Jonathan Menn was kind enough to mention me in a footnote in his “Biblical Eschatology, Second Edition”.
It’s right there in the preface;
1. It was listed as the “book of the year” for 2013 by Michael Newnham (http:// michaelnewnham.com/? s = biblical + eschatology), who also lists it among the top 10 books he recommends that every Christian should read (http:// michaelnewnham.com/? p = 20063). The book also was listed as the number 6 best book of 2014 by Sam Storms (http:// www.crossmap.com/ blogs/ the-best-books-in-2014-part-two-5782).
Menn, Jonathan. Biblical Eschatology, Second Edition (Kindle Locations 233-236). Resource Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Thus, my name will now be remembered forever, or at least until the third edition comes out.
Why am I so pleased about being a tiny footnote in a massive, 800 page, book?
Because I’m big on metaphors and being a footnote is now one of my favorites.
We’re all footnotes in the lives of others…a small piece of a much greater whole.
I remember so many people, so many encounters… with people who weren’t around long enough to merit a full chapter in the story of my life, but who impacted me enough in some way that I remember them.
Maybe they offered up a kind word fitly spoken or a “random act of kindness ” that got me through a hard place.
Without what they did then, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I have footnoted folks who did the opposite as well… they delivered a careless or cruel comment that cut to the bone or went out of their way to make a bad day worse.
They mattered, too.
My guess is that no one in either group group remembers me…but I’ll remember them forever.
I’m undoubtedly a footnote in other peoples lives as well…both for something good I did and for wounds delivered.
I spent some time this morning praying that people forget…
Every day brings new opportunities to be part of someone else’s story…to make an impact for the moment that may last a lifetime.
The question is whether they will remember you fondly or otherwise…
Make your own application…
“Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman” depicted Norman in, shall we say, less than flattering terms.
Normans fans and family were outraged and the war spilled on to this site more than once.
Now , a new biography of Norman “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music: The Perils of Christian Rock” takes another look at the life and times of the Christian rock icon.
The problem that comes with all “Christian” bios is that people want to read them with a binary equation in mind.
Was this person “saved” or not?
Were they a “good” person or a “bad” guy?
“Sinner” or “saint”?
An honest biography will show that the subject is both…because humans live as complex creatures, not binary equations.
Larry Norman was a very complex man.
The time of the Jesus Movement was a very complex time…one that created waves that are still slapping against the shores of the church.
Author Gregory Thornbury does a fine job of capturing and explaining both the man and his times.
I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in either…
A few years ago we reviewed a book by Jonathan Menn entitled “Biblical Eschatology”.
At that time I declared it to be the best single volume on the subject available and my opinion hasn’t changed over the years.
Now, it’s coming out in a revised second edition.
Here’s the preface;
It has been over four years since Biblical Eschatology was originally published. I am happy that the book generally was well-received and am grateful that Wipf & Stock Publishers have agreed to publish this second edition. The format and objectives of this edition remain the same as the original.
It analyzes all of the major eschatological passages, issues, and positions in a fair, clear, but not superficial way. It tries to make understanding eschatology easier by including a history of eschatological thought and by showing how eschatology fits into the overall biblical storyline and structure. And it shows the importance of eschatology theologically and the relevance of eschatology for practical life. Nevertheless, I have endeavored to do four things in this edition:
· Correct some typographical and other errors and correct links in the bibliography to sources that are available online.
· Flesh out the discussion of a few areas; this augmented discussion is found particularly in chapters 4 and 5 and appendix 2.
· Delete appendix 3 (regarding the “rapture”), since I believe that issue is adequately covered in chapter 9, and add a new appendix 7 on 1 Cor 15:20–57 (regarding the resurrection, the parousia, and the millennium), since that passage is Paul’s longest discussion of the resurrection, and the passage has generated a fair amount of scholarly debate. It is therefore worthy of special attention.
· Interact more with different eschatological views, particularly with preterism (which I believe was unduly slighted in the first edition) and with J. Webb Mealy’s “new creation millennialism” form of premillennialism. I also interact somewhat more with postmillennialsm and the pre-wrath rapture position.
Part of the impetus for this was J. Webb Mealy’s contacting me, forwarding to me his written work, requesting my critique, and giving me his critique of portions of this book. While he has not persuaded me of the correctness of his position (nor have I persuaded him of the correctness of mine), our interchanges were in the highest tradition of scholarly give-and-take. Further, he forced me to consider some issues I had not previously thought much about and to “go deeper” with respect to some other issues. The result, I hope, is that this second edition has been improved and strengthened. . . .
