I get requests frequently asking me to look into potential false teachers. But when Ravi Zacharias died, it seemed unimportant to examine his legacy as it provides no warning about someone active in ministry, despite multiple requests for me to cover him. And while there was a vague notion of a scandal brewing in the background, it seemed unimportant until Ravi Zacharias International Ministries conceded in the interim findings of the investigation into sexual immorality. But poor reporting labeled rampant sexual immorality under the overly-broad term “sexual misconduct” Only after I read the interim report did the matter become very real to me.
When RZIM conceded their namesake’s guilt, despite every financial incentive not to, it became all too clear that Ravi Zacharias was not the man many thought he was. The dead do not get a trial, and the days until we know the full extent of what happened are growing fewer. The debate in Christian circles became about whether Ravi Zacharias was saved at all or what this his “David and Bathsheba” sin?
Plainly put, owning multiple massage parlors and using them as a means to get “happy endings” from your employees is not the action becoming of a regenerate minister of the gospel. In fact, the first question that comes up is why he owns these establishments in the first place. Certainly, if we apply the principle of the Billy Graham Rule, this could certainly be applied to not owning businesses that invite the temptation of sexual immorality, especially if it has no relation to your active ministry.
The interim report is figuratively damning. It essentially stated that the investigators have evidence proving the initial claims of the investigation into the spas, but are pursuing additional leads into new allegations that they uncovered.
That has to hurt people who have been positively impacted by Ravi Zacharias. And while I am not one, I completely understand what this feels like. The pastor who baptized myself and half of my family would later deconstruct his faith following an adulterous affair with another staff member of the church. The last I ever heard about him was that he rejected the church’s plea for repentance, choosing instead to continue living a sinful lifestyle.
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB 1995
Hebrews 6 details those who have been enlightened and tasted the Heavenly gift and then fall away as impossible to renew again for repentance. Both the Calvinist and Arminian positions conclude that this person is not saved, though disagree on how this process theologically works. The Letter to the Hebrews is meant to encourage Christians to continue the race, but chapter 6 articulates the peril of falling away from the faith as a motivator for us to continue faithfully.
11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 6:11-12 NASB 1995
Another thing to keep in mind is that logically minded people are more susceptible to fall into the trap of intellectually acknowledging the truth of the Bible without ever having a personal relationship with Jesus. Given that Ravi Zacharias was renowned for articulating the utility of theism, this is a possibility. We must understand that common grace allows people who are not saved to find utility in theism and even Christianity. And more logically minded people need to internalize their relationship with Jesus on a heart level, not simply an intellectual acknowledgement. Because even Satan acknowledges God’s sovereignty (and therefore chose to rebel against it.)
There’s no shortage of fallen heroes, in the church or elsewhere. I do not believe that Ravi Zacharias finished the race and there are other red flags surrounding him, but until the final report comes out providing more details as to what he did, I believe it would be wise to leave the question up in the air. But until then, there are lessons we can learn from this to grow in our own faith journeys.