Ravi Zacharias Allegations – A Christian Response – Article on Premier Christianity

This article is published on Premier Christianity 

Ravi Zacharias allegations: 3 ways Christians should respond

Is Ravi Zacharias the latest Christian celebrity to fall? David Robertson looks at the accusations

 

He is one of the best-known Christian evangelists in the world.

He speaks before kings, political and cultural leaders and large student gatherings. He is a superb communicator, a gifted thinker and a good writer.

The unwisely named Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) is an organisation that is not all about Ravi. They have an incredibly gifted team of speakers who are based all over the world – including Michael Ramsden, Os Guinness, Amy Orr-Ewing, Sam Alberry, Stuart McAllister and Andy Bannister. They are also responsible for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

But now Ravi Zacharias is the latest in a line of Christian leaders who have been accused of wrongdoing. When I first heard the accusations my heart sank.

Not just because I, as a member of the body of Christ, am wounded whenever any part of that body is hurt, but because I have met and benefited from Ravi. He has preached in my church, and shared a meal in my home. His weekly podcast is one I listen to with great profit.

I love the ministry of people like Michael Ramsden, Amy Orr-Ewing and other RZIM speakers. We regard them so highly that we even appointed their Canadian team leader, Andy Bannister to come and run Solas. So little wonder my heart sank – either a brother I love had fallen or was under a vicious attack or some combination of the two.

The accusations were two fold – firstly that Ravi and his organisation had lied about his academic credentials. Secondly that he had been involved in a sexting scandal which he had settled out of court.

RZIM admit the first accusation, at least to the extent that they have been guilty of giving a misleading impression, but deny the second.

I have no right to act as counsel for the prosecution or the defence. Ravi has issued his own statement. But it is essential that those of us who profess to be Christians follow biblical principles in how we handle and deal with these difficult situations:

1. Don’t judge

It’s a straightforward, if often misunderstood and misused command from Christ: “Do not judge or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). I have been in many situations where I am asked “do you think he/she is guilty?” The answer is always “I don’t know”. Do I think he/she could be guilty? Of course. Because I believe the Bible when it tells us that we are all sinners – and I know my own heart! If Moses, David, Paul and Peter could fail and fall – I know that anyone can.

But that is vastly different from stating that someone is guilty. The bottom line is that we do not know. We may have some knowledge. “There were e-mails” – but e-mails can be faked. “Why would someone make this up?” – there could be lots of reasons, (Ravi’s lawyers have claimed those making the accusations have tried to extort money from a Canadian church leader in the past). There are so many variables and we just don’t know. We think we see the big picture when we only have a couple of pixels.

Some might then say “I have a feeling”. Well so do I, and my feelings have often been wrong! My conscience is not the judge of others.

It is important not to ‘read between the lines’. There will be those who read this and think ‘since you have not put forward a robust defence of Ravi you must really think he is guilty!’ No, no and thrice no! I am not in a position to judge. Neither is anyone not directly involved.

This is actually a really difficult command because the minute we hear something about someone we make a judgement about what we hear and inadvertently we make a judgement about them. Which brings us on to the second principle.

2. Don’t gossip

“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1).

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29).

Gossip is a deadly poison. Especially when it is sugarcoated under the guise of prayerful concern. Whatever the truth, and whatever happens, there will be many for whom Ravi Zacharias is now regarded as tainted. Anyone who has been in Christian ministry – especially an effective one – will know why the Psalmist asks so often to be kept from the deadly arrows of false and vindictive words….and he didn’t have to deal with social media!

I expect atheist and secularist groups to dig for dirt but what has astonished me is that there are professedly ‘Christian’ groups whose sole purpose seems to be to wallow in the muck. One of the groups gleefully publishing anything they can about Ravi while writing sanctimonious, self-righteous essays even put out a request in public for people to find any ‘information’ (gossip/dirt) they could about me!

But isn’t this in effect seeking to cover up? Is it not seeking to silence those fearless Christian (and atheist) keyboard warriors who are exposing injustice and wrongdoing? Not at all. This is where we come to the third biblical principle:

3. We all need good biblical church discipline

It’s not a popular concept and often comes with misunderstanding and tales of abuse – but discipline is essential in the Church.

Matthew 18:15-17 gives us the basic method. Go to the person concerned and if they don’t listen tell the church. The elders of the church are to investigate and act appropriately.

“Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19).