I hope that this second edition will prove to be helpful to all those who are interested in developing a coherent position with respect to an important area of the Bible that, unfortunately, has often either been ignored or abused. I continue to believe what I said at the conclusion of the main text of the first edition (and this one): “By understanding eschatology, we can have a well-integrated theology that enables us to live authentic Christian lives with confidence and hope. Such lives will demonstrate the present reality of the kingdom while we look forward to the final consummation in all its glory.”
If you are a pastor or just wish to be an informed layperson on the subject of eschatology…buy this book.
Jesus “laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.’ ” (John 13:4-15)
If you attend a church that follows the historic Church calendar, then during the season of Lent you may be accustomed to reading the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. For some of us, this story evokes discomfort because we have never participated in a foot washing ceremony. We want to be faithful disciples, but this particular ceremony seems alien to our accustomed manner of living.
Culturally, a foot washing ceremony in America might come across as strange, forced or artificial. On the other hand, if carried out in a spirit of humility and servantship, a foot washing ceremony might be a good experience, particularly during Lent.
My focus in this article is not on the physical ceremony of foot washing or its application or relevancy for our various churches. Those are legitimate questions, which I will leave to the writings of others who may have thought deeply about them. Instead, I intend to focus on an underlying spiritual lesson that Jesus taught, using foot washing, which transcends cultures and time.
“Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’ ” (John 13:8b)
The first thing we recognize is that something very serious took place. According to Jesus, this washing was a matter of eternal significance for Peter. As the story unfolds, we recognize that the service Jesus gave, which the foot washing symbolized, was the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus distinguishes between two washings:
“Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you’ ” (John 10:13).
Peter and the other disciples had already bathed and, therefore, were already clean, “by the washing of water with the word” (see Eph 5:26), except for the feet. But, Jesus said, “not every one of you.” Judas Iscariot was unclean, not because he had not taken a bath that day, but because he rejected the cleansing Word of Jesus. By reference to Judas, Jesus signaled that these washings signify more than the elimination of physical dirt from the body.
Even after “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (see Titus 3:5) in Holy Baptism, Christians continue to need regular (foot) washings, that is, the forgiveness of sins, because residual sin clings to our flesh like dirt to the bottom of our feet. Unaddressed sin defiles the conscience and hinders the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle John also wrote of these (foot) washings in his first epistle: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9). These regular (foot) washings cleanse the conscience and keep us firmly in the grace of God.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14)
Once we recognize the spiritual lesson that foot washing signifies, we can recognize how we are to follow Jesus’ example and emulate him along these same lines – Disciples of Jesus are commanded to forgive one another. Thus, Jesus teaches us to pray: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12; see also 6:14-15).
Jesus further grants all Christians the following privilege: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23). Regarding the scope of Jesus’ teaching, Lutheran theologian, Francis Pieper, summarizes:
“The words ‘Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them,’ clearly state three things: (1) Those who have received the Holy Ghost, namely all Christians, shall remit sins, or absolve; (2) this remission, or absolution, pertains to definite persons (individuals), ‘whosoever’; (3) this absolution pronounced by men ends the matter before God: ‘they are remitted unto them.’ “
This biblical role of the Church in proclaiming the forgiveness of sins is not a uniquely Lutheran interpretation. Other relevant passages include, without limitation: Matt 18:18; 2 Cor 2:10; and Col 3:13, 17. See also the first century Didache “4:14: In church thou shalt confess thy transgressions, and shalt not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience.”
“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
Forgiving our neighbors can be as difficult (or more) than the outward action of foot washing, but it conveys grace and a salutary service to our neighbors. All of us defile ourselves daily with sin as we live our lives and can benefit from hearing the forgiveness of our sins.
Many of us are fortunate to hear this particular form of Gospel announced for us every week in our churches. Outside of formal church services, in our homes and among friends and neighbors, forgiving one another can heal divisions and foster reconciliation and restoration of relationships. For reasons of safety or otherwise, it is not always possible or prudent to forgive every offense in person; but we can pray for the offender and the situation, that Jesus would heal us and grant the offender repentance.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus shed His blood on the cross, atoning for all sins of all people of all time. Therefore, our proclamation of forgiveness does not atone for sins or change God’s mind; but it verbally proclaims in a personal way what Christ has achieved for all of us on the cross.
