Steve Baughman is a lawyer. He is an honest, intelligent man. He refers to himself as the “Friendly Banjo Atheist,” and he has been documenting the corruption of the recently deceased Ravi Zacharias for several years. In my opinion, Baughman has done the Evangelical world a huge favor by carefully documenting the numerous lies Zacharias has told, as well as exposing his sexual corruption. He attempted to alert us to the fact that one of our heroes was, at best, a hypocrite, and at worst, a sexual predator. Unfortunately, it seems not many evangelicals wanted to listen to what he had to say. Among the celebrity Christian leaders, this is understandable – many of them had a lot to gain financially by continuing to support Zacharias; not to mention the fact that many of them have a closet full of skeletons themselves. What saddens me is the fact that many of the pew-sitters seem to have no desire to discover the truth about Zacharias. Ignorance is bliss. Where do I send my support, they ask? It is not unlike the church members that support their pastor by showing up at court for his trial of sexual abuse of a child, while shaming and shunning the victim and his/her family.
I believe I first heard of Steve Baughman a few years ago, as I recall it was through Julie Anne’s blog – “The Spiritual Sounding Board.” I purchased Baughman’s book and it was a doozy. His proof of Zacharias’ corruption was undeniable, well, at least it should be for any clear-thinking individual.
Julie Anne seems to have been the first to post about the latest corruption that Steve Baughman has uncovered about Zacharias. You can read her post here. Baughman has revealed that Zacharias owned two “health spas” and allegedly sexually abused some female employees! Julie Anne was appropriately enraged, writing:
“When will the Evangelical Church at large deal with this honestly and do the right thing? I’m waiting. I’m sure Lori Anne Thompson is waiting. And you know what . . . . every survivor of clergy sexual misconduct is waiting to see someone do the right thing. Because when the rubber hits the road, that is what it’s going to take for true healing to occur. Until that happens, we will continue to see this scenario play out again and again and again. I’m so over it, people! So over the stupid facade of Evangelical Christianity with supposed integrity and upstanding character. Because as far as I am concerned, there is very little of it.
DO BETTER, CHURCH! For crying out loud, why is this so freaking difficult? I better hit publish before my panties get in a wad.”
Here is the video Baughman produced with the evidence.
Here is the video Baughman referenced concerning the grand opening for the second “health spa” Zacharias owned.
I found this Tweet from “ahem” Dr.Bryan Loritts in May. It had been announced that Zacharias was quite ill and wasn’t long for this world. The words that caught my eye were “grace” and “truth” referencing Zacharias. This from the guy that has no idea what happened to the phone his voyeuristic brother-in-law had all the secret videos recorded on. I think Lori Anne Thompson would be unlikely to use the same words that “ahem” Dr. Loritts chose.
I have never been a huge fan of Sam Alberry. Somebody needs to ask him how much money he pockets as a global speaker for RZIM. Then again, I haven’t checked lately, maybe after he found out the truth about the man who signed his paycheck he resigned! He is not the only celebrity to have drawn a paycheck from RZIM. Maybe someone can list all the others in the comment section.
One comment I did appreciate, and obviously saved, was a retweet by Rachael Denhollander of the “Tentative Apologist.” I totally agree.
This comment was from Julie Anne’s blog. A flood of adulation. Yep. It makes me ill.
Below are a few more videos from the “Friendly Banjo Atheist.” I would suggest people stop sending money to RZIM. Buy Baughman’s book instead. Invest in truth, not lies.
Forget Christ, it seems to be all about Money, Power, and Fame.
Bronze…. But really now, posting at 5am on Wednesday is not fair to Dr. Steve. He needs to sleep at some point.
Ha! Spread the medals around a bit! 3:00 here, and I have been attempting to get to bed for about an hour!
Yet another reason why I no longer trust male evangelical leaders. If they don’t abuse, they support those who do.
I have been told that I’m painting with a broad brush with that statement. That’s difficult not to do when stories like this one keep coming out.
Relevant (directly and indirectly) to the topic of the so-called “leader” Ravi Zacharias….
In the last almost-three years, I have come (through various modes of communication) to know and understand more about “christians”, abuse (of many kinds) in (and by) the “church”, and various “church” victims (and “church victims”) than I have in my nearly six decades long life (and walk) as a Christian.
And yet I remain a Christian….
If, many years ago, I had been led to information on, and the understanding of, all these things that have been “swept under the rug”, perhaps life would have been different for me, and through me, perhaps others.
If only I could thank the many people who have (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons) communicated (by whatever method) to me (and to others) the things that have been “swept under the rug”.
You people here – Dee, Todd Wilhelm, TWW commenters – are some of the people I have wanted (for a very long time 🙂 ) to thank.
Yep, gotta snooze even if ya lose.
In the words of the Prophet Dire Straits:
“MONEY FOR NUTHIN’
AND THE CHICKS FOR FREE!”
Small correction – I think that Steve Baughman goes by “Friendly Banjo Atheist”, not ‘the friendly atheist’. Hemant Mehta has the “Friendly Atheist” blog that’s gotten very influential over the years.
I have finally realized that when these people speak of Christ, they leave off (probably intentionally) a very crucial preposition ……… Anti.
They are more anti-Christ than pro-Christ.
When I saw the article yesterday at Spiritual Sounding Board I just kind of went, “Oh, another sordid piece of information about a Christian leader.” I’m getting where I’m not surprised anymore, just sad. I love Jesus, I love His church, and I trust we will survive the skepticism that comes from people turning out to be who they really aren’t. Yes, I know Christians are just forgiven, but they are also supposed to be spiritually growing and responsible for their behavior.
And, what married man needs to own a spa business and participate in it? I mean, didn’t Ravi have all those speaking engagements he needed to attend (yes, the sarcasm doth flow…).
