Ravi Zacharias

Guest Opinion: My Response to Ravi’s Fall

By Phylicia Masonheimer

Ravi Zacharias was one of the “good ones”, I thought. When he died, I celebrated the fact that a man had completed a life’s work for the gospel without scandal. He died a champion for the faith—or so I believed. I cried through the memorial video released by RZIM, but at the time, they were tears of joy for the legacy I believed Ravi had.

A few weeks later, I ran across the initial report that he was being investigated. I encountered for the first time the news of his sexual abuse and read with a sinking spirit the testimony of women manipulated through his position of power. I followed the investigation as things came forward, and only a few days ago read the final report from the investigation firm detailing exactly what Ravi had done.

I did not know the full story of Lori Anne Thompson until that report, which spurred me to dig deeper into the story.

And now, with reports confirmed, the church is reeling. What makes this time so different? Perhaps the amount of women (one should be enough to cause such a response, but this was dozens*)? Perhaps his charisma and logical ability, and how they acted as a smoke screen for his true actions?

My inbox was a mix of denial and distress. The denial—from Christians who followed and trusted him—confused me the most. There was an incredulity that Ravi could have done wrong. “It’s just people fabricating this to slander him.” I was told. “This is just meant to give the atheists more ammunition against us.” But why would an atheist need this as ammunition? The atheist has all the ammunition he needs in his own worldview. Denial, particularly in light of the investigation results, is the same thought process that protected Ravi in the first place.

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Then there were the messages of distress. “My faith is so shaken.” I had to admit: Mine was too. How could someone who seemed to know the gospel SO WELL fail so miserably? How could he use the gospel to abuse women? And how—it chills me to write this—how could he use “winning souls” as an excuse to degrade the very soul in front of him?

It’s lonely at the top

It’s become abundantly clear that RZIM, as a ministry, ignored—and increased—Lori Anne’s victimhood due to their exaltation of Ravi, a fact they acknowledge in their recent statement. When we look out at the Christian landscape and watch leaders fall, we have to ask: from whence are they falling, and how did they get up there in the first place?

I once read an article by a pastor’s wife who lost her husband to suicide. In the article, she quoted him as saying—before he died—“It’s lonely at the top.” It was a grievous, heartbreaking story and I do not mention it lightly. But it brought my attention to a recurring problem in the western church.

What is “the top,” how do you get there, and is there supposed to be a “top” at all?

Freelance apostleship and its problems

Celebrity pastors are not new. Skilled speakers and preachers have drawn crowds since the early church. Now, our crowds are online, liking and commenting and following. Spurgeon was known to draw such a crowd people would stand in the streets to listen; he was called “the Prince of Preachers.” John Wesley also was a persuasive and motivating speaker. Jonathan Edwards moved hundreds with his “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It may have looked different then, but helpful, clear, and motivating preachers of the Word have always drawn a crowd, and that in itself is not a bad thing.

The problem is when those preachers and teachers become “freelance apostles,” divorced from the accountability of the church eldership and congregation. Rather than be one spiritual gift—teaching—alongside other gifts, all holding the Teacher accountable, we have exalted and separated the Teacher from his or her community. The Teacher is now separate, better, distinct. He, or she, is at the top.

We will talk about the personal responsibility portion in a moment, but I wanted to begin with these observations about church structure and accountability. For Christian leaders of ANY kind (I am thinking of myself here) there must be some kind of attachment to a local church, a board of (non-family) elders, or some kind of publicly acknowledged accountability to ensure that leaders are seen for what they are: flawed humans, prone to sin, who can only do their best work in context of community. The alternative?  This parade of Elmer Gantrys whose charisma blinds followers to a complete lack of personal integrity.

A displaced Christ

We’re still stuck on the question—how do Christian leaders get “to the top”?

I think it’s because we put them there. We put them there in our minds and hearts, then we put them there with money and fame. We find them so helpful, so genuine, we start to believe they can’t possibly give into the sins of us plebeian averages down below. We forget that blog posts and tweets and Insta quotes are only a tiny piece of the picture (same as pamphlets and books of yesteryear). We forget that everyone is still being sanctified this side of heaven, and in choosing to believe the best about our favorite leaders, we stop being like the Bereans. We stop critically thinking, checking what they say against the Word “to see if it is so” (Acts 17:11). And not just what they say—but how they live.

When we allow leaders such implicit trust, followers can exchange the leader’s role with God’s. We depend on these “great teachers” to interpret the Bible for us, and in doing so are in grave danger of idolatry. When we make a Christian leader the mediator between Christ and us, we displace Christ from the center of the gospel.

I could say more here, but I think this article says it better.