God always applies His grace through means. One of those means is the spoken word of forgiveness (also known as the exercise of the “keys”). Inside the church, pastors have the public office to exercise the keys on behalf of the congregation. But outside of church in our day-to-day lives, we, as Christians, all have the same priestly privilege of exercising these keys in service to our neighbors (and they in service to us).
The act of forgiveness is not only for Lent, but Lent is a good time to reflect on who in our lives might need forgiveness and, by the grace of God, to grant it to them. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Other folks have posted questions about his alleged long time affair with a woman who is in some sort of confinement in Turkey.
Despite this, his fans rally round the idol and curse the mugshot posting, alleged affair reporting, people.
The same thing happens when people report on the wayward ways of Ravi Zacharias.
Christian moral standards depend on popularity and assumed agreement on positions theological and political.
Assumed agreement and popularity covers a multitude of sins…at least on earth…
I made a critical comment about the current state of some charismatic churches Monday which I’ll amplify a bit now.
I get newsletters and other communications from the “prophets”…the vast majority of which are nebulous nonsense that is written carefully enough to claim veracity no matter what happens.
God spoke clearly through the biblical prophets and what they said came to pass.
Lowering the standard lowers the church to the level of Miss Cleo and her 1-800 number.
They continually talk about “healings” …seems to me that at least a few could be actually documented by physicians.
If I got “healed” I would be able to produce a cardiac ultrasound that showed before and after.
All my scans are available online now for me to see…I’m sure that most medical providers do the same.
What we get instead are a lot of anecdotal “leg lengthenings” which is the oldest scam in the books.
I believe in divine healing…but I also believe God can tackle the hard stuff like heart disease and cancer if He so chooses.
Finally, an “encounter” with God is some individual experience of bliss that is sought after as some sort of divine refreshment and assurance.
I experienced something like that when Diggs made that catch against New Orleans, but alas, Philadelphia must have had an “open heaven’…
It just seems to me that if you have to try so hard to prove that “something happened”…nothing did.
On the other hand, I could be just an old crank…
My guts (and my email) tell me that the Calvary Global Network side of the Calvary Chapel split is floundering.
Here’s why…it has no unique identity… why join up with something you can’t define?
Big thanks to EricL as always…support his work at top right…
The issues addressed are familiar to all of us who have seen matters like this covered up over the years…
“I am writing this letter to you as a follow up to the one you received from Steve Baughman. I have reviewed the C&MA Public Statement regarding Ravi Zacharias and the C&MA Discipline Policy Handbook and believe that the recent unwillingness to consider the overwhelming evidence and discipline Ravi Zacharias not only undermines the moral and spiritual authority of the organization/denomination but more importantly, the credibility of the Gospel of Christ.
As such, I would urge you to read this letter with thoughtful consideration for five reasons:
1. The decision made by C&MA to not discipline Ravi Zacharias is not justified in any sense. More importantly, I will explain how the response actually trivializes very important matters regarding the conduct of Ravi Zacharias and RZIM.
2. This is not an attempt to deliberately contradict the recent verdict issued by the C&MA. As a Christian, I do respect the organization, especially its founder A.B. Simpson. However, any organization involved in deliberations that are not truth conducive, especially if it is undertaken to shield or protect a person involved in sin, then it is the responsibility of the Christian community to hold them accountable.
3. This letter is an attempt to motivate the leadership at C&MA to seriously reconsider their decision in regards to Ravi Zacharias. If the C&MA does decide to not discipline Ravi Zacharias then they must properly justify their decision. The press release on the Organization’s website which neither addresses the depth of the issue nor the breadth of the available evidence will not suffice.
4. This matter regarding the character and conduct of Ravi Zacharias is not going to disappear. The evidence is overwhelming, those who have been the victims of Ravi’s intentional deceit will not be silenced and the folks in the pew who once had a cultic devotion to Ravi and his organization are now beginning to ponder the facts with an open mind.
5. I am convinced that we will never be able to get beyond this issue, unless Ravi confesses and admits his sin. When that transpires, reconciliation anfd healing can begin and Ravi can continue with his ministry with true effectiveness because he will be preaching a message that he himself embodies. Unless this happens, the Christian community will continue to be mocked, sin will continue to be explained away and the ministry will continue to operate as a business.