“Yet another reason why I no longer trust male evangelical leaders……
I have been told that I’m painting with a broad brush with that statement.”
well, i mean, really… (and now an ironic snort)
look up a random sampling of church websites.
go to the the ‘who we are’ / leadership tab.
nearly every single one (if not all of them) will present a full frontal visual assault of large-scale men’s faces.
a homogeneous bubble as the locus of power…. how can that not be totally dumb and dangerous?
[perhaps someone might think ‘dangerous’ is an over-the-top word. the concept of God means people of influence are granted immense power over others, wittingly or unwittingly. even oblique references & side comments casually made out of ignorance hit those at ground zero with great impact.]
Christendom needs to address this issue (sex) unshackled from dogma and one-directional talking points.
My response these days is:
“Ho Hum. You expect any different from Christians(TM)?”
Was Zacharias a horn-dog and an unethical mountebank?
Yes he was, but does that negate his achievements as a master rhetorician and apologist for the Christian religion?
Headless Unicorn Guy,
THAT’s how common it’s become.
It sure doesn’t do much for his credibility.
This sounds like emotional abuse on a larger scale. In public, those abused didn’t show their concern/fear in their faces nor speak to the famous people came around, nor spoke to the pastors that came around. Now that Ravi has passed away, the fear is gone.
Agree – if I were an unbeliever listening to him, the lies and cover-up of abuse would turn me away from the rest of his “message”.
Also, “who is going to believe you” is a good way to silence people.
Another question comes to mind. Were the massage therapist from India the equivalent to certified massage therapist here in the U.S. Or, were they trafficked, thus the silence from them?
Thanks for the correction, Rich. I will make the change.
I’m beginning to ask myself if there is anyone sincere and honest in Christian leadership. Is the whole thing just complete fraud? Is there even one of them that would stand up and speak the truth?
Not only does it negate his achievements but it makes one question whether there is any truth to the Christian religion at all. It seems like just one big opportunity to scam people.
It does in my mind.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV
1 Timothy 5 tells us:
I guess Ravi Zacharias is of the latter type, since his sins are becoming even more evident now than they were before. But I have to question the premise in this passage that “those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.” From God, maybe, but it’s only very recently, with the advent of the internet and brave bloggers like Dee, that any of these truths have been accessible to the average person. It seems like concealment of sin has worked very well for millennia in the Christian church. I’m trying to decide what to make of that.
I used to be a big fan of his. Now I feel like a sucker. His whole ministry focused on the credibility of historical Christianity. But he had so little historical credibility of his own. It undermines everything he said he stood for. In hindsight, I don’t think he would have been famous if had told the truth all along. He got a following because people thought he was a degreed scholar even though he was not.
“GO AHEAD AND SQUEAL, TATTLE-TALE! NOBODY WILL EVER BELIEVE YOU! BECAUSE YOU’RE JUST THE CRAZY KID AND I’M THE SWEET LITTLE ANGEL!”
Yes, it does. If you’re going to lie to me about your academic accomplishments, and then about your sexual misdeeds (while at the same time bashing LGBTQ people for being awful sinners), then why on earth should I believe you’re telling the truth about God?
Moreover, Zacharias is a master rhetorician and apologist within a small bubble-Evangelicalism. His thing was to make Evangelicals feel better about believing they have all the answers, where his listeners don’t have to really do any research, but can instead point to Zacharias and others and say, “they have answers, I believe them, you should listen to them.” Then we get back to Zacharias’ lack of credentials and the fact that he claimed an earned doctorate when he didn’t actually have one.
IMHO apologists should have a lot more humility than Zacharias and his fellow apologists have displayed. That humility would include a willingness to admit when you’re wrong. Instead, the whole Evangelical apologetic empire is all “We’re right, you’re not, repent…but don’t look at the messy details.”
From a personal point of view, apologetics tends to sap the mystery of Jesus, God among us, away from faith. There are a lot of things which are just not going to be explainable and apologetics does a bad job of handling that.
I don’t want to get this thread too off track concerning Ravi and others who were/are corrupt Christian leaders , but every time I read about this sort of thing my heart aches for a group of people shunned by the church.
I realize that this may be a mixed group when it comes to thoughts and opinions about gay people and Christianity, but seriously, when there is this much corruption in Evangelicalism, how can anyone point to any group as being condemned. LGBTQ seems to be the one group left to condemn and despise in Evangelicalism.
In my older years, when it comes to sin , I lean into “love God and Love your neighbor “ as the preeminent standard . With all this sordidness, lying, and greed, I can’t look a two married guys living faithfully any differently than anyone else. These leaders hide and lie about what they do, while preaching another standard. An “out” gay person…a gay Christian…is being open. The legalistic types find gay and Christian to be incompatible. I think being a lying, money driven predator is pretty incompatible. Being honest is more admirable than the other, even if one has a traditional view of the “clobber” passages.
I don’t want to start a debate about scripture, because I do understand what is considered traditional teaching, but the hypocrisy is more than I can bear.
Well said Dee.
I’m with you, Bunsen.
Thank you, Todd, for quoting all the words to (and not just the verse for) Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV.
Perhaps it was one of those times where just the right words at just the right time seemed to link together a number of ideas in my mind. Unfortunately, my ideas have not yet coalesced….but I think what is emerging is the number of not-so-famous “christian leaders” who have (in any number of ways, for any number of reasons) slid under the radar….
Paige Patterson $$$ grab detailed in lawsuit:
“Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary filed suit Tuesday (Sept. 8) against the Texas-based Harold E. Riley Foundation and its board of trustees…The lawsuit alleges that the foundation’s board of trustees rewrote its bylaws — without notifying Baylor or Southwestern – and changed the charitable purpose of the foundation…changes to the foundation were made a few days after Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern, was fired by the seminary’s board. Foundation President Mike C. Hughes, who served as vice president for advancement at Southwestern under Patterson, is named as a defendant”
“‘We have recently become aware of inappropriate manipulation related to board governance and apparent misapplication of funds by self-appointed rogue leadership of the foundation established in Mr. Riley’s name,’ [seminary president Adam] Greenway said in a statement.”
