“RZIM does not have an official ministry position on the doctrines of the Catholic tradition; RZIM focuses its ministry on evangelism and apologetics and strives to stay true to that vision…” Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Some weeks ago, I wrote a critical article about popular RZIM apologist Nabeel Qureshi. In the article, I criticized Qureshi for participating in the ecumenical Reset 2016 in Washington, DC event. (This conference was an amalgam of orthodox Christian speakers, off-the-rails charismatics, and Roman Catholics.) Pope Francis himself (via video) was a featured speaker.
In that same article, I drew attention to video evidence of a slight inconsistency in Nabeel Qureshi’s conversion story which, like so many other popular Muslim conversion stories, involved a dream or vision. I had been aware of this inconsistency for some time. I had also been aware of Nabeel Qereshi’s troubling view of Roman Catholics, which I will below further address. These issues in and of themselves did not warrant an article at the Pulpit & Pen. However, in combination with Qureshi’s participation at the disaster that was Reset 2016, I believe a critique was warranted.
This critique was the result of numerous troubling statements made by and actions that were undertaken by Qureshi over the past few months, all of which I did not address in my original, quite understated, article. This morning I awoke to a bevy of texts, Twitter alerts, and Facebook notifications. One of Qureshi’s best friends, David Wood, has published a forty minute video response to my critique of Qureshi. It’s quite stinging. Below, I will succinctly respond to some of the items from Wood’s video. Then I will provide further substantiation that Nabeel Qureshi is someone Christians should think twice about patronizing.
Responses To David Wood’s Video
I made a terrible amount of grammatical and typographical errors in my critique of Qureshi. Even after five edits and numerous messages about them, I still failed to find and correct them all. While embarrassing, these numerous mistakes in no way invalidate the main thrust of my article. Wood’s video makes fun of my mistakes. I have no excuse for them but they do not invalidate my argument.
Wood defends Qureshi’s speaking engagement at Reset 2016, comparing the event to an atheist “reason rally” or a gathering of hostile Muslims. This is an inappropriate comparison. Reset was not the Areopagus. Reset 2016 was advertised by its promoters as a Christian event where “we are gathering as one—lifting a unified sound, asking Jesus to reset our generation.” Reset was not a gathering of hostile atheists or Muslims but (nominal) Christians who came for miles to be unified with one another and pray to Jesus. This was not a Billy Graham crusade designed to see people saved, it was a Christian “unity” event that included the Pope of Rome. It took no Christian boldness to show up to the event and draw applause from the crowd. It would have been bold of Qureshi to separate his Jesus from the indeterminate amount of false Jesuses parading around at this event, rebuking those who followed them, and calling them to repentance and faith.
Wood’s video does not accurately represent my view of Qureshi’s Christian faith. I did not assert that Nabeel Qureshi was “apostate”. Nor did I assert the same about Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, or Tim Tebow (who also participated in the Reset 2016 event). If one performed an exhaustive search of all my blogging at this site and my personal site, one would be hard-pressed to find examples of me using the term “apostate”. I intentionally avoid the use of this incendiary term to prevent overly emotional reactions to my writing. Other contributors to this website do frequently use the term. However, none of them have claimed that Qureshi, Zacharias, McDowell, or Tebow were “apostate.”
Wood’s video does not accurately represent my view of Qureshi’s former faith. I did not assert that Nabeel Qureshi was not a Muslim. I asserted that his Islamic credentials were “in question” given that he was of the Ahmadi sect. This is simply a statement of fact, given that there are a number of Muslims who claim that Ahmadi’s are not true Muslims. Given that Islam, on the whole, is a false religion, it’s tough to say exactly what “true” Islam is. One must rely on various opinions. Since I am not an expert on the matter, I cited the opinions of Muslim apologist Yahya Snow and well-respected Christian Apologist James White. David Wood, who is knowledgeable on the subject does not agree with Snow or White. Wood’s assessment is very educational but not terribly relevant to my argument. My modest assertion that Qureshi’s Islamic credentials are “in question” stands. That Qureshi was raised a devout Ahmadi is not in question, nor did my article indicate that it was.
Wood points out that even the best of speakers misspeak. This is true. I have done it numerous times on my own podcast in egregious ways. I’ve never done it on professionally produced and edited television program while telling about a seminal event in my life, however. I’ve also never done it with Pat Robertson on The 700 Club. Whatever the case, Wood provides testimony to corroborate Qureshi’s dream story and admits that Qureshi just made a mistake. This is fine and I’m glad the air has been cleared on this issue.