Do not deceive yourselves

When I read through the report, grieving over the dozens of women who are traumatized for life because of Ravi’s actions, I kept hearing the same phrase in my mind: Do not be deceived. More specifically, do not deceive yourselves. Paul gives this warning multiple times in the New Testament, indicating that it is possible to know Christ, to be a believer (in word at least), and to so completely deceive oneself you not only stop reflecting Christ’s character, you directly oppose it.

You become a servant of two masters. You become two-faced. Double-minded.

James said this:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)

As someone who works in apologetics and theology, I know all too well how this can occur. You get too close to the concepts. God becomes “work.” You know the answers, and you forget the relationship. You can argue beautifully for the gospel, but its truths stop sinking into your soul. You begin to think you deserve your position, something you “earned” through eloquence and labor. You stop seeing ministry as the product of God’s grace and start seeing it as your own accomplishment.

Oh, so easy. So subtle. And so fast.

When this happens without accountability, or when the people you choose to hold you “accountable” have an unrealistic/idolatrous view of your character, it’s only a matter of time before the double life begins.

In Galatians 6, Paul issues a warning to leaders in the church. The warning is about correcting a disciple who sins:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. (Gal. 6:1-4)

This warning works two ways: It works toward the leader, who needs to be in a context where Galatians 6 correction can happen for him. But it also applies to the teacher who is leading and restoring other believers. “Watch yourself, or you may also be tempted.” I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Paul follows this warning with a statement about pride:

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

So if you merely listen to the Word and don’t act on its truth, you deceive yourself.

And if you think you’re something more than you are—a sinner saved by grace—you deceive yourself.

Two letters by two different apostles to two different churches with an undeniable link. If we want to remain alert, aware, and honest about our sin, we must obey the Word of God. We must be open and honest about our sin, keeping short accounts with those in our communities, with those we have hurt, and with the Lord. Only those who look at their reflection in the Word and allow God to expose that sin in community will remain single-minded for the gospel. The Word is our hope. The church is our anchor.

What now?

So what now?

Do we read anything Ravi wrote? Do we support what he did? Knowing what we know, I can’t in good conscience read his work. And I certainly can’t share it, just as I said when I talked about John Crist. Knowing the hurt inflicted upon these women, particularly Lori Anne, makes his work—however orthodox or intellectually accurate —like a clanging gong (1 Cor. 13). Worse yet: bitter water, a poisoned well (James 3). To the women who suffered at Ravi’s hands—if you saw me share his work, unknowingly though it was, I apologize for the pain it caused. I did not know, and wish I had.

Some of you reading this are deeply shaken by his fall. Perhaps you are asking, Who can I trust? How do we know whose life is consistent with what they teach and whose is a facade? Here are a few thoughts.

1. Look for a Titus 2 model. Titus 2 is more often cited in regard to gender roles than it is in regard to its actual point: accountability for good character. Titus’ job was to see to it that his people were walking in the doctrines of the Christian faith, not undermining them with double-mindedness. No one in the church was exempt:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

2. Look for humility, but also look for vulnerability. Ravi was known for his humble and kind way of interacting with people of opposing views. His “humility” made many believe he couldn’t possibly be at fault in Lori Anne’s case. A pattern I have noted in the repeated “falls from grace” is a lack of vulnerability. Image-management leaves no room for this. By vulnerability, I do not mean dumping all personal struggles on the public or processing the most intimate issues online (readers know I have strong boundaries with this). But I do think that honest Christian leaders are not afraid to say: I struggle in this area, and this is what I am doing about it. Or—much more rare and just as necessary—I am struggling too much in this area to lead right now, so I am stepping away/delegating until I can.

3. Do not permit any leader to become sinless in your eyes. Recognize them for what they are: sinners with a specific gifting, but sinners all the same. They are not Christ. Do not let them replace Christ for you. Do not let them mediate between you and Christ, or between you and the Word. This is why it is SO VITAL that Christians arm themselves with biblical literacy. The more equipped you are to study on your own, to “be a Berean,” the easier it is to see leaders with realistic eyes.

4. I think you have the right to ask leaders, pastors and organizations what accountability looks like for them. I think leaders have a responsibility to share this. This situation with Ravi has grieved me in many ways. It has also made me even more passionate about transparency and accountability (see end of the post for more on that).

All this to say: If you are shaken, that feeling is merited. How could someone be so close to the Word that condemns abuse and commands care for the widow and orphan abuse, manipulate and wound the vulnerable? I myself want to resist this shaking, but I think the American church needs it. As a friend of mine said: God is cleansing His Bride. The false and the shallow and the sinister are being removed. The façade is being seen for what it is: a faint echo of true Christianity.

As I said in a post about a different abuser:

It is blinding pride that leads to a false sense of security. So often sin presents itself to us clothed in trust and goodness; not quite bad, but just enough to ‘loosen up’. Sin makes us think our faith is law and our relationship is rules and tells us to take a break from it all because we deserve it. We’ve been good pilgrims thus far; why not take a jaunt down another path?

