Ravi Zacharias Was Not Some Average Sinner in the Church. He Was a Predator With a Profound Psychiatric Problem

NGC 2775 is classified as a fluffy looking spiral galaxy-NASA

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” ― Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata


Please join me in praying for TWW friends: Amy Smith, Anna Keith, Shawnie Beth, Amy Moore, Rachel Green Miller, and Mitch Little. They are in Texas and are enduring the startlingly massive ice and snow storm accompanies by incredibly low temperatures.  Their power grid has been taxed and many have been without electricity and heat. Amy Smith’s area has been told to boil their water as the water delivery system has been failing as well. Love you guys!


There is a term that is being used on social media that is quite helpful. *Sin-leveling.* This is something that is often seen in Calvinista circles. Basically, it means that all sin is equal in God’s eyes. Except, even a cursory reading of the Old Testament, will inform the curious that there are different punishments for different violations of the law. Even our judicial system has various punishments for various crimes.

Joe Carter posted Report: Ravi Zacharias Engaged in Sexual Abuse on The Gospel Coalition’s website.

Carter does a good job outlining the findings of the law firm that investigated RZIM. Here are a couple of statements from the post that I want to focus on. The bold highlights were put there by me for emphasis.

  • How could a man who was so beloved and respected commit such acts against these women and against a holy God? I believe it was because of a dangerous mix of inflated entitlement, unwarranted secrecy, and cheap grace.
  • What renown can do, however, is inflame a person’s sense of entitlement.
  • The deference and respect that come with the position can lead some to think they deserve such deference because of who they are, and not because of the role they serve.
  • They begin to think the sacrifices they make for the job should be offset by making allowances for their behavior—including sinful behavior—because they are “Great Men.

Carter then makes the argument that this is all about *cheap grace.* He quotes Bonhoeffer of whom I am a fan.

  • Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Here is where he makes his biggest mistake.

  • Like other disgraced leaders, Zacharias knew, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good”
  • The lesson is that if we want to become Great Men who do great and mighty works for the kingdom, we are just as vulnerable to such sin as any celebrity.

What is his mistake?

Carter puts the incredible and extensive depravity of RZ’s actions into a category of “we are just as vulnerable to such sin as any celebrity.*  Really? Are RZ’s actions indicative of garden variety, besetting sins of average Christians? Let’s look at these normal sins…

  • 200+ pictures of women on his phone
  • Continued contact with women up until a few months before his death
  • Massage therapists traveling with him
  • Sexual abuse of the massage therapists
  • Importation of women from several countries to *work with him.*
  • Two apartments in Bangcock, Thailand which is known for its sex industry which involves human trafficking.

The savvy readers of TWW are already predicting what I am about to say. However, just so you don’t think these thoughts are limited to Joe Carter, here are more examples. Call me naive but I don’t think many of us are involved in such prolific, depraved activities.

Collin Hansen wrote, for The Gospel Coalition website, Ravi Zacharias and the Judgment of God

Let me remind you, Carter and Hansen are not some pastors they found to write a post about RZ. Hansen is the editor-in-chief for TGC and Carter is an editor for TGC. It is my opinion that they represent the shared viewpoint of many leaders who run in these circles. We need to pay attention to what these two say since it will help us to understand the view of their associates on the issues surrounding RZ’s incredible depravity. Is it just a simple sin issue as they seem to indicate?

  • Many people who worked for Zacharias will suffer because they trusted him, even when allegations began to surface.
  • I don’t see a lot of surprise, because his abuse looks like the pattern of sexual exploitation we’ve come to understand from men who betray trust.

One thing that I don’t understand is the surprise that is being expressed by these men, their friends, and those who worked for RZIM. Do they read their Bibles? Aren’t the Scriptures replete with examples of men who did really bad things? Frankly, I was not surprised in the least. In 2015, a cursory look at RZ’s biography made me realize that he was a serial liar and that there would be other stories to come. Yet those who surrounded RZ and those who asked him to speak, etc. didn’t do what I had done which was to look up to his biography and see if it was true. The information was readily available. We are left with a question. Why didn’t they do the same? Or, even more concerning, did they know and cover it up?

  • No one can know what transpired between Zacharias and God at his judgment, whether he understood what he’d done and repented of his sins and pleaded on the blood of Christ for forgiveness.
  • But we do know God’s justice is being done, one way or another. And the sexually immoral, apart from the righteousness of Christ, do not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10).

RZIM and BFFs knew that he lied about his bio. Yet, they never seemed to ask any more questions. They never asked why a guy needs 24/7 access to massage therapists. They ignored what was readily available. Were they just too lazy to check it out for themselves? Or did they already suspect and didn’t want to rock the boat? There is no excuse, no matter the answer.

  • The world loves its heroes, but it’s also learning to believe victims, now that we’ve heard from more and more of them. Abusers may be able to switch towns, change churches, and start new ministries, but the internet will not allow them to evade scrutiny.
  • Sex is increasingly disembodied with the ubiquity of porn. Abuse follows the same pattern. Ministry policies for prevention and protection must fully account for this shift.

And he had to get the old *submit and obey* in there. The TGC crowd expects it.

  • Human accountability is good. But it can’t match accountability from God, who alone knows and sees all. That’s why we can obey our leaders and submit to them. They will give an account, as Zacharias must now (Heb. 13:17).

In the meantime, even he had to admit that Zacharias probably had help in keeping things on the down-low.

  • Zacharias went to extraordinary lengths to cover for his abuse. And he seemed to have help.

Hansen makes a good point here even though he, as well as Carter, missed the even bigger problem.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ministry in which tens of millions of dollars in revenue and multiple family members in leadership positions has ended well.

He sums it up and almost gets there but he whiffed it.

  • He broke our trust by first and foremost violating the trust of vulnerable, exposed women. We agonize on their behalf and beg God that no one else would suffer as they did. We lament this grievous evil.
  • Leaders, because Jesus took the form of a servant for us, we can serve others. We must not exploit them for our sexual or financial gain.

(200+women?! Seriously?)

Micheal Brown, writing for the Christian Post penned How should we respond to the Ravi Zacharias scandal?

Here are some of his thoughts. He doesn’t quite get there either.

  • It’s the same with entertaining secret sin in our lives. It may take years, even decades, before that sin catches up to us in a public, outward way. But all the while it is destroying us on the inside. All the while, we are becoming performers, having compartmentalized our lives.

He’s close to the answer at the beginning of the next statement but veered away.

  • The problem is that, for a Christian leader in particular, it is very hard to come clean and ask for help. Even if you are a loving husband who is a blue-collar worker and not a pastor or preacher, would you find it easy to tell your wife you were struggling with porn? Or you were getting pulled into an emotional relationship with a female co-worker?

He is getting there with the *get help* admonition but I bet he would disagree with me on my conclusion.

  • The tragedy is that, if we do not stop and get help, we can lead two very distinct lives, to the point of completely deceiving ourselves.
  • (re: Samson) Can you imagine that? He just had sex with a Philistine prostitute. He is guilty and he is unclean. Yet he still has his supernatural strength.

I agree with what he says here.

  • To say it again: Do not be enamored by someone’s gift.
  • In charismatic circles, it can be gifts of power that enamor us. In Reformed and non-charismatic circles, it can be gifts of eloquence or learning that enamor us. Instead, let us be careful never to exalt a person because of their gifting, which comes from God. Let us, instead, look at the quality of their life – their character, their interpersonal relationships, their integrity.
  • That’s why Jude wrote, “For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4).