“the board sold off more than 700,000 shares in Citizens Inc., the company founded by Riley, but shared only a fraction of those proceeds with the schools…the foundation board attempted to name Patterson and Hughes to the Citizens board. The foundation board also attempted to name three others to the Citizens board, all with ties to Patterson: David August Boto, a former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee; Charles Hott; and J. Clinton Pugh.”
This. Thank you for saying what I have felt for a while now.
As with others, I’ve found my “life verse” as evolved. (Can you tell I was raised SBC/Evangelical) It was, and to a point still is Romans Romans 1:16, but it’s become more John 5:19. If I want to be more Christlike in my being a disciple, then I must follow His model. That model is very much at odds with Big Eva these days.
St Augustine said pretty much the same thing some 1600 years ago.
“If you talk nonsense about things I do know, why should I believe you when you speak on something I don’t know?”
Reality in general has a way of being messy, of not fitting cleanly and completely into our organization and classification and explanations.
Gould wrote several essays on this in the context of “weird” biology and zoology.
(I’m not gonna get started on Quantum Physics, but that’s pretty esoteric to begin with — too esoteric for most people.)
If the “massage therapy” was the “nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean” kind…
Almost word-for-word like so many other “christian leaders”….
I agree with this now, but not many years ago I would have sharply disagreed. I think I needed to let this fever run its course in my life I now find value in apologetics for removing obstacles, but that is about all it can do. In one sense apologetics is like trying to describe a kiss without actually kissing. Or it’s like dissecting a dog to see what makes it doggish, and having nothing doggish left when it’s all done. Some things can only be understood and enjoyed by keeping the mystery alive. Still, if obstacles such as age of the earth get in the way of faith, I think apologetics can be a good tool for at least partially addressing those obstacles.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
I’ve come to the conclusion that apologetics is most likely of primary use to people who are already believers. There’s some value in it for non-Christians, but most people who benefit it seem to be Christians already.
Zacharias to me is the model of what evangelicalism has become. A big, fat phony who lied to people because it made money.
There’s a whole lot in the Bible about pride, greed, lying, and taking advantage of others.
I have a theory that much of the animosity comes from the days when parents sold off their children in marriage for their own financial benefit (and not necessarily that of their children). Marriage has been an economic institution for much of history and I suspect has become a moral one only fairly recently.
Plus, the ones who are loudest about the morality of marriage seem to be the least moral about how they use and abuse others. I’d believe someone like John Macarthur more about morality if he acted like he cared how his church hurts others or that his church members weren’t more than paychecks.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
For years and years I had a very bad feeling about Ravi. I must have thumbed through his books in a shop. I can always tell a solidly written book or not. And his facial expressions (in pictures) have always looked bad to me. What a lot of pseuds in the “grand opening” video (except the children, and it didn’t look much fun for them). Alarming he has an associate in Maidenhead.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that apologetics is most likely of primary use to people who are already believers. There’s some value in it for non-Christians, but most people who benefit it seem to be Christians already.”
to make their faith feel more concrete? (the way math is concrete) and thus more comfortable.
(which possibly results in having faith in faith itself, rather than having faith in an invisible God)
….i dunno, thinking out loud, here.
I appreciate your comment. Totally agree.
I am not going to claim to be an expert on the age of the earth because I never studied geology beyond high school. That said, I’ve been surrounded by astronomy books since I learned how to read. I consider myself a well-educated layperson and someone who completely geeks out over the latest discoveries on things astronomical. Hey, I even drive a Subaru! (subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades cluster, and no, I didn’t buy it because of that, but it is amusing.)
There is a passage where God says to King David, as He’s speaking about David’s sins and why he acted evil after God blessed him so much …”I gave you your wives”.
I have never heard a sound take on this passage that is consistent with the position that the only God blessed marriage had to be one man, one woman marriage. If God was giving David his wives, seems He approved of polygamy, and it seems he allows cultural iterations of the institution. I’m not a proponent of polygamy but I do think it shows that God gives humanity lots of leeway. All the famous patriarchs were polygamists. God didn’t seem to care.
Re MacArthur, John can allegedly pay his son in law millions for video production, found in the Grace To You tax docs. Greed and nepotism are okay. A pew-sitter wanting to protect themselves from a toxic spouse, not okay. Divorce is not allowed. Because God doesn’t specifically say you can divorce an axe murderer, should you be so unlucky, so not allowed.
John worships The Bible and has confused message/messenger. He can’t deal with how it is incomplete, inconsistent, or silent…so he would rather damage people to protect his idol. So much for loving your neighbor and the grace of God in life’s messy issues.
He may be a Pasta but he’s not Ravi-Holy.
Off topic: please pray for California. Wildfires are springing up all over the state. Here in the Bay Area it’s been dark ,surreal and apocalyptic all day. Further north extended family who lost everything in the Camp fire in 2018 are again being evacuated.
A family member recently posted something about the danger of touchless thermometers, the ones that look like a gun. A video was included describing how infra red radiation from the guns could be damaging our pineal gland.(?!) I tactfully pointed out that thee devices do not emit radiation, but measure the output of radiation, hence harmless.
People do not want to know the truth and facts. They only want their closely help beliefs to be confirmed.
Ravi is an icon. He could have been married three times and publicly cheated on all three wives and still be held up as God’s anointed servant.
I’m right with you on that.
Yes, what a great niche he worked out for himself. He would be eagerly embraced by Christians as their intelligent and learned champion,the proof that their belief system is equally viable regardless of a person’s intelligence or level of education. It was really quite an audacious bit of flattery he was working on folks. And he did not stand much danger of being questioned or disbelieved. Look how long he got away with it.
I would have disagreed when I was young, but I am older and wiser now and I totally agree with you. It seems like apologetics focuses attention on nitpicky details while losing the deep principles that hold all the meaning.
