My Perspective on the Ravi Zacharias Scandal
I am writing this today with a profound sadness concerning the news that has come out in recent months regarding the Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias. I, like many others, appreciated his ministry and considered him to be a man of both intellect and integrity. What has been exposed since his death is greatly disturbing. It is not my desire to rehearse the details of his moral shortcomings as they have been "shouted from the rooftops." But it is my desire to offer a perspective regarding how we should view him, and other leaders in the body of Christ, who are found to be engaged in scandalous behavior.
[ Allow me to interject at this point, in full disclosure, that I had a moral fall from ministry about 15 years ago. I went through a period of restoration and have been open and transparent about my failure. I know the deceptiveness of sin and the temptations that ministry can pose. ]
First, let us acknowledge that we are all sinners in need of the grace of God. Ravi was a sinner as I am. Our sins may be different but I must pray daily, like the tax collector, "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). The exposure of the sins of others should not cause us to "wag our tongues" in self-righteousness. Rather, we should be made aware of our own proneness to wander from the "way" and allow our corrupt and sinful hearts to control us.
Secondly, the failure of Ravi Zacharias does not negate the things that he taught. The message of truth that he carried was more important than the messenger. My faith is not built upon anything less than Christ and the revelation presented to us in Holy Scripture. God has down through history chosen to use those who, if we were his personnel director, would not choose. Look at the list of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. Look at the disciples that Jesus chose. Look at the characters that brought the gospel to the far flung nations of the earth, defended the faith, and changed the course of civilization. It has often been a "rogues gallery" of men and women who were less than pristine saints. God, in His divine sovereignty and for His own purposes, chooses whom He will.
Thirdly, the evangelical church world must recognize its own culpability in this scandal. We have created an atmosphere of "celebrity-ism" around many prominent leaders. We have made them our "rock stars" and have given them a status that allows them to feel that they are "special." When one reads the report on Ravi it is quite disturbing in how he used his position, and accompanying wealth, to take advantage of these women. But it is equally as disturbing to read about how those on his staff ignored, tolerated, and justified behavior that should have been questioned. (As one who has travelled internationally as a conference speaker, I have too often seen situations that troubled me and caused me to ask, "why is this ignored?").
I have served on boards of ministries, and on church staffs, when rumors began to circulate about the senior leader. These are often pushed aside, "swept under the carpet", or explained away rather than investigated as to their validity. The truth is we tend to believe the best about our friends and the worst about our enemies.
It is my hope that this scandal, and the others I have not spoken about but have been in the news, causes the Church in America and around the world to re-evaluate how we have made "idols" out of men with feet of clay. I also hope it causes all of us to realize that "there but for the grace of God go I". Such is my perspective.