But it isn’t safe. And as soon as I think it is, I’m in the gravest danger.

However, there is hope:

“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” (Prov. 14:6)

Isn’t it like the Lord to provide the way out? As we reverence Him we are preserved within that very relationship, with strong confidence of our standing. Not only is this promise to us – today – but to our children, in the future. His people are shielded by the righteousness Christ gave to us when we accepted His gift of salvation. The shield of perfection that marked his earthly life was placed around us so the condemnation we deserved would pin Him to the cross in our stead. It is out of gratitude for Grace that we are a moral people.

But the moment I remove the shield of righteousness from hedging my heart, I am open to every kind of failure.

What we can do? We can learn from this example. We aren’t safe in our ‘little sins’. In fact, we are dangerously numbed by them, little by little, with each successive acceptance of the lesser. I know from example, and I know from experience.

I want to be preserved from this kind of fall, but I know I have all the potential for it. The solution?

I’m only as safe from sin as I am close to Christ.

As we reel from Ravi’s fall, let us keep a right perspective of future leaders we look up to. Let us keep a close eye on our own propensities to sin—and the excuses we make for it.

As we reel from Ravi’s fall, let us pray for justice for his victims. Pray for their comfort and their peace. Pray for RZIM and how they will move forward; for Ravi’s widow and his family. Rachael Denhollander has been hired as a consultant for these cases; pray for her and her organization (I also encourage reading her book).

As we reel from Ravi’s fall, let us invite the love and justice of God—those united, indispensable virtues of righteousness and grace—to do their work. In the wake of the pain and sadness, I have great hope for change in the church. I have hope for a body of Christ who practices what they preach, who holds leaders accountable, and is made up of genuine believers who do not merely listen to the Word, but do what it says.

phylicia masonheimerPhylicia Masonheimer is a blogger, author, speaker and podcast host teaching Christians how to know what they believe and live it boldly. This article was first published at phyliciamasonheimer.com.

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49 thoughts on “Guest Opinion: My Response to Ravi’s Fall”

  1. Thank you, I loved Ravi!
    I am sad in my spirit as I know so intimately my own sin. Can a new creature in Christ truly live a life that honors our great and merciful Lord?
    God help us all! Lord have mercy on us al!
    Be authentic in our lives, live life honestly for the Lord!
    Jesus forgive us for our sins and Holy Spirit be our str!

  2. Most everyone says they believe that accountability is a good thing – until you try to hold them accountable. Ravi had a board but they were in his pocket. JMac has a board but they are in his pocket, same goes for James MacDonald and many others.
    In most Baptist systems, the elder board defers to the pastor who acts like a mini pope. In the Presbyterian system, they speak about accountability even creating long church discipline procedures in writing. Most everyone either don’t know them or don’t apply them.
    While control measures are supposed to be in place to prevent men from becoming dictators in the church, it has been my experience that they are not governed by law or principle or by questions of compliance and enforcement but by the pleasing sense of solidarity among long time friends that cover for each other.

    1. I think we really need to ask ourselves if organizations like RZIM are even Biblical. Where in the Bible does it say ministry flows apart from the church and without accountability from the body of Christ? I know many people that say that the church is not doing it’s job so that is why para-church organizations exist today but do we ever find a Biblical reason to have them or even justify them? I read that Ravi was not even a member of a church. What about his family, board and staff? After 2015 RZIM called itself a church so it didn’t have to report salaries. Isn’t that a red flag?

      Many independent Christians/organizations love and endorsed RZ. He was one of them and I guess birds of a feather flock together. ECFA has pretty strict guidelines about boards and how to run an organization. RZIM broke most of them so why didn’t ECFA drop RZ or at the very least send him a letter that he had to change the structure of RZIM in order to keep the ECFA label? There aren’t any watchdogs holding these groups accountable so why should Christians have them when so many turn out bad fruit?

      Any theologians out there to comment on if this structure is in the Bible or not? I am curious. The Bible says, God loves His church. It doesn’t say, God loves His para-church organizations. Correct me if wrong.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful article on this devastating situation Phylicia. And thanks for your willingness to carefully examine the information and change your mind. I only wish all would do this rather than sticking their heads in the sand and try to sin level or argue it’s an attack of the enemy. We found the enemy and it was Ravi. The numerous victims he left behind deserve justice.

    It seems that so many Christian “leaders” and artists are outside the accountability systems of a healthy local church. I stress healthy because so many evangelical and independent churches also have unhealthy systems. The organizational systems of these “ministries” are often based on top down leadership structures. The boards are handpicked by the head honcho and staffed with friends and family members who are yes men/women with positions and livelihoods which are codependent. Ravi’s sin was atrocious, long lived, unrepentant, and damaged many lives. But the RZIM board and other leaders allowed this to happen and they are complicit. They can no longer hide behind a veil of anonymity while throwing out weak apology statements. I hope investigations continue to root out all of those who were complicit.