One of the problems in today’s church is that we have far too many Christians (and sadly Christian ministries) who are not subject to church discipline. We all need to be part of a biblical church community where proper biblical discipline is exercised.

A ‘board’ or ‘council’ is not biblical church discipline. If anyone has a complaint against me I just tell them to take it to the elders of the church. It’s a great protection for the individual, for the church and for the whole community when that system is in place.

What’s wrong with the Church

Let’s be honest. We don’t follow these basic principles. We don’t trust the Judge of all the earth to do right and so we think he needs our help. We act as though we don’t believe in an all knowing, all seeing, all-powerful God, or the Judgement Day.

We have a false theology that enables us to make false idols. We build up people and idolize them, only to demonise them when we suspect they have feet of clay.

In the age of social media we have Christian vigilantes and keyboard warriors who in the name of biblical faithfulness ignore what the Bible says about church discipline and set themselves up as judge and jury. God have mercy on us!

All I can do in this situation is weep and pray and trust the Lord. I love Ravi Zacharias and pray the Lord’s blessing upon him, his family and the work that he does. I am so thankful I am not his judge and until it is proven otherwise I will not believe evil of a brother.

I know my own heart and therefore I think I have enough to do in repenting for myself without judging and repenting for others! I can simply determine to follow and trust Jesus – as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15). And I rest assured in the words of Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church (Matthew 16:18).

David Robertson

Big News – Andy Bannister becomes the new full time director of Solas

10 thoughts on “Ravi Zacharias Allegations – A Christian Response – Article on Premier Christianity

  1. Good post and good food for thought.

    I hope Zacharias is innocent but I don’t know either.

    That being said, my problem is giving the benifit of the doubt to people I like and/or agree with while almost instantly condemning those I don’t like or disagree with.

    Our Christian repose to all people should be the same, mine unfortunately is not.

    1. My position is simple – for everyone – whether I like them or not. I don’t know. I’m not the judge. And its usually none of my business. Let the proper procedures be followed through and if they get it wrong there is a Day coming when all wrongs will be put right.

  2. Evidence, evidence, evidence, some true, some lies, some mistaken, but it has to be “first hand” the “best evidence”, which rules out as inadmissable, “second- hand” or “hearsay” such as gossip, who said what what and to whom, and it has to be weighed. Unless journalism is rigorous and without comment it is largely hearsay. The statement put out by Zacharias deals with simple facts, which should be verifiable or disputed by evidence. It then gives his assessment of his own culpability.
    Safeguarding is an over used word today, but anyone in public ministry, is a “vulnerable adult” and is to be aware of that at all times, particulary in the internet age.
    I pray that truth will out as evidence doesn’t always lead to the truth.
    And it must be remember at all times that those who make a claim, must prove it.

  3. Yes i am bias. Yet i know bull crap when i see it.
    There is no way Ravi is guilty of any wrong doing.
    Simply a Plan of Satan to destroy a humble proven man of God. Every hate theist will be rejoicing over Satan’s triumph to smear Ravis name.
    Im surprised its taken so long for Satan’s puppets to do their work on trying to bring Ravi down.
    End of story.
    Better of reading my bible instead of entertaining thoughts on this ridiculous accusation against him.
    Satan and his cronies will end up in the lake of fire.
    Ravis name is in the book of life.
    What more is there to say.

  4. Some more reasons why allegations should not be taken as proof of guilt.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4818874/Jemma-Beale-jailed-10-years.html
    Then there is this:
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/11/30/victims-group-apologises-to-priest-after-abuse-claims-dropped/
    Indeed, the organisation involved, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been accused by a former employee of being more interested in fundraising and taking kickbacks from lawyers suing the Catholic Church than in helping survivors.
    And then there is the sad case of Fr Gordon McRae;
    http://thesestonewalls.com/excerpt-catholic-priests-falsely-accused/
    Yes, there are people out there who will make allegations because they see an opportunity to make money.
    But I am saddened by the group who “put out a request in public for people to find any ‘information’ (gossip/dirt) they could about (you).”
    And to add to your list:
    Is it not yet a very little while
    until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
    18 In that day the deaf shall hear
    the words of a book,
    and out of their gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind shall see.
    19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
    and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
    20 For the ruthless shall come to nought and the scoffer cease,
    and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
    21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
    and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
    and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
    (Isaiah 29)
    The Jerusalem Bible, which is used for Readings at Mass in the Catholic Church translates verse 21 as ‘those who gossip to incriminate others’.The New International Version has, “those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.”

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