A Higher Standard: Ravi Zacharias Must Do Better - The Part-Time Critic

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Higher Standard: Ravi Zacharias Must Do Better


Christianity Today just posted responses from Ravi Zacharias and Ravi Zacharias Ministries to recent allegations of credentials fraud and inappropriate sexting. Read the full article using the link below:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/december/ravi-zacharias-sexting-extortion-lawsuit-doctorate-bio-rzim.html

I'm glad there has finally been a formal response to the allegations leveled against Ravi Zacharias (HERE is an overview). Unfortunately, my heart is extremely heavy because I know deep down that this is not acceptable. These comments are not near specific or transparent enough for global Christian leaders. They are vague and general; giving the impression of comprehensively addressing the allegations without actually focusing on specific facts or claiming any kind of fault/responsibility.

Full disclosure: Ravi Zacharias is one of my favorite Christian authors and apologists. I use his materials and arguments to enrich my own spiritual walk as well as my class curriculum as a Bible teacher. I have no desire for Zacharias and his ministry to be held guilty of something of which they aren't, just so that I can come off as more righteous. My desire here is to hold my Christian leaders accountable. It is precisely because I have used Ravi's materials so widely that I feel responsible to share my commentary.

Regarding the sexting allegations: If Ravi were a private citizen who settled out of court, claimed no liability, then said he couldn't talk more because of non-disclosure agreements, then you might begrudgingly understand. However, Ravi is a global Christian leader that must be transparent about his character - even the appearance of bad character. That no public formal statements (as far as I am aware) were made by him or his ministry until after non-disclosure agreements were signed, that emails/texts were not released that could potentially exonerate him fully, and that the claims of Ravi threatening suicide are never specifically addressed are completely unacceptable.

This has the ring of "Be general enough, say you learned a lesson, then hope it goes away". I hope and pray that what Ravi says in the following statement is actually true:

The question is not whether I solicited or sent any illicit photos or messages to another woman—I did not, and there is no evidence to the contrary—but rather, whether I should have been a willing participant in any extended communication with a woman not my wife. The answer, I can unequivocally say, is no, and I fully accept responsibility.

There is no way to know this because the messages will not be released do to the settlement. Why not be completely transparent if Ravi did absolutely nothing wrong? Why settle out of court if he is as clean as a whistle? If he's not, and it's just a minor faltering, then why not confess it? It doesn't smell right here. Using the following statement as a way to try and conclude the matter is unacceptable, especially since he waited until after the settlement to state his case publicly.

However, at this time, unfortunately I am legally prevented from answering or even discussing the questions and claims being made by some, other than to say that each side paid for their own legal expenses and no ministry funds were used.

Regarding the credentials allegations: Notice how they have skillfully not answered the direct charges about exaggerated ties to Oxford? Again, generally answering the "Dr." claims and refusing to answer specific charges should not be acceptable and is unfortunately a sign that that the ministry and Ravi are either in denial (which makes them ignorant) or are covering up instead of confessing (which makes them liars). Neither is a good outcome.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying that Ravi Zacharias is guilty. I'm saying his responses do not give  clear enough evidence and confidence that he is. I hope that my read of this situation is completely wrong here, for which I will gladly apologize. I hope that Ravi is as innocent as claimed. However, the refusal to state his case before the settlement, be completely transparent, and to specifically address damaging claims should not be acceptable by the Christian community, and more specifically his supporters.

Unfortunately, my fear is that most of my Christian brothers and sisters will read this and move on, not wanting to think of ill of a Christian leader who does a lot for the cause of Christ. We should call for Ravi and his ministry to be more transparent about the entire situation, specifics and all. I want to dismiss these allegations, but Ravi's refusal, or inability, to shine a bright light on everything in his response has forced me to focus on the leftover darkness.

In a world where public figures are falling left and right for unethical conduct, Christian leaders must do everything reasonable to stamp out any appearance of evil. Ravi has not done that here. For the cause of Christ, for the good of their ministry, and for Ravi and his family, I pray the full truth is brought to light.

3 comments:

  1. I too have the utmost respect for Ravi and can’t help but come to the same conclusion that you have stated above that there is more to this story. Also we have to first admit that we are all deeply deeply flawed individuals and none of us are any better than the other. The only weapon we have is Christ and so we have to rely wholly on his magnificent Grace to fight temptation and evil!

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    1. Hi Mary,
      I appreciate your comment and agree that we are all deeply flawed.
      I also echo your thoughts, our greatest weapon is Christ. It's because we are all so flawed that Christians best understand that no one is above moral setbacks, even the best of us. We must continue to look to Christ and follow the injunctions to truthfulness and confession. I pray I've over-read this situation and the truth has been made known, but it seems this is not the case.

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  2. Hi Kyle, thanks for your comments. I hope you have seen the Christianity Today podcast with Dr. John Stackhouse, a very respected evangelical theologian at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/december-web-only/ravi-zacharias-case-christian-credential-inflation.html

    My concerns are twofold, the academic credential issue and the emails:

    The academic issues are as follows:

    1. Ravi failing to disclose on his website that his doctorates were honorary. The website said "Ravi has been conferred with 8 doctoral degrees"

    2. Ravi claiming to be a "visiting scholar at Cambridge University" when he was on sabbatical for 3 onths at Ridley Hall (a Church of England training center) in the city of Cambridge. Cambridge University has explicitly denied that they ever invited him as a visiting scholar.

    3. Ravi saying that he is lecturer at Oxford University when the university has also denied in an official letter that he was never a lecturer or a professor there at any time.

    4. Ravi repeatedly saying (you can check various youtube videos) that he studied "quantum physics" under John Polkinghorne at Cambridge University in 1990 when Dr. Polkinghorne stopped teaching Physics in 1979. Additionally, Ravi was never a student or visiting scholar at Cambridge University to begin with.

    5. Ravi declaring that he lectures at universities like Harvard and Yale when all these events were organized by Christian groups and local churches which would rent an auditorium on the university campus to hold the meetings. For instance, one of the organizers for the Harvard event was the Chinese Holy Ghost Fellowship.

    6. Ravi saying that he was the Chair of a Department that did not exist at the institution where he taught in the 80's.

    7. Ravi says that his first book was based on lectures delivered at the Bell Labs in New Jersey but they have no record of him. He probably spoke to a christian group or fellowship on the Bell Labs campus.

    The email issues boils down to the following:

    1. Why did Ravi threaten suicide if this was just an extortion case?

    2. Why does he accuse Lori of betraying him in the email?

    3. Why does Ravi ask Lori if she was going to reveal his name to her husband?

    4. Why did he not report to the RZIM board when he started receiving the nude picture from Lori? Why did he continue to engage Lori for quite sometime (as he himself admits) till the demand for 5 million?

    5. Why did Ravi settle out of court if this was indeed a case of extortion?

    6. Why has he nor RZIM denied anything from the emails? (guess it must be because its true).

    You can see all this information on raviwatch.com
    Please verify the evidence ndependently by calling and taking to the various sources, universities, institutions etc.

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