Skip to comments.Can we separate the good that Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias did from his sin?
Posted on 01/13/2021 7:50:18 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Two days before Christmas, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries confirmed that its founder had engaged in sexual misconduct over the course of many years. Ravi, a highly regarded speaker, author, and apologist, died a few months ago. In its initial “interim” report RZIM leadership not only confirmed the allegations but promised a full and thorough final report.
Like so many others, I’m devastated. Ravi was not only a significant personal influence for me, he was a great friend of this ministry for years. In fact, he was a guest on one of the last radio broadcasts I co-hosted with Chuck Colson. I remember beginning the interview by apologizing for all the times I inadvertently plagiarized him over the years.
When Ravi died, the Colson Center honored him in a number of ways. At the time, there were initial allegations that had been investigated and dismissed. We trusted the information provided to us. We were wrong. I believed and shared excuses for Ravi’s behavior, and in doing that, I misled others.
There is no sugar-coating, excusing, or explaining away Ravi’s behavior. It was sinful. It was wicked. And, it was folly, which is one of words Proverbs uses to describe sin. Simply put, our sin makes us foolish. Buried in sin, we actually think that, for the first time in human history, we will be the ones to get away with it.
Not only this, but Ravi’s sin left victims. The most harm was done directly to those women he abused, human beings made in the image of God and for whom Christ died. Other victims include family, friends, and the disillusioned around the world who benefitted from Ravi’s teaching.
Recently, a BreakPoint listener emailed us asking how we should respond to cases like this, when a Christian leader or teacher is caught in sexual misconduct. Is it possible to separate the good that they’ve done and the truth they’ve taught, the person and their sin? And, what about in cases such as this, when the perpetrator is gone and has no further opportunity to acknowledge his sins, repent, and seek forgiveness?
We need not deny that Ravi’s teaching helped many Christians make sense of the Faith, deal with their doubts, and engage other people with the Gospel, while we also acknowledge the truths revealed by this tragedy, including the truth about who we are as fallen human beings. Pastors and Christian leaders, as Shane pointed out, are not “made of finer clay” than anyone else. So, any sort of righteous indignation or superiority we’re tempted to feel toward the fallen should be quickly overwhelmed by an important and humbling admission: There, but for the Grace of God, go any of us.
Another point to consider, on a Christian worldview analysis level, is that, to borrow a phrase popularized by Christian educator Arthur Holmes, “all truth is God’s truth.” In other words, if Ravi Zacharias ever said anything true in his life, and of course he did, he was not its source but only its medium. Any truth – all truth – comes ultimately from God, outside of time or place or context.
A postmodern worldview, in contrast, relativizes truth to cultural settings or individuals. In other words, truth is not absolute. But, if truth is dependent on the shifting sands of attitudes, beliefs, perceptions of a culture or an individual, anything we build on it must collapse when any of those things do.
The Christian view is that Truth, even when delivered by sinful creatures, is as eternal and unchanging as God Himself. Of course, that truth about truth doesn’t make what has happened any less painful, disorienting, or consequential. Just because the truth that has been spoken remains true does not mean the privilege of speaking the truth as a ministry or church leader (and it is an incredible privilege) should continue for anyone. Speaking the truth is an enormous responsibility.
Finally, let’s be reminded again, especially those among us granted some degree of leadership, that we must be accountable to others. We must not trust ourselves, but only God and His Spirit. Pray for your pastor, church leaders, spouse, and whomever else God has placed in your life, that He would protect them from the real and ever-present temptations that could harm them, others, and their witness for Christ.
And, please, pray for Ravi’s victims, for his family, and RZIM.
Very few Christians....read that as ‘no one’...are without flaws. I, for one, do not hold anything against the late Mr. Zacharias.
Since he has passed from this sin-stained mortal coil, anything he may have coming will be in the hands of Almighty G-d.
We should do our best to remember the good in people (those who have good in them), while remembering that no one is completely free from sin while on this Earth. There was only One who was, and we nailed Him to a cross.
Ravi was one of the thinkers that I listened to the most in the early days of my conversion. It’s part of the reason I took it so hard when all this mess became public.
We can judge his actions here on Earth, but the ultimate judging of his soul is done by God alone.
Paul said it best in Romans 7, the conflict within the soul of even a Christian can be, and is, intense.
Paul counted himself the chief of sinners and the least of all saints (i.e. believers).
Ravi did the work of the Lord majestically but fought, I must suppose, against vicious temptations within.
I can’t cast the first stone, or the last, or any in between.
This article is a pathetic excuse.
Ravi was more concerned with being the smartest man in the room than preaching the Gospel.
He was a philosopher, an evidentialist, and apparently a charlatan and con man.
Anyone who can convince himself that a man that lives two very defined and radically different lives is a Christian and worthy to be honored in anyway is a fool and should immediately be disregarded as any kind of a teacher.
No Gods Word shouldn’t be defamed by including anything Ravi wrote or said mixed with it.
Ravi sinned, because he was a sinner. Ravi covered his alternative life because he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He was a double minded man.
He owned the freaking massage parlor and thusly pressured his employees for gratification over decades.
It is every bit as bad as Laurer or any of the 8 NPR men who got the #MeToo boot.
When I first learned the allegations were true, I recalled listening to Ravi on the radio telling a story about a reporter, who stayed to listen to a talk he was giving a longer than she had planned because she was intrigued. She rode with him to the airport so they could talk some more. Afterward she mentioned to his colleague, “I want to see how he acts in his personal life”.
I don’t know how he could tell that story without feeling tremendous guilt.
Preached in public; didn’t repent in public. So, no.
God have mercy.
ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There are no degrees of sin, only sin or not sin.
This faux Christian rag is on a mission to slander the dead.
While it is appropriate to call him out for his sin, the other names you called him are really a reflection of your lack of maturity and intelligence. In other words you are a moron.
Shall we cancel everything Moses did because he murdered? Everything King David did because of adultery and Murder? Do I need to mention Solomon? How about Peter’s betrayal of Jesus?
There are degrees of sin. Thinking a murderous thought is not same as acting on it. While they are both bad and worthy of hell, we are supposed to arrest sins at the thought stage.
"For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit."
Did Ravi ever cease or repent of this sin before dying?
Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone
...paraphrasing of John 8:7
Not your problem, but Ravi Zacharias’ and the Eternal Judge’s.
Not your problem, but Ravi Zacharias’ and the Eternal Judge’s.
I agree. But the words of 1 Thess 4 need to be taught, and considered by other so called Christian teachers.
If he did so much “good” in promoting Christianity, I wonder why I never heard of the guy until his sins were made public.
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