He does a great job in decrying the lack of accountability in ministries and almost gets there but…

  • What about you? Are you sure you want to pick up a stone?Maybe we never did what Ravi did, but have we fallen short in other ways? Have we violated God’s purity? Have we given place to unholy thoughts? Have we ever crossed dangerous lines, even a little? Have you? Have I?I suggest you put your stones down and, instead, ask some serious questions. Is there hypocrisy in your own life? Do you have secret, besetting sins? Are you leading a double life yourself? These are the questions I ask myself as well.

What did they miss? Ravi Zacharias had a profound psychiatric problem that affected him for most, if not all,  of his life.

Folks, sexual abuse is a sin, of course. But RZ’s issue went far deeper and I am having trouble finding anyone who recognizes what is going on here. ACBC (aka biblical counseling) loves to put everything under the category of simple sin. Then the solution is simple. *Just stop it.* However, intelligent people who have worked with those of have serious mental illness understand that *stopping it* is not as simple as it sounds. For some, it proves impossible, even with tremendous help and support.

RZ appears to have had some form of paraphilia. I keep referring to this paper posted on the National Institutes of Health website: Paraphilias: definition, diagnosis, and treatment, RZ’s acts were quite possibly criminal if he was involved in molesting massage therapists. Also, how sure is RZIM that all pictures of females were of females of consenting age? This behavior went on for years and involved an untold number of women.  RZ knew he was doing wrong if he truly believed in the Bible. He likely didn’t want to stop the behavior and probably could not stop it without serious intervention. He knew all sorts of people and could have received the medical and psychiatric intervention he needed. However, his behavior was so ingrained that it is quite possible that he could have had difficulty controlling his behavior, even with expert professional help.

Does anyone actually believe that the *weekend warrior* poorly trained *biblical counselors* are equipped to intervene in such an intense psychiatric problem as RZ?

Owen Strachan and friends appear to believe that, at any moment, we could all become serial molesters, and therein lies the problem.

My friend, Christine Pack nailed it on Twitter. Owen Strachan, another one of the TGC/CBMW brigade, said something silly, and Pack called him on it.

Owen Strachan and The Gospel Coalition do not appear to understand the difference between simple sin and sin compounded by complex psychiatric illness. There is no question in my mind that RZ was a deeply sick man. It should be obvious to everyone else as well.

  • Some in this group of Callvnists reject the possibility of serious mental illness that can contribute to sex abuse.
  • Some of them, like Owen Strachan, appear to believe that, at any moment, each one of us could become serial predators.
  • I know I will never become a serial molester.
  • If Owen Strachan believes he could become a molester, he needs to get help, immediately.
  • Some sins are much worse than others. A child molester causes far more damage than a guy who cusses at a driver who cut him off.
  • Many leaders have rejected the possibility that RZ used the worldwide church to procure money, fame, and victims. I think he did.
  • I’m not sure RZ ever really believed the Christian faith. I think he saw it as a means to the end.
  • Many of RZ’s followers believed that he was a brilliant apologist. I never thought that he was. I have a great idea for a doctoral thesis. Read all of RZ’s books and lectures and find the lies and red flags.
  • He who lies in his biography is probably lying elsewhere. Anyone who lies in the biography should be forced to step down, immediately.
  • Any person who doesn’t have an earned doctorate should not be called *Doctor.* even if someone thinks they are a really good pastor.

I think we have to deal with the fact that there are probably a fair number of molesters who are involved in Christian ministry. We all have a responsibility to make sure that leaders are who they say they are. And the next time some pastor claims he needs a full-time masseuse, dump him quickly.


Comments

Ravi Zacharias Was Not Some Average Sinner in the Church. He Was a Predator With a Profound Psychiatric Problem — 170 Comments

  1. “The world loves its heroes, but it’s also learning to believe victims, now that we’ve heard from more and more of them.”

    How many heard because they confronted the perpetrator themselves and they then swiftly and clearly repented? How many heard because those in authority who were supposed to be a check on the person themselves didn’t treat it like a crony situation but did what was required?

    How many heard from more and more of them because failing all of that, the information was brought forth outside of the constraints of the system that failed other victims for so long? And how many heard because people stood up against apparent flails that one might surmise to be in tune with keeping the institutional power in hand? Reminder:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/04/25/tww-responds-to-joe-carter-editor-for-the-gospel-coalition-who-called-us-a-hateful-lying-blog/

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  2. “Human accountability is good. But it can’t match accountability from God, who alone knows and sees all. That’s why we can obey our leaders and submit to them. They will give an account, as Zacharias must now (Heb. 13:17).“

    That’s his takeaway, to point to an affirmation to obey and submit to the Zachariases of the world, rather to bake grievous wolves into the equation and prioritize accountability, transparency and oversight that’s horizontal and down-up? Oh well, ho-hum, people have given consistently for kingdom purposes but may well have financed one guy’s illicit activities, but the takeaway is to keep obeying and submitting rather than exposing the deeds of darkness and acting accordingly?

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  3. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ministry in which tens of millions of dollars in revenue and multiple family members in leadership positions has ended well.“

    Here’s an org that apparently spends a lot of time and focus encouraging, promoting, and partnering with churches and parachurch movements certain ideas such as restrictive church membership “covenants“, discipline of the “sheep“, giving to “the local church”, and so forth.

    This guy in this position cannot recall EVER seen a ministry as described above ending well. Yet, where are the countless articles, books, studies, seminars, et . about the perils of multiple family members and other conflicted interests in leadership positions and on payrolls? Where are the countless warnings against what mega-assets might mean to the integrity of a ministry? Where is the focus on what a leadership board has to do to exercise sufficient oversight, especially when things overlap and to civil and criminal arenas?

    Instead, there’s evidently more of the “obey and submit“ plug and play offered up. What is worse than not saying anything at all is to consistently cast responses as reasoned, “biblical“ approaches to such matters and yet offer little that looks like true accountability and transparency as a nonnegotiable, essential element to ministry. There’s this latest massive prairie fire going on for the world to see, and some choose to offer nuance and / or more whip cracking on the sheep rather than dare to suggest that authoritarian constructs so often rubber-stamped have systemic problems at their core just like man does.

    Even while much is said about the reality that man can fall etc., the Christian Industrial Complex still consistently refuse to sufficiently highlight the logical extension to a group of men in authority who can fall and cause considerable damage. And orgs like this appear to consistently fall short on proper emphasis of that and the need for rigorous safeguards, especially compared to what they prescribe for the winsomely-sheared sheep. (This is especially the case if people will choose pronounce after misdeeds come to light that the person was not really one of “us“, especially given the levels to which some of these people would have demanded unchecked obedience and submission etc. to such “leaders“ beforehand.)

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  4. I read yesterday that RZ’s publishers and Kooring books were withdrawing his books from sale. Let’s hope so!

    So why are RZ books still listed on Koorong’s website? It should be a simple matter of culling those listings. And I wonder why Kooring are still selling Iain D. Campbell’s works as well?

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  5. “What about you? Are you sure you want to pick up a stone? Maybe we never did what Ravi did, but have we fallen short in other ways? Have we violated God’s purity? Have we given place to unholy thoughts? Have we ever crossed dangerous lines, even a little? Have you? Have I? I suggest you put your stones down and, instead, ask some serious questions.

    Can those questions involve fraud and fraudulent spending of assets that were earmarked for purposes other than their ultimate use? Can those questions involve the unnamed board, the timeline of his / their legal actions against people, what came to light, when it came to light, and how the use of assets corresponds with all of that?

    Is that the same as just picking up a big old stone like a Pharisee and lettin’ fly? Or is it part of the accountability, transparency, and oversight that should’ve been going on before but needs to go on now, because there was a lot of money and a lot of people involved? These are also people who might do things like this again or allow such things under the cover of unnamed boards, crony deals, international agreements and relationships, and so forth.

