the painful fall of spiritual heroes

on the latest concerning Ravi Zacharias

“It is with shattered hearts…”

— from Open Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM on the Investigation of Ravi Zacharias

because i’ve often talked about him in my podcasts, i feel the need to address the latest information about Ravi Zacharias. if you haven’t heard me speak about him, or if you’re just here for the film content, you can move on. but i wanted to address anyone i’ve spoken to about Ravi in the past.

my thoughts here are a little raw, as i wanted to get this out today and not wait. it’s important you know the truth, now that i know it.

RZIM has made an official statement about their investigation into the sexual allegations made against Ravi after his death. the investigation confirms much or all of the allegations, and brings new light to a previous allegation, confirming it as well, exonerating the accusing party.

the first question we should ask in today’s age is: is it true? these allegations have been circulating for a while, but i have not commented on them because they do not at all line up with the man we knew as Ravi, and those close to him said the same. so i wanted to wait until there was some certainty. but now that the investigation is complete, we must come to terms with it.

the open letter links to the investigation itself. i have read it. it is detailed, it is heart-breaking and angering, and there is no reason to think it is untrue.

first, we must acknowledge his victims, and first among those are the women he coaxed, cajoled, assaulted, controlled. they will relive these experiences, and thus relive the fear and pain. i pray they find God-fearing people who can help them heal from this trauma, that it won’t hold their lives back any more. and for those few who appeared to be willing participants, may they find Truth from someone with the character to live it out.

his other victims include his co-workers and supporters. he used ministry funds to support a couple of these women, it seems. he clearly lied about things while he was alive, and spent years lying by omission, living a secret life with secret phones and secret emails.

and his family, they are victims of his sin. to find this out after they’ve put him in the ground, with no chance to bring him back from the brink, they now bear the shame of his sin alone, compounding the evil of his actions.

one of the last things i said about Ravi shortly before his passing was that i don’t use the term “hero” lightly, but that Ravi was one of my spiritual heroes. indeed, i learned much from him — about how to interact with others, how to defend the Scriptures, how to think about matters of faith.

these new allegations show another side to Ravi’s life, one he hid from everyone close to him, one known only by his victims and his God, but now known to all.

to be clear, the issue is not that Ravi had sexual sin. i have sexual sin. i suspect you do as well. nearly every human that has ever lived has had sexual sin.

i do not expect our leaders, not even our spiritual leaders, to be perfect, to be without sin. in fact, having been around spiritual leaders, i know that they’re just people, and people deal with habitual sins and continuing insecurities… and many spiritual leaders feel an isolation you cannot imagine. as a result, they often bury these fears, insecurities, and sins rather than dealing with them. and they sometimes fester into something worse. at best they corrode the person on the inside, and they die slowly in frustration, depression, and loneliness.

but so many people look to spiritual leaders not just for knowledge and guidance, but for an example. this is why Scripture very rightly and clearly expects higher standards from those in leadership, particularly those who are teachers.

the issue is not that Ravi had sin, but that it certainly appears to be unrepentant sin.

in his final days struggling with cancer, did he somehow repent, did he earnestly seek out some forgiveness? there’s no evidence he did. Jesus died for his sins, but what if Ravi continued to cling to his sin, rather than Jesus? where does Jesus withdraw His forgiveness?

did Ravi struggle with it, fight against it? or was he proud of it, glad to be getting away with it. did he go back to his hotel room and cry in anguish at his own weakness, or did close his eyes and relive the experience as he fell asleep. if he never tried to make amends, if he never confessed to anyone, does how he felt even matter?

and what about all of the good he did? what about the thousands (millions?) of people who have come to faith because of him, his sermons, his books, his methods? the wisdom, the philosophy, the apologetics, his wit and humor… what about those who have learned under him and continue to apply what they’ve learned from him. will he point all of this out before a Jesus that says, “i’m sorry, sir, i don’t know you.”

will Jesus quote Matthew 18:6, “… but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall away — it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”

i don’t know.

i do know that whatever Jesus does, it will be Right.

i’m heartbroken by this. there’s really not any other spiritual person that i consistently pointed to, and i’ve pointed a lot of people to Ravi. i’ve taken down the poem i wrote upon his death, which i published on this site and share widely. i will be sharing this post in the same venues, because the truth is important.

and i’m selfishly heartbroken, because i know my own limitations. i feel great shame that i have to share this article of someone else’s sins, yet i’m not sharing an article of my own sins.

Ravi often mentioned Billy Graham’s greatest fear: “…that i’ll do something or say something that will bring some disrepute on the gospel of Christ before i go.”

God help us all.

God have mercy on us, sinners.