Sexting and Credentials Allegations
Zacharias is currently facing allegations that reflect on his credibility.
Apologetics Index has always had a policy of linking to a wide variety of perspectives and resources. We have now updated this entry to include links to information dealing with these allegations, as well as responses by Zacharias and his ministry.
Steve Baughman, Ordinary Times on Culture and Politics, November 13, 2017: The Christian Industrial Complex Shields Its Own
Baughman, the author and presenter of the video shown above, is “a San Francisco lawyer, musician and some-time-part-time philosophy graduate student. I am an atheist and I have been known to post videos at YouTube as the Friendly Banjo Atheist.” On his website, Raviwatch.com, he explains why he ‘picks on’ Ravi Zacharias.
Christianity Today, December 2, 2017: Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique
Ravi Zacharias built his career defending the Christian faith. Now the famous apologist is defending his own reputation.
Today, Zacharias and his eponymous Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) released their first statements specifically addressing a personal lawsuit involving a married woman who sent nude photos to the popular author and speaker, as well as accusations that Zacharias has misled supporters by inflating his credentials in his RZIM biography. […]
Last month, Zacharias settled a lawsuit with a Canadian couple he claimed had attempted to extort him over messages he had exchanged with the wife.
The federal lawsuit—which was filed by Zacharias, not the couple—alleged that his “friendly correspondence” with the wife evolved over the course of 2016 to her sending him “unwanted, offensive, sexually explicit language and photographs.” In April 2017, the couple sent a letter through their attorney demanding millions of dollars in exchange for keeping the messages a secret.
“In the alternative of protracted and public litigation, [the couple] will sign a release of you and your church and ministry in exchange for a certified check in the amount of $5 million,” stated the letter from the Bryant Law Firm.
Zacharias said he immediately informed RZIM’s governance committee of the situation and sought legal counsel. […]
Blogger Julie Anne Smith on Friday published images of emails given to her by Zacharias’s accuser back in February, before the settlement.
The Christianity Today article, written by Kare Shellnutt and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, says
The images included an October 2016 email in which the woman told Zacharias she was going to disclose their “secret and its soul-searing shame” to her husband; in another image showing four short emails, the apologist appears to reply mere hours later by threatening suicide. “If you betray me here, I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye, I promise,” he wrote, according to the image, later calling it “the most dark and accursed day of my life.”
Smith removed the two posts the following day, upon the woman’s request […]
Shellnut and Zylstra report
Zacharias’s lawyers noted that the couple previously sued an Ontario pastor and his Christian Reformed church, alleging he had coerced them “into making certain ill-advised loans and investments” and seeking $1 million in damages. Their 2008 lawsuit was dropped; the pastor was temporarily suspended, but his church and denomination ultimately stood by him.
Julie Anne Smith, Spiritual Sounding Board (@DefendTheSheep on Twitter):
Grateful Kate is covering this story, but sadly, she is prevented from hearing from the victim because of settlement agreement. I’ve got her story! Two sides! #churchtoo #ravizacharias @RaviZacharias https://t.co/F5n9doqF1n
— Julie Anne (@DefendTheSheep) December 3, 2017
Ministry Watch, November 27, 2017: Ravi Zacharias Faces Criticism for Exaggerated Credentials and Settling a Lawsuit with an Apparent Extortionist
Recently, Baughman highlighted a court filing by Ravi Zacharias in relation to an apparent extortion attempt against himself. To quickly summarize a complex situation, a married couple posing as potential donors to RZIM allegedly sought to put Zacharias in a compromised position by having the wife provide nude photographs of herself to Zacharias via e-mail and/or text message. The couple then had a lawyer draft a letter asking for a $5 million payment to prevent disclosure of the matter to the public. Ravi Zacharias (personally, not the ministry) responded with a civil complaint against the couple. We would urge RZIM donors to read the letter to RZIM from the couple’s lawyer and the civil complaint filed by Ravi Zacharias. It certainly seems to be a pretty straightforward extortion attempt against Ravi Zacharias. The couple has a history of using litigation against a previous pastor of theirs to gain financial remuneration for an alleged financial scheme that had gone bad. […]
As noted earlier, RZIM claimed in their e-mails that Zacharias was going to fight this extortion attempt “vigorously”, but then Zacharias settled the case before it went to trial where RZIM’s assertions of the “false claims” made against Zacharias could have been proven to indeed be false. One can reasonably conclude, therefore, the couple extorting Zacharias actually did indeed have damaging e-mails and texts from him.
While RZIM has stated to us the ministry made no payments in the settlement of the case (presumably any payments made to the alleged extortionists came directly from Ravi Zacharias), they did not answer our question if Zacharias has received any unusual compensation from the ministry recently which may have assisted him in making payments to settle the case.
