Wrapping up my thoughts on the Ravi Zacharias report, one more tweet from Samuel James is pertinent and well-put:
I think the “both/and” that Samuel presents in three short tweets underscores the important but difficult task we have in processing things like this. It would be easier to minimize what Ravi did. It would also be easier to “cancel” Ravi and act like he’s never existed. But are either of those good options?
Some people are saying, “Yes, but everything Ravi said in his apologetic work and ministry was true and it is still as powerful today as it was then.”
I would say… Yes it is, but also no it isn’t.
One of my favorite comedians growing up was Bill Cosby. My parents had some of his live comedy albums and I wore them out, listening and laughing over and over to stories like “The Chicken Heart That Ate Up New York City” or “Natural Childbirth.” And if I played those albums again today, you could argue that the stories are just as funny today as they were in the 70’s and 80’s when they first came out. But when I hear them today, I don’t laugh as hard because the purity of the experience is gone. I now know something about Bill Cosby that I didn’t know then, and it makes his work less pure to me. Still funny, but impossible not to be affected.
I also believe that everything I ever heard Ravi so masterfully say about the gospel and Scripture was and is true. And I believe it’s important not to act as if he never existed or had a ministry. I believe many people are in heaven today or on their way there largely because of Ravi’s ministry. That cannot be ignored.
But neither can the hundreds of women who were abused. Neither can the many RZIM staffers who were lied to, and who served this man without having any idea about what was going on. (There certainly seem to be those who were aware and/or had suspicions and did not speak up, but many had no knowledge or suspicion.) These people can’t be ignored either.
So, where does that leave us? Where does that leave me? In a confusing, hurtful place where I see what a spiritual hero did and say, “This was terribly wicked.” Where the truth Ravi proclaimed is still true, but is stained with the inconsistency of how we now know he lived his life in secret. Where I accept that short, pithy, easy answers to how we deal with this are going to fall woefully short. Where I learn more deeply how contemporary evangelical Christianity needs to continue to grow in our understanding and sensitivity toward how women are treated. Where I wake up every day with the knowledge that it probably won’t be long before, within the ranks of evangelical “superstars,” another one bites the dust.
I want my life to reflect that while for many years I was directly a part of the problem, now I seek to live every day being part of the solution. But while that is my pursuit, I am painfully mindful of what I read from Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, which tells me that the best expectation I have is “that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”
And amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Awaken is a Birmingham, AL based ministry walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness & addiction. Our goal is to help people experience hope, connection, and healing through the gospel and the recovery process. For info on how to get help for recovery, including our recovery meetings (in person or virtual), contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!