    It seems completely unacceptable to build up strawmen and cast people asking questions like the above as just a bunch of Pharisees looking to one-up themselves (with the use of “we” seemingly a consistent element in such efforts and deflections). This situation is tremendously bad, and it does not appear limited to one person. Spinning this into Bible 101 deflections about God being the one who judges seems ridiculously out of place as the focus.

    How many of these groups in the CIC overlap with Maheny, Hybels, Ortberg, Patterson, Pressler (that certainly died down, didn’t it), MacArthur, MacDonald, Cedarville / White, Liberty / Falwell, Driscoll / Chandler / Acts 29, and now RZIM? And how many times just in the last few years has it been completely not about a bunch of Pharisees trying to throw stones but about prairie fires that could’ve gotten checked at any point along the way but had enough defective authority structures in place (often rife with cronyism) and misplaced priorities to the point where the final implosion is often a predictable pattern?

    How many times are we going to get the ‘we’re all fallen’-type spins rather than reality checks that grievous wolves and hirelings must be accounted for and dealt with accordingly, regardless of their capacity to be forgiven by God? Of course, that calls for hard work rather than shoulder-shrugging while one’s individual storehouse continues to produce. Plus, some don’t want the sheep to scatter by contemplating such notions. As prairie fires continue to damage to images, one might expect the CIC to focus on distracting the sheep from such things.

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  6. I have a question about sin leveling. There seem to be a lot of theologically insightful people on this site. I also was raised with ‘for God all sins are the same’. It never sat right with me, even so I repeated the mantra, because I had no tools at the time to figure out WHY it didn’t sit right with me. I never understood it to cover up bad sins though. I haven’t heard many people minimizing abuse under that label. It’s more that it freaked me out that with lying, or simply harbouring murderous thoughts, even if I didn’t carry them out, I was as bad as somebody who committed adultery or really killed somebody.

    Of all the people in the world, a firmly convinced Calvinist man (from Neo Calvinist background, not to be confused with the New Calvinists like Piper and Grudem) told me that NOT all sins are the same for God. That was an eye opener to me. So especially with regard to other people’s sins I do see a differnce between a one time misstep at the one hand and sinful patterns and behaviours (without repentence)at the other hand.

    What I struggle with is this. How do I then evaluate my own sin? Because sin leveling can also easily work in the other direction I think. Because if not all sins are the same, and they aren’t, then I can tell myself when I think bad thoughts: well at least I am not killing anyone. Then I would minimize the smaller sins because of the bigger ones someone else commits.

    So for now, I have come to the following approach to keep myself from sin leveling in the other direction. Other people’s sins aren’t all the same, in magnitude, scope and consequences. Some things are definitely much worse than othersBut when it comes to my own sins, I regard them all equally bad, whether it is only sin in my head or something that harmed someone else. So even if I don’t think I will ever become a serial molester, this whole mess has made me very introspective about my own boundaries and accountability. And I think that is a right and healthy response. Because even if we’re not going to leave a trail of abuse behind, we’re still sinners that can fall for temptations of any kind. Recognising that and seeing the need for the grace of God and for boundaries and accountability, is not sin leveling.

    But my approach to my own sin might not be the right way either. Anyone any thoughts?

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  7. I wonder if the TGC guys have rationalized systematic abuse and long-term patterns of sin as normal, because that is normal to them. Maybe their whole theological construct is based around the fact that most of the people in their group are frankly awful people? And because they are supposed to be the leaders, then surely the rest of the world has to be worse! We’re supposed to submit to their authority, so we can’t be better people than them.

    I think the theology of utter depravity isn’t very well supported by Scripture. It takes a few verses to an extreme perspective, when they don’t have to be read that way. But even their view of God is of one who enjoys punishing humans. I’ve known New Calvinists who talk about how much they relish the thought of them being “saved” and the rest of humanity going to hell. What kind of people create a god like that?

    And let’s be honest–do they really think of themselves as evil and depraved? They don’t. I’ve known lots of New Calvinists. They think everybody else is evil and depraved, but they don’t think that about themselves, to the point of pretending like all these pastors in their ranks haven’t done terrible things. Driscoll? Doesn’t exist anymore. Macdonald? Who’s that? They don’t even uphold their own theology on that issue, so I don’t think they really believe it. It’s merely a way to exclude those who refuse their high-and-mighty “authority”.

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  8. JDV: Spinning this into Bible 101 deflections about God being the one who judges seems ridiculously out of place as the focus.

    While Jesus said to refrain from throwing stones, the NT advises/requires building a wall: 1 Cor 5. Which is also found in the OT: Nehemiah. Social separation. Churches should never allow a predator, his org, his books, etc. in their doors.

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  9. I have read here and other places opinions about RV. I agree with Dee that he may have had a serious mental problem. But for all who approach his actions as sin and say “there but for the grace of God go I,” I see something missing from their comments, about RV and themselves. Where does the act of confession and repentance enter the picture. No one just wakes up one day as a serial predator, molester, abuser (Unless perhaps there is a mental illness). There is a path that takes us to wherever we go in life. Too often forgiveness and salvation is taken as a once and for all confession of Jesus as savior, then we are good to go. But Jesus says that anyone who would come after him must deny themselves, daily, pick up their cross and follow him. Denying oneself daily must include daily confession and repentance that turns us away from ourselves and back to Jesus. I speak from personal experience that when I step away from the daily discipline of confession and repentance I can find myself in some dark places. So I see two paths to RV’s destiny untreated mental illness or a life lacking confession and repentance that took him, and his many victims, to terrible, dark places. My prayers are for healing and restoration for RV’s victims. For his enablers and defenders, then and now, I pray for a time of soul searching confession and life changing repentance. I pray that for myself as well.

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  10. ishy: I wonder if the TGC guys have rationalized systematic abuse and long-term patterns of sin as normal, because that is normal to them. Maybe their whole theological construct is based around the fact that most of the people in their group are frankly awful people? And because they are supposed to be the leaders, then surely the rest of the world has to be worse! We’re supposed to submit to their authority, so we can’t be better people than them.

    I think the theology of utter depravity isn’t very well supported by Scripture.

    They’ve created a depraved system. Out this? Expect to be bullied.

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  11. Dee hits on a very important concept that the sin leveling crowd ignores… in fact it is a HUGE pink elephant in the room…. namely, the Bible does not treat all sin equally here on earth..

    In fact, the OT, in general, speaks very little about the “after-life”, and the principles are primarily focused on the here and now… One could write a PhD, or in fact many Ph.D’s could, on different aspects of the “proportionality” of the consequences of the actions in the commands of G$d in the OT, as well just the plain old, practical, consequences of actions…. I am always amazed by the clowns that bring up King David….. they just prove they do not read their Bible, or worse, they manipulate the Bible for their own purpose….. How can any one say the consequences of King David’s behavior is “ not that bad”?? Both personally, and corporately?

    The NT demonstrates immediate, earthly consequences, think Ananias and Sophira, (sp?), for lying about not giving ALL the money raised to the church…. being struck dead is pretty severe.. there are many other examples of proportional consequences in the NT.. and, practical consequences are NOT the same as being “saved”or “ not saved”. These are fundamentally different aspects. another warping of basic Christian theology…

    In fact those of us that have a Ph.D, and supervise, and award higher education degrees would argue lying about a PhD is grand theft…. 4 plus years of a persons life is allot of $$$…. But even worse, claiming to be a Professor at Oxford is not just x number of years, a true Professorship at Oxford is REALLY hard to get…. ( it took me 9 years After being hired as a faculty member) basically impossible for someone like RZ… in fact, I would argue that RZ going around claiming to be a Oxford Professor is REALLY bad… at is well documented that he did this… allot, many years ago….