    I’ve argued in comments to other articles in the Roys Report that now is the time to shut down RZIM, stop collecting donations, continue to investigate to find victims and enablers, pull all Ravi books and resources from the market, release Lori Ann from the NDA, and offer support and pay restitution to all identified victims. To do any less is continued abuse of the victims. I pray that the victims somehow find God’s peace. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn.

    This is a massive stain upon the church and I hope it is talked about and studied for generations as a case.

    1. I forgot to add, if accountability systems and budgets are not made public, and you ask questions only to get rebuffed or ostracized or labeled as a trouble maker, the organization is toxic and likely hiding something. This scenario has been played out over and over the past few years in all the public big church scandals including in this case. And for every big toxic system that made the news, there are probably hundreds if not thousands more smaller toxic church and parachuch organizations.

  4. James Lutzweiler

    Dear Phylicia,

    On what approximate date did you first learn about Ravi’s suicide email?

    Sincerely,

    James Lutzweiler

    1. CRYING FROM THE MOUNTAIN

      DOES ANYBODY REALLY THINK WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR THE devil ? I’M PRETTY SURE WE SHOULD NOT BE DOING THAT……………. Hey I know ! Let’s ask Margy what she thinks we should do ! She wouldn’t lead us astray , would she ?………….. HEEEEEEY wait a second !!!!!! YES SHE WOULD in a heartbeat !

      NOT GONNA GET FOOLED AGAIN

    2. James Lutzweiler

      Dearest Ghost DJAE,

      Are you Ravi redivivus? How terrible of me to ask an important question. OK, Phylicia gets a free pass. I am so ashamed of myself. No more toughies.

      JL

  5. I saw someone else make this list of priorities.

    1. Stand for, help, support the victims.
    2. Reflect on and examine the church, organizational, personal/family structures to ensure that these things have less ability to happen within our own circles.
    3. Reflect on and examine the doctrine and beliefs that folks like RZ taught and make sure that if we hold to the same beliefs that they do not contribute to the possibility of those same failures in others.

    You’re so right. Our priority should be to care for those who have been hurt by this situation, and then make sure in our circles there is appropriate accountability and vulnerability. Thank you for this

  6. Im sorry to invalidate this well thought out article…but when I think of Ravi I think of a false wolf not an erring sheep.

    1. YES. He was never someone that could be trusted. For example, he loved telling this story about an atheist student that asked him about the problem of evil. Supposedly, Ravi successfully convinced the student that believing in there being such things “good” and “evil” implies a belief in God. It ends with the punchline of Ravi saying “So what is your question?” But Ravi told the story inconsistently. Sometimes this story took place at Harvard; sometimes it took place at the University of Nottingham. The details of what was said would change too. The whole thing appears made up.

      Ravi was always a deceptive, manipulative, liar.

    2. I agree. I worked in India for many years. There is much need for the Gospel in that country. If someone was worried about souls they would certainly go where the need was the greatest. RZ knew Indian culture and language so why would he migrate to the West if it wasn’t for money and fame? America, unlike India, has churches, Christian radio, Christian t-shirts, Christian concerts, many, many Christian teachers, seminaries and so on. India doesn’t have all those resources. The greater need for the Gospel is in India so why didn’t RZ serve his own people instead of abusing them for his own sexual desires?

      The really horrible part about American ministry is that we export these aweful, un-Biblical ideas to other countries. We need to all hang our head in shame over that. I don’t think American Christians should want this kind of fruit. I know many Indians that also are deeply upset about RZ. He let many of his Indian countrymen down as well. He just gave all the critics in India more ammo so that they have an excuse to keep Christianity out!

      I firmly believe the right thing to do is to close RZIM down. There should be a complete and thorough investigation of all staff and board members to see if anyone else was a part of this behavior. There should be another investigation into the financials to see where the money went. All should be done by an experienced outside organization who has no obligation to RZIM. A donor(s) could put the money up for this so that the funds don’t come from inside RZIM. It would be an honest, independent investigation instead of the cover up RZIM continues to perpetuate by hiring people that are beholden to RZIM for a paycheck. Is there anyone that is willing to step up and do the right thing?!

      1. It was the investigation hired by RZIM which uncovered his sins. They did the right thing in hiring an independent firm to investigate. Also in their response, and in making the results public, they did the right thing. Don’t kick brothers and sisters when they are down… in the words of Gal.6:1-2 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].”