Further Concerns With Qureshi
Peter Parker’s uncle and Luke the evangelist would agree that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Perhaps no Christian Apologist is more notable than Ravi Zacharias. In a baffling turn of events, Zacharias once went on Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life TV program. While on the show of that particular prosperity huckster, Zacharias told Meyer that she was a “great Bible teacher in these things” and that God “had used (her)”. I once took the occasion to address this issue with Qureshi, who works for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He had no idea who Meyer was, despite her being one of the most popular “Bible teachers” in the world!
As Wood points in his video, Qureshi is Duke and Oxford educated. It’s not surprising that he would be unfamiliar with a TBN-style charlatan. Quite frankly, biblical scholars rarely spend time listening to Joyce Meyer except to provide refutations of her “name it and claim it” teachings and scripture misapplications. At the same time, many of those same scholars would bristle at the thought of participating in ministry with Meyer. Zacharias did just that. He also participated with Qureshi in Reset 2016. While Meyer was not at Reset, many of her ilk were. According to Wood’s video, Qureshi jumped at the chance to speak in front of a “million” people without any hesitation as to who else was drawing such a crowd. This is gross irresponsibility for an influential apologist in my opinion. Yet, it was unsurprising to me given that Qureshi has defended Zacharias’ praise of Meyer.
Unfortunately, Qureshi’s lack of good judgment does not end there. According to Qureshi, the Catholic Church gets a bad rap from Christians.
According to Qureshi, he considers his cousin, a Roman Catholic Priest a brother in Christ. This is a cousin who apparently works at the Vatican.
If someone is a “solid brother” he shouldn’t be a part of the Roman Catholic Church for long. Qureshi might disagree.
I think many Calvinists would disagree with Qureshi on their brotherhood with Roman Catholics. I also doubt many Calvinist authors sell as many books to Catholics as Qureshi does.
Qureshi doesn’t denounce Catholics as they “proclaim Christ” and “fight for his glory”. He doesn’t want to “cut ties” with them.
James White gets it. Qureshi doesn’t. White uses that word, “apostasy”. Despite his extensive theological education, Qureshi needs James White to explain his objection to Rick Warren speaking at the Vatican.
I certainly don’t want Pulpit & Pen to be an echo chamber but I understand the readership and the theological leanings of the readership of my own blog. The Pulpit & Pen has a largely Reformed readership. To our average reader, these statements about brotherhood with Roman Catholics are downright offensive. As David Wood notes in his video, Qureshi has studied the Christian faith from California to Kentucky and beyond, at the postgraduate level. How could any educated Protestant theologian not see Roman Catholicism as something to “cut ties” over? Thank God Luther did. Luther put his life one the line to refute the Pope. Qureshi speaks with him. There are almost certainly regenerate Catholics (who have yet to leave the Roman Catholic Church) but official Catholic doctrine (see Galatians 1 and the Council of Trent) is anathema. Qureshi seems to disagree.
As you can see, some of the tweets above are months, even over a year, old. I did not just happen across a video from a Muslim apologist (one David Wood has a history with) and try to discredit Nabeel Qureshi and write an ill-advised, critical blog based on his assertions. I’ve observed Qureshi for over a year, as well as his employer RZIM. To me, he seems more concerned with being a New York Times Bestseller (Roman Catholic buy Christian books, too) than consistently rightly dividing the word of God. The evidence is in print before you.
I don’t blame David Wood for defending him. They are good friends and he has seen Nabeel witness to people. Good for him. I wouldn’t walk across the street to hear him speak. He’s a book-selling, speaking-tour ecumenist. I don’t know Nabeel Qureshi’s heart but I don’t write blogs or study Apologetics at the masters level to sell books or make money–I do it to edify the church. I think the church would be edified to avoid ecumenists like Nabeel Qureshi, no matter how interesting their backstories are.
Further, I want to make it clear that I don’t write to draw attention to myself, or to my blog. It’s easy to boost one’s traffic by writing something negative about a celebrity Christian. Hits are no reason to write articles. I wrote what I wrote about Qureshi because it was true and relevant.
Feel free to disagree. If David Wood wants to make another forty minute video to refute me, he can have at it. I will offer a tip. People don’t like to read or watch long posts. That’s why I didn’t include all of this other information in my first, modest critique of Qureshi.
Hopefully, this is the last I’ll need to say on the matter. David Wood made mention of the way we spend our time. There are lost people out there who need to hear the gospel; among them are the Roman Catholics to whom Qureshi gleefully sells books while not calling them to repentance or saving faith through God’s grace alone.
Someone is going to need to pick up the slack. Let it be us.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
[Contributed by Seth Dunn]