“Of all the bad men, religious bad men are the worst.” – C.S. Lewis
There are two fundamental human resources: One is TRUST the other one is TRUTH. One can’t live without both and be happy.
Being a Christian is hard.
Not only because you have to be mindful of how you represent Christ on earth, but mostly because most of its tenets are more often than not goes against human nature.
If at most the deal with Christianity is that its complexity can only be summed up by the death and resurrection of its main protagonist…Jesus Christ.
But what is also equally challenging is to find the right person to listen to about Christianity, a person whom you trust that will represent Jesus Christ on earth.
A friend of mine once told me that he doesn’t follow people but only follows ideas.
I’ve thought deeply about this, and I found his assertion problematic.
Instead, I thought that we follow ideas by people we find are morally superior to ours because the integrity of the concept rests on the integrity of the messenger.
And what better example than the late Ravi Zacharias.
Ravi wrote extensively on the life of Jesus Christ, and he was considered a shining example of what a Christian apologist should be.
I can vividly remember watching one of his videos on Youtube where he debated with a Muslim scholar. The Muslim scholar challenged him to follow what he taught his followers.
So Ravi had to remove his trousers before hundreds of people watched and gave them to the Muslim scholar.
Soon after the debate, multitudes of Muslims approached him and apologized for what the Muslim scholar did—telling him that this is not how Islam is about.
Ravi wrote dozens of books on Christian apologetics, on how to defend the teachings of Christianity and live a life of fullness in Christ.
I watched hours and hours of his interviews as such that when he died, I considered that day one of the saddest times of my life.
Indeed another follower of Christ, someone I look up to and admire, is now in heaven.
Or so I thought.
I became familiar with Ravi’s issue with Lori Anne Thompson and her husband Brad when I read an article published by Ravi on his website RZIM.
I was made to believe that Ravi was telling the truth because how else should one view a human being who devoted his entire life to Christ, doing philanthropic work and going around the world spreading the gospel?
Never mind that I disagree with how he views Roman Catholicism, never mind how I disagree with his fellowship with Manny Pacquiao, a known enabler of a human rights violator, President named Rodrigo Duterte.
I did believe Ravi, not only because of the strength of Ravi’s character but for the lack of more information and evidence that would point to his guilt.
I cling to the conclusion that is that the case was already closed and settled outside of court; it is enough to clear Ravi of any wrongdoing.
And then Ravi died, but never the scandal.
A few months after Ravi’s death, people from RZIM, Ravi’s ministry, demanded immediate investigation and accountability based on new pieces of evidence and witnesses swearing by their testimonies against Ravi.
And true enough, their concern didn’t go to waste.
It was found that Ravi was guilty, not only of what he did to Lori Anne Thompson and her husband, Brad.
Ravi was guilty of more heinous, perverted, and vicious sexual crimes.
To say that I was personally heartbroken is an understatement.
What Ravi did, and its succeeding effects made me question several things about life, God, and faith.
But what’s more spiritually jarring than the questions I thought is the number of people blindsided by Ravi.
Intelligent Christian apologists, well-educated individuals, Ravi’s family, and friends. Ravi’s entire world ministry.
And the seeming lack of systems in place that would ensure no such thing ought to have happened in ministries as huge as Ravi’s.
And lastly, my chief concern is, what happens next?
It is already tough to preach the gospel, let alone live by it, but when someone like Ravi comes along and adds fuel to the fire of doubts in believers’ minds, how much more can it affect unbelievers then?
One can only imagine the repercussions.
One famous female apologist already mentioned that she would stop recommending Ravi’s books.
Another Christian philosopher I know was quick to implicate the entire RZIM as complicit, precipitating me from falling apart with him after I pointed out that evidence and facts should remain supreme. One should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The same person rebuked me when I said that Ravi is now in hell; he said that only God has the final say about who will be in hell or not.
Again I disagreed.
