good things, but they also muddied the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone by insinuating that Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit was the same thing or “close enough.” They misled unwitting evangelicals and they did a tremendously grave disservice to Roman Catholics who needed and still need to hear the genuine Gospel.

We evangelicals may have differing views on secondary and tertiary doctrines such as predestination and dispensationalism, but embracing a false church, which unabashedly proclaims a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit is inexcusable.

In the following article, evangelical apologist, Matt Slick, critically examines Ravi Zacharias’ deferential approach to Roman Catholicism.

Ravi Zacharias and Roman Catholicism at Texas A&M, Veritas Forum
https://carm.org/ravi-zacharias-and-roman-catholicism-texas-am-veritas-forum

Below, evangelical Vatican-watcher, Leonardo De Chirico, examines Jim Packer’s regrettable reasoning for supporting ECT. De Chirico is respectful to a fault.

Why J.I. Packer signed “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” (and why he was inconsistent)
https://evangelicalfocus.com/vatican-files/7406/why-ji-packer-signed-evangelicals-and-catholics-together-and-why-he-was-inconsistent

The article below is a glowing tribute to Jim Packer from a Catholic source. It’s not a testimony that any Gospel-honoring “evangelical Protestant” would desire as their legacy.

J.I. Packer and Evangelicals and Catholics in the Trenches
https://bccatholic.ca/voices/paul-schratz-life-in-the-schratz-lane/evangelicals-and-catholics-in-the-trenches

47 thoughts on “Ecumenists Ravi Zacharias & J.I. Packer

  1. “ Harsh? If it was you that had been saved out of a false gospel, pseudo-Christian institution, such as LDS, Watchtower, Christian Science, or Roman Catholicism, only to witness certain evangelical leaders declaring that your former “church” was fine, you would not be pleased either.”
    Harsh? No! Lovingly sharing God’s truth is never harsh-KEEP ON KEEPING ON, BROTHER!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Beth! I can’t rap my brain around how these big-name accommodators and compromisers can betray the Gospel and embrace the RCC, except that it’s spiritual blindness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I waited a short period until after they were buried. Many/most would view criticism of these two as “mean spirited” and “hate speech” while they were the ones who helped perpetuate a false gospel.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I like Matt Sclick, he is does an excellent job defending truth. Thank you Tom for adding the link.
    It is very disappointing that men like these who were given such an opportunity to proclaim the true gospel chose to compromise instead. I am referring mainly to the late Ravi as I am not familiar with J Packer. Thank you Tom for this truly informative post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Crissy. It’s truly frustrating to be saved from a spiritual snake pit only to have fellow “brothers in Christ” telling credulous souls that the snake pit is just fine.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Great article, Tom. It is just such a mystery to me as to how these two theologians could have erred in this way. When not dealing with the Roman Catholic Church, both men produced tremendous work. “Knowing God” is one of my favorite books.

    One area where I differ with you, Tom, is that because of this flawed thinking I don’t disregard their other fine work. However, I am frustrated and disappointed by it, as they just should have held their ground and not sought to pander to a religion with such a huge following. I’ve got to imagine that their book sales flourished because of this.

    Now THAT’S a pessimistic view indeed, but I fear it could have been a motivating factor in their support of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Great thought-provoking post, Tom, and thanks for delving into it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, David! I appreciate your good comments. I can understand why others might overlook the ecumenist views of a Packer or a Zacharias. After all, none of us have a perfect grasp on theology. But the ecumenical compromise with Rome hits very close to home for me. It’s a gargantuan error from my perspective. It once was for most other evangelical Protestants, but that has changed drastically over the last 60 years because of the efforts of the ecumenists. Anyway, I understand why it’s no longer the “hot button” issue it once was.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. 👋🏼
      Hiya! Hope your afternoon is off to a good start! I picked up LSH #8 at the comic shop, helped my sister with another TV, and scraped some windows. Gotta scan some documents for my wife and coast after that. The new fridge is working great! We have cold food again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🤜🏻🚀🦇🤛🏻

        RE: storytelling
        Bendis’s plot lines are like college calculus compared to the old Silver Age scripts, but aren’t unfathomable and depressing like the “sad astronaut” navel gazing from a decade ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When it comes to ecumenism with people who preach a different gospel (Gal 1:6-9) and a different Jesus (2 Cor 11:4), Psalm 26:4-5 comes to mind.

    Ps 26:4-5
    4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for writing about these two men. Personally for me I never was attracted to Packer like most Reformed guys enjoy Packer. I don’t know what people see in his writing. I have heard of some of his compromises. Good post that is nuanced by the way, pointing out what good they have done yet also their theological problems

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jimmy, and I appreciate your personal insights.

      RE: pointing out what good they have done

      I struggled with that as I wrote this post. I wanted to totally dismiss these two in anger and frustration, but they obviously did help/inspire some people in regards to other spiritual matters. They thought they were doing the right thing by contributing to ecumenical ties with Rome, but they were spiritually blind in this particular regard. Totally lacking in discernment. It’s no surprise that Satan would use trusted and well-respected evangelical leaders to foster cooperation and worse with THE false church of false churches.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Beth! Very appropriate verse. It’s not surprising that Satan uses highly esteemed figures like these two (as well as Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, etc.) to get believers to embrace his counterfeit “church.”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Beth! I greatly appreciate the support and encouragement from yourself and other friends here at WordPress. We know that information like this is not well-received by many evangelicals who have been misled about Rome.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another good post Tom. Regarding Ravi Zacharias, the past issue of inflated credentials concerned me. Self importance and popularity seem intrinsic to abandoning scriptural devotion for the broad road of ecumenicalism.
    Press on brother!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa Beth, thank you for the encouragement in the Lord! You make an excellent point. As Christian leaders begin to experience ministerial growth and “success” they face increasing pressure and temptation to compromise their beliefs and values in order to perpetuate that growth. Audience size and monthly donations become the drivers. Ego and self-importance also play a role as you mention.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I appreciate yours and Billy’s ministries as well! I pray he’s improving. There were times amidst this ecumenical compromise steamroller that I wondered if all born-again Christians had lost their minds. It’s encouraging to know some other believers have not been hoodwinked.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciated all of the dialogue. Some other ex-Catholic Christians here at WordPress are not pleased with these ecumenical compromisers. But I imagine that criticism of such notables as Zacharias and Packer must strike some/most Christians these days as fanatical and fundamentalish.

      Liked by 1 person

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