“The problem is when those preachers and teachers become “freelance apostles”, divorced from the accountability of the church eldership and congregation. Rather than be one spiritual gift – teaching – alongside other gifts, all holding the Teacher accountable, we have exalted and separated the Teacher from his or her community. The Teacher is now separate, better, distinct. He, or she, is at the top.”
(Phylicia Masonheimer) Ravi Zacharias was one of the “good ones”, I thought. When he died, I celebrated the fact that a man had completed a life’s work for the gospel without scandal. He died a champion for the faith – or so I believed. I cried through the memorial video released by RZIM, but at the time, they were tears of joy for the legacy I believed Ravi had.
A few weeks later, I ran across the initial report that he was being investigated. I encountered for the first time the news of his sexual abuse and read with a sinking spirit the testimony of women manipulated through his position of power. I followed the investigation as things came forward, and only a few days ago read the final report from the investigation firm detailing exactly what Ravi had done.
I did not know the full story of Lori Anne Thompson until that report, which spurred me to dig deeper into the story.
And now, with reports confirmed, the church is reeling. What makes this time so different? Perhaps the amount of women (one should be enough to cause such a response, but this was dozens*)? Perhaps his charisma and logical ability, and how they acted as a smoke screen for his true actions?
My inbox was a mix of denial and distress. The denial – from Christians who followed and trusted him – confused me the most. There was an incredulity that Ravi could have done wrong. “It’s just people fabricating this to slander him.” I was told. “This is just meant to give the atheists more ammunition against us.” But why would an atheist need this as ammunition? The atheist has all the ammunition he needs in his own worldview. Denial, particularly in light of the investigation results, is the same thought process that protected Ravi in the first place.
Then there were the messages of distress. “My faith is so shaken.” I had to admit: Mine was too. How could someone who seemed to know the gospel SO WELL fail so miserably? How could he use the gospel to abuse women? And how – it chills me to write this – how could he use “winning souls” as an excuse to degrade the very soul in front of him?
CRN changed the title: Do Not Merely Listen: My Response To Ravi’s Fall
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