        Please read their response, and pray for them, rather than criticize. If we feel betrayed and let down, imagine how those who shared in his ministry must feel now. Imaging how those who became Christians through his ministry must feel now. There is a place for rebuking sin, clearly and forcefully, and there is a place for grace and restoration. Either one without the other misses the full gospel of Messiah.

          1. I have talked to many Indian friends about this. Several are using the racist card so this might be the comeback used as a defense. Brown man is a victim of the white colonists. I think finding excuses is sad. It seems to me that Ravi hated women. Why would he want to hurt so many of them? This is not over. Applying American solutions to an Indian culture will be interesting. Many of my Indian friends see Ravi as the victim of American culture.

        1. CRYING FROM THE MOUNTAIN

          I would think that grace and restoration would and could only come after repentance AND restitution to each and every victim of which there are 100’s if not 1000’s
          So basically CHAVOUX LUYT there is not enough time this side of Eternity to do that and I’m 99.99% sure THEY , the complicit ones , are not interested in doing that for even a second.
          And by the way ,there was only a “response ” because THEY , the complicit ones, really, really , really had to or for sure THEY WOULD NOT HAVE , why ? because everything is beneath them , you , me , victims , real actual truth , being transparent and on and on and on……..
          No wonder Jesus said ” IF GOD WERE YOUR FATHER YOU WOULD LOVE ME……. do the math all you Wealth Management Experts on the Board and fear and tremble……. did you know that I am one of my Father’s least little ones that you have hurt ? Do you know what that means?………. SPLASH !!

  7. Like yours, my heart sank when I learned of Ravi’s actions. I have several thoughts. First, whether from false motives or pure, if Christ is preached, then Paul rejoiced. We should rejoice too. Secondly, David could be an abusive, angry, murdering guy. Yet he is described as a “man after God’s own heart”. Lastly, If it wasn’t for Ravi, I probably wouldn’t be a Christian today. God used a man who was publically powerful for Him and privately steeped in sin to reach my heart.

    Life is complicated. People are complex. I’m not excusing his actions, abuse, arrogance, pride and his family’s protection of him. But I am still thankful God used him in my life.

    Finally, his books – his recordings – if God can use them when he was alive, he can use them when he is dead. If we can be edified by the writing of David and Solomon, knowing all they did which was evil, I believe we can be edified by Ravi’s work while not condoning his behavior.

  8. Ravin talked a lot, but sometimes he just said nothing. Always quoting this and that.
    What is the point of apologetics really? Building a empire on it, and then your own disciples crumble to pieces when their hero gets exposed.
    What faith is that? That is faith put in man, a idol!
    Faith that was not our in Jesus Christ.
    The west has so many of these idols, and oh boy of they get exposed their flocks seems to either crucify the messenger or they lose their faith.

    Put seem to suit these celebs, they like being worshipped and idolised, they love it! The praise of men!

    1. Apologetics is big business. Some have argued that there is too much of an emphasis on this part of theology. Some have said instead of getting an MA in apologetics, get a degree in genetics, biology or mathematics. Learn a subject so well that people will realize your bono fides. Besides, people are not rational these days.

      This comes from a former apologetics junkie.

      Now I am trying to learn Greek-now that is hard!! I am writing this in order to put off my studies.

  9. People say, “My faith is so shaken.” What does that even mean? Faith in God? Faith in Jesus? If that faith is shaken by such scandals, then what kind of faith was it? Faith in my own ability at discernment? Wolves in sheep’s clothing abound. Some are easier to spot than others. And none of them are relatable in any way to people we read about the Bible. People like Samson and David were in specific contexts for a specific purpose…moving God’s salvation narrative forward until culmination in Jesus Christ. Too many times it’s just about the grift.

    1. One basic tenet of Christianity is that God through the Holy Spirit transforms us. Step by step we are not what we once were. We don’t have to stay there. That’s the power of God at work in us. When I see such a man as Ravi and so many many other “men of God” wallowing in such perverse wickedness, my faith is joggled a bit. I wonder, where is the power of God to work in them to fight the good fight, resist the devil. Can ALL of these men have so little of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in them? How did God not strengthen them to beat down the Old Man within them? We look at them and have Hope that we can be victorious in our small lives, and we persevere. If you yourself have never had your faith shook up a little by looking at what appears to be the lack of the power of God in someone, you are indeed a fortunate fellow.

      1. I can think especially of the people who came to the Lord through his ministry. I think what it is really about is that we should remain “walking in the light” sharing our struggles with sin openly with our brothers and openly repenting (and being open to correction). The biggest failure was not that Ravi sinned, but that he never (openly) repented.