ADDRESSING THE PRESS RELEASE ON THE C&MA WEBSITE CONCERNING RAVI ZACHARIAS
(A) RAVI”S ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS
“Recently Mr. Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic credentials. Mr. Zacharias and his employer, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have revised and clarified their communications to address these concerns. The C&MA has determined that there is no basis for formal discipline regarding this matter”
(I) Let me address the first part of the C&MA report: “Mr. Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic credentials.” The fact of the matter is that he did not exaggerate his academic credentials, he blatantly LIED.
Let me just present a few claims that Ravi and RZIM have made for almost 30 years. Claims that are outright false!
1. Ravi claiming to be a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University” when he was on sabbatical for 3 months at Ridley Hall (a Church of England training center) in the city of Cambridge. Cambridge University has explicitly denied in an official letter that they ever invited him as a visiting scholar. What he really did was to sit in on one or two courses at the university due to close proximity. I have personally spoken to the Director of Programs at Ridley Hall and he explicitly told me that Rildey Hall is an independent entity and being admitted into Ridley on a sabbatical has nothing whatsoever to do with Cambridge University. As such, first and foremost, Ravi was on sabbatical and was not a visiting scholar at any time. Secondly, he was at Ridley Hall and not at Cambridge University. However, his website, promotional material, speaking bios, introductions etc., refer to him as a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” The most outrageous fact is that three of his books state that he was educated at Cambridge University (in the back cover).
2. Ravi claiming that he is a lecturer at Oxford University when the university has clearly denied in an official letter that he was never a lecturer or a professor there at any time.This was also on the RZIM website and Ravi repeats it numerous times on various youtube videos and even in his autobiography. He has never ever been a professor or lecturer at Oxford University. He has spoken at Wycliffe Hall (which is not a constituent college of Oxford University) but then we also have a letter from Wycliffe Hall stating that he never held any official teaching positions at their institution either.
3. Ravi claiming on his website that he has been conferred with “8 doctoral degrees” without disclosing that the degrees were honorary. There are also at least two endorsements that Ravi made of other authors and in the back covers of their books he is listed as “Ravi Zacharias Ph.D.” There are many people with honorary doctorates and they are meticulous in accurately portraying it as such. Ravi never utilized the word “honorary” until it became an issue.
4. Ravi repeatedly saying (you can check various youtube videos) that he studied “Quantum Physics” under John Polkinghorne at Cambridge University in 1990 when Dr. Polkinghorne stopped teaching Physics in 1979. Additionally, Ravi was never a student or visiting scholar at Cambridge University to begin with, as I mentioned earlier. In fact, his sabbatical at Ridley Hall under the supervision of Jeremy Begbie was on the “Romantic Poets”. What this has to do with Quantum Physics is something that those of you who are reading this letter will have to figure out. Additionally, Ravi was at Ridley Hall for only three months (1 term). I don’t think the time frame is sufficient to become very conversant with the romantic poets or in a subject as rigorous and complex as Quantum Physics.
5. Ravi declaring that he lectures at universities like Harvard and Yale when all these events were organized by Christian groups and local churches which would rent an auditorium on the university campus to hold the meetings. For instance, one of the organizers for the Harvard event was the Chinese Holy Ghost Fellowship.
6. Ravi saying that he was the Chair of a Department that did not exist at the institution where he taught in the 80’s.
7. Ravi stating that he won a prestigious international “All Asian Preaching Award” when what he actually participated in was a local preaching contest organized by Youth For Christ (YFC) in India. Steve Baughman spoke to all three judges who were at the competition and they have officially confirmed that Ravi’s claims are false.
8. Ravi states that his first book was based on lectures delivered at the Bell Labs in New Jersey but they have absolutely no record of him.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY, Why did Ravi and RZIM completely change the content on their website after all the lies and deceit became public? Why did Ravi and RZIM not offer evidence that would render my case obsolete? Why could Ravi not produce a letter that shows that he was in fact invited by Cambridge University to be a visiting scholar at their institution? With absolutely no evidence to substantiate their claims, Ravi and RZIM decided to tactically change the content on their website? Fortunately, we have screen shots of the website before and after the controversy.
(II) The second part of the C&MA report says “Mr. Zacharias and his employer, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have revised and clarified their communications to address these concerns.'”
1. This is almost laughable if it wasn’t serious enough to make one cringe. Apparently, if you lie and deceive for almost 30 years and are unfortunately caught red-handed, all you need to do according to the C&MA report is to change the content on your website, brochures, speaking bios i.e., “revise and clarify your communications” and move on with business as usual.