If the Bible didn’t exist to give us a surefire way to reach heaven, then where else should we place our trust in the faith we chose?
But more important than that, we need to help those who got hurt the most, those who were silenced by fear and intimidation.
My heart goes out to all his victims who had to suffer years of abuse, physical, emotional and spiritual ones.
The day that I read the message of RZIM and clicked on the report in it. I couldn’t bring myself to finish the entire piece without seething in anger and hatred.
So I prayed to God and asked him to take care of this because this is not just a physical battle but a spiritual one.
And I honestly think that Ravi lost that battle, and he is now in hell.
I went ahead and deleted his books in my kindle app.
I am pretty sure that atheists and critics of Christianity are having a heyday.
They would be using the example of Ravi as another ammunition against Christ.
They will point at how helpless this so-called God, Ravi preaches, stops him from doing the evil things he did.
They will delude people into believing that God has approved all of these and blessed them in his church.
They will mark this down along with the numerous crimes perpetrated by people of faith, and as an example, one does not need God to live a whole and meaningful life.
Or that the most heinous crimes are perpetrated by people who present themselves as messengers of Christ.
And they would be right.
There is no defending Ravi Zacharias.
But there is good reason to defend Christ and the gospel despite Ravi and people like him.
I don’t purport to know what God wanted to achieve by allowing Ravi to do what he did.
And I also don’t think that Ravi is a good enough reason to leave one’s faith.
If at all the experience of what Ravi could accomplish only opened up the lapses in humanity’s faith towards the leaders it admires.
Along the way, people are fickle and tend to forget how to make people accountable. Being blinded by power Ravi was able to fool everyone around him, even his own family.
What is hardest to accept is that Ravi spoke the truth while living a lie.
This reminds me of my friend’s statement that he doesn’t follow people but only follows ideas.
Can you still use Ravi Zacharias’ sermons and teachings in church?
I chanced upon this question on Facebook, and I read some exciting answers.
Some agree that you can still use Ravi Zacharias’ teachings in the church because they are the word of God and that we are not sure if he repented before he died and went to heaven. They also said that God uses even “sinners” to further his kingdom, and they go on and mention David, Saul, Paul, etc…
Some disagree because they think that using a sinner’s witness is an act of injustice towards the majesty of the gospel and an insult to Ravi’s victims.
I have a different answer altogether.
The answer is a Yes and a No, and it is not because I endorse Ravi’s works nor his sins, but because each particular action has a corresponding consequence. It weighs heavily in the hearts of believers and unbelievers.
But before I illustrate the reason behind my answer, let me just put the issue out of the way and tell my thoughts about if I think Ravi went to heaven or not.
You see, there are two types of sin:
The sin of omission
The sin of commission
“A sin of commission occurs when you do something you know to be wrong. A sin of omission occurs when you let something bad happen when you could do something to stop it. (“If you see fraud and don’t say fraud, you are a fraud.” — Nassim Taleb, Antifragle)” see: https://www.naveedjan.com/notes/12-rules-for-life
And indeed, God, with all his infinite wisdom, does not see hurried repentance on a deathbed be considered justified and a sure get out jail card towards heaven.
Sinning and the act of praying for forgiveness demand repentance and the action of doing thereof.
To make it more simple, if Ravi did repent on his deathbed, the least he could do is to come clean with his family about it and do something to alleviate the pain incurred by his victims.
However, Ravi didn’t do this; his family was left in the dark as such that his family even gave him a celebratory farewell party of sorts when he died, attended by influential and powerful people.
In essence, the smallest window and chance he had to pay for his crimes, he took it to his grave.
So is Ravi in heaven or not? Can he be compared with the sinner alongside the cross with Christ who confessed his sins and promised heaven?
Ravi used all his influence, power, and ministry resources to keep his victims quiet.
Simple logic and theology dictate that Ravi is now languishing in hell.
Setting that aside, why is my answer a yes and a no.
