Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has released a new 12-page report on Thursday, further adding to allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by the late evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias. It's a sober reminder that accountability and transparency are needed with every pastor and spiritual leader, regardless of their impact, influence, or celebrity.
But among all the details, there was one specific allegation that broke my heart:
According to this witness, Zacharias used religious expressions to gain compliance, as she was raised to be a person of faith. She reported that he made her pray with him to thank God for the “opportunity” they both received. She said he called her his “reward” for living a life of service to God, and he referenced the “godly men” in the Bible with more than one wife. She said he warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the “millions of souls” whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.
That's not true. It's just simply not true — Jesus saves and only Jesus saves. No one can come to the Father except by Him.
But sometimes it can be a hard lie to put out of our head.
It's easy to treat our pastors like saviors. I know that I've fallen into that trap. I know pastors who have been tempted to stray that way before too. After all, many of our spiritual leaders are gifted by God as powerful speakers or insightful counselors. How simple is it to look to a living, breathing, in-the-flesh man or woman of God and trust them with a heart that should be running after Jesus?
But no one is perfect and without need of a savior, and that includes your pastor.
Jesus is the only person who is exactly who He says He is.
Jesus is the only person worthy of our trust and worship.
Jesus is the only person committed to total truth and complete justice.
Shortly after he died last year, a Christianity Today report was released that made public allegations of abuse by three women who worked with Zacharias. In response, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries hired a private investigation firm to seemingly uncover the truth, but the ministry initially said it did not believe the women. Today that has changed.
“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation."
We cannot sweep this under the rug like Ravi Zacharias International Ministries did last year. As Christians, we know that darkness isn't going to help anything. Healing comes when we bring things out into the light. Besides, God has already shown that things will not stay hidden forever.
The lesson is not that we're better than Zacharias. We are not the Pharisee looking at the tax collector and saying to ourselves, "I thank you that I am not like other people."
Instead, the lesson is that we are all in need of a savior, and that includes our pastors and ministry leaders. We must be transparent. We must be open to accountability. And we can't hide in darkness hoping they get worked out in the end.