2. This unfortunate statement by the C&MA overlooks the public deception that Ravi and RZIM perpetrated to make their ministry more appealing to the Church and the world. Let me pinpoint a few pertinent realities that C&MA overlooked in order to justify their position.
(a) This was not done by Ravi or RZIM for a year or two, although that would be case enough to discipline them. This was done over a period of almost 30 years.
(b) This affected how the donors saw the organization and made their respective contributions. They perceived Ravi (and some still do) as a Cambridge scholar and Oxford professor who studied Quantum Physics etc., and supported the ministry accordingly. This, simple put, is ill-gotten gain, especially from a financial standpoint!
(c) This affected how the donors supported other ministries that are involved in a similar domain (Apologetics). Other like William Lane Craig, for instance, were not seen as on par with the “intellect” of Ravi Zacharias and the dollar amount in contributions reflected this conviction. In actuality, William Lane Craig is probably the foremost evangelical Christian philosopher and thinker currently alive while Ravi is nothing more than a “marketed” intellectual who knows how to give very effective and self-promoting presentations.
(d) This is a very important point. The C&MA report does injustice to other Apologists, Christian Philosophers etc., who do portray themselves truthfully and with utmost humility. None of them have come under criticism for falsely presenting their academic credentials and the reason is obvious. They actually have them!
(c) The C&MA is basically saying that there is no accountability needed for decades of lying and deceit. The question is not if Ravi and RZIM have “revised and calrified their communication”. The question first and foremost is, why did they communicate what they did for almost 30 years? Secondly, why did they change their website only after the threat of being exposed? Thirdly and most importantly, what Ravi and RZIM did cannot be “revised and clarified” because they did not overlook or accidentally market something that was misunderstood. This was a deliberate attempt by a man and his ministry to engage in false marketing to deceive the public for personal and professional gain. This scheme was sustained and sharpened for almost three decades and clearly would have continued if the truth had not come to light.
(III) The third part of the C&MA report says “The C&MA has determined that there is no basis for formal discipline regarding this matter”
1. An unbelievable statement. THERE IS NO BASIS FOR FORMAL DISCIPLINE? How about lying? How about intentional deceit? How about profiting from misrepresentation? How about making claims that were just not true? How about the letters and official documents from institutions like Cambridge, Oxford and Ridley Hall to show the extend of the manipulation and misrepresentation?
2. This conclusion by C&MA is in a word, unjustified and even borders on moral and spiritual bankruptcy.
(B) RAVI’S ONLINE AFFAIR
“Mr. Zacharias has also been accused of engaging in an immoral relationship with a woman through the use of electronic communications. The C&MA recently completed a thorough inquiry of these accusations, including interviews with those involved and a review of all available documentation and records. While it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the nuances of these allegations, the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.”
1. What does “theC&MA recently completed a thorough inquiry of these accusations, including interviews with those involved and a review of all available documentation and records” really mean? Did C&MA actually recover all the emails involved in the correspondence between Ravi and Lori Anne? What are we to make of “all available documentation and records”? It seems to invoke in your mind and mine a context of serious investigative effort but in actuality means nothing at all since we are not told what these documents and records are. So we are to blindly trust that an organization under which Ravi is credentialed and has very many friends, will be completely impartial and seek the truth.
2. What does “interviews with those involved” amount to? Did they interview Lori Anne? Did they even make an attempt to hear her side of the story?
3. What they really did can be understood by their conclusive statement “while it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the nuances of these allegations, the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.” What this really means is the following: YOU HAVE TO TAKE US AT OUR WORD. NO, WE WILL NOT BE OFFERING ANY INFORMATION ABOUT THE DOCUMENTS OR RECORDS. NO, WE WILL NOT LET YOU KNOW IF WE SPOKE TO LORI ANNE. NO, WE WILL NOT DISCUSS THE DETAILS OR TRY TO REFUTE OR RESPOND TO THE EVIDENCE THAT SEEMS TO IMPLICATE RAVI. WE WILL JUST STAND MY HIM AND CHEER HIM ON WITH THE EXPECTATION THAT YOU WILL JOIN THE BANDWAGON AS WELL!
THIS IS WHAT IT ALL MEANS!!!
4. More importantly, they have not answered the following questions:
(a) Why did Ravi threaten suicide in his email to Lori Anne Thompson?