The best one might be able to do, I think, is to argue that the OT in places is accommodated to the hardness of people’s hearts, and this is one of them. Asked about an OT text that his contemporaries understood to imply a husband’s liberty to arbitrarily divorce, Jesus interpreted it in such terms.
One might interpret the regulations on bondservanthood similarly. Unacceptable by present-day standards, but an improvement on the prevailing practices of the time.
I find it disheartening when people who are admired in the churches turn out to not have lived up to standards that are observed in the secular world.
Many outsiders regard the churches with suspicion and these days one cannot blame them. Would that there were more suspicion in the hearts of the insiders who are being taken advantage of. Perhaps this is a present-instance of one of Jesus’ sayings, that “the children of this age are in their own way wiser than the children of light.”
Brad and I are deeply grateful for your advocacy and support.
Then you should understand when I say that for the past two days, the smoke plumes from the SoCal wildfires have dropped the sun’s spectral class from G2 to K0 yesterday and to K4-K5 today.
For the past couple years, I’ve been doing “Jump Destinations” (system/world writeups) for the online gamezine Freelance Traveller under my real name and have used my experience being under wildfire plumes to describe what a K-type sum looks like from the surface (and all the subtle sepia-color shifts in everything).
Two of my cars in the 80s were Subarus — a white ’75 coupe and a root-beer ’81 hatchback. Plus this Dr Demento song of the time:
And a tie-in with WW2 history. The B5N1 “Kate” torpedo-bomber, the Ki-41 Hayabusa “Oscar” figther, and the Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” fighter were all Subarus. These and other Japanese military aircraft were made by Nakajima, which became Fuji Heavy Industries after some postwar mergers and went on to build Subaru cars.
“Ravi said it,
I believe it,
THAT SETTLES IT”?
A log of Christians will grasp at any straw to Count Coup on Those Heathens.
Make ya’ a deal and meetcha’ half way?
Zacharias’ achievements as a talented rhetorician were sullied by his actions yes, but negated in and of themselves (talents)?
Systemic evil kept in place.
… and the father of lies is …
It was like that in northern Colorado, all the way to the eastern plains of the state, yesterday. It was freaky.
I hope the people who were abused get help and are believed. Does that make me pathetic and emotional?
I do not believe it.
One thing Scripture does repeatedly is chronicle the opportunists, from the sons of Eli and the corrupt priests and Levites to the Pharisees and those who had their tables overturned, Grievous wolves keep doing their thing.
Elijah and Jeremiah come to mind as truth tellers to corrupt rulers who didn’t have warm receptions, and then there’s those killed like Zechariah and John the Baptist. (It didn’t strike me that many of them were exactly flush with cash, either, especially compared with the leaders.)
of course not. your response is the right and reasonable one.
American evangelicals seem to adore guys like this a lot, at the moment, it seems.
Yes poor Dr Steve!! After all 1st seems to be top priority to him.So annoying! Not the kind of metal we can cast at feet of Jesus and it is so irritating!!
This could be true. I also wonder if there is a difference between left and right brained people. I tend to spend way too much time in my left brain, which means nagging doubts about the truthfulness of Christianty can drag me down. Apologetics help me put those fears to rest. At the same time, apologetics will never be able to provide air-tight certainty. So apologetics appears to have a viable but limited role.
I agree. Apologetics plays to the house. It does very little to convince a non Christian. I’m guessing most of those impressed with zacharias ministry were already christians of some stripe.
From my foray into Pentecostalism, there’s a complete culture of compliance. For all the criticisms they level at the liturgical churches, the church I went to is very “follow the leader “
Anyone who calls themselves “the friendly banjo atheist “ will get very little traction.
It’s a small minority that calls these clowns out.
Blinkers, mark driscoll has still got a following!
The bible is filled with stories of the fantastic. Talking animals, a man killing 600 guys with an ox goad, people living to 500 years, people flying, coming back from the dead and on and on. Really it all comes down to faith. You get or you don’t (or you can no longer reconcile it and leave).
Many religious groups live behind a palisade. They live in a bubble of their peers. Fed a steady diet of approved learning and activity.
Those of us living on the outside will never influence them. That’s why the dissenting voices have to come from within.
But what is interesting, is that if one attempts to be truly “objectives”, no matter what “world view” they live “‘in”, there are a number of “presuppositions” that a human has to make. I think the best that “apologetic” can do attempt to make individuals realize and acknowledge, or debate!, what these “presuppositions” are.
In contrast, many individuals in the different “world views” like to think they can argue others into their “world view”. Richard Dawkins comes to mind, as does “Evidence that demands a Verdict”, Josh McDowell comes to mind.
As I have said many times, and as HUG mentioned above, Quantum Mechanics, which attempts to mathematically explain all physical reality is so mind bending that the top scientist that developed it, and use, still admit it is not fundamentally understandable. (I might add that Quantum Mechanics does a very good job… if you do not believe it, you should not get near, or use, any radioactive, oh, and H-Bombs are fake news). So, my point is, we humans do not really understand our physical world, so how can we understand the “supernatural”??? The pursuit of truth is vital, but should be approached with humility and a realistic understand of human limitations…. some thing that is missing with to many world view “apologetics”.
Why yes, you’ve got me geeking out. I’ve seen the pictures, but *wow*, never took that into consideration (change in effective spectral class due to smoke). Now just imagine what it would be like with the K0 or K4-K5 spectral class and no smoke. *shudder*
The video of the grand opening:
If I had no context for the business and someone told me to guess what they were celebrating, I would guess they were opening a school for underprivileged kids or some sort of community center.
For a spa? Usually people might have a little ribbon cutting, hand out some free frisbees, a 20% off coupon for your first visit.
Why is Jeff Foxworthy there? lol Besides him being from Atlanta.
(Of course one of the underlying messages to the community is there is power behind this business.)
Seems so overdone with the multiple celebrity speeches and gives off a “thou doth protest too much” kind of thing.
Nope. Just makes you an image-bearer of the same God who saved many of his harshest words for spiritual leaders who took advantage of their flocks, in both the OT (Isaiah 58) and NT (Matthew 23). If Jesus can describe himself as a “mother hen,” I think you’re in good company 🙂
This is all such a sad business – if Ravi had acknowledged the academic stretch in his credentials it could have made some difference, but I end up feeling that the apologetic skills he showed were just skills in manipulation, including his image…& then of course the sexual stuff & now this. It’s a pattern, & the problem comes when he says believe me on X, when of course we believed him on Y & he was lying. How are we to trust him with very much truth, when he was not trustworthy with very little bits of truth? Franky Schaeffer posted just yesterday I think about much of American Evangelicalism throwing away its witness over politics, if they are prepared to be so dishonest about so much that they have historically preached against, who will believe anything they say now? He has a point.
The whole apologetics question is an interesting one – I was stopped from walking away from a faith only a few years old that I didn’t want, through Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy, the God Who is There etc, & in many ways consider myself someone who was argued into faith & still has not been able to argue myself out of a few things. There’s more to it these days, but that the bottom line for me as my experiences of God haven’t been notable, even if my experiences of Christians generally have.
I completely understand the pain & fury when men like Ravi & others get up & preach against LGBT lifestyles, all the while lying about their own lifestyles. It’s a big sticking point that I keep getting caught on, as I really don’t see the big deal in faithful relationships between same sex couples when all this other crap gets repeated over & over by supposedly holy men.
I had a similar reaction yesterday on Twitter when a Calvin homeboy called something like ReformedDudeBro posted a tweet which basically asked how long should a husband wait before taking a wife that refused intimacy before the Elders…And with some of the responses you realise there are those who will never ever understand the law of love, & instead have to function by a wooden literalism, which will however allow them to forgive all sorts of sin, just not those ones. Aaaaargh. I’ve never been so glad of the mute function.
I think you’re right.
i have to know — “Blinkers”… is that like blimey / crimany / holy smokes / good grief, etc?
(i really like this word)
Bunsen Honeydew–you are absolutely correct that Christians, mostly, and almost all evangelicals play the game of “don’t look at my sin look at theirs.” So a fixation on gay sex is common but no talk of straights fornicating, shacking up, committing serial divorce and remarriage, etc.
HOWEVER–that does not justify playing the Trump gaslighting game of “How can you possibly say a gay committed married couple is sinning when all those good Christian straights are sinning in hiding?”
That dog won’t hunt. Sin is still sin, hidden or open, gay or straight, accepted or bashed. So yeah, it is wrong to be rude and nasty to the gay couple, but their sin is still sin nonetheless. My sinful attitudes and actions do not erase anyone else’s sin. Nor do their sins of homosexual behavior erase my sins.
There really is moral high ground, not that any human can attain it. That is why we need a Savior anyway. But there are attitudes, actions, behaviors, etc that God Almighty labels as sin. Judgmental attitude is one of them. Gay sex is another.
Until we stop rationalizing and justifying our own sins, no matter what they are, and the sins of those we love, no matter what they are, and do some serious repenting this nation has far bigger problems than a virus.
The problem is that the quantum realm, while not fully understood, is observable in many ways. It is there and happening. There does not seem to be the same observable evidence for resurrections, talking animals (birds and ape sign language notwithstanding), people rarely live past 100 years and there is no archaeological evidence to indicate they lived longer in the past (in fact the evidence indicates they lived pretty short lives).
So most apologetics regarding the veracity of these events play directly to the house (ie those that already are convinced these events occurred).
Likely that’s the point of apologetics – to keep the believers believing. So folks like me are definitely not the target audience.
But it can be like getting all your news from one outlet – you may not be open to anyone outside your chosen news agency presenting anything that upsets your current worldview. This leaves the floor open to guys like Zacharias and his supporters to spin whatever story they want.
Of course this is not unique to Christianity or even religion. We all spin our own narrative but throwing God and your eternal soul into the mix can be a force multiplier. Much more so than choosing to believe only news from CNN or Fox or MSNBC.
But boy could if we could only have a treaty where all wars could be fought exclusively with ox goads, that would be something….conventional ox goads, not nuclear ones…
And there’s this from Nikola Tesla:
“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. ”
And this too:
“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”
The word is WEAPONIZED.
“DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU! WILL! SPEND! ETERNITY????” can be quite a motivator/inhibitor.
Yeah, pretty much. I got into creative swearing when we had kids. I initially used it because I thought that’s what Velma from Scooby Doo would say. However I think she says “Jinkies” or something like that. “Blinkers” stuck however and I’ve been using it for quite a while.
It’s open source though so please feel free to use as you see fit.
Well, when a person, usually a man, steps up on a pedestal… oops, there are no pedestals for followers of Jesus.
I’ve made a point of that in the “Surface Conditions/Sky Picture” portion of the FreeTrav world writeups. The orange tint of the sun, the sepia-tone washout of all colors, indoor artificial lights tinting everything bright blue in comparison…
And if you have a BY Draconis with the HUGE ever-changing sunspot patterns visible to the naked eye and rotating in and out of view…
The word for this is FANSERVICE.
My eldest grandson has recently come out as gay.
I couldn’t care less what his sexual orientation is, I love him all the same.
He’s a kind and gentle human being, which to me is far more important.
True. But it’s also true that these fall into different categories, so we should not expect the same kind of evidence. Quantum theories can be tested by experiment, but historical events cannot. Interestingly, quantum theory makes events such as resurrections and talking animals possible even though highly improbable.
Proving historical events is much more like solving a crime scene where there are clues that can be evaluated by scientific evidence, but it is nearly impossible to prove any past event with 100% certainty. Even a jury has to take a step of faith when determining guilt or innocence.
Most of apologetics falls into the category of examining evidence for past events, such as creation. For example, the best science shows a highly improbable fine tuning of the characteristics of this universe that strongly suggest intelligent design. One of the possible explanations is there really is an intelligent creator behind it. But there could be other alternatives. I don’t believe scientists will ever be able to design a test that will conclusively settle the question one way or the other.
Sure they can. It’s just a matter of showing (by hook or crook) that the measured grid of data is its own first cause, and by corollary is its own sustaining force, and Voila!, See!, notions of an intelligent designer are just wishful superstition and nothing more.
i love it. yes, i think velma does say “jinkies” — boy, that memory was catalogued and buried and deep!
do you ever use Shaggy’s “ZYKES”?
my daughter invented her own expletives when she was 4:
(both meaning darn, or something much stronger)
This reminds me of a conversation (in jest) with my brother-in-law about 40 years ago, concerning which new Bible to purchase, and the differences between a hardcover and a soft and bendy leather cover, and the size of the print. My BIL said, in favor of the hardcover, “Oh, I don’t wanna read it, I just wanna THUMP it!” We had a good laugh.
Some folks always throw King David into these kinds of conversations, as in “Well, yeah, he was a horndog and committed adultery and murder but God still used him.”
Can we extrapolate God’s use of David in spite of his, um, questionable choices, to other people and situations?
Beyond the “God can use anybody” broad generalization, I don’t know. Is there an application of John 21:20-23, in which Peter asked, “What about him?” and Jesus replied, “What’s it to you?” Can we extrapolate that response to the David (or Ravi) situation? David repented; did Ravi?
Discuss among yourselves. I have errands to run. 🙂
“What saddens me is the fact that many of the pew-sitters seem to have no desire to discover the truth about Zacharias.”
Oh, but he was such a good teacher!! So was Hybels, Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, etc. So followers turn a deaf ear to concerns about their idols … until the potato gets too hot to handle.
I hate it when folks drag out David and his sins as some sort of justification for the misbehaving of their idols. For Pete’s sake, David was in the military not the ministry!!
Nothing surprises me anymore about PP. Big-whig Southern Baptists promoted him for years, surely knowing about his dark side. Lord, being buds with Pressler during the Conservative Resurgence should have raised enough red flags up to call him to account! Too big to fail always ends up failing.
We may be going off-road from the post but as long we can indulge in a little back and forth – I agree with what you say. I wasn’t there. A resurrection may have occurred and a donkey may have spoken in the vernacular. It comes down to probabilities and since these events are not happening now, I would say that there is a likelihood they didn’t then either or maybe not as written.
My point was that there many of the religious groups that hold guys like Zacharias to such lofty heights get their news from a mostly single source. Beyond going to church, their friends are all Christian (the right kind of course), their kids go to Christian school (the right kind of course), they only read Christian books (the right kind of course) and watch Christian films (the right kind of course).
Anyone who calls himself “the friendly banjo atheist” is unlikely to make any impact to their worldview.
Now regarding a created universe….why does he/she/it have to “christian”. Maybe it’s a consortium of Hindu gods….just sayin’
It’s all about faith.
Lol. Can’t say I’ve used shaggy’s zykes. But my son has always been fond of sharks. So I used to go “oh,shark!” a lot. It was easier to say than “octopus”.
I always take the story of David to be a lesson that we should not take our blessings to mean that we are above anyone else. The story of David is remarkable because of it’s lack of any supernatural interference. All of David’s choices (and consequences) were his own. Even and anointed can turn bad – no one is immune to falling into temptation. I do not believe the point was God is ok with it. Like so many other things in the bible, it’s a lesson with a point, not a how-to manual.
I agree, the ‘David’ stuff really gets old, I mean, how many ways and in how many keys can you (generic you) play the same old song?
It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a preacher to keep his pants on. Just because David didn’t …
I still catch myself using Scooby’s “Ruh-Roh” occasionally……….
Ha ha! I love it
They have to be critiqued in themselves but not against “solus” the usual fundagelical pabulum.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
This is a strange situation because apologetics were never, ever, intended for outsiders, until certain elements deluded themselves recently.
RZ disgraced them with his flimsy views, as did countless colleagues of his in the genre.
Another word for the genre has often been “teaching”.
Maybe it was “zoiks!” (“Zoyks!”?) I have another catalogued and buried memory of a speech bubble on the show. I’ve gotta find out for sure…
Yes, octopus has too many syllables. Doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily.
If one is going to bring up King David, one should also consider the case of the Levitical priests of Ezekiel 44 who led Israel astray: “ But because they [the priests] served them [the people] in the presence of their idols and made the people of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord. They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.”
Seems like they use just parts of the David story, the parts that fit their sexual and building agenda, and not the part about David not getting to build. They don’t include the deep grief that David got to, that wouldn’t fit with their building timeline. Do they grieve deeply for the fallout of their behaviors?
Beyond sickening. Red flags arose for me when one of the massage therapist witnesses in Steve’s video said that both men and women gave massages, but Ravi preferred the women. Suggesting that there were sexual encounters with the men as well? Such hypocrisy. We drove with our kids 6 hours to Atlanta to attend First Baptist Atlanta with Charles Stanley, and another church at a later service to hear Ravi preach. Both men were someone we looked up to. But the difference between the two was astounding. Between services Charles Stanley stood greeting a long line of people. Each one got his full attention. When the line was about halfway gone, he started stepping to meet each person. It was very annoying to stand there waiting so long to talk with him, but wonderful when he was so interested in us and who we were. Contrast that with Ravi. After the service we wanted to speak with him. But some very important man whisked him away. Down long hallways in this enormous church and into a lower level our little family of 4 followed them, hoping to get a chance to speak with Ravi. There was no way he could not hear us as we were deliberately making a lot of noise. But he callously ignored us. Could not devote 2 minutes to greet us and find out who we were. We felt like less than trash. It really affected me, but I chalked it up to us not being “somebody”. Jeepers.