    Unfortunately, to many Evangelicals/ fundamentalist, higher ed degree, and “Professorship” are not really respected… they represent “secular humanist, worldly knowledge” pursuits… so, someone like RZ, claiming he was a “Oxford Professor” tickles the CIC people… hay, see, we can be “one of them to”!

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  12. My reflexive guess from all this, just an opinion of course, is not so much “paraphilia” as “sociopathy” — profound deficiencies in both conscience and compassion.

    Some sociopaths are very high functioning. Martha Stout’s “the Sociopath Next Door” asserts that about 4% of the population has this personality type, and that they are more prevalent in the upper reaches of powerful organizations of all kinds, educational, business, church, government, you name it.

    An interesting question for me is: is this a profound psychiatric disorder or a distressing but normal form of human mentality? In either case, we need to be more alert for the possibility that powerful people are like this. Perhaps some day it will be possible to diagnose and treat them from an early age. Until them, we must be alert for the possibility that people we admire from a distance are, in fact, evil and dangerous.

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  13. “The lesson is that if we want to become Great Men who do great and mighty works for the kingdom, we are just as vulnerable to such sin as any celebrity.” (Joe Carter)

    As I’ve noted before, New Calvinism borders on antinomianism. There are those in the movement who believe that Christians are released by “grace” from the obligation of observing the moral law. We have seen that time and again from leaders whose sin found them out: Hybels, Driscoll, MacDonald, Tullian, Zacharias, etc. etc. etc. These folks weren’t “vulnerable” to sin, they chose to sin.

    While much of the Book of Revelation is difficult to understand, it makes one thing very clear:

    “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged according to what they had done as written in the books; that is, everything done while on earth.” (Revelation 20:12)

    On Judgment Day, Christ will judge the secrets of all men according to the Gospel. The Bible never mentions “sin leveling” … but notes judgment “according to what they had done”, whether it be good or evil. Will the record condemn us or will we be acquitted by Christ? While on earth, did we make a covenant with death or truly find life in Christ? Have we lived our lives with cheap grace to justify sin or known true Grace which has turned us from sinful behavior? Makes no difference if we are great or small when the books are open.

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  14. Max: those in the movement who believe that Christians are released by “grace” from the obligation of observing the moral law. We have seen that time and again from leaders whose sin found them out: Hybels, Driscoll, MacDonald, Tullian, Zacharias, etc. etc. etc. These folks weren’t “vulnerable” to sin, they chose to sin.

    “Great & mighty men” are “vulnerable” or willfully choosing power, $$$, vice as opportunists? The vulnerable were the women massage therapists across the globe who were financially needy & disenfranchised so therefore this “great & mighty” predator exploited them.

    Even the reference to being “great & mighty men” doing great things for God is off. Jesus repeatedly said whoever is “great” must humble themselves to be a servant, not an authoritarian bully extorting $$$ & vice (favors):

    Matthew 18, 20, & 23
    Luke 22

    Jeff Sharlet documents a “Christian” group that self-identifies as The Family. These men believe a Christian rightfully seeks social/political power & big $$$, quoting strongmen such as Mussolini, Hitler, & Stalin as role models. For real. See the Netflix doc & follow Sharlet on twitter. Sharlet says this “Christian” group believes humility & servanthood in following Jesus is wrong.

    Christians: follow the Jesus strongman who commands the masses, while flowing in $$$, or follow Jesus the resurrected servant & His disciples who never amassed $$$ & masses? Church remnant or church mega? The question. Ref: Hebrews 11.

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  15. ishy: I’ve known New Calvinists who talk about how much they relish the thought of them being “saved” and the rest of humanity going to hell. What kind of people create a god like that?

    Allow me to suggest that a possible answer to this is: “people who are profoundly deficient in compassion (so that the thought of others’ suffering does not distress them) and also in conscience (so that it doesn’t occur to them that there is nothing odd, unusual or wrong about not being distressed by the thought of others’ suffering).”

    IOW, sociopaths

    Not a cheery thought that these are the people leading the most vigorous elements of present-day evangelicalism.

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  16. “Ravi Zacharias Was Not Some Average Sinner in the Church”

    Sin-leveling? Nah. Here’s what Scripture really says about accountability for not doing what you knew was right as a Christian:

    “The servant who knew his master’s will, and yet did not act in accord with his will, will be beaten with many lashes of the whip, but the one who did not know it and did things worthy of a beating, will receive only a few lashes. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Luke 12)

    For all you Christian celebrities: You have been given much, much will be required … you have been entrusted with much, more will be asked of you on that day. Will you be condemned or acquitted? When the scales are put before you, will they tip toward faithfulness or selfishness?

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  17. Ava Aaronson: Even the reference to being “great & mighty men” doing great things for God is off. Jesus repeatedly said whoever is “great” must humble themselves to be a servant, not an authoritarian bully

    Therein lies the problem with New Calvinists like Mr. Carter … they don’t know what Jesus said because they largely steer clear of the Gospels, preferring to instead distort the epistles to make it fit their theology.

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  18. Jeffrey Chalmers: … those of us that have a Ph.D, and supervise, and award higher education degrees would argue lying about a PhD is grand theft … claiming to be a Professor at Oxford …

    Oh, come on man! But RZ was a great teacher, a fantastic preacher, an amazing apologist … so what if he lied here and there about his credentials?! If that’s the reasoning in the CIC, then any wannabe Christian celebrity has license to do the same … and probably are!

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  19. Max,

    True! For them Jesus is a useful tool for salvation not a gateway to the abundant life where humility, self-giving love and grace abound. When you strip Jesus from Paul you end up with a proud, arrogant man. That is the truth according to Paul himself. They like the Jesus-less Paul, he feeds their own lust for power and control, especially over women.

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  20. “Owen Strachan and The Gospel Coalition do not appear to understand the difference between simple sin and sin compounded by complex psychiatric illness.” (Dee)

    That’s what happens when you turn a religious movement over to youngsters still wet behind the ears. The spiritually immature and inexperienced don’t have much to offer the Body of Christ in truth and wisdom. The youth group is running New Calvinism! But, as Dr. Al says “Where else are they going to go?”

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  21. Max,

    These passages are what “scare me”…. being “in front” preacher like good old RZ definitely counts as knowing much, and much will be required..
    Much rather be the humble degenerate in the back, admitting my degeneracy…
    I guess the NeoCals don’t read that part of Gospels…

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  22. Dan: When you strip Jesus from Paul you end up with a proud, arrogant man. That is the truth according to Paul himself

    Exactly. I have counseled SBC-YRR church planters in my area who don’t talk much about Jesus; who camp out in the epistles of Paul, but seldom read the Gospel words in red. I tell them: if you read Paul first, you might miss Jesus … but if you read Jesus first, the writings of Paul come into perspective.

    New Calvinism greatly distorts the Gospel message. The average SBC-YRR church planter is “a proud, arrogant man.” Christlikeness is not the first word that pops to mind when describing them; arrogance is.

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  23. Jeffrey Chalmers: … being “in front” preacher like good old RZ definitely counts as knowing much, and much will be required..
    Much rather be the humble degenerate in the back, admitting my degeneracy…
    I guess the NeoCals don’t read that part of Gospels…

    That’s why they like sin leveling and cheap grace. It makes them feel better about themselves.

    The last shall be first and the first last.

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  24. Ava Aaronson: Even the reference to being “great & mighty men” doing great things for God is off.

    Every time I hear the phrase, I think of the 1960s Mungojerry song “Mighty Man” (B side of their “In The Summertime” 45 single):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLeCZ5ft7Ow

    SO appropriate for RaviZ (and all these other MenaGAWD):

    “Gonna git you in yo’ bed —
    Gonna Do It to you all night long
    Gonna do just what I said;
    I’m a Mighty Mighty Mighty Man —
    I’M A MIGHTY MIGHTY MAN!
    (flute solo riff)
    “I’m a Mighty Mighty Mighty Man —
    I’M A MIGHTY MIGHTY MAN!”

