As everyone in the Evangelical world, and many beyond, know by now, evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias was a phony and serial sexual abuser. Those are words I never thought I’d write, to say the least, but they also don’t surprise me. Christianity assumes and teaches that fallen man is, well, fallen. It assumes and teaches that the sinful human heart is capable of complete self-deception. It also teaches that salvation is the reconciliation of man to a holy God by an inner transformation, and not merely intellectual assent to certain propositions. It appears that Ravi was all head and no heart. Zillions of people have written and talked about this, and many have asked if they thought Rave was saved, or not. A tree, Jesus tells us, is known by it’s fruit, but the history of redemption we encounter in our Bibles is filled with God using and saving terribly flawed human beings, so none of us knows the answer. From what I’ve heard and read about all this, Ravi seems to me like he was a smooth talking sociopath, but I’ll leave the judging of his soul to God.

There is much hand-wringing not only for people and ministries trying to figure out how such a thing could happen, and for so long, but what to do about it going forward. Those are obviously complicated questions because this wasn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last. On this side of eternity, people will always disappoint, to one degree or another. That is one reason that the great Christian ethic is love, rooted in God himself becoming a man and loving us literally to death. Sometimes love means drawing a firm line about what is acceptable behavior for someone calling themselves a Christian. This is especially true of leaders. Paul gives very clear instructions in I Timothy 3 that leaders are held to very high standards, regardless of what we call these men.

Our church went through something while not remotely similar to this situation, the pastor had issues related to sex, and eventually decided to resign. I went to meet with the new head pastor after this had happened, and he told me that people in the congregation kept telling the leaders of the church that people are “in pain.” Mind you, this was quite a while after this all happened. As he described things, and the way people had been and were still reacting this way, my response was, why don’t these people grow up! I mean seriously, human beings are sinners and sinners sin! Saved Christian sinners, and even pastors and other leaders in the church, sin. Different sins have different consequences, and some always stay hidden away in the sinful human heart. Sometimes sinner fall in a big way. So what. To me this is evidence of the Christian worldview and what the Bible teaches. Just read the Bible, all of it, and nothing will surprise you.

This is also a great, albeit sad, apologetics opportunity. For those of us with children, it allows us to explain to them how that what Ravi Zacharias did can really only be explained by Christianity. The so called problem of evil has always been more of a problem for those who reject Christianity (Judaism obviously has the same explanation, although they haven’t accepted the answer). Atheistic materialism has zero explanation for evil, and other worldviews and religions don’t even try to explain why evil exists. They just take it has an obvious fact of existence, and offer their own works oriented answers which fail to provide any answers. Skeptics are also fond of throwing out the old bromide that there are zillions of religions, and that they all think they are true, so none of them can be. It’s funny when people whose worldview doesn’t offer any rationale for truth are so confident in asserting what they claim to be is true. All these other religions also want a piece of Jesus, except the part where he claims to be the only way to the Father, and where his first followers claimed that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

When confronted with the horrific truth of the hypocrisy of a man like Ravi Zacharias, a man whose life denied everything he proclaimed, we are driven back to the need for the cross. There we find the only place where ultimate justice and love come together to provide the only answer to what seems so inexplicable to us.

 

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