Nathan Zacharias, the son of the late apologist Ravi Zacharias spoke out on social media regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct which have been mounting against his father who died last spring.
His statement is Biblically illiterate and poorly reasoned. The attitude from the younger Zacharias is much of what is wrong with the approach that Christians too often take to these scandals and so I wanted to highlight some of his points and why they’re problematic.
in either case (innocent or guilty), I think the way this has been discussed by Christian media and leaders is an absolute disgrace.
Many Christians (sadly, myself included) ignored this scandal when we started to hear murmurings of allegations in 2017. More information has come to light, and Ravi’s own ministry has confirmed truth to allegations of sexual misconduct. Yet, many still want to give Ravi a pass, explain away the allegations, talk about his great ministry.
What’s disgraceful in how the media has covered this and how leaders have talked about it? The only thing disgraceful is to minimize his behavior. It is not a disgrace to ask questions, to care about the victims, and to want the truth.
Regarding some specific individuals who were once my colleagues, how “brave” you are to aggressively take on on a man who can’t even defend himself
This is the weakest argument that can be made in Ravi’s defense. Since Ravi’s dead, he can’t defend himself. In 2017, allegations about a sexting scandal came to light. Instead of owning up to his actions, Ravi paid off his victim to sign an NDA, and then talked to Christianity Today and painted her as the aggressor and himself as the victim.
So spare me “he can’t defend himself.” He lied to save himself during his lifetime. Because he lied, the truth wasn’t more commonly known sooner.
attack his grieving family who is far more hurt and blindsided by this situation than you can ever be
I think that anyone who has any compassion feels bad for the Zacharias family. They’re also impacted by Ravi’s sin. They have to deal with the public disgrace. They’re robbed of opportunities to mend their relationships with Ravi.
The family shouldn’t be attacked. But there are legitimate areas to question the motivations of the family. Ravi’s widow could lift the aforementioned NDA, but hasn’t. I’m sure she’s suffered greatly. But as Ravi’s ministry has an “investigation” into the allegations, there should be total transparency and that’s not possible with NDAs.
God chose to spare Dad from all this by calling him home when we did. But how “virtuous” of you to insist that you hand out the relentless punishment and humiliation that God saw no place for in dad’s lifetime.
This is where the theological reasoning starts to go sideways. What relevance does this point have to investigating what happened? Ravi is gone, but he has victims who are still alive and who have to live with what Ravi did.
Just because someone dies, that does not mean that the impact of their sins goes away and that we have to ignore what someone has done.
how “virtuous” of you to insist that you hand out the relentless punishment and humiliation that God saw no place for in dad’s lifetime.
How do you know that this isn’t a divinely ordained judgment now?
I would also say I disagree that this is “relentless punishment.” The starting point is trying to sort out the facts and figure out what Ravi did. It’s not unending punishment. Ten years from now, Ravi’s ministry will be largely forgotten.
Even *if* these allegations are true, there is no doubt that God actively blessed my dad and did so right up until he passed.
Putting the *if* in asterisks when your father’s own ministry (where Ravi’s daughter is the CEO) has acknowledged that there is truth in the sexual misconduct allegations is pretty bold.
Saying *if* these allegations are true is also a further slap in the face to the victims. Because it’s highlighting Ravi’s accomplishments as if they’re not invalidated because of his conduct. Saying *if* it’s true, but then following it up with talking of worldly successes makes it seem as if the truth doesn’t really matter.
what these individuals are saying – along with any person or organization that wants to cancel my dad – is that God was wrong to do so, so we must now correct God’s blessing/mistake by erasing my dad and his voice.
This is truly the low point of the whole statement.
Ravi isn’t the one who was wrong. Anyone who thinks Ravi was wrong for being a predator is wrong (and sinful).
Absolutely absurd and disgusting.
Also this is a dangerous way for any Christian to think. Acting as though anyone who’s successful in ministry is somehow untouchable because “God blessed them.” How is any successful ministry leader to be held accountable?
There are all sorts of prosperity preachers who peddle a false gospel, travel the world, and enrich themselves. That doesn’t mean they’re all good.
Not just with ministry, but in life, all sorts of scoundrels are prosperous.
It’s also not doing the leader any favor to put them a position of unchecked authority. Because people are sinful, and without accountability, it’s very tempting to use power to excuse, initiate, and cover up our sins.
What this whole incident has shown is that Pharisees still run rampant in Christian culture when someone allegedly falls.
Oooh, I see. So now you’re a pharisee if you think it’s wrong for people to be sexual predators.
I was looking at my Facebook memories today. Eight years ago today, when I was a seminary student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (where Ravi went), I got to see Ravi speak on campus. It meant a lot to me. I had always loved Ravi. I know many people who were fans of Ravi’s teaching and books hate seeing one of our modern day heroes disgraced. But truth should matter more.
I went through this statement because so many of these points and sentiments are things I hear and see from other Christians. Trying to explain it away and ignore what happened, as if that’s somehow virtuous or gracious.
Truth matters and his victims matter. It does not serve them well when we paint Ravi like he’s the victim. He already tried to do that during his lifetime.
The last few weeks have been a brutal twist in an already painful season. I have not been given much of a voice in the process, but I am currently trying to find the best platform through which to share some things in the wake of all this. In the meantime I will say this:
First, RZIM does not speak for me. They have formed their own opinion. But it does not dictate mine. I do not agree with them for legitimate reasons. I will not, however, debate those differences publicly.
Second, in either case (innocent or guilty), I think the way this has been discussed by Christian media and leaders is an absolute disgrace.
Regarding some specific individuals who were once my colleagues, how “brave” you are to aggressively take on on a man who can’t even defend himself, as well as attack his grieving family who is far more hurt and blindsided by this situation than you can ever be. And how “righteous” you are to think that we must continually pile on our punishment AFTER he has already faced the ultimate judge. God chose to spare Dad from all this by calling him home when we did. But how “virtuous” of you to insist that you hand out the relentless punishment and humiliation that God saw no place for in dad’s lifetime.
Even *if* these allegations are true, there is no doubt that God actively blessed my dad and did so right up until he passed. His impact was only getting greater. So what these individuals are saying – along with any person or organization that wants to cancel my dad – is that God was wrong to do so, so we must now correct God’s blessing/mistake by erasing my dad and his voice. “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for him.”
What this whole incident has shown is that Pharisees still run rampant in Christian culture when someone allegedly falls. Its just now they use laptops instead of stones. They are cruel, and their disgusting rush to plant their self righteous flag in my dad’s shattered legacy betrays the truth about them – “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Finally, and most importantly, nothing could change how much I love my dad and miss him. I am still proud to be his son.
Thanks for reading! For more posts, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!