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  25. Jeffrey Chalmers: In fact those of us that have a Ph.D, and supervise, and award higher education degrees would argue lying about a PhD is grand theft…. 4 plus years of a persons life is allot of $$$…. But even worse, claiming to be a Professor at Oxford is not just x number of years, a true Professorship at Oxford is REALLY hard to get….

    But these are GAWD’s Speshul Pets —
    “IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT, FAKE IT!”

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  26. Cp: even if we’re not going to leave a trail of abuse behind, we’re still sinners that can fall for temptations of any kind.

    This idea trapped me for a long time. Then I started to realize that most people, Christian and otherwise, are pretty good. The majority do not rob, cheat, etc. They work hard and take care of their families, right?

    Most people are not on a knife’s edge between salvation and personal destruction. Prayer and worship do not save me from committing adultery; I’m just not interested in cheating on my beloved spouse.

    When we think that we have to worship and pray in a particular way, or disaster will result, we are not entirely free in Christ. We are bound by fear, and we also might imagine that our less Christian or non-Christian neighbors are terrible people who do terrible things.

    Prayer and worship do help me confront the hardships of mortal life—not just my own, but those of my neighbors who are hungry. (I could go on at length, but will stop here.)

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  27. Max,

    I find myself looking for specific commenters and their take on Carter’s verbal diarrhea. Many thanks to you, Max and many others for their contributions!

    The other 800 pound elephant in the room…particularly for the Calvinistas at TGC is according to their aberrant theology, RZ was “ordained by God” to pursue the evil and deception he spent his life cultivating. Since that is too much lunacy for them to attempt to explain, they push it off on the old, reliable, “not really a Christian” tripe. It’s as if God is giving them chance after chance to self correct and they refuse to submit to basic Christian doctrine. Man IS responsible and is called by God to be reconciled through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our behavior DOES matter, it is NOT determined by God. He has made us in His image. With real autonomy…not TOTAL autonomy. Acknowledging this is basic and essential and fully explains why the ABUSE chronicled here and elsewhere is so horrific and so grieves the heart of God.

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  28. As far as I know, this isn’t exactly kosher theology, but I know an evangelical universalist Christian who would say this:

    Jesus saves us all, yes. So RZ will be in heaven. HOWEVER, he has not and will not escape God’s judgement. In this life, depending on how much he was capable of changing his behavior, he would have suffered God’s judgement. That will continue in the hereafter UNLESS he was truly repentant but unable to change. (Biology happens, mental illness happens.) But no matter what the cause, none of us take our sinfulness or sin nature into heaven. And sadly, some may have so misused their free will, (free agency for calvinists and Lutherans, lol) that when the cleansing is done, their entire personality and this life will have had to be annihilated. Only that soul created by God will be left.

    Can you imagine some of these “mighty men of God” in heaven? Can you imagine being there but no memory of this life, of any other people, and no one else has a clue who you were (including possibly you having no memory?)

    Some will be there with a lot of rewards and approval. Some with less. Some just there with the smell of smoke on them, their souls saved but their lives gone, burned up in the final cleansing?

    Interesting thought at least.

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  29. Cindy Meyers: taking every thought captive

    Will you please say more about what you mean?

    This phrase came up a lot in my former prayer group. It meant that we cannot trust ourselves, at all, ever. One member of the group thought it meant that it was worse to THINK about a bottle of gin than to DRINK it.

    I’d like to understand your understanding. Maybe our group was just wacky.

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  30. Believer: The other 800 pound elephant in the room … particularly for the Calvinistas at TGC is according to their aberrant theology, RZ was “ordained by God” to pursue the evil and deception he spent his life cultivating … God is giving them chance after chance to self correct and they refuse to submit to basic Christian doctrine …

    Yes, this theological hole keeps getting deeper for the NeoCals. That’s why their leaders write missives and tweet instructions to their base to keep the movement alive. Of course, it will all end in disillusionment and despair for the NeoCal faithful (cults always do); their icons are running out of wiggle room to make their aberrant theology fit every bad-boy that falls.

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  31. Friend: Prayer and worship do not save me from committing adultery; I’m just not interested in cheating on my beloved spouse.

    I have come to the same conclusion about child-rearing; why have my kids (so far, fingers crossed) escaped getting drawn into drugs and alcohol? We’ve seen so many parenting styles, from “let them experiment” to showing no trust and tightly controlling the teen’s every move. Good kids from families of faith can get involved in drugs. IMO, if the kids want to get into that kind of trouble, they will find a way regardless of parents, and it’s the kids’ personal choices that are driving it.

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  32. Friend,

    Well I am also not interested in cheating on my spouse, I can’t even imagine that. But I also think that a lot of people who do that at some point in their life, also maybe couldn’t imagine they’d do it.

    So it might not be prayer and worship in a certain way, whatever “a certain way” might entail, but the fact that most people are pretty good doesn’t mean there aren’t or haven’t been temptations of many kinds to be resisted. So then what does it?

    Having said all this,I DO struggle with the freedom in Christ. Thank you for pointing the connection with that struggle out to me.

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  33. Believer: Man IS responsible and is called by God to be reconciled through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our behavior DOES matter, it is NOT determined by God.

    “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11)

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  34. Whether or not everyone is capable of such crimes (which is impossible to answer) distracts from the point. What matters is that those that DO commit such crimes are held accountable and their ability to harm others is taken from them.

    This is an issue of a failure of accountability, not our own propensity to sin. What we should be taking careful stock of is the church’s failure to hold such people accountable including our own complicity in such matters (if there is any). “Sin-leveling” is a distracts from the salient questions: why do we let our leaders get away with sinful, and sometimes criminal, behavior? Why do we not hold our leaders accountable?

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  35. Paul K: This is an issue of a failure of accountability, not our own propensity to sin …“Sin-leveling” is a distraction from the salient questions: why do we let our leaders get away with sinful, and sometimes criminal, behavior? Why do we not hold our leaders accountable?

    Great point!! “Touch not my anointed” is greatly overworked, especially in New Calvinism. Too many of their bad boys have been restored to ministry after a short restoration period, when they should have been permanently disqualified to hold the sacred office of pastor.

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  36. Max: Yes, this theological hole keeps getting deeper for the NeoCals. That’s why their leaders write missives and tweet instructions to their base to keep the movement alive.

    My first comment on this site was following the nauseating video of Piper, like a Mafia Don, warning the people of Bob Glenn’s Minneapolis congregation that they better not leave the church following the exposure of Glenn’s multiple infidelities. How many dumpster fires can the Calvies endure before their credibility collapses? Bob Glenn, Mark Driscoll, CJ Maheny, Falwell Jr,James Macdonald,Bill Hybels, Brian Houston, Carl Lenz, John McArthur…and how many lesser known failures we know nothing about?

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  37. Paul K,

    Amen… preach it! Do we go to Medical Doctor that is a fraud? Do we fly on planes who pilots are frauds? Do we go to people that impersonate cops?
    So, why do we listen/endorse a guy would lies about his credentials?? All of these types of fraudsters not only need to be “bounced”, they need to be prosecuted… We should all look at the “professional Christians” we associate with, and double check not just their credentials, but allot of what they say… my bet there is a loot of fraud and lies… just look at TWW’s “dishonor role”

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  38. Thanks Dee for your tenacious work! Stay strong sister!

