The Ravi Report

What do I think about the news? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, the report came out about Ravi Zacharias and can be read here. I did skim through it some last night to see the content mainly. I am thankful I did skim because going through it, I started feeling so nauseous over what I was reading that I thought I’d have to take something for it.

You see, Ravi had been a hero of mine for so many years. He was my first favorite apologist that I had. I remember the day I got to meet him and what an honor it was and I got to introduce Allie to him a few years before he died. Now I look back and wonder when did all of his trouble start?

Some people have compared him to King David. I mean, King David screwed up also. Right? Big difference. King David admitted he screwed up and this even when he was in good health. He publicly repented. Ravi knew he was dying and did no such repentance. When the 2017 charge came out, many of us thought it couldn’t be right because, well, Ravi wasn’t that kind of person. Now, it looks like he was that kind of person and the charge was right.

We saw the funeral service that was shared across the internet with people coming and praising Ravi about what a great person he was, not knowing that he took to his grave a huge lie. It is a betrayal of sorts that many of us feel about what Ravi did.

I read through the report feeling sick as I said and wondering when this man went wrong. This wasn’t just one isolated incident. This was a number of repeated incidents. This wasn’t just things done in a moment of weakness. We would condemn it, but it’s easy to understand falling into an affair in a moment of weakness, but when it’s done with premeditation and planning, such as Ravi having separate phones and emails not authorized by RZIM, it’s a different story.

So what judgment comes on Ravi? That’s not our department, and so I honestly don’t know. I wonder about it when I read passages like 1 Cor. 6. If this was his real lifestyle, can Ravi escape that judgment for it? I pray for mercy, but it is not my call. God owes none of us anything and if we know of his grace and flaunt it by living in a sin the Bible condemns, we have to realize there could be consequences.

So some takeaways.

First off, it made me even more sure to try to walk in sexual integrity. Don’t be alone in even an elevator with a woman you are not related to. Don’t go driving in a car with such a woman. Let someone else have access to your devices and know your passwords. Have accountability partners to help you in this.

Second, watch yourself to make sure you don’t fall into sin. I am very guarded in my private conversations with other women. I have women who are friends, but I will not ever consider them intimate friends in any way. My closest friends will always be guys. Getting super close to a member of the opposite sex except for in dating or marriage is dangerous.

Third, RZIM needs to change its name. Ravi’s behavior has unfortunately soiled the ministry and many of those connected to it who are personally innocent and had no clue will pay a price for it. Ministries do not need to be named after any one person save perhaps if you wanted to name a ministry after someone else well-known in ministry from the past.

Fourth, RZIM needs to do everything in its power to help these women who have been affected by the wicked behavior Ravi engaged in. Sexual abuse leaves a powerful scar on someone’s life and healing needs to take place. Any apologies need to be highly public.

Fifth, there will also need to be more financial accountability as Ravi used personal funds and perhaps some donated to RZIM to give gifts to these girls in exchange for gifts from them. People will not want to give to the ministry if they have no reason to trust where their resources are going to. It is fully understandable if many choose to not give again.

For those of us on the outside, there but for the grace of God go us. It is sad to me that I used to hold up Ravi as an example to emulate and now I hold him up as one to avoid. I have great pain especially for his grandchildren who will grow up hearing about the double life that their grandfather lived. These are the ones we should watch over the most.

As for me, I am working through this as well bit by bit. It’s been a very hurtful revelation to learn that someone you thought of as a friend was putting on a show. I do not think Ravi doubted the truth that Jesus rose from the dead, but I think he was trying to justify his actions and using ministry as an excuse.

I really know of no good way to end this kind of blog. I am just greatly disappointed in this man I once looked at. The best I can do is do my best to avoid being that kind of man as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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On The Fall of Ravi Zacharias

What does what happened to Ravi mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and fall out.

Not too long ago, RZIM released a statement saying that it looks like allegations of sexual misconduct against Ravi Zacharias are true. I am sure some of you are still skeptical, but we can’t do all of our own investigations into Ravi and for the sake of argument, since RZIM is saying it and I have no reason to think they would want to make up something about the founder of their organization whose name is on them, I want to ask what it means. Even if you don’t think the claims are true, consider it at least a for the sake of argument discussion.

Concerning Christian truth, it really means nothing ultimately. Ravi was a man like any other man. Christianity did not stand or fall on him. If your faith was built on Ravi Zacharias, you built it on the wrong man.

Concerning ethics, well that’s a different matter. It’s not that any ethical truths stand or fall with Ravi. What matters for this is how one should live their life, especially if they’re in a ministry capacity.

