by Kevin Burton
Here’s one blog post I never wanted to write. Even now, I can’t believe I’m having to write it.
But I feel like I should.
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias died in May 2020. Since then leaders of his Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) have been forced to admit that he led a double life.
There is a full report available at www.rzim.org with details of his sexual misconduct including rape, lying, spiritual abuse and embezzling of ministry funds. Add to this the lies it took to cover up these details as they began to ooze out, even before his death.
I have not seen the report, don’t need to. But by all accounts, this was not a momentary lapse of judgment.
“It’s worse than I ever thought it could have been,” said David Carson, Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church in a Facebook video on the subject.
I was tempted to ignore this story. But I had written about his life (as I then knew it) and death on Page 7 “Well Done Ravi Zacharias, 1946-2020,” May 24, 2020).
It’s my responsibility to do corrections if I get something wrong or if new evidence changes the details of a story.
Carson held Zacharias in very high esteem as I did. Carson was eloquent and passionate in what he had to say. I just can’t keep quiet.
“The hero who stood toe to toe with the vociferous secular forces of our day, turned out to be a liar, a deceiver and a monstrous sexual predator,” Carson said.
There was a three-hour online remembrance and tribute to Zacharias after he died. I watched the whole thing and cried through most of it.
Now, I’m not crying, or angry. My main emotion is “check please,” if you understand that reference. Get me out of here. If we can’t count on this guy…wow. Carson said many Christians were “rattled to the core.”
In a secular contest I was also shocked last year by revelations that former Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall had abused players and athletic department staff, including hitting a player according to published accounts.
But the Zacharias scandal is much worse. All the good work the man did is tainted. He has given the enemies of the gospel occasion to glory.
A non-believer who points to the public failing of a Christian leader, then dismisses Christianity altogether either lacks an understanding of Christianity or is guilty of intellectual dishonesty.
A Christian is someone who acknowledges his or her sin and need of a savior, recognizes Jesus Christ as that Savior and begins to pattern his or her life after Jesus’ teachings and walk by faith in Him.
On this side of Heaven human beings still have a sin nature and won’t be perfect. As Carson said on the video, if you’re around me long enough, I will disappoint you.
King David was “a man after God’s own heart,” yet had some pretty heinous public sins. The difference is that David repented when confronted with his sin.
In the case of Zacharias, “We never saw anything we could call a sign of repentance,” Carson said.
When Carson inevitably got to the “now what’ potion of his talk he talked about releasing his feelings of anger and betrayal.
One of my reactions has been to pray for all men and women, but especially men, who are the frontmen to use a music term, for ministries I have admired over the years. The leaders on TV and radio.
We’re talking about Chuck Swindoll at Insight For living, David Jeremiah at Turning Point Ministries, Alistair Begg at Truth for Life, Erwin Lutzer at Moody Church Media, Tony Evans at The Alternative and many others.
I pray for them to keep short accounts with God. I pray for transparency and accountability at the top levels of their ministries.
I had Zacharias esteemed above all those guys.
“He was the man I wanted to be,” Carson said. I too at one point desired to be a poor man’s Ravi Zacharias.
I also pray that those men and women who work at RZIM will find a way to get the great truths of the gospel out to people around the world.
There are still souls in the balance. In the time it took you to read this post, hundreds of people drew their last breath on planet earth. Those without Jesus opened their eyes in hell for the first time. There is a desperate need to get the Word out.