        The power of God was (and is) available, but only if we are willing to honestly confess and admit our sins… the blood of Jesus always cleanses from sin; it never cleanses from excuses or “weaknesses”. The Holy Spirit will convict us, but He will not force us to repent. I find the words difficult to explain, but hopefully you get my meaning. The full, awesome power of the Holy Spirit is available to all we submit to Him. As soon as we attempt to fight in our own strength, or even “with his help” instead of surrendering ourselves totally to Him, we will fail. As long as it is possible for us to afterwards pat ourselves on the back, we have not been totally dependent on Him (put our faith in Him alone).

        I have been a hypocrite myself at some stage of my life. Where I remembered the power of the Holy Spirit and the words He gave me from the Bible, but I no longer knew the power or the fruit of the Spirit in my own life. And all the while pretended to my Christians friends that everything was all good, hiding the sin and the struggles within. It is not a good place to be and I have no doubt that if I had continued on that road, I would have ended in hell. I can only thank the Lord for bringing me back to Himself. It was all to easy to mislead myself.

  10. Hmmm? Leaders???

    Much agreement when this author writes…
    “how do Christian leaders get “to the top”?”
    “I think it’s because we put them there.”

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on leaders for **His Disciples.**

    “ONE”

    Jesus, teaches His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders.”
    For “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.

    And, His Disciples must have believed Jesus…
    In the Bible, NOT one of His Disciples…
    Called another Disciple “Leader.”
    Or, called themself “Leader.”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB
    Do NOT be called Leaders;
    for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant”.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Lots of wanna-be leaders being humbled these days. Yes?
    ——-

    If someone calls them self “Leader?”
    Or church leader? Or christian leeader?

    Allows folks to call them “Leader?”
    Or church leader? Or christian leeader?

    Are they still one of His Disciples? :-(

    Why isn’t what Jesus taught His Disciples important?
    ——-

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, *they which lead thee*
    cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For *the leaders* of this people
    cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.
    ——–

    Seems, in the Bible, the only “ONE”
    Who referred to Himself as…

    The “ONE” Shepherd
    The “ONE” Teacher
    The “ONE” Leader

    IS

    {{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}}

    1. That’s 100% right. We have ONE leader. Anyone who refers to himself or herself as a Christian “leader” is immediately suspect. Why do they call him Lord but not do what he says? It was well known that Zacharias not only called himself such, but falsely so. He flat out lied about his credentials — repeatedly. And only after public pressure from a banjo playing atheist did he stop referring to himself as “Dr. Zacharias”.

      And I thank God for the banjo player. Because those with ears to hear and eyes to see have known for years that Zacharias was a fraud. The author of this article claims to be “reeling” from the reports this week, but this isn’t news. There were already more than two or three witnesses calling Zacharias to confession and repentance — for years. This investigative report is simply one more witness that corroborates the claims of SOME of his victims.

      The author of this article (who calls herself a Christian leader) seems to have a lot of advice to give. I don’t know if she will read these comments or not but I would offer this advice to her and any other “leaders” out there: Humble Yourself.

      1. There were a few academics (who were Christians) who directly spoke to Ravi and org that he needed to stop using fake titles and fake experiences, for years. But they were rebuffed. The Evangelical Industrial Complex brought in too much money and besides, what is the matter with little bit of exaggeration?

      2. There is the other side of things as well… not to accept every and all accusations against elders (those who have been following the Lord for a longer time): “Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it is based on [the testimony of at least] two or three witnesses.” (1 Tim 5:19).

          1. Another thing is was that Ravi was not a pastor or elder in a local church either, so that Scripture may not even apply anyway.

          2. There are more than 2 or 3 witnesses for the same event in question? Or one witness per event for different events? Oliver North’s case was overturned in the appeals court based on this issue, if my recollection is correct, there were several who testified that he destroyed evidence, but each said they witnessed a separate event. There was not event where more than one person could testify that it happened.

  11. GOD’S purposes are his not ours. Ravi was a sinner. So am I. Can GOD use sinners? Stop creating human idols. JESUS is the ONLY human we should idolize. Ravi faced his truth when he met JESUS face to face. That is his bottom line and not for me to judge. Did GOD bring him out of this world like HE did Ananias and Sapphira? Was Ravi saved? Do you know? Paul told us he continued to sin even as he did not want to. I sin daily. How about you? We need to stop speculating on broken humans and focus on GOD’S love, grace an mercy.

    It seems to me that all the writing about Ravi is focusing on justice. Be careful of what you seek for others. As LORD JESUS told us about that: “you (me) will be judged with the same measure as I seek justice (my paraphrase) for others.” I want mercy, not justice. I need to pray for all the members of RZIM and all those that were wronged by RZIM. That they will all be restored to their personal relationship with LORD JESUS. I hope to see all of them in heaven, as I hope that for everyone. Grace and peace to you all.

