20 Feb A Hard Look At Ravi Zacharias’ Sex Scandal
I think recently the church has been much shaken by the sexual scandal of Ravi Zacharias. He was a renowned apologist, and I knew about him few years ago. I read his book on suffering and how he defended the Christian faith against the atheists and various other faith. I read about his scandals with a heavy heart.
Now, while it is human to err, and renowned figures have fallen to transgressions, it is one thing to fall with repentance, it is quite another to fall without any clear sign of repentance, though we don’t really know whether the apologist did repent of his sins at his deathbed.
Yet, it is clear to many now that the rare and aggressive cancer that took his life away so swiftly was instrumented by none other than the hand of God. But how does the whole Christian world make sense out of this whole episode?
Definitely, news like that really make a dent on the name of Christianity. On a personal note, it hurts those who has their faith built by an apologist who seems such a sage. Yet, what is most intriguing is how could such an anointed person, who were so inspired by the scripture could actually live in sins for years, and seemingly without reproach. I guess these are questions that could be bogging our mind.
Now, whichever it is, the Christian faith first restrain us from placing too much judgment on someone who have done wrong, for anyone of us (whether as a Christian leader or believer) has the possibility to fall in this capacity, if not for the grace of God who protects us.
As it is, sins loom in the hearts of every sinful creature.
Yet, it doesn’t mean we leave critical questions about a fallen Christian leader unanswered.
Now, while I am most concerned about the name of the church in this matter, the Lord has first assured me that it is needless to be overly pessimistic about how the name of Christianity and the Church has been tainted. Because it is the Lord Christ Himself who will build his church. As Jesus said in
<Mat 16:18>: I will build my church and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.
As it is, we have seen from church history, whether it is cults or heresies, whether it is wars and persecutions, or whether it is some great spiritual leaders who have sinned, God has amazingly used them to refine His church, and point people to Him.
Yes, my brethren, our Lord Jesus is the Rock by which His Church is built upon. It will remain unshaken in the face of scandals or any kind of adversity. Praise the Lord! It is Christ Himself who is the author of our faith. He is our ONLY champion and conqueror against Sin, Satan and the World.
If we are talking about temptation, Jesus was most extensively tempted and yet overcome every one of them. If we are talking about persecution, the Lord Himself suffered the most painful and horrendous death for no wrong that HE has done.
Who is like our Lord Jesus, my brethren?
That is the main message God has for us when saints or spiritual sages fall.
When men fall short, the honor of Christ stands tall.
But how about those who have trusted Ravi, who have quoted him so often and have our faith built up through the messages he gave and the books he wrote?
While some may say: “Let’s separate the message from the messenger”
In reality it is hard to do so. For instance, I have Ravi’s books lying at home and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it anymore.
Now it may not be that I am against the gospel message that has been related by Ravi, but it is a reality when the messenger falls, the memory of their fall works against the mind. There is a reason why the writings by the Apostles and men of renowned faith in church history was used greatly and how these men were faithful till the end. So the scandals about Ravi without clear sign of repentance provokes us to think deeper into what has been taught and related by him. It brought us first to rethink about whether he has really taught clearly and concisely about sins, and consistently, each time while he relates the gospel.
Yes, being able to present an intellectual view in apologetics, proving a case about the existence of God may not mean he has upheld the gospel in its true sense. Being able to answer deep questions of the faith with philosophical answers may not mean a person is truly convinced about his depraved and sinful state, and thus in need of more grace in his life. So it brought us to the question that there are very anointed and ordained preachers in this Era, but did they really get the fundamental doctrines right?
For one, Ravi has been a very intellectual and relevant apologist. It brought me to retrospect that throughout these few decades, evangelicals and charismatic leaders have put so much emphasis on striking the right note with listeners, yet downplaying critical reformed doctrines.
It is true that the contemporary Christian crowd love speakers and apologists who are relevant and relatable. Yeah, nothing wrong with that, but it brings us back to the question about whether believers are pursuing what is relevant rather than doctrinally unswerving. As it is, the critical emphasis of “what God can do”, instead of “what men can do”, was what the reformers have taught us soundly and critically.
Since the reformation, God has given us very grounded teachings through the reformers and their theology. Yet, when those fundamental doctrines are slowly forsaken or downplayed because of the need to be acceptable to changing cultures and different people’s group, the church runs the danger of putting too much emphasis on man’s anointing and relevant teachings.
Maybe for those who have been captivated by Ravi’s teachings, have we asked what actually captivates us about him? Was it his eloquence or intellect? Was it his ability to answer our doubts about our faith in a very creative and resonating way? Or did we come to the true knowledge of Christ and the gospel through his teachings? I am not making any judgment about this. But I leave you to answer that question.
And lastly, if you wonder why such an anointed apologist can utter such deep and inspiring mystery about the gospel truths. It tells us that the work of Satan can be so subtle and he is waiting to devour teachers of the faith. Satan can let teachers build up their knowledge through comprehending mysteries, either through biblical text or common revelation that is revealed by different religions and philosophies of life. It is therefore not difficult for a man, if smart enough to relate spiritual mysteries in intelligible ways. A teacher of the faith can teach a faith well without believing in it also, yet continually and successfully build his credentials from there.
But Satan lies in wait to use all that have been built up to deal a great blow to the whole Christian community.
Yes, as we know, Ravi is well-read. He has the benefit of studying many other religions deeply. He travels widely and gain experience from many different cultures. But it doesn’t mean he truly knows what is of the Spirit. He could have missed the transforming power of the gospel which renews a person’s mind. Or he could have been blinded by the temporal pleasure of sin. He might have known the doctrine of regeneration, but whether he has tasted its renewal power is a question that remains unanswered.
However, we should not make too much judgement about whether Ravi was truly a believer at all. Yet, with the scandals without any closure from the dead man, I think we should let what is unanswered remain so. And with that, let us all be discerning with the many teachers in this contemporary age. Whoever we are listening to, let us learn to listen with a discerning mind. And with what we have heard, let us be brought to a true relationship with God through having the right knowledge about Him.
In the end my brethren, we are responsible to God about how we have responded to Him, not what we have learnt through a pastor or an apologist.
And lastly, I want to encourage the church not to lose trust in Christian leaders who have faithfully taught the word and shepherd you. They may not be dynamic or eloquent speakers but they are faithful to the word and genuinely care for the flock. Do not be apprehensive about their leadership.
But together with them, join Christ in building His church.