(b) Why does he accuse Lori of betraying him in the email?
(c) Why does Ravi ask Lori if she was going to reveal his name to her husband and plead with her to meet him in person before doing anything?
(d) Why did Ravi not report to the RZIM board when he started receiving the nude pictures from Lori? Why did he continue to engage Lori for quite sometime (as he himself admits) till the demand for 5 million?
(e) Why has neither Ravi nor RZIM denied anything from the emails?
(C) THE C&MA DISCIPLINE POLICY HANDBOOK
I really don’t want to undertake a line by line analysis of theC&MA Discipline Policy Handbook. Let me just quote a paragraph from the handbook that draws the essentials together for disciplinary measure to be implemented
“Transition from the informal, relational kind of discipline to the formal, documented kind happens when there is no confession of sin and repentance, or when someone is at risk of imminent harm or has been harmed, the testimony of Christ in the church and community is threatened, or the sin renders the person unqualified to serve in their position of ministry….. Documentation requirements are reasonable.”
1. The evidence that I have presented is indeed overwhelming. Ravi Zacharias and RZIM have been involved in lies and deceit in terms of misrepresenting academic credentials for years and the details of the recent online affair. However, there is “no confession of sin and repentance” since Ravi and RZIM are portraying this as an attack by detractors, by non-believers and Atheists who want to ruin a very effective ministry. There is no confession of sin and repentance, because Ravi and RZIM are trying to trivialize what is a very serious issue of the conduct and character of Ravi Zacharias as well as RZIM. There is no confession of sin and repentance, because Ravi and RZIM are trying to conduct business as usual without taking time for confession and reflection. There is no confession of sin and repentance, because Ravi is not willing to concede even lies that can be immediately substantiated e.g., numerous youtube videos where he actually states that his was a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, an official lecturer at Oxford University, studied Quantum Physics under John Polkinghorne etc. etc. etc., claims that have clearly been proven beyond a shadow of doubt to be absolutely false! AS SUCH, RAVI AND RZIM SHOULD BE DISCIPLINED!
2. The next part states “when someone is at risk of imminent harm or has been harmed”. I would submit that Ravi is at risk of imminent harm that could be potentially self-inflicted. Since he has not refuted the ‘suicide note’ we can consider them to be factual and that puts forth the possibility the Ravi might continue to harbor suicidal tendencies. With the press that all of this is gaining and the pressure to finally accept what he and his organization have done due to the overwhelming evidence, he might in fact try to “bid the world goodbye” (Ravi’s words to Lori Anne). I don’t mean to trivialize the situation or poke fun at Ravi. I mean what I have stated very seriously. Ravi could in fact be a threat to himself and potentially his family since there is, and properly so, mounting evidence and pressure to face the truth.
3. The Policy Handbook continues with “the testimony of Christ in the church and community is threatened”. Nothing is more devastating that this reality. The world is literally mocking the Church for sacrificing substance at the altar of the spectacular. The non-Christians are now convinced that Christians are hypocrites. The intellectuals and those in the scientific community have their confirmation that Christians don’t really care about evidence, even when it is substantial, and employ nothing but blind faith. The person in the pew, the believer, is wondering if the Gospel can still retain its credibility when the messenger does not exemplify his message. The believer is wondering if Truth will prevail and the testimony of Christ will be secure!
4. The following words are binding not only on the C&MA but the church as a whole: “the sin renders the person unqualified to serve in their position of ministry”. I really don’t want to reiterate the points I have already made. What RAVI ZACHARIAS AND RZIM HAVE DONE IS SIN. NO MATTER HOW YOU DRESS IT UP AND TRY TO JUSTIFY IT, SIN IS SIN PERIOD!
THIS DISQUALIFIES HIM FROM THE MINISTRY!
5. I think that all the evidence I have offered suffice to show the nature of what has transpired due to the intentions and actions of Ravi Zacharias. All documents are available on raviwatch.com
If any further documentation is needed please do let me know.
(D) CONCLUDING COMMENTS
1. This document is written for the Leadership at C&MA, especially those who are immediately involved with disciplinary matters within the denomination.
2. This document has also been prepared for those who are part of the C&MA denomination. Pastors, teachers, those in positions of leadership or just the laity. Each one of these groups is equally important to the sustaining and well-being of the denomination. Accordingly, sometimes change and challenge will have to come from the bottom up. As such, after reviewing the evidence, if any of you feel strongly about the need to discipline Ravi Zacharias, I would ask you to make your voice heard, for the sake of the Gospel and your denomination.