Regardless of where they stand on the issues, I am convinced someone would have to be a fool to think we don’t live in a sex-crazed society. Even as I do something simple like play Words With Friends on my phone, something even my wife’s grandmother does, I see ads popping up for games that are meant to appeal to lust in some way. It has really become unavoidable.

This is also one reason men especially need to be careful. We are not the only ones who can fall in this area, but it seems we are more prone to falling. It’s one reason why when Allie has been in the facility getting treatment, unless they were related to me or with someone else, I have not allowed a woman into the apartment. I do not drive alone with other women unless they are family.

Apparently, Ravi didn’t live up to the sexual ethic along the way somewhere and sadly, his ministry will suffer for it. For my part, I keep thinking about a lady who heard him speak who was a skeptic and when asked on the way home what she thought of the talk said, “I wonder what he’s like in his private life.” Sadly, we now know that private life wasn’t consistent and if your private life and public life are inconsistent like that, your witness for the kingdom will suffer.

Not only that, but anyone connected with RZIM could suffer. What about the memory of Nabeel Qureshi? He traveled frequently with RZIM. Will this damage his reputation even though he quite likely had nothing to do with it or even knew about it? Time will tell. It’s not fair if it does, but sadly, it’s what happens.

We also sadly remember a man’s failures much more than we do his successes. We remember fondly King David’s battle with Goliath in the Bible, but what’s the next story everyone remembers if it’s not the first one? David and Bathsheba.

Earlier this year, it’s believed that Mike Adams committed suicide. Sadly, when I think of him now, I don’t think of all the good he did, but remember how he died, which seems to be common with people who commit suicide. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. When people fail, we remember it.

In some ways, you could say our society delights in it. Perhaps we think it makes it easier for us. “Hey! If Ravi Zacharias can’t live this kind of ethic out, surely I can’t be expected to!”

None of us is off the hook though. We’re all expected to honor our bodies and those around us properly. Perhaps when one gets in a position of fame, which is a kind of power, then one becomes prideful and thinks they are above the rules and can hide indiscretions.

We can’t.

This is not to say the Christian ethic is easy, but it is possible. It’s doable. There are plenty of people who do it. You and I have never heard of them, but they do it. Several people save sex for marriage and stay faithful to their spouses. Several people can still avoid pornography.

Watch a sitcom or movie today and it will look like everyone, including the women, want nothing more than to jump in bed immediately and have at it. Everything also always works perfectly. If there’s one piece of advice I give guys who are virgins who are about to marry concerning this, it’s to consider everything you see in movies and TV because it’s totally unrealistic. Unfortunately, this also does set up a norm.

What is needed is for our society to really think about sex and sexual ethics. You might think we do that already. That’s the problem in our society isn’t it? We all think about sex too much. No. It’s really the opposite. We think about it too little if we do at all.

Oh we dream about it. We fantasize about it. We talk about it, watch it, and just plain do it, but think about it? Hardly. We don’t think about what it is, what it means, and what it’s for. Very few of us have a worldview of sex. We could just see it as a happy accident that the universe worked out this way to give us this experience.

It’s even worse though if we’re Christians. If we are, we should realize God is the one behind all of this and seek to want to know why he made the system the way He did. It’s all His idea after all.

We also need to build one another up in this. We absolutely need to have other Christians to hold us accountable. I have Christians I can talk to about my struggles, including while it is that my wife is away at this time. It is either my passions are going to control me or I am going to control them.

But it is doable. One can control their passions and in the end, for the sake of the holiness of sexuality, I am convinced it’s worth it.

As for Ravi, it’s hard. For me, Ravi was my first apologetics hero. I look over and see the gift that he had given to me and my wife on our wedding day hanging on my wall right now. I know I have several of his books on my bookshelves. It doesn’t mean what is in them is false. Still, perhaps everything he wrote will be viewed with more suspicion now because of his own personal sin.

That is a tragedy.

And yet then, I think of the saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Scripture tells us if anyone thinks he stands, he needs to be careful lest he fall. It further tells me I want to live by the Pence/Graham rule as much as I can. We all have only one shot at building a reputation in life. When my time is done and people look back on my reputation, I hope it will be something that people will be pleased with. I hope even my opponents intellectually would be able to say that though they disagreed with me intellectually, I did live my life honorably.

And to my friends who have been supportive of me over the years and been my confidants and mentors, I thank you greatly. When I was with my folks this past weekend for Christmas, I showed my Dad the final speech of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory with him receiving the Nobel Prize with his wife. He said something in it along the lines of how he used to think his accomplishments were his own, but they were also the accomplishments of those who stood with him, including his biological family and his family of friends. I fully say the same thing. Everything I do here is not mine alone.