    1. NOWHERE in the entire New Testament are Christians called “sinners”. They are, in contrast, referred to as “saints” (sanctified, holy ones) over 40 times. This is FACT (rather than the agenda some pastors wilfully pursue and condition their followers into believing). Romans 7:14-24 was never meant to be read in a vacuum, out of the context of the rest of chapter 7, chapters 6 and 8, Paul’s other letters and Acts.

      Some say “oh but Romans 7:14-24 is in the present tense”. But the start of Romans 7 is in the past tense! It was common in Ancient Greek (still is in English when we speak about the past sometimes). In the KJV it’s everywhere as a literary device eg Matthew 4. They establish at the start that the events took place in the past then they switch to the present for dramatic effect or emphasis.

      He is NOT speaking of his current self but rather describes a man UNDER THE LAW. In complete, deliberate contrast to Romans 8. Look how many times he uses “law” in Romans 7 (and how many times the focus is “I” i.e the carnal self striving without the Holy Spirit). Now look how many times the word SPIRIT is used in Romans 8. If Paul were speaking of his “new creature, Jesus-indwelling” self (2 Corinthians 5:17, 13:5) then what would that say about the power of the Holy Spirit? It would also make Paul self-contradictory (which you would see if you read the passage in the context of chapters 6 & 8). Just ONE example is him saying “I am carnal” in 7:14 but then saying all he does about the flesh and carnality in 8:4-9!! He rebukes some of the Corinthian church for being “carnal” in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3!

      The previous chapter, Romans 6, makes as clear as possible the fact that regenerate believers (the only kind: John 1:12-13) do not continue in sin. This is underlined in 1st John 2:3-6, 3:5-10, 5:2-3 & 5:18 and is an echo of Jesus’s own words in John 8:34-36.

      Jesus did not die so that SATAN would be shown to the lost world by His church! The New Covenant is the HOLY (not unholy) Spirit indwelling (John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 13:5 etc) so that WE can be Jesus to the lost world. That’s why we are to “follow in His footsteps, Him who DID NO SIN” (1 Peter 2:21-22). His Grace is the POWER to live “holy and blameless” lives (Titus 2:11-12).

      This is the EXPECTATION because Jesus knew the same power that raised Him from the dead would live INSIDE regenerate believers. That’s why the writer of Hebrews can say that we can’t face any temptation that’s “too strong”. That’s why I once copied out around a dozen NT passages (mostly in Paul’s letters) which mirror Ephesians 2:2-3 i.e they recount a PAST life of sin, just as Paul does regularly in Acts and also in his letters eg that other verse taken out of its immediate context, 1 Timothy 1:15 (where “chief” in the KJV is PROTOS in the Greek, meaning EXAMPLE: the example of a transformed life!).

      Who do you think it is, if not Satan himself, who wants churches to show evil to the world under the name of Christ? Who, if not Satan himself, wants passive, non-Berean pew-dwellers to be ignorant of what the whole NT says and instead trust men who get them to memorize a handful of deliberately out-of-context verses which *seem* to describe a defeated life of death in sin rather than the HUNDREDS which speak of overcoming, of being Godly, of being blameless, of bearing fruit, of imitating Christ and of stopping sinning or else they will end in the lake of fire? (Revelation 21:7-8, 22::11-15)?

      1. CRYING FROM THE MOUNTAIN

        MHEUSTON I believe I understand what you are saying! What are Christians/ Believers going to do with this scripture in HEBREWS 10: 26 – 31 ?

        26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

        27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

        28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

        29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

        30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

        31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

        Maybe if I pray hard enough for Margy and clan like the above Christian writer said to they might beat this rap , but somehow I just don’t think it’s going to happen Phylicia……… and quit telling me and those like me that “we” are reeling from ravi’s fall , WE ARE NOT , maybe you and yours are , BUT WE ARE NOT.
        IF you are teaching little new ones other false things such as you have mentioned above why are you not very very afraid? If it is that you lack wisdom , the good news is that you can ask (in faith) for it AND receive it !

      2. Thank you MHEUSTON for this comment and I hope folks will read it carefully and understand what you are saying. True salvation is freedom from sin. Not a life of co-dependence on church structure or accountability systems.

        1. It seems unclear what you are saying. If salvation means freedom from sin, does that mean a Christian won’t sin (yea, right, in that case there is not a single Christian in the world), or they are declared sinless even though the sin nature will not go away? Good luck in living a sinless life, if that is the interpretation.

    2. CRYING FROM THE MOUNTAIN

      EK Swenson all I can say is EEEEK !
      How can anyone be restored to any personal relationship with anyone if THEY NEVER HAD ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE ?? And please don’t paraphrase for me , Thank you

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy

    “And how—it chills me to write this—how could he use “winning souls” as an excuse to degrade the very soul in front of him?”

    Because Souls(TM) — NOT people — are the currency of Heaven, and MONEY TALKS.

