There are actually several scandals here which the Christian Church – and in particular, the evangelical community – need to address. Ravi Zacharias is a noted apologist who is famous worldwide for defending theism and Christianity. The reason we address these issues isn’t to hurt the church’s testimony, but to demonstrate that the Christian Church, having a perfectly capable Savior, can confess our sins and be forgiven. When we don’t address our own scandals, the world will, and it demonstrates we aren’t fully confident in our own religion that revolves around the concept of repentance, faith, and absolution.
First, the facts.
Zacharias engaged in what was at least an extramarital emotional affair with a woman not his wife. The text messages released to the public demonstrate this, and Zacharias has not denied it, and has indeed indicated that it was true.
Zacharias attempted to cover-up the affair and threatened – so it seems – to commit suicide if the woman confessed to her husband.
Zacharias has engaged in credential-puffing, using the title ‘Dr’ when his doctorate degrees are bestowed to him as a matter of honorary overtures and not because he’s earned them in an academic setting. This scandal isn’t the subject matter of this post, and it should suffice it to say that people need to be careful when giving themselves titles that they didn’t earn, either by gifting or by buying them from diploma mills. Unfortunately, Zacharias has gone beyond flaunting not-really-real degrees and has made up other academic credentials, like non-existent work at Cambridge and Oxford and manufacturing claims of being the department chair of academic departments that never existed. However, this issue has been more widely reported, for some years, and has probably been beaten to death. If you’d like more information, you can find it all here.
What’s of more significance is that few Christian publications have written about the adultery of one of the most – if not the most – prominent Christian apologists in the world. When the Christian Press has covered the topic, they have done so only in the most shallow of ways, mostly refusing to publish the evidence and allowing Zacharias or his ministry to dismiss the concerns without any moderately tough questions asked. While probably done in an attempt to help the witness of Christianity, it only hurts in a world full of people who are already skeptical about our claims of forgiveness in Jesus.
In fact, there’s a real-life scenario which illustrates the attitude of the Christian industrial establishment when it comes to Ravi Zacharias. First Baptist Church in Jacksonville recently hosted Zacharias at its pastors conference and bestowed to him a lifetime ministry award (from what we hear, the real ones come in the eschaton). An attendee sought to question Mac Brunson about this but was prevented from doing so by his son, Trey Brunson. The man’s name is Jim Lutzweiler, a Baptist, historian, and was doing little more than asking for clarification. Seeking to ask the question caused him to receive the left boot of fellowship.
Concerning the adultery, Pulpit & Pen has received copies of the messages between Zacharias and the woman.
From: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Date: October 29, 2016 at 1:04:58 PM EDT To: Ravi <email@example.com> Subject: Letter Dear Ravi, I can no longer continue, even in the seams of my soul, tuck away what I know to be sin against God and each of our spouses. Sin as you know always divides and devours. I cannot however continue to live with myself, with the guilt and shame that I feel about what has happened. In order to move forward with my spouse, I am planning on telling him what has happened tonight. The cost of this has been staggeringly high, and I have no idea if my marriage will be salvaged. All I can do is beg his forgiveness and try to heal so that something of this nature never happens again. Please do to reply, as I simply cannot hear from you or see you ever again. I have no control over how [Husband] will respond to or handle the information but I can no longer hold this secret and its soul searing shame. Let me say I have three daughters [ALL REDACTED]. If one of my daughters was approached by a man thirty years her senior in a position of power and trust, and this type of thing had occurred, I would be furious with him. I suspect so would you if it were one of your precious girls. You sir, are that man. You took advantage of a devastated daughter, and left her devoured once again. I am so appalled that I allowed myself to enter into this level of deception. You took and I gave a part of my soul and later my body that was not yours. The investment in relationship from taking my email to taking off my clothes makes me weep with the despair; feeling desolate, devastated, and disgusted. As for always, I recant on a vow I cannot keep. It is only He that will be with me always. [REDACTED] _____
From: Ravi <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: October 29, 2016 at 4:38:00 PM EDT To: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Subject: Re: Letter Are you going to tell him it’s me? _____
From: Ravi <email@example.com> Date: October 29, 2016 at 4:38:48 PM EDT To: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Subject: Re: Letter You promised you wouldn’t [REDACTED]. If. You betray me here I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise ______
From: Ravi <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: October 29, 2016 at 5:03:34 PM EDT To: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Subject: Re: Letter Can we not meet at lest once before you do this? Please please
From: Ravi <email@example.com> Date: October 29, 2016 at 5:57:00 PM EDT To: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Subject: Re: Letter Little did I know that was the most dark and accursed day of my life. You will not hear from me again ______
From: [REDACTED] <[REDACTED]> Date: October 29, 2016 at 6:15:42 PM EDT To: Ravi <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Letter We are [REDACTED PERSON’S] counsellors and she is currently receiving intensive counselling with us to find healing and restoration for her marriage. It is not her intent to share what has happened to anyone except her husband–which is necessary for any hope of marital restoration. And we are bound by confidentiality. We need some assurance from you that you will not harm yourself. Otherwise, we will find it necessary to contact 911 in your location. We await your prompt response. Thank you. _____