Thoughts on Ravi Zacharias and Credibility

I have been a defender of Ravi Zacharias in his recent troubles. I encourage you to check out my posts What We Can Learn From the Ravi Zacharias Credential Controversy and Ravi Zacharias, Credentials and Perspective.

I actually think the controversy about being called “Doctor” when only having an honorary doctorate is rather innocent. But other issues that have come up are more serious.

Ravi has long claimed to have studied at Cambridge and to have been a professor at Oxford. But this is not completely true. Watch the video below.

Please note that this video was compiled by an atheist but the video speaks for itself. I have heard and read Ravi make these claims. The truth is that Ravi audited courses at a college in Cambridge and had an honorary position at Oxford and was never on their payroll.

Is this just an atheist making false accusations? Ravi Zacharias has responded to these charges not with denial but with an “apology” and a clarification. You can read it here. Ravi has also updated his CV to reflect the more accurate version of his background. He has acknowledged that his previous CV was not accurate.

This is bad. Really bad. Don’t get me wrong. I like Ravi and I think he has done great things for the kingdom of God. I have enjoyed his books and lectures. But he made a big mistake by exaggerating his credentials.

Why should we care about this? The church has recently reacted strongly (rightly so) about about the sexual misconduct of Bill Hybels. Some might say that the things that Ravi has done are not near as serious as Hybels. But isn’t one of the foremost Christian apologist being dishonest about the facts a serious issue? Isn’t truth a core issue?

I’m not condemning Ravi for what he has done. I have no idea of his exact motivations for exaggerating. I suspect it began with innocent motives. But I also believe that evangelicals need to keep our own accountable. What Ravi has done will have serious ramifications.

I don’t think that Ravi Zacharias’s ministry is over. But I hope that he will offer a more sincere apology than he has so far. He needs to admit the seriousness of what has taken place. God has used him and will continue to use him. But damage has been done.

I encourage you to also read this interview on Randal Rauser’s blog. Don’t take Steve Baughman’s word for it but check out the facts yourself.

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9 thoughts on “Thoughts on Ravi Zacharias and Credibility”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. After 35 years of credential exaggeration Ravi’s “apology” seems more like damage control than repentance.

    The really troubling thing Ravi did, our course, had nothing to do with his credentials. The online affair with the married Canadian woman got deep enough that Ravi threatened suicide in writing when she wished to confess to her husband. I have his emails and he has privately admitted the threat but refuses to discuss it publicly. Google RZ sex scandal for lots of information on this. The Christian watchdog group, ministry watch, has a good report on it.

    What else is in the man’s closet?

    Thank you for covering the developing Ravi story.

  2. Thank you so much for writing about Ravi. His recent affiliation with televangelists and his support of Trump are other matters of concern as well.

    The issue with the credential inflation, however, is much more harmful than an old man exaggerating to flatter his own ego and I wish more people were writing about what really happened.

    In the 3 yrs leading up to this story Ravi raised over $114M in cash based on his active promotion of these false credentials. My home church, Gateway Church Southlake, TX gave him over $2M in cash plus hundreds of thousands more in goods and services. Gateway Head Pastor Robert Morris raised millions more in addition to this directly from members all based on “Doctor” Zacharias’ extraordinary achievements, which included the lies about Cambridge and Oxford. He also threw Princeton in for good measure.

    No disrespect, but if Ravi had told the truth and revealed that he had only attended relatively small schools in NY and Canada, and had never pastored a church, he would have never been given a platform at Gateway let alone the millions of dollars in donations.

    During this same 3 yr time frame, Ravi aggressively raised $27M for a building in the poshest area of Atlanta, despite having no need for one. He paid $12M for the building and the remodeling contracts were under $1.5M. The building was already very luxurious with gorgeous landscaping so there was no need for additional expenditures. So where did the other $12M go?

    Ravi has previously taken loans out from RZIM to personally invest in speculative real estate, which is what the purchase of this new building is starting to seem like. Basically, it appears more like a Ravi Zacharias retirement account should his fundraising efforts diminish in future years.

    Ravi knew during the aggressive building fundraising that he was carrying on an illicit online affair with a young mother of four. He milked his false credentials along with lies about traveling over 220 days a year so that good, kind, decent people would open their hearts and wallets to him.

    This isn’t mere bragadociousness. This is a financial scheme based on fraudulent representations. In any other industry he would likely be looking at a criminal investigation.

    1. I wish more Christians would listen to Amy Moore. Here is someone in the trenches of Ravi-land, someone who knows exactly about his financial ambitions and deceptions.

      His bogus “Dr. Zacharias” stuff is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Please listen.

  3. lying (and doing so repeatedly) is not in any way an “innocent” mistake but a deliberate deception; willingness of exaggerate (create) facts in order to enhance one’s reputation (especially if done repeatedly over a long period of time) is the mark of a compulsive liar. The person doing it is willing to present a false image of himself in order to appear credible. Compulsive lying is a process in the mind which is acceptable to that individual; the difference between actual facts and stated facts becomes blurred step by step, until the person believes his own internal deception and is willing for it to become public in the external world. For such a person, no barrier must prevent his success in the real world. The “truth” becomes that which will enhance the person’s reputation. Such a person is no more to be trusted than a snake in the grass. Unfortunately, Ravi Zacharias is exactly that person. All his supposedly wonderful apologetics efforts to present/defend the Christian faith must come under scrutiny as fraudulent.

  4. thank you very much for your diligent pursuit of RZ’s fraudulent claims. I was once on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and later edited (for Josh McDowell … as a ghost writer) the manuscript for his Daniel in the Critic’s Den. I also earned an MA in Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf School of Law. I find it completely unacceptable that RZ has lied compulsively over four decades about about his academic credentials; that should completely discredit all his apologetics efforts, spoken and written. And he should immediately cease all further public speaking. But he hasn’t. This man’s shenanigans cast a dark shadow over the field of Christian apologetics. His statements do not discredit Christianity but his deliberate, habitual lying to enhance his credentials to the Christian world should discredit every word he has ever spoken or written.

  5. It is truly shocking how Christian business world has responded to these massive career long deceptions. I consider that a far more significant story than the shenanigans of yet another corrupt man in the pulpit. The real story is that powerful Christians don’t take their own religion seriously. Whatever happens with Ravi Zacharias this point has been made and it deserves to be shared. (Ravi, by the way, announced last week that he is retiring from leader ship in the organization. His daughter and a long-term sycophant will be taking over.)

    Stephen Bedard has been disappointing in this regard. But at least he has discussed the story, unlike most Christian bloggers and reporters.

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