Yes, you can still use Ravi’s sermons and teachings because these are the teachings of Christ; however, Ravi purposely and deviously used the gospel to gain prominence to collect victims.
Using Ravi’s sermons also entails a responsibility for its consequences. If you talk about Ravi, you need to talk about his victims and how he used the gospel to feed his sexual perversions.
By doing this, you can help more people be aware of how the words of the gospel are exploited to manipulate people and groups and how to spot them accordingly through the experience of Ravi’s ministry.
The other answer is no, and you can’t use Ravi’s sermons and teachings IF you are not willing to take the responsibility of talking about his crimes and his victims; otherwise, you will be doing a great insult and disservice to Christ’s church and legacy.
And lastly, there is no point in comparing Ravi to David and other sinners listed in the Bible because by doing so, it implicitly justifies the act of crime or an act of evil being the will of God.
This is theologically inconsistent, and I’m afraid to be reprehensible. But mostly a red-herring fallacy form of argument to remove the focus to the consequences of Ravi’s criminal actions in the Christian world.
Being a Christian, it is your utmost responsibility to witness the truth and the truth of Jesus Christ.
So it would be best if you talked about the truth, and as Jesus said:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32 ESV
Can a Christian still use the words, teachings, and arguments used by Ravi despite his fall from grace?
Rationally yes, but ethically no.
And human beings are meant to be ethical creatures, that even if one hears certain truths, their impression of the one who speaks it will still influence how that truth would mean to them.
Ravi’s work and utility to answer spiritual questions can still be viewed as
Lori Anne Thompson’s full victim impact statement video – https://youtu.be/4kDe8caElaw
Victims of Ravi can safely contact (or have someone they trust contact) Rachael Denhollander a former victim and advocate who will help them. Please don’t spam her with emails, this is for victims who need a safe person to take up their cause. mailto:email@example.com
This is not a video I’m looking forward to. But this is why I’m doing it.
1) Ravi’s victims need vindication. In particular, Lori Anne Thompson has been continually maligned and horribly treated because she brought TRUE accusations against Ravi.
I believed the worst about her because of the comments from Ravi and the echoes of those comments from RZIM. This only made her a continual victim. We need to clear her name.
2) Ravi’s sins have left a lot of open wounds that need tending. Both in the body of Christ and in RZIM.
Believers need to be reminded of how to process all this as a follower of Christ, of how true Christ remains regardless of this tragedy and how to handle this situation so that we don’t wrongly treat RZIM staff, Ravi’s family or continue to make the error of ignoring red flags that may still lead to more discoveries. I’ve seen every kind of wrong response online already.
I pray to God that I would have wisdom to help us all to have wisdom here. If you are reading this before I go live then please stop and pray for me as I prepare for this video.
3) Scripture commands us to openly deal with a leader who persists in sin, which is proven by evidence, by telling the local body so that other leaders can properly fear their own falling (1 Tim 5:19-20).
Since Ravi was a leader in worldwide Christianity with personal character endorsements from countless other leaders this command can only be fulfilled by taking the truth as public as his endorsements were.
4) If we as the body of Christ do not deal with this issue openly then I feel that we implicate ourselves in some sort of complicity at this point.
The witness of Christ in the world has been harmed by Ravi’s sin and we do need to publicly deal with it. Due to my own place in ministry as a public figure I do feel compelled to speak on this.
Like many of you I am angry and I’m sad. But we can’t respond with conspiracy theories that deny the overwhelming evidence of persistent sin, abuse of power, abuse of ministry funds, abuse of women and how calculated and deliberate it all was.
The facts are in, all that is left is to face them and try to respond in ways that honor Christ.
To Ravi’s family, I’m really sorry I am making a video about your father/husband/relative. It breaks my heart and I hate the idea of adding hurt to what you are going through.
Please know that I don’t mean you harm and I’m not on the bandwagon of heartless crowds. I am compelled that this must be done and I pray that you will find, in some way, some help in it as well.