Earlier this year Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) hired a law firm to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct that had been leveled against its deceased namesake. This week that firm reported that “credible evidence” indicates that Ravi Zacharias indeed “engaged in sexual misconduct over many years”. Accusations of (among other things) credentials fraud and sexting plagued Zacharias towards the end of his life and career. To those who had followed the downward trajectory of his ministry, this latest report came as no surprise. It’s abundantly clear that Ravi Zacharias opened his own massage parlor (or “spa”) and commenced to ask his employees for sexual services. This latest confirmation of his behavior has left reasonable people asking, “Why would a Christian minister open an establishment like that in the first place?”
Consider the optics. Does it seem like a good idea for any man in Christian ministry to open a business where he is required to take off his clothes to receive services from women? It must have to NAMB Vice President, mega pastor, and former SBC President Johnny Hunt. The baptist luminary actually traveled to Alpharetta to speak at the space’s grand opening.
Shouldn’t Hunt, a pastor of 1000s of people have had enough to sense to say, “Hey, Ravi, I think this is a bad idea”? Apparently not. Hunt himself is reported to have travelled from Woodstock to Alpharetta to receive services at Ravi’ spa (legitimate ones, there are no reports of Hunt asking for or receiving “Happy Endings”). Hunt apparently suspected nothing. The same goes for all the Zacharias supporters in celebrity Evangelicalism who adamantly defended Zacharias from these accusations until investigators hired by his own organization finally confirmed them.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Men like Johnny Hunt are terrible judges of character and shouldn’t be trusted to run anything, especially less churches and mission boards. Ravi’s influential friends promoted and vouched for him until they couldn’t. The lesson to be learned is to trust evidence over the endorsements of famous preachers by other famous preachers. Chances are that the pastoral candidates who have come to your church over the years have been endorsed by no one else but other pastors who make their living in the same business. But where is the endorsement of Christ?
The reputation of Jesus will survive the information age but the reputations of millionaire, good-ole-boy, jet-setting celebrity preachers may very well wither like so many cockroaches under a flashlight and in a cloud of Raid. Make sure your flashlight batteries are charged and that you always have you can of bug spray and Bible in hand.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.