“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square”. Michelle Obama
Update: We are planning on doing one post a week on the biblical counseling movement until we have exhausted the subject. That means two posts a week o other subjects.
Today (as of 2:00PM) saw the firing of both Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor for inappropriate behavior. I mention the time because things are going cray cray out there and I expect other announcements to be forthcoming at any minute. I, for one, am grateful that women and men who have been the subject of unwanted sexual conduct are finally being heard.
Threats against truth seekers are evil and must stop.
Our good friend, Julie Anne Smith, posted about the controversy surrounding Ravi Zacharias. Today she received this threat on Twitter. We write this post because we will not allow these threats to deter us from seeking the truth. Whoever wrote this to JA does not understand the gospel. He/she is just a common thug.
Who is Ravi Zacharias?
In this biography on his website which has just been updated (you will understand why), he has this to say. Whoops, if looks like I can’t say much…Why wouldn’t an honest Christian want his biography distributed unless the biography is dishonest in some way?
Updated 17 May 2017
Please note that this bio may not be distributed or edited without the express written permission of RZIM. Thank you.
I need you to go to this link to read it because it appears that Mr. Zacharias is getting a bit huffy about his biography and for good reason, it would seem.
Problems with Mr. Zacharias’ biography
In 2015, we reported on the following.
It seems like Ravi Zacharias is in a bit of a pickle. I apologize that I didn’t have time to consult Tim Bayly to see if a woman is allowed to point out pastors who lie. It appears that MR. Zacharias may have been fudging things his entire ministry. My question is simple. If he lies about this, what else does he lie about?
We are two atheists and a Christian who are concerned that a prominent evangelist, Mr. Ravi Zacharias, has engaged in misconduct that undermines academic integrity and misleads the public. We issue this press release with two primary goals in mind. First, we wish to draw attention to what we believe are the dishonest practices of Ravi Zacharias.
Their stated concern:
We believe that the problem of professional evangelical Christians exaggerating their academic deserves much more media attention and public discussion than it currently receives. There is much grumbling even within Christian circles about the practice of honorary degree recipients using the “Dr.” title ‘
They credibly dispute the following claims of Ravi Zacharias:
-He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
-He refers to himself as Dr Zacharias yet has no earned doctoral degree.
-He claims to have lectured at the world’s most prestigious universities.
-He claims to be a scholar yet has published nothing in scholarly journals and does not have peer reviewed research.
Read more from this article here.
Mr Ravi Zacharias 11/2017
It looks like others are beginning to catch up on this story. On 11/13/2017 on the website, Ordinary Times, Stephen Baughman penned The Christian Industrial Complex Shields Its Own.
Baughman, an atheist, apparently just discovered the article we reported on in 2015. He became concerned about Zacharias when he realized he was dishonest about a prophecy in Daniel.
I vividly recall seeing Dr. Zacharias waving his arms and talking about the Seleucids and the Ptolemaics as he stood before that University of Illinois student audience. “Centuries before to be so specific in prophecy” could only be evidence of “the supernatural” in the Book of Daniel, he thundered.[iii] The argument was compelling in large part because it came from a man whose academic credentials were as good as anybody’s. Would Ravi Zacharias force me to adjust my atheist worldview?
Silly me. I should know by now that, for every 30 seconds it takes a Christian apologist to make a “fulfilled prophecy” claim, it takes a few hours of tedious research to see that it is probably bogus.
…Dr. Zacharias himself had known full well that the dating of Daniel was controversial. He admits as much in his memoirs.
Baughman reached a conclusion that we reached before we started this blog. If someone is dishonest about one thing, they are probably dishonest about other things. He would find fodder for his suspicion when he decided to research Zacharias.
Here are some of the things that he discovered.
He has no earned doctorate, yet, he has, until just recently… called himself Dr. Zacharias.
But Ravi Zacharias has never so much as enrolled in a graduate level academic program, much less completed a doctoral program.
…Ravi has routinely failed to disclose that his doctorates are merely honorary and has resisted calls to make his official bio clearer in this regard.
He was not a visiting scholar at Cambridge.
In 1990 Ravi did a 2-3 month sabbatical at a church ordination academy named Ridley Hall
…it has never been a part of the University.(ed. Cambridge)
…Ravi Zacharias, it turns out, had never been a visiting scholar at their university. In the summer of 2015, I sought comment from his ministry about this troubling finding. They ignored me, but quickly removed the bogus claim from his website bio.
He claimed to have studied *quantum physics* at Cambridge under John Polkinghorne which is not true.
1990, the year of Ravi’s sabbatical at Ridley, Polkinghorne (a noted scientist) taught a course on the Science/Theology Dialogue and a course on Buddhism.[xvii]
So it appears that Ravi audited[xviii] a class on the theology/science dialogue with Dr. Polkinghorne
He erroneously claimed to be an official lecturer at Oxford.
Ravi says in his memoirs “I am an official lecturer at Oxford now, teaching there once a year.”[xx]
The University of Oxford, however, told me it has no record of Ravi having ever been on their payroll. They did, however, confirm that in the past he has rented space from them.[xxi]
He claimed to be “chairman of the Department of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary,”[xxvii]
The school did not have departments at the time because it was too small according to Baughman. Here s the truth.