3. This document is also for the review of Christians worldwide and even non-Christians. It is for anyone who still cares about integrity, decency and TRUTH!
MY FINAL COMMENT: THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT RAVI ZACHARIAS BUT ABOUT THE INTEGRITY AND FUTURE OF THE C&MA DENOMINATION. THIS ISSUE HAS GAINED ENOUGH PROMINENCE IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA TO ATTRACT THE NEEDED ATTENTION TO ENSURE THAT TRUTH IS NOT COMPROMISED FOR ORGANIZATIONAL LOYALTY. MANY OF YOU IN THE LEADERSHIP OF THIS DENOMINATION WILL NO DOUBT BE GOOD FRIENDS WITH RAVI AND VERY WELL ACQUAINTED WITH RZIM. THIS MAY CAUSE YOU TO JUSTIFY HIS INTENTIONS AND ACTIONS BUT YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN PERIL. YOU ARE ACCOUNTABLE BEFORE GOD, YOUR DENOMINATION AND THE WORLD AT LARGE.
I SINCERELY HOPE THAT YOU WILL PRAYERFULLY CONSIDER THE EVIDENCE AND RE-ISSUE ANOTHER REPORT. IF RAVI IS DEEMED NOT GUILTY, THEN YOU SHOULD PROVIDE EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE YOUR DECISION. JUST MAKING OR ISSUING BLANK COMMENTS LIKE THE RECENT PUBLIC STATEMENT BY THE C&MA WILL NOT DO ANYMORE!
IF RAVI IS IN FACT GUILTY, AS WE DO THINK HE IS, IMMEDIATE AND SWIFT DISCIPLINARY ACTION NEEDS TO BE UNDERTAKEN WITHOUT DELAY.
I remember Sharon.
I received a telephone call from a student at the university where I was a chaplain. “Duane, my cousin’s dying from cancer. She wants to talk to a priest and be baptized. Will you see her?”
I really wanted to say, “No”, to refer the young man to the hospital chaplain. I was tired. I had a class to prepare. In the end, however, more from guilt than from compassion, I said, “Yes”. God, however, works even through guilt and, unknown to myself, I embarked on a journey that led through the waters of baptism and death to the release of souls and the glimpsing of rainbows.
I met Sharon on a dark afternoon in February. Lent was about to begin. She was slumped on a chair in her room – swollen feet propped on a stool, legs covered with a blanket, a bathrobe draped over skeletal shoulders, a bandana wrapped around a bald head – a forty-six year-old divorced mother of two, with only days to live.
As I walked in, she smiled. In that moment, one of the quiet miracles in my life took place. A peace that only comes from enduring unspeakable pain flooded the room with light and warmth. In an instant, her smile erased all my seminary-learned strategies of care for the dying. Before we exchanged names, I was conscious that she was to teach and I was to learn about dying and living.
We talked an hour that first day. I spoke to her about baptism, about the Cross and the empty tomb. She told me about anger and sorrow, about being scared and sad. She wanted to be baptized, but not yet. She asked me to come back and talk some more. It was an invitation to enter her world, to share her final days.
For the next two weeks, I saw Sharon every other day. We marveled at revised values in the face of death, tried to imagine being in heaven, quarried for little signs of God’s presence, held hands. She showed me her bald head. I showed her a scar from a car wreck. She joked about “cheery chaplain” visitors who pretended she wasn’t dying. She talked about her favorite place by a lake. Once, in a mutual glance, we saw unexpected tears in each other’s eyes.
The pain mounted and she knew the end was near. Now connected to tubes, her bandana askew on her head, she told me how much she missed her garden, planting her tomatoes in the early Spring, seeing the first rainbow after the showers of the season. Suddenly, she stopped and asked if I would baptize her on my next visit.
As I drove to the hospital the next day, a story came to mind. It was from E.B. White’s introduction to his wife’s last book on gardening. He described in great detail how his wife, who was very old and in great pain, went out into the garden in the late Autumn to plant bulbs. She knew that she would not see another Spring and so, in his words, “she knelt on the ground under the dark skies in that dying October calmly plotting the resurrection”. I pulled my car into a garden center near the hospital. I bought a simple clay pot filled with dirt and mulch and a packet of tomato seeds. I put them in the front seat next to my stole and my silver baptismal shell. Thus armed, I went to visit Sharon to plot a small resurrection of our own.
