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Have your views of Mormonism changed since you came here ?
If there is anything that has changed, it is [Latter-day Saints’] willingness to enter into dialogue and conversation on these matters rather than shutting the door and remaining impervious to academic interaction. ... Obviously our beliefs are dramatically different. They know that; we know that. But I look at it this way: I am a Christian apologist. I engage Muslim audiences around the globe. I have spoken at many of their major universities. ... They invite me on the basis of my writing. They know I am a follower of Jesus Christ. They know my worldview is different, but they also know I will engage cordially and, hopefully, accurately with them. I was born and raised in India, I speak on many Hindu campuses, Buddhist campuses, stridently atheistic campuses. [Despite] my beliefs being foundationally different from the Mormon world’s starting point and their emergent beliefs, I think unless you are willing to talk and dialogue honestly on this, you never get anywhere. Building a bridge doesn’t mean surrendering ground.
Speech at the Tabernacle
Ravi Zacharias will speak Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Mormon Tabernacle in downtown Salt Lake City. His topic will be “Lessons From History: Building a Nation Under God.” The event is free, but all tickets have been distributed.
In 2004, when Richard Mouw gave a greeting, he said evangelicals should apologize to Mormons for misrepresenting their beliefs. Do you share that view? Do you think that was an appropriate thing for him to do?
I have never talked to Richard Mouw about that. It got a lot of publicity. I am not sure the context from which he was coming. The fact is, Christians have been branded with all kinds of names also by various groups, including how the Mormons branded Christians right from the beginning. Does everybody stand up and apologize for the way people have been expressly treated? [My philosophy is:] You never judge a system by its abuse. You judge a system by what is claimed and what is believed. Mistreatment of people is there on every side. ... I am not sure Richard Mouw chose the right venue in which to say that because it stirred up more issues than answered questions. Whenever you make a statement like that, it ought to be made around a table, with discussion and interaction.
What is your hope for the relationship between Mormons and evangelicals?
As a believer in the final revelation of Jesus Christ and knowing they respect and honor who Jesus Christ is, I would hope in the dialogue we can come to biblical conclusions on who the person of Jesus Christ is. Obviously, the terrain is strewn with minefields of words, concepts and ideas that cause us to stumble. I commend [Mormons] and am grateful for the courage they have inviting someone like me. It takes a lot of trust, an incredible amount of trust, and risk taking. I am honored by that kindness.
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