Ravi, it turns out, had been the chair of something called the “Center for Evangelism and Contemporary Thought.”
…an opportunity for students to work with Ravi.”[xxix] The ATS librarian told my investigator it was a “lecture series” that brought in outside evangelists to speak[xxx] and an ATS student of Ravi’s said it was an “informal” undertaking.[xxxi]
Baughman concludes that Zacharias needed adulation more than religion.
This is insightful and applies to more celebrity evangelicals than Zacharias.
Ravi had discovered the thrill of stardom. “Each time I finished students and faculty stood to their feet and applauded.”[xli] Preaching, he tells us, turned him “from being a nothing, a nobody, to being listened to by so many in different walks of life.”[xlii] Thus, we may conjecture, Ravi Zacharias needed adulation more than religion. It just so happens that it was religion, not cricket, and certainly not academics, that delivered the goods.
Baughman also correctly concludes that the Christian Industrial Complex has a code of silence.
TWW readers get this. We have followed the Evangelical Industrial Complex’s refusal to deal with issues like Sovereign Grace Ministries and other groups who have been credibly accused of covering up child sex abuse and sexual abuse of women.
Listen to what this atheist says about us, the church.
Do Ravi’s Christian colleagues care enough about his integrity that his Ministry may “fall” from his lack of it? Not likely. It seems to be business as usual at the Christian Industrial Complex.[xlv] Ravi remains a “licensed evangelist” with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.[xlvi] He retains his “doctorates” on his publisher website author bios, along with his “Cambridge” education. He was also the 2017 commencement speaker at Patrick Henry College (“God’s Harvard”) despite the fact that most of the faculty and student organizations were aware of the allegations circulating against him.[xlvii]
…For its part, RZIM and its Public Relations Manager have ignored over a dozen requests for comment from me over the past two years, as well as several requests to interview Mr. Zacharias at a time and place of his choosing. Perhaps most revealing of all, not a single one of the itinerant evangelists I contacted at RZIM and at his (deceptively named) “Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics”[lii] has replied to my request for comment, much less done their duty under 1 Tim 5:20 to publicly renounce their sinning leader.[liii] Cash cows are indeed sacred cows, even over at God, Inc.
Meanwhile in the trenches of YouTube and the blogosphere, Ravi’s loyal followers assure us that whatever his credentials may be Ravi Zacharias is an intellectual powerhouse and a devoted man of God.
Christian blogger and professor, Dr (earned degree) Warren Throckmorton is looking at Zacharia’s claims.
Folks, it should not matter to anyone who it is who reveals the truth. However, the typical evangelical response to an atheist pointing out the truth is “It is an attack by Satan.” Jesus is the truth and every Christian should demand honesty by all of its leaders. Of course, some will lie and the first response is to cover it up. Let’s see what RZM had to say.
Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College, chimed in by writing Was Ravi Zacharias a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University?
Sadly, the answer appears to be “No.”
As Dr. Begbie told me, Zacharias did that as a part of his sabbatical at Ridley Hall by taking these classes and lectures with people at Cambridge. However, he was never an invited visiting scholar at Cambridge and did his work under the supervision of Dr. Begbie who was at Ridley Hall.
After this was pointed out to Zacharias by Steve Baughman, Zacharias changed his bio to the following verbiage (from his academy bio):
Dr. Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge (then affiliated with Cambridge University, now more recently allied with Cambridge and affiliated with Durham University) where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era.
This is still a bit of an embellishment. It appears he really wants people to know he spent a few months attending lectures in Cambridge, England. However, there is no meaningful connection between Ridley Hall and the University of Cambridge which is relevant to a bio.
Throckmorton also wrote Fact Checking Claims about Ravi Zacharias’ Credentials: Is Dr. Zacharias in the House?
This bio has not been changed. I am confused by RZIM’s claim that Ravi Zacharias has not given the impression that he has an earned doctorate since this impression was once widespread and continues today on websites owned by the organization. Furthermore, there doesn’t appear to be any effort to correct ongoing impressions with other organizations. For instance, Gateway Church has Zacharias speak every year at the church and he has been consistently referred to as Dr. Zacharias as he is at an upcoming conference in December.
…Using honorary doctorates in this manner is not considered appropriate. I suspect Ravi Zacharias knows this. I have a follow up set of questions in to the ministry and will report any additional information.
Ravi Zacaharis Ministries responds by claiming *slander.* (What a yawner)
According to the Christian Post, in Ravi Zacharias’ Ministry Responds to ‘Egregious Claims’ and ‘Slander’ About His Character, Accomplishments
To which I say “Phooey!” Any Christian ministry which responds to a request for the truth in this way is not responding as Christians should. Christians should be the first to present the facts, proof, etc. When they respond this way, I will tend to believe they are not telling the truth and are most likely dishonest.
I plan to look more closely at Zacharias claims such as:
He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow.
A parting comment from Warren Throckmorton says it all.
Throckmorton, in response to the half-hearted reply from RZM, said this.
I was hoping for a more humble response from Zacharias but we will see where this goes.
Nuff said. We will keep you posted.
For all of you who have forgotten the *Cone of Silence.* Remember, it never works…