We talked it over. I said that the plant would be a symbol of what was happening to her in her baptism as it blossomed and bore fruit. Just as her baptism would be a sacramental sign of new life, so would the planting of a simple seed. Its new life, springing out of the earth, would be an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual reality of her life in heaven. I told her I would tend it well. She joked and asked why I couldn’t provide a rainbow as well. She stared down at the seed. She said that her body felt like its hard, dry shell… ready to crack. After a pause, she said that she knew there’d be another Spring.
Together we planted the seed. Then Sharon was baptized. The water from the silver bowl was poured into the hard earth of the clay pot.
As I got ready to leave, I asked if I could pray with her. Sharon said, “No, this time I want to.” She had never prayed before in my presence and I anticipated some formal, awkward invocation. Instead, I found myself listening to a warm intimate chat between two friends. She apologized to God for her anger at not being able to die sooner. She thanked him for her baptism and the time to plant seeds. She told Him that He could be in charge and that she loved Him. I placed the clay pot on the window sill and kissed her good-bye.
The phone rang the next evening. It was Sharon’s nurse. “Can you come to the hospital right away?” When I arrived, Sharon was unconscious. Her body was slack, her eyes closed. Her slow breathing sounded like boiling water. I pulled up a chair, took her hand and put my lips close to her ear. “Sharon, it’s Duane.” Her eyes opened for a moment, then shut. I said a short prayer and went to look for the nurse.
For the next hour nothing happened. Sharon’s hand was cool, her breaths ragged and harsh. The nurse walked in, looked at Sharon’s face and nodded. I anointed Sharon with oil, took her hand and read from the Prayer Book:
Into thy hands, O Merciful Savior, we commend Thy servant Sharon. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech Thee, a sheep of Thine own flock, a sinner of Thine own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of Thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.
The room was silent. A young doctor came in, felt for a pulse, looked at me and said, “I’m sorry”. I wondered why.
I stayed behind as the room emptied and looked at Sharon. The shell had cracked and now she was free. I said good-by to this person I had come to love and took the clay pot from the window sill, staring at the hard and unyielding earth it contained.
Nothing happened. As those who know me can testify, I know nothing about gardening. I felt foolish day by day watering dirt. I wanted to throw it away. After all, life from an old clay pot sitting in an empty room?
Some weeks later we had a Spring storm. Afterwards I went around the house to see if water had gotten in through the windows. Looking out of one window to a stand of trees nearby, I could see a rainbow forming as the rain moved off against the light to the east. At that instant, I glanced at the clay pot. First I smiled, then I started to laugh. She had gotten it all.
A tiny blade was poking through the dirt. It was half an inch tall, light green and straight as an arrow. It had pushed a big clump of soil to one side as it emerged, and it now faced the sun shining through the rainbow.
The Book of the Revelation of St. John the Divine tells us that we see only half of the rainbow, for the other half continues in heaven, encircling the throne of God with all the saints attending Him. Through the waters of baptism and the freeing of a soul, Sharon was seeing the other half.
For a moment, even in Lent, the stone was rolled away, the curtain was torn in two, and the resurrection had begun.
Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
1. I think this quote from Wendell Berry should be made part of the canon…“When we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”…
2. You will either believe that all of life is a religious experience or you will spend your life seeking one…
3. Most of what passes for charismata in the church today is utterly trivial and self centered…spiritual masturbation without the decency to seek privacy…
4. Much of what I hear when people speak of “praying for revival” is a prayer for “people to think like us”… if and when revival comes it will offend most of those praying for it and they will commence to pray against it…
5. I’ve started to be encouraged by the reports of a decline in religion…I choose to see it as Jesus cleaning the chalkboard…
6. Saeed Abedini was arrested again...having just returned from an overseas trip to attempt to free his (alleged) long time mistress. He’s not worth writing a full article on…allegedly…
7. The revelation of God in nature is a companion to His revelation in scripture and both are components of His full revelation in Christ…instead of arguing about revelation, I think it better to simply recognize it…
8. According to a “literal” reading of Genesis, animals were created for companionship…so your pets are really more in sync with the kingdom than the people who criticize how much you care about your pets…
9. Few things bring me more comfort than a fire in the fireplace on a cold morning…
10. I think the church calendar should include the start of baseball season as a feast day…
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of
darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of
this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit
us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come
again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the
dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen.