This letter was sent out to 200 plus Christian and Missionary Alliance pastors after the C&MA decided not to discipline Ravi Zacharias.
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”
(Press Release from https://www.cmalliance.org/news/2018/03/05/public-statement-on-accusations-against-ravi-zacharias/)
(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.”
(Press Release from https://www.cmalliance.org/news/2018/03/05/public-statement-on-accusations-against-ravi-zacharias/)
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.