Thinking Out Loud

December 4, 2017

The Ravi Story

Filed under: Christianity, current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:56 am

Last week we ran a series called Short Takes which meant I did not have an opportunity to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, nor do I feel that every blogger needs to pontificate on every breaking story. (See the first two items in Wednesday’s Link List if you’re not familiar with what was reported.)

Today however, I have the luxury of having had a week to consider the impact of the reports as well as — a full week later — the first direct reply from Ravi himself.

I think the first question to be answered, if not today over the long haul, is that as scandals go, was this the real deal or a bit of a tempest in a teapot? I would argue that Ravi Zacharias will survive this with his ministry reputation more or less intact.

Academic credentials do matter. Last summer (2016) we took some fun pictures of me “lecturing” at Trent University and in the chapel at Tyndale College and Seminary and a few other places. It was a lot of fun standing behind the podium and “speaking” at those fine institutions. Truth is, both were taken on Saturdays and there was no one in the audience. We’d all like to think our accomplishments are larger than they are. (We never did anything with those photos.) So saying that you were granted “visiting scholar” privileges at a prestigious UK school is probably legit if someone did indeed arrange for you to attend lectures there. But it gets dicey if you know that “visiting scholar” is actually a very specific title; the word itself implies the granting of a scholarship.

Furthermore, the relationship between affiliated schools — a key factor in a couple of elements of Ravi’s [former] biography can often be complicated. For example, my undergraduate degree is from the University of Toronto, but it is a federation of colleges; mine was Victoria University. If I had returned to graduate work at Wycliffe College to work on a masters degree, I would also have been part of the Toronto School of Theology which is the federation of theological colleges (including Trinity, St. Michaels, Knox, etc.) all of which are located — wait for it — at the University of Toronto. (And even that sentence is ambiguous; it begins “if I had returned” when in fact I mean returned to the campus overall; if you check, Wycliffe has no record of me.) If I really want to stretch things, I also attended Oxford in England and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, but my time there was quite limited due to the tour bus idling in the parking lot.

It’s easy to embellish one’s record. Or even to want to do so. The first rule of human resources interviewing is to look at the resumé and determine if the prospective employee exaggerated any of their employment or educational claims. True Christian humility would be to downplay any degrees, but in the field of apologetics, some type of academic clout is expected. Years ago, I wrote a bullet-point list of all the things I had done, but probably only about one in ten of those would be elements of a resumé. Those experiences were significant to who I am and what I have to offer, but many of them were unique opportunities that are harder to quantify or document.

As to the sexting part of last week’s story, there are two very contradictory elements which may get forgotten. One is the report that the legal action connected to this originated with Ravi, not with the woman. There is an admission of some type of settlement, but so far, the statement stands that no funds from RZIM were involved. Yes, it’s confusion.

But there’s also that email that had been posted earlier by Julie at Spiritual Sounding Board which quoted Ravi as saying that as a result of the devastation the story could bring he might need to “bid this world goodbye.” I’d like to know more about that one, please; but we probably should just consign that one to the category of your teenage daughter saying, “If anyone sees my hair like this I’m going to have to kill myself.”

…All in all a bit of a mess, but hopefully not a fatal one. To the atheist blogger who did the tireless research which broke the story, I would in all seriousness say ‘Thank you. As Christians we place a high value on transparency and accountability, even when it hurts.’

But to the same blogger I would say, ‘Know this: The thoroughness of your research does not negate the thoroughness of Ravi Zacaharias’ research when he argues the deity of Christ and the proofs for Christ’s resurrection from the dead. If you take down the man, you don’t logically or necessarily take down the truth of his message. There are more of us. There are even some of you who know that the proofs for the resurrection are undeniable. We are human. We are fallible. We fall down. We get back up again.’


Links: Rather than place links at various stages of this article, at present you can get everything you need at the bottom of this article at Spiritual Sounding Board. Then click that website’s header to see the most recent posts. The response from Ravi is summarized at this article posted mid-afternoon Sunday (12/3/17) at Christianity Today.

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1 Comment »

  1. The Wayback Machine captured Ravi Zacharias’s website bio for many years. Sadly, these says a great deal about him:

    “He is presently a Visiting Professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.” Ravi’s official bio 2006 – 2008

    “He is presently Visiting Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.” Ravi’s official bio 2009 – 2011

    “Ravi Zacharias has spoken at Wycliffe, but has never held any formal teaching position.” Wycliffe Hall statement, September, 2016.

    “As we can find no record of Ravi Zacharias on our central HR database, we do not believe that he has ever been an employee of the University.” University of Oxford statement, September 2016.

    “Compromising the truth is a serious blunder.” RZ
    “I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.” RZ 4/18 website.

    Comment by steve baughman — July 9, 2018 @ 3:23 pm


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