Your experiences underscore a common theme outlined here at TWW and other abuse/Gatekeeper blogs: celebrity Preachers and the fascination of evangelicals with Hype/personality/worship experiences, etc….. Americana Christianity.
I live in a city with a BIG TIME college football team. Many in the this City in the Autumn ( but not this year!) refer to our Saturday afternoon “worship service”… To many Americans want their church to be entertainment, just like their football team…
Such a far cry from the reformation concept of the “priesthood of the believer”.
I think the same word is being used in different ways. 1 Peter 3:15 uses the Greek word apologian. In this context apologetics is as old as Christianity. But in recent decades it seems to have become a club and/or industry in some parts of Christianity. In this context I very much agree with you. This branch of apologetics might not be escaping the bubble into the real world. But it does not mean there is no legitimate role for apologetics in the way Peter used the word. Peter’s use was very definitely focused on outsiders.
This is very true. At the same time, all classes and groups of humanity fall for groupthink. Even fact checkers.
This latest blog post from Tim Challies gives an excellent example, as much for what he does not say as for what he does:
He rightly points out historical problems with the particular issue he addressed. And correctly observes the problem with confirmation bias: “It shows the reality of confirmation bias, that we are all prone to see and understand things as we wish them to be instead of as they really are.”
But he fails to address the same problem within his own tribe. For example he has remained silent on the Ravi Zacharias debacle. He remained a supporter if CJ Mahaney. Etc. I cannot respect such one-sided treatment.
This dialogue got me thinking about the appropriate role of apologetics. I’m thinking it should be used in the context of fact checking. A person should be equipped to accept or reject Christianity based on what is most likely to be true rather than on caricatures. Zacharias badly undermined apologetics by his lack of credibility – he helped turn Christianity into a caricature.
If there is a creator, the fact there is a creator does not force it to be Christian. We can examine creation and compare it with the various religions to see which best captures observations. The Christian version compares very favorably if one does not into a young earth model. But this is not proof of Christianity. No religion (including atheism) can conclusively prove their view is the right one.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Interesting reference to Tim Challies’ piece. And ai agree with your analysis…
In fact it is the opposite.
“Apologist, any of the Christian writers, primarily in the 2nd century, who attempted to provide a defense of Christianity and criticisms of Greco-Roman culture. Many of their writings were addressed to Roman emperors, and it is probable that the writings were actually sent to government secretaries who were empowered to accept or reject them. Under these circumstances, some of the apologies assumed the form of briefs written to defend Christians against the accusations current in the 2nd century, especially the charges that their religion was novel or godless or that they engaged in immoral cultic practices.
The Greek Apologists include Quadratus, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Apollinaris (bishop of Hierapolis), Melito, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria. Latin Apologists in the 2nd century included Marcus Minucius Felix and Tertullian.”
(Definition from Encyclopedia Britannica)
Didn’t you hear the story about Zacharias when he was younger? He was in the special forces, and in one secret mission, he volunteered to go into a mano-a-mano fight-to-the-death combat with an enemy opponent 3 feet taller than him, when everybody else was scared to death. Armed only with a couple of pebbles, he threw one at his opponent and it hit him right between his eyes and killed him. His team then routed the enemies and the mission was a great success.
Hey. My /snark at the end didn’t show.
“Nothing is more basic and determinative in shaping our thought than is our conception of God. The thought that does not begin with God and move towards him is essentially godless and therefore ungodly.
It might seem that the doctrine of creation is only remotely or, at least, secondarily involved in our conception of God. It is true that God is self-existent and self-sufficient. He is not dependent upon creation, and the act of creation did not change his being and internal necessary relations. Creation did not add anything to his eternal and inherent perfections. It might therefore be plausibly argued that our conception of God is not determined by that which God has created, and that our conception of God is independent of the view of creation we entertain. Let us not prejudice our view of God, it might be said, by introducing concepts of creation, since creation is wholly extraneous to the being, perfections and internal relations of the eternally blessed, self-subsistent and self-sufficient Godhead.
The fallacy of this line of argument is that we are speaking now of OUR conception of God. We are not self-existent and self-sufficient beings, existing in abstraction from creation, and viewing God in his eternal being and independence by some kind of duper-intuition and perception. We are dependent beings, and it is only by creation in the context of creation that we think and entertain a conception of God. When WE think, and particularly when we think of God, we think as beings conditioned by creation. In other words, when WE think of God we cannot think of God aright without thinking of our relation to him.”
(The Significance of the Doctrine of Creation, Collected Writings of John Murray, Volume 1, The Claims of Truth, Banner of Truth, 1976)
I thought of this while reading the comments from Jack and Ken F.
(capitalisation = italics).
If the average American churchgoer weren’t so spiritually immature, prayerless, and dependent on others to interpret Scripture for them, folks like Zacharias, Hybels, Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, Piper and a host of others like them would never be able to use and abuse God’s people. Jesus warned this would happen.
What I find remarkable about New-Calvinists is how easy it is to find very recent bad examples like this. They daily prove the truth of Prov 10:19. Not that any of us are immune, but they take it to such a high level.
Ken F (aka Tweed),
Atheism isn’t a religion even under the broadest definition of religion since at a minimum a given religion is more than just one concept. Atheism can be an aspect of a religion or life stance just as monotheism can be (or a religion or life stance might be neutral, Unitarian Universalists can be atheistic, monotheistic, or polytheistic). People who are atheistic can differ on just about everything else.
It depends on how one defines “religion.” Here is one definition: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” It appears to me that atheism requires just as much ardor and faith as any other religion. But even if atheism is not a religion, it still requires faith since there is no way to conclusively prove that it is true. So the question is what explains reality better, theism or atheism? People obviously disagree – often strongly.
When I read your earlier comment, I thought you had unintentionally omitted the word “super”, rather than accidentally mis-typing a single letter.