    Even during my time in-country over 40 years ago, the idea was going around that the only thing that would matter on J-Day would be “How Many Souls Did YOU Lead to Me?” and those with the highest sales figures would have the highest places in Heaven. “Crowns of Glory” and all that.

    Let that idea ferment for a few decades and the attitude falls right into place.

    1. The irony is that all those so-called crowns Christians receive at the Bema seat would shortly thereafter be cast at the feet of Christ as the book of Revelations states. So they would not keep them anyway. Of course that part on the Soul Winning (TM) was conveniently left out in the marketing pitch.

  13. Back in the 80’s, I confess, I was a big fan of the band Stryper. They were known for drawing large, unchurched, crowds and presenting the gospel during their concerts. When I did get to see them in concert, the only message given that night was “don’t put your trust in any man.” That was it. As a teenager, I was underwhelmed by those words. But over the decades, with a long list of Christian celebrities as well as people I know and love who have fallen spectacularly, those words have proven prophetic. Every time I see a story like Ravi’s, those words ring in my ears.

    There are a lot of people who make you want to walk away from the mess of Christianity. But at the end of the day, it’s all about what are you going to do with Jesus. I find He’s not so easy to write off, and usually leaves me with an awareness of my own brokenness, and thankful for His grace towards me.

  14. I am so tired of folks saying Ravi was a once-Godly man who fell and got corrupted. The proof of his evil behavior spans his whole entire life–decades upon decades. Most atheists lead more moral lives and have a more solid compass than anyone serving on RZI”M” or GTY. In exchange for the handful of folks supposedly won over by his glib speeches, consider how many thousands if not millions are losing their faith right now because the real RZ has come out.

  15. I doubt there are people called godly men ….all of them have some shortcomings or another and because of that we are not supposed to imitate people, we are only supposed to look at what they said and follow their teachings when it is good for us and humanity. Martin Luther King has an FBI file with all types of descriptions, should we look at his life as described in FBI files and remove his name everywhere as he was also an ordained priest, or look at his message? I really don’t understand all the reactions. I am just puzzled why no one is putting any responsibilities on the massage therapists, they had options of stopping the massage when his actions became improper, and then report it to proper authorities as sexual harassment. They didn’t have to allow it to continue. All these victims are grownups, they had their free will not to follow improper requests (assuming that is what happened) from an evangelist or even for those with real power, like government ministers or police chief. I am just puzzled why Ms. Thompson send her pictures (especially nude one, if that is true) when she had the freedom not to do it. It was a request from a preacher, and he was not standing next to someone with a knife asking them to do something improper. They had the freedom not to give in to his requests.
    As for Christians who look for perfection in people, if that was the goal, God could have created a much better world, with less sexual aggressiveness for men. Imagine how many people would be out in the real world rather than in jail, and how many cases of victim sufferings could have been avoided.

    1. CRYING FROM THE MOUNTAIN

      Really Susan ? I doubt you even know what you are talking about or more frightening , you actually do and/or you are willfully ignorant of all the info just on this site alone concerning your comments . Here’s just one:
      ” THEY HAD THE FREEDOM NOT TO GIVE IN TO HIS REQUESTS ”
      Really Susan ? That is downright stupid , for everyone else that might be reading this……… IF SOMEONE IS HOLDING YOUR PASSPORT THEN YOU REALLY DO NOT HAVE THAT FREEDOM DO YOU ?
      There could be 20 other valid reasons that I am not going to take the time to list because they have actually been spoken about in other articles here and all over the internet.
      “YOU ARE PUZZLED” ? IF YOU START READING YOU WON’T BE ANYMORE but I have a feeling that you know what you are saying, I hope not because I find it quite disturbing (for you) whether you do know or you don’t know.

      1. I agree with Susan.

        “Really Susan ? That is downright stupid , for everyone else that might be reading this……… IF SOMEONE IS HOLDING YOUR PASSPORT THEN YOU REALLY DO NOT HAVE THAT FREEDOM DO YOU ?”

        That doesn’t apply to Ms. Thompson. If it is about the massage therapists, in the US no one can legally hold an employee’s passport. I am starting to wonder about your familiarity of the US system. These therapists, I am sure, must hold their state license to practice therapy. They are free to go to work for another employer if this doesn’t work out. There is not even one valid reason to go along with such unreasonable request. Your justification is completely unreal.

        ““YOU ARE PUZZLED” ? IF YOU START READING YOU WON’T BE ANYMORE but I have a feeling that you know what you are saying, I hope not because I find it quite disturbing (for you) whether you do know or you don’t know.”

        I don’t know about Susan, but I have read almost everything I can find on it. I don’t find anything disturbing about what she said or asking legitimate questions, even though you probably want to believe anonymous allegations coming from a third party.

        I am surprised that you simply ignored the Martin Luther King issue that she brought up.

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