    1st… there is something called “willful blindness”… could have known, should have known, chose not to know.. this is a legal term! there still seems to be a lot of this when it comes to abuses in the Church…
    whttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willful_blindness

    https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness

    then the various deformed doctrines…
    2nd… the Calvinistas love “total depravity” bc it excuses (and even justifies) their sin… it’s a false humility… and ends up downplaying what God has done in our lives as children of God, making us new creations in Christ with a new heart, with the Holy Spirit to help us out of every temptation and our default is now Rom 8, not Rom 7:14-25 & I Tim 2:15, saying “we are the worst of sinners”… There are a number of NT examples of Paul saying, follow my example, see how i live and do the same… if he was still the worst of sinners, he wouldn’t be using his actions as an example for others to follow…

    3rd… the Reformed emphasize almost exclusively total depravity at the expense of God’s “common grace”… total depravity has become very distorted…

    4th… I am concerned that so many male leaders think this could be them… I have to wonder if they could get away with it, would they do the same? Is something like this their secret fantasy life?

    5th… the sin equalization is mostly a false minimization, the only truth is that any sin separates us from God apart from Christ… but the seriousness of the consequences range over an entire spectrum of impact… and even Scripture calls out some more than others… and has higher consequences for some… ie the millstone and deepest pit of the sea in Matt 18:6

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  39. Paul K: Whether or not everyone is capable of such crimes (which is impossible to answer) distracts from the point.

    Which is the whole point.
    Get everyone sidetracked into arguing over Heavy Theological Points like how many angels can stand on the head of a pin and they’ll ignore the abuse and the victims. No victims, No problem.

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  40. Cp: But when it comes to my own sins, I regard them all equally bad, whether it is only sin in my head or something that harmed someone else. So even if I don’t think I will ever become a serial molester, this whole mess has made me very introspective about my own boundaries and accountability. And I think that is a right and healthy response. Because even if we’re not going to leave a trail of abuse behind, we’re still sinners that can fall for temptations of any kind.

    I think that it’s possible that you will work yourself into a dither. In your account, you don’t seem to discuss how grace interacts. You will not be able to set up enough boundaries and accountability to prevent even the smallest sin which you view as equal to all sins, even bad ones.

    Long ago I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I was still going to fail. The Lutheran church has helped me to deal with this. They have a coffee cup that says saint on one side and inner on the other.

    One of the reasons I have found great meaning in my church is that each worship service I walked through reflection and confession and am told my sins are forgiven by the pastor. Then I go onto communion. I live in tension as both a saint and a sinner. The Law convicts me and the Gospel forgives me.

    I don’t know if this helps.

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  41. Cp: the fact that most people are pretty good doesn’t mean there aren’t or haven’t been temptations of many kinds to be resisted. So then what does it?

    For me it’s a combination of things: prayer, observation, experience.

    I’m sometimes tempted to yell at a certain person, let out my frustrations, be crystal clear about my anger. Over time I have discovered that this person really can’t take being yelled at. They also don’t change for the better when I yell. They yell back, and then the argument is about conflict itself, not about the action that made me angry.

    So I do pray, for enough patience to keep my mouth shut, and for enough wisdom to look for the right moment and pass along the right words. It’s not very satisfying to walk away quietly, but it does help me to see the whole situation more clearly instead of just blaming. This approach is closer to 1 Corinthians 13 than to the authoritarian model that’s so popular.

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  42. a few more thoughts…

    #6… cheap grace… there seems to be this thinking that if forgiven, you don’t need to feel bad/guilt/shame anymore… this flies in the face of “contrition”… the contrite in heart… the Hebrew word means deep sorrow, crushed spirit bc of the damage done due to your sin… this is rarely discussed to any extent… less so than repentance & confession, which also get minimized due to the hyper focus on forgiveness..

    #7… there is an authoritarian mentality that goes with this type of behavior… and I have to wonder if how Hebr 13:17 has been translated with an authoritarian bent (esp the 84 NIV), also enables this type of behavior… the distorted “divine right” of leaders…

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  43. Bev Sterk: cheap grace… there seems to be this thinking that if forgiven, you don’t need to feel bad/guilt/shame anymore… this flies in the face of “contrition”… the contrite in heart … the Hebrew word means deep sorrow, crushed spirit bc of the damage done due to your sin … this is rarely discussed to any extent … less so than repentance & confession, which also get minimized due to the hyper focus on forgiveness

    Agreed, Bev. In much of the American church, there is an overemphasis on the forgiveness side of the coin, without dealing with the flipside of repentance. A prevalent teaching of grace-this and grace-that so easily overlooks sin and its consequences … while missing what true Grace in Christ really means.

    The New Calvinists, in particular, have greatly distorted the Grace message. I had a discussion with an SBC NeoCal church planter in my area after hearing him misinterpret Romans 8:1. He told church attendees “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ” which essentially freed them to live however they wanted to (cheap grace). I advised him that the rest of Romans 8:1 finished with “… who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Indeed, the whole context of Romans 8 contrasts walking in the flesh vs. walking under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He looked in his ESV Bible and said “No, it’s not there”, smiled and walked away. They just don’t get it.

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  44. Friend,

    ‘taking every thought captive’
    ++++++++++++++

    as with so many concepts in late 20th/21st century christianity, i find myself saying,

    “well, what does that mean, actually?”

    how do we do it?

    is there more than one way to do it?

    if so, is there a right way and a wrong way? and how do you know for certain it’s the only right way?

    is it actually sin if i don’t do it right?

    is it sin if i don’t do it at all?

    if so, what will happen?

    will God’s blessing be lifted so i no longer find those miraculous parking places?

    will it be the reason my prayers don’t get answered?

    am i no longer a christian?

    will i go to hell?

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  45. The Gospel Coalition posted this as another response to Ravi’s abuse: “Women Are Not the Problem”

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/women-not-problem/

    I mean yes…Women are not the problem. But every experience I have had in their environments communicated otherwise and contradicts much of what she suggests here.

    And much of what she suggests here is only helpful to a married man who might be tempted to sleep with someone else or have an emotional affair. It is shallow and narrow advice for the chronic tragedy ad trauma of how Ravi abused these women and how he groomed and used a large number of people for decades.

    As Dee points out in this post, it doesn’t deal with the real underlying psycho-social issues that were going on with Ravi.

    Also, from a pure theology lens..it is so much deeper than “be less weird and projecty toward women.” A lot of their fundamental ways of viewing and engaging reality are flawed. They’re likely not going to examine those presuppositions more closely or even ask the question that needs to be asked.

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  46. elastigirl,

    I just did a search for the phrase, and found the mentality of my old prayer group, that negative thoughts (about weight gain and aging, for example) come from Stan or demons. We have to invoke Jesus to overcome them, and it’s all about obedience.

    It’s frightening to imagine that every bad thought comes from supernatural evil. This mentality makes me just a spectator in my own head, obediently begging Jesus to duke it out with Stan over my woes about how my jeans fit or whatever.

    Nope nope nope. God gives all minds, and expects us to use them. Psalm 8:3-5 suggests that God rather likes us:

    When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;
    what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?
    Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
    and crowned them with glory and honor.

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  47. Also…what if Ravi had male victims? (Maybe he did, given that is likely that there are more victims than has been discovered so far.)

    Their reductionistic paradigms don’t work for men who groom and sexually abuse other men and underage boys. Or women who sexually abuse, and so on.

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  48. Burning down the house?

    hmmm…

    Ravi must of had an evil twin?

    What?

    His (RZ) wiping away the biblical horizon through searing pride, a certain madness evidently ensued. The message simply did not match the messenger? If Ravi Zacharias, President, and Founder of RZIM objective was to remind kind folks to let the word of God transform their mind and guide their moral compass so that others could see the gospel lived out, he ultimately miserably failed, ya think?

    bump

    Grandma , what big teeth you have…

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  49. emily honey,

    Exactly… and wasted effort ( i.e. trying contort some theology to explain it)… bottom line; RZ abused his position, for many decades, in a number of different ways that would get him canned/banned in secular positions….. one could argue, from a practical point of view, he was a disaster, ( mental, maybe physical damage to many women, a laughing stock of critics of Christianity, mislead genuine Christians, ?? ).