I have played the Final Fantasy games for most of my life. What you learn from those in one sense is you need a party. No one fights alone. I don’t either. My friends mean everything to me and I am grateful to them all and hope I can be just as good a friend to them as they have been to me.

In the meantime, pray especially for Ravi’s family. One can hardly imagine what they are going through with these revelations coming out. Then learn to watch yourselves. If you are in ministry, do so especially. Your failure would have far greater ramifications than that of many others. Be careful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/15/2015: Andy Bannister

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The new atheists have had their share of responses to them and many times, it’s more of the same, but this Saturday I’m discussing a guest who gave a quite different response. It’s a different one in that the work is hysterical. It’s not because it’s a bad book, but because it’s filled with humor in looking at this topic. This is one book that you actually look forward to having footnotes show up. The footnotes are the best part. The book is The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist and its author is Andy Bannister, who will be my guest. Who is Andy Bannister then?

AndyBannister

And according to his bio:

Dr. Andy Bannister is the Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He speaks and teaches regularly throughout Canada, the USA, Europe and the wider world. From churches to universities, business forums to TV and radio, Andy regularly addresses audience of both Christians and those of all faiths and none on issues relating to faith, culture, politics and society.

With a background in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy (focussing especially on Islam), Andy was previously based in Oxford, from where he worked with churches and organisations across the denominational spectrum.

Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies, a topic on which he has taught extensively, especially since 9/11 and the huge interest that was sparked in the subject by the events of that day. He has spoken and taught at universities across Canada, the USA, the UK and further afield on both Islam and philosophy and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Andy is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an, a groundbreaking and innovative study that reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed. His latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments) is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism.

When not travelling, speaking, or writing, Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber and photographer. He lives in Toronto and is married to Astrid and they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher.

This Saturday, we’ll be talking about this book and looking at some of the popular arguments that especially get shared on the internet. We’ll be looking at what these bad arguments are and why they not only don’t work, but we’ll also see why it is that they have such disastrous consequences if they are followed through. I’ll also be interested in discussing why so much humor in a book on such a serious topic.

This is a great book to read and even if you disagree with Bannister, I’m sure you’ll have fun going through the book and if you pick it up an atheist and put it down still an atheist, hopefully you’ll be an atheist who is better informed on what are some arguments to not use. I hope you’ll be joining us for this next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast to discuss this great book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist

What do I think of Andy Bannister’s book by Monarch Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I have studied apologetics more and more, sometimes reading apologetics books now gets boring. It’s a lot of the same-old, same-old. You’ve heard it all several times before and there’s nothing new so what’s the big deal. Honestly, getting Bannister’s book, I was expecting I’d get a good primer on some apologetics issues and put it down thinking that I had had a decent enough read and that’d be it. I don’t mean that in a snide way at all. Many of these books are fine for beginners after all and I read them wanting to learn how well this would help someone who was starting out in the field.

I could not have been more wrong.

As I started going through Andy’s book, from the very beginning I saw that it was different. Now the content is still a good basic start for most people. You’re not going to get into the intensely heady stuff here. You will discuss the issues, but it is just a start. What makes this book so radically different and in turn one of the best that I’ve read on this kind of topic in a long time is the presentation. Bannister is quite the comedian. His humor shines throughout the book and this is one book where I had great joy whenever I saw there was a footnote. Normally, you tend to just pass those over. Do not do that with this book! You will find some of the best humor.

That makes the content all the more memorable. Bannister deals with a lot of the soundbite arguments that we deal with in our culture such as “You are an atheist with regards to many gods. I just go one god further.” He deals with scientism and what faith is and can we be good without God and can we really know anything about the historical Jesus? If you spend time engaging with people who follow the New Atheists on the internet, then you need to get your hands on this book. With humor and accuracy, Bannister deals with the nonsense, which tells us that in light of all the work he invested in this that first off, Bannister is highly skilled as an apologist and second, that Bannister has way too much free time on his hands to be thinking so much about this stuff.

I really cannot say much more because it would I think keep you from enjoying all the surprises in this book. There were many times my wife had to ask me as I read “What’s so funny?” Some parts I even read to her. If there was one thing I would change, it was the chapter on the question of goodness. I don’t think Bannister really answered the question of what it means to be good. He said we need a God to ground it in, and I agree, but that does not tell me what good is. Even if we say the good is God’s nature, that still does not tell me what the good is, yet we all know that people know the good and the evil without knowing who God is.

Still, do yourself a favor. Get this book and then sit down and prepare for a fun and worthwhile time. You’ll laugh and you’ll enjoy yourself so much you could lose track of how much good apologetics is sinking in.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Andy Bannister’s book can be purchased here.