For some time, even before he died, there have been some accusations of inappropriate behaviour by Ravi Zacharias.
Many of my friends in the apologetics community are avid Ravi Zacharias supporters. I don’t blame them. He seems like he was a nice person and he did a lot of important work for the kingdom of God.
Some of these supporters have completely rejected the claims against Zacharias. They don’t need to see the evidence, they just know he is innocent. This is, after all, Ravi Zacharias we are talking about.
However, after his death, the accusations of sexual sin have only increased. New witnesses have come forth that have provided some unsettling testimony.
I have seen three basic responses from evangelical Christians:
- Ignoring the evidence. Many people pretend like this is not even happening. From looking at some apologetics discussion boards, you would think that there is no controversy going on.
- Rejecting the evidence. Some are so convinced that Zacharias is innocent that no matter what the evidence, he is still innocent. He was a great man and so the testimony must be false.
- Setting aside the evidence. There are some who suspect that there may be something to this but we should put it all behind us. The man is dead and we should just celebrate the good he did rather than dig up his dirt.
The person who led the charge to investigate Zacharias was an atheist named Steve Baughman. Many Christians ignored his claims, seeing him as just another atheist trying to attack a Christian spokesman. But Baughman kept at it and eventually Christians began to take the claims seriously.
At this point, I need to say that it is embarrassing that it took an atheist to keep the church accountable. From what we know, there were Christians that were aware of what was going, but nothing was said. It is a better Christian witness to seek the truth at all cost, even if the truth is uncomfortable.
It is a better Christian witness to seek the truth at all cost, even if the truth is uncomfortable.
Click To Tweet
But this has become much bigger than Baughman. Now the flagship evangelical publication Christianity Today is reporting on it. Here is the latest report.
The good news is that RZIM has finally agreed to begin an investigation into these allegations. The bad news is that they have every reason to reject anything incriminating. One unsettling statement in the CT article states:
RZIM denies the claims, saying in a statement to CT that the charges of sexual misconduct “do not in any way comport with the man we knew for decades.”
That sounds a little too much like they have decided that he is already innocent and now they just have to prove it. I fear that they won’t be as open as L’Arche was when allegations were made against Jean Vanier. I hope I’m wrong.
So why should we bother investigating this at all? “Let’s just let the man rest in peace!”
First, nothing that is done with disturb Zacharias now. Whatever the truth is, he has already stood before God. God is not waiting for the results of any law firm.
But there is an important reason for investigating Ravi Zacharias. There have been numerous examples of high profile evangelical (and non-evangelical) Christian leaders who have abused their position, either sexually or otherwise.
If the church decided to bury this event, the message is: “Sexually abuse others, just don’t get caught while you are still alive.”
Imagine being that Christian leader who is on the verge of giving into that urge. They are weighing the cost to their ministry legacy. Then they discover that evangelicals would rather cover up what a famous leader like Zacharias did and focus on his good. Maybe future generations will do that for you if you act on your desires.
For the sake of of the integrity of the Christian church, especially the evangelical wing, this must be investigated!
You might be wondering where I’m coming from here. Here are two things that you need to know:
- I am not assuming that Ravi Zacharias is guilty of these things. He has done some other things wrong which have been proven but these charges have not been proved. I’m arguing not that he be condemned but that he be investigated fairly, not to prove or disprove, but to bring the truth to light.
- I don’t hate Ravi Zacharias. I have a lot of respect for what he has accomplished in his ministry. Anything that he said or wrote during his ministry that was true is still true, even if he is guilty of these acts. God always has and always will use broken people.
My plea is that this investigation happen and that it happen fairly. May we continue to learn from Ravi Zacharias, even if it may not the lesson we were looking for. I strongly believe that covering this up will do more damage to Christian witness than the truth, whatever it may be.