Meanwhile, while quite disturbing, none of the above undermines the solid, biblically-based teaching for which RZIM and Ravi Zacharias have become well-known around the world. In MinistryWatch’s view, the ministry’s teaching materials are excellent and the roughly 80 RZIM staff traveling the world to share this teaching are very effective. However, both the credentials exaggeration issue and the unfortunate online relationship with the couple, which led to their seemingly successful extortion attempt of Zacharias, raise legitimate questions about Zacharias’ character and judgment. In MinistryWatch’s opinion, these troubling developments are significant enough to warrant making donors to RZIM aware of this situation. […]
Warren Throckmorton, December 3, 2017: Fact and Fiction in Ravi Zacharias’ Responses to Allegations of Misconduct
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries blog, December 3, 2017: Statement on Ravi Zacharias’ Biography
Ravi Zacharias, December 3, 2017: Statement on My Federal Lawsuit
Christianity Today podcast, December 7, 2017: Ravi Zacharias and the Case of Christian Credential Inflation
“There’s a long and not very edifying tradition of Christian evangelists and speakers inflating their credentials,” said [apologist and religious studies professor John G.] Stackhouse.
Stackhouse says that he personally confronted two RIZM employees about problems he saw with Zacharias’s credentials but that no changes were made after the conversation.
“Ravi Zacharias is the biggest name in apologetics currently,” said Stackhouse. “As he goes, so goes apologetics so it’s really important that he be scrupulous in everything he does.”
In this podcast, Stackhouse discusses the issue of inflated credentials:
David Kowalski addresses the serious issue of Phony Doctorates in the Church
The information below was written before the RZIM website and Ravi Zacharias’ Amazon.com profile were scrubbed of references to him as “Dr. Ravi Zacharias.”
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is a Christian ministry founded and headed by Dr. Ravi Zacharias.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Zacharias was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family twenty years later. While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew; subsequently, he pursued this study during his undergraduate education. He received his Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.
– Source: Ravi Zacharias Bio
He says that a coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: Where did I come from? What is life’s meaning? How do I define right from wrong and what happens to me when I die?
Zacharias has authored numerous books, and he is the host of two radio programs: Let My People Think and Just Thinking (heard weekly and daily, respectively, on Christian stations across the U.S.).
The primary mission of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is to support, expand and enhance the preaching, teaching and vision of Ravi Zacharias.
Distinctive in its strong evangelistic and apologetic foundation, it is intended to touch both the heart and the intellect of the thinkers and opinion-makers of society and to REACH and CHALLENGE those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
– Source: About Us, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is a global team of itinerant speakers with offices throughout the world in: the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania, the Middle East, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada. Founded in 1984 by Ravi Zacharias, the vision of RZIM is fourfold:
- Evangelism with a particular focus on skeptics, cultural influencers and critical thinkers
- Apologetics that addresses current issues and the intellectual struggles related to these concerns, and the humanitarian needs of those at risk within a society
- Spiritual Disciplines that focus the mind and heart on the glory of God
- Training that comes alongside the Church or concerned Christians worldwide so that the mandate of I Peter 3:15 might be fulfilled—to set apart Christ in our hearts as Lord and always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, with gentleness and respect, all for the glory of God.
– Source: About Us, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
The ministry introduces itself as follows on its YouTube channel:
In January 2006 a reporter for the Southeast Missourian wrote:
Zacharias has built a reputation as a premier thinker in Christian philosophy through several books and speaking engagements that have taken him to esteemed centers of thought like Harvard, Princeton and Oxford, where he is a visiting lecturer.
Of all world religions, Christianity is unique in that it defines the nature of the human spirit unlike any other — that man is born a sinner, said Zacharias. The teachings of Christ hold a monopoly on truth among world religions because more than anything else they describe the true nature of man.
“Everything he says fits together and exists not just in isolation,” he said. “The older I get, the more convinced I am of the truthfulness of who Christ is.”
Zacharias has had a long time to think about truth and its relation to Christianity. He was born in 1946 in India and began studying theology at around age 20 after moving to Canada.
His arguments are structured and complex. Saturday night Zacharias used basic tenets of Christianity like the sinful nature of man, the breakdown of morals in a climate of relativism and the unification of the world’s many diverse aspects as building blocks for his argument.
– Source: Matt Sanders, Ravi Zacharias mixes spirituality, reason in speech, Southeast Missourian, USA, Jan. 22, 2006
Growing up in his native India, author Ravi Zacharias used to participate in a strange event called the slow cycling race.
The goal of the race was not to take off as soon as the gun sounded, but to move as slowly as possible. In fact, it was best if you could remain standing still on your bicycle, your feet not touching the ground. The goal of the race was to come in last.
Some competitors were so adept at staying stationary that the distance of the race was only a few yards.
– Source: Glenn McDonald, Imagining a New Church, The Christian Century, Volume 116, Issue 24, September 8, 1999.
- Ravi Zacharias Wikipedia entry
- Just Thinking [Radio/Online Radio] [Podcast] [Station Locator]
- Let My People Think [Radio/Online Radio] [Podcast] [Station Locator]
- RZIM Media RZIM’s YouTube channel
- Apologist Interview: Ravi Zacharias In this interview with the Apologetics 315 website Ravi Zacharias talks his new book (Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality), the “new spirituality,” secularism and spiritual hunger, how the media can make a lie seem like the truth, how we arrived at the new spirituality, Deepak Chopra and Oprah, avoiding the dangers of the new spirituality, reasons for hostility against Christianity, how people “reshape” Jesus, the most frequent misconceptions about Jesus, advice for Christian apologists, the hardest lesson to learn when defending the faith, planning devotions, pitfalls to guard against, the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and more.
- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Official website