    He should have been removed/dealt with decades ago..

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  50. Paul K: This is an issue of a failure of accountability, not our own propensity to sin. What we should be taking careful stock of is the church’s failure to hold such people accountable including our own complicity in such matters

    Understanding their theology is a key to understanding why they do what they do and isn’t useless. I agree that there is a huge problem with accountability in the church, but they’ve purposely created a system that puts them above most accountability unless they commit a crime.

    I would argue that understanding why is even more important, because I’ve seen a lot of people walk away when they really understand what this group believes. They use a lot of buzz words to hide their true beliefs, and often people in their churches don’t even realize that they aren’t allow to ask questions or move away until the situation comes up and the beliefs are in conflict.

    This group lies to hide their beliefs. All the time. There’s a good reason for that. What they really believe is that they should own other human beings and they will degrade humanity if that makes it reality. It’s the exact same theology used to justify slavery. They don’t even really hide that, with all their talk about “going back to the founding of the SBC”.

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  51. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    emily honey,

    He shouldhave been removed/dealt with decades ago..

    It’s worthwhile to consider that for the crowds which would have Barth and Yoder remain as theologians remaining viable or even essential for their works to be studied and taught just as they were when their actions were not widely known, it may well better for them that they weren’t removed / dealt with decades before their physical demises. That’s because those crowds now have more of the theological works than than they would have had if their actions had come to light earlier.

    Those impacted in reality by the actions of the “theologians“ can be dealt with with a quick comment like “that’s regrettable, God will sort out their souls”, move the concerns to the margins, and go about their business. In like manner, it’s likely to be a net gain for those associates of RZIM who had — and have — the financial benefits of it and their not removing him but waiting to deal with this until after his death.

    Has Josh Harris kissed his bank account and book revenues goodbye in association with purported laments of hurts caused? Is John Ortberg ever going to update his “about“ page on his site — on which he sells his publications to international audiences — to disclose what he did? Anyone think Falwell is ever going to forgo what he has in his bank account because of pressure brought to bear by the shame of what he did?

    If not, aren’t people who profited from such enterprises generally just gonna wait till initial outrages died down and dodged responsibility themselves, just like the various boards that were responsible for the entities associated with those aforementioned? As one may glean from these articles, there are some who are going to be happy with putting up strawmen and/or giving a cursory censure to what happened but basically being fine with everyone moving on and not connecting any dots as to systemic issues.

    And the more that these groups can just announce someone’s looking into things, the more they can use the passage of time towards purposes of covering up and distancing themselves from accountability, financial and otherwise. Thus, groups doing something about any of this remains greatly disincentivized, especially when it’s just a few individuals raising the concerns. The bigger the group and the more “good“ they purport to do, the worse it can get.

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  52. JDV: there are some who are going to be happy with putting up strawmen and/or giving a cursory censure to what happened but basically being fine with everyone moving on and not connecting any dots as to systemic issues

    Yes, we see it over and over. They know that the scandal of the week will blow over and the blogosphere will move on to other topics. Rather than taking an axe to the root of the problem, they allow the tree to stand and bear bad fruit. It won’t get any better until things hit the tipping point. IMO, the pew will get there before the pulpit.

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  53. Power is not good for you.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/power-causes-brain-damage/528711/

    “Power Causes Brain Damage

    How leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise”

    Too much power causes you to lose empathy because you no longer need it. People will defer to you, look up to you, not question you. So you think that you are cleverer than everyone else, and are entitled to look down on them. And as to accountability – well … that’s for the little people, to misquote Leona Helmsley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leona_Helmsley)

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  54. ishy: understanding why is even more important, because I’ve seen a lot of people walk away when they really understand what this group believes. They use a lot of buzz words to hide their true beliefs, and often people in their churches don’t even realize that they aren’t allow to ask questions or move away until the situation comes up and the beliefs are in conflict.

    Excellent point, and you’re always so patient in going into details. Thank you.

    The buzzwords hide meaning and also deflect attention away from looking at actions.

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  55. Maybe this has been explained elsewhere, Dee, but I struggle with calling this a psychiatric problem. I have a niece who has done some terrible things, including taking a knife after her father. She is on meds for a serious psychiatric condition. But it almost seems like Ravi is somehow being excused once again, as my family has excused my niece who was obeying the voices she was hearing. We don’t hold her responsible. I’m sure you would not say this of Ravi, but I’m still troubled by such a diagnosis.

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  56. “… but (the world is) also learning to believe victims, now that we’ve heard from more and more of them.”… ironically, no thanks to TGC and their anti social media propaganda!

    Fascinating flip by TGC… didn’t TGC whine and complain about social media back in the #metoo days and again recently? were they not part of the push trying to control/squash social media influence (other than their own?) for the very purpose of repressing the victims voices and protecting those in power? trying to keep victims from connecting with each other? because they (and other controlling type authoritarian (ie neo cal) type followers) knew if victims connected w/ others, the victims would be empowered to speak! That’s why there was the silence from these leaders was deafening in the months and years following #metoo… the “leaders” were hoping it would go away!

    God’s not done cleaning His house! He is removing the abusive and irresponsible shepherds! Ravi is a warning to those who are compromised to what their legacy will be if they don’t repent!

    and hallelujah, that is what is happening – thanks to blogs/voices like Dee & Dee, Amy & Amy, Julie, Lori Anne, etc & etc… as heart breaking as the abuse is, it is even more heart breaking for those who have suffered through it and often even worse, been vilified and treated as expendable as if they don’t matter, by those in power!!! Thank God this is coming into the light!

    Excerpt from: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/ravi-zacharias-judgment-god/
    posted 2.12.21

    Digital Revolution
    We live in a time when digital publishing has helped enterprising journalists and courageous victims tell the truth. Some of those journalists paid a price when they told the world what we didn’t want to hear about Zacharias. All too often threats of financial retaliation have kept victims and their allies from speaking out, and periodicals from publishing them. But new media have changed the landscape and shifted power toward the abused. Now you can find a sympathetic ear somewhere on the internet, and with that person’s help, you can stand up against multimillion-dollar ministries with everything to lose if the truth is exposed. EOQ

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  57. Ruth Tucker: it almost seems like Ravi is somehow being excused

    I’m not Dee, so forgive me for jumping in. I also reacted somewhat to the terminology. There’s a host of conditions out there, many of them treatable. A person with Ravi’s power and influence owes it to himself and all around him to undergo treatment, and to remove himself from situations in which he might cause harm.

    Excusing Ravi assumes that he had no control of his actions. To the contrary, he set up his career and his whole world to give him full control of his actions, and he acted to his sick heart’s content. Beyond this, people are more than their symptoms: a person can be a malignant narcissist (treatable) and also a bank robber (totally optional).

    I hope your niece has received the treatment she needs to function well. I did not have that severe an issue, but have sought therapy for depression—for my own sake and for the sake of those around me.

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  58. Off-topic (sorry Dee!) but I just found this and wanted to share:
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-obedience-makes-christians-antifragile/

    I’ll save you a click. Here’s the TL;DR: “Evangelicals say their faith has strengthened during the pandemic. Evangelicals are Christians. Christians are commanded to be obedient to God and to authorities. Therefore, obedience strengthened these people’s faith.”

    Apparently nearly half of evangelicals say the pandemic has made their faith stronger. (He specifically calls out the lower percentages of Catholics and non-evangelical Christians who agree.) Why is that? Is it because people feel like they have to rely on God more during hard times?

    No–it’s because of obedience. Because Christianity is entirely obedience.