What I mis-read was “some kind of super-duper-intuition and perception”.
Your accidental typo combined with my mis-reading brought a smile to my face. 🙂
Max…..good call. People in the pew LET these guys get away with it and do not hold them accountable. Why? Celebrity pastors? Fear of what will happen with exposire? Overall a lot of silly, weak sheep in the pews. Sad. Ripe for abuse and getting FLEECED of their cash!
Touch of charisma + gift of gab + bag of gimmicks = Celebrity Pastor
Not a spiritual bone in their bodies, but their followers never know it.
Nor do their followers care.
“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority; and My people love to have it so. Yet what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:31)
Ken F (aka Tweed),
You can’t be a Christian without belief in the resurrection of Jesus, you can’t be a Muslim without belief that allah is god & Muhammad is his prophet, you don’t have to follow Richard Dawkins (however much he wants you to) to be an atheist.
At the evangelical church I went to that was a common thought. The unchurched and non christians have a Jesus size hole in their heart, they just don’t know it yet. They just try to stuff it with all sorts of stuff but they are really seeking Jesus.
It doesn’t work that way and all the apologetics won’t change it.
Guys like zacharias do bang up business in the mega church but go out on the street. Most people (many of them christians of some stripe) have never even heard of them.
Heck most of my exposure to jerry Falwell back in eighties was through the bloom county comic strip.
I don’t understand what you are trying to communicate. I think all would agree that atheism predates Dawkins. It appears to me that atheists often believe that atheism is a lack of any kind of faith, like a blank default position. But I personally find that position untenable. It does in fact require positive belief (faith) in there not being a God. The only alternatives are theism or agnosticism. If you don’t think it requires faith to be an atheist, fine. I have no need or desire to make you believe otherwise. I am just confused for someone who believes in atheism to appear to say believing in atheism doesn’t require any kind belief.
It is strange when I was stupid and pathetic enough to be an evangelical it was made clear on steroids that pew sitters that are not branded, rich (which excuses everything or it should), Leadership that cant commit wrong unless they don’t make budget, even Jesus cant forgive that and wont. As for the saved, I am coming to the conclusion God wont save anyone, way to much trouble. Trust me it is and it is a constant theme in the apologet industry. From the cheap seats, its not good news it really is not.
Amen. Amen. And another resounding Amen from the mountain top!
You nailed it to the door on this one!
Well something odd happened. Everything below block quote is me, not ken f
Ahhh, but within SBC, the New Calvinists have diminished long-standing Baptist doctrines of “soul competency” and “priesthood of ‘the’ believer.” Al Mohler brilliantly crafted revisions to the Baptist Faith & Message in 2000 to strip these beliefs from Southern Baptist life.
“Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, each man in his secret room? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us'” (Ezekiel 8)
He sees you, pastor. Payday someday.
Definitions make a big difference. I now see why were not connecting. I was using the word in the sense of acting on what a person believes is true. In this sense, when we get in the car to go somewhere we act on faith that the car is reasonably safe, the other drivers are reasonably alert, and that the place we intend to visit actually exists. We cannot know with certainty that we will get there, but it is reasonable to believe that we will. All of us have extremely limited first hand knowledge with almost no ability to do independent fact checking that does not rely on information from something outside of us. We all rely on the contribution of others for the vast majority of the decisions we make. We do this by belief/faith since there is no way to personally fact check every detail involved in every decision.
I once heard faith defined as choosing to believe something that one knows is not true. Religious faith is often viewed this way. But the Bible never tells us to do this. It tells us to test and verify. Because we can never know anything with absolute certainty, we will have to trust that what we believe to be true is actually true, but the Bible tells us to do this based on evidence and not fabricated courage.
There is also the difference between what I believe about a thing and what is actually true about that thing. If I jump onto a platform with the belief that it will hold me, what I believe about the platform is irrelevent – it will only hold me if it is solid. Likewise, I can choose not to jump on it out of a false belief that it is not solid. Both jumping or not jumping require an act of faith based on what I believe to be true.
I bet other Southern Baptists reading this blog (or ex-ones like myself) are wondering why SBC icon Johnny Hunt is seen in the video promoting RZ’s spa.
Industries such as what has been aptly called the Christian Industrial Complex here which are all about the selfish gain tend to share any level of truth as far as it doesn’t impinge on the selfish gain. How many cases have we’ve seen of extras placed on the gospel message, extras which conveniently redound to personal and institutional enrichment “or else” and to control and enforcement of behavior with financial consequences “or else” — all complete with prooftexts underscoring them?
Grievous wolves and hirelings seeking selfish gain have been enemies from within decried from long ago. It’s telling with all of the seminaries and book studies that are part of modern Christianity that warnings against such things too often seem nowhere near the proper level of emphasis.
The Christian Industrial Complex = “hucksters making a trade of peddling God’s Word, shortchanging and adulterating the divine message” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Looked at the title of this post and it struck me:
“Working the kinks out” or “indulging his Kinks”?
Echoing the treatment of the two archetypes of Antichrist: The Fanatic Persecutor and The Slick Deceiver (which work very well as a two-Beast tag team). In modern Christianity you hear only about The Fanatic Persecutor, never The Slick Deceiver. Hits too close to home?
“Working out his Kinks (nudge nudge wink wink)” alongside Ravi?
“One Hand Washes the Other”?
Leaving only the Priestcraft of the Heresy of Clericalism.
With Mohler claiming the Papacy like an Iron Throne made of cardboard, claiming Infallibility Ex Cathedra more than any Pope ever claimed.
He’s a CELEBRITY(TM).
(Even if he does have a more solid base for it than most CELEBRITIES(TM).)
Or perhaps it means to strengthen the kinks, like going to a gym to work out.
“Kinks”, in this case, is obviously the root word for “kinky”
Shaggy said Zoinks!, not Zykes!