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  59. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. -James 3:1 NIV”

    I find it revealing that these authors are quick to suggest all should see themselves as having the same responsibility or sin-vulnerability before God. The reality is RZ was a teacher and abused his position. Seems like a harsher judgment is fitting as I read James 3:1. I thought TGC guys claim to be biblical….

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  60. Ruth Tucker: Maybe this has been explained elsewhere, Dee, but I struggle with calling this a psychiatric problem.

    I have the same misgiving. Psychiatric problem my a$$. Zacharias was just your garden-variety horn-dog who got away with what he did because he could.
    A regular guy with no big name religious ‘camouflage’ would have been jailed for the same antics.

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  61. Gus: Power is not good for you.

    Including the false theology of men ruling over women, with DV consequences. Even the power dynamic of elevating a man over just one woman – his domestic partner – can bring disastrous consequences, Dateline consequences.

    He can go to church on Sunday and get his weekly dose of empowerment greenlighting abasing a woman the rest of the week. Pay, tithe, to the preacher & go home to the jackpot of ruling a god-granted dynasty the rest of the week.

    In RZ’s case, he granted himself a harem, in Jesus’ name, with his theological-apologetic arguments defending evil predation.

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  62. We’ve had electricity for over 24 hrs – YAY! Next Wednesday the high will be 71 in Dallas. What a time to be alive.

    I’ve known a man like Ravi – intelligent, articulate, charismatic – and evil to the core. He was a brilliant actor who could turn on/off his charisma at will. If you disagreed with him or threatened him in any way *poof* you were gone. HE WAS A PASTOR. He was also, a wolf. If you were to put Ravi Zacharias & this man in the same room, they would be indistinguishable. Believe me, there are many like this embedded in Christendom today, while the faithful try to explain it away as a ‘sin’ problem. I’m not jumping on the Calvinist bandwagon by saying ‘oh he must have not been saved to begin with’ – while that is more than likely a possibility. But if we reason according to Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Ravi was a wolf. He fits the profile.

    He more than likely developed narcissism in his youth, which became malignant in his adulthood. He was a charmer (most narcissists are), who loved the limelight (grandiosity) and did whatever he had to do to achieve fame & fortune. Christianity was just the vehicle he chose to drive on his narcissistic journey. It’s highly unlikely he ever possessed an intact conscience & we now know that early on in his ‘career’ he expressed zero empathy for anyone who got in his way. Everyone was a means to an end. My assessment may sound very sad & unspiritual, but I agree with Dee – Ravi Zacharias most likely suffered from mental illness or a personality disorder to which the plethora of people who surrounded him throughout his 74 years failed to hold him to account for.

    Maybe if these so-called ‘intellectual Christian leaders’ educated themselves on mental illness & personality disorders, they could have picked up on this much sooner.

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  63. Divorce Minister: I find it revealing that these authors are quick to suggest all should see themselves as having the same responsibility or sin-vulnerability before God.

    That is just the Christianese version of “Everybody’s Doing It!”

    (Remember that sexual predator in Furry Fandom I described in another comment thread? A variant of “Everybody’s Doing It” was how he tried to talk his way into my pants — “Everybody’s Bi, You’re Just In Denial.” I didn’t fall for it.)

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  64. Sowre-Sweet Dayes: I am waiting for all previous defender of Ravi to publicly announce “I was wrong.”

    It’s literally impossible.
    So much of their being is invested in defending the Mighty ManaGAWD that they CAN’T back out. Like Suckers so emotionally invested in a con man they will defend the con man even as he takes them to the cleaners, they have literally fused their souls to his. They just justify it with God-talk, that’s all.

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  65. Ava Aaronson: “People really need to know what the boundary is between normal behavior and abnormal behavior; abnormal as expressed in crime. There’s some kind of line that kind of matters to people, figuring out where it is.” – Keith Morrison, Dateline

    WHen you have been raised immersed in Abnormal behavior, the Abnormal becomes What is Normal.

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  66. Friend: Excusing Ravi assumes that he had no control of his actions.

    If you’re Calvinist, He Didn’t.
    God’s Will was in control of his actions.
    (This is how Predestination becomes the Perfect Cosmic-level Excuse Machine —
    “NOT MY FAULT! GOD WILLED IT!” Like when Zanzibar slaver Tippu Tib was depopulating East Africa, and Allah Willed that 19 out of 20 captured slaves would die before they got to the Zanzibar slave markets.)

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  67. Divorce Minister: The reality is RZ was a teacher and abused his position. Seems like a harsher judgment is fitting as I read James 3:1. I thought TGC guys claim to be biblical….

    Yes, that’s just one of many Bible passages that blow “sin leveling” out of the water. TGC guys are biblical only if it fits their theology. They ignore large portions of Scripture because they do not.

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  68. Ruth Tucker: I struggle with calling this a psychiatric problem

    Zacharias had a sin problem. He was spiritually sick not mentally, IMO. He forfeited his spiritual birthright to be led by the flesh, driven by lust not insanity. Given his position of sacred responsibility and trust, his behavior wasn’t the sort you average with everyone else’s sin. Nah, he doesn’t get off that easy with sin-leveling or declaring him mentally ill. He had his mental faculties and knew exactly what he was doing; he brilliantly and meticulously crafted a sinful lifestyle to go undetected for years. He continued to feign faithfulness, while living in gross darkness. He deceived the church world which declared him a great teacher; thus, he “will be judged by a much higher standard” (James 3:1).

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  69. Muff Potter: Zacharias was just your garden-variety horn-dog

    I don’t think so. I’ve known some “garden-variety horn-dogs” who use the resources available to them (tinder, etc…) to find consenting adults who are also of the “horn-dog” variety. I don’t mean to be crude, but I don’t think it would be that hard for Ravi (as a wealthy, well-spoken businessman) to find women to have consenting, honest relationships with (even if the other party knew he was married). Apparently, that’s not what RZ was after. He wanted to sexually, emotionally, and spiritually subjugate his victims. His behavior was pathological.

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  70. Paul K: “garden-variety horn-dogs”

    Nah. RZ took horn-dog to a whole new level. Living behind the curtain as a horn-dog, he appeared in front of the curtain as an angel of light. He gained worldwide recognition as ‘the’ Christian apologist of the 20th century … just any old regular garden-variety horn-dog couldn’t do that. There are horn-dogs and then there are HORN-DOGS … RZ was at the top of the pyramid in the latter group.

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  71. Christina: No–it’s because of obedience. Because Christianity is entirely obedience.

    Ha, I couldn’t help noticing the author’s example of how hardship makes people strong (or “antifragile,” a word we do not need):

    “Fragile items break when under stress and the resilient recover from stress. But what do we call things that grow stronger under stress? Since no word existed for that concept, Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined antifragile to describe people, organizations, or systems that benefit from obstacles, unexpected events, and change. An example is the ancient Greek myth of the Hydra, a serpent-like water monster with multiple heads. If you cut off one of the Hydra’s heads, two would grow back in its place, making the creature stronger than before[.]”

    That’s right, he holds up a MONSTER as an example of strength. In an article about obedience.

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  72. linda: Point of clarity: not just the ESV that eliminates the second half of Romans 8:1

    Agreed. However, the whole context of Romans 8 contrasts walking in the flesh vs. walking in the Spirit. This is a clear teaching even in the ESV. While some Bible versions eliminated the second half of Romans 8:1, all include that omission in verse 4. So, it’s clear that believers are to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh; many church folks fall victim to the latter … in both pulpit and pew.

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  73. Max: Zacharias had a sin problem.He was spiritually sick not mentally, IMO.He forfeited his spiritual birthright to be led by the flesh, driven by lust not insanity.Given his position of sacred responsibility and trust, his behavior wasn’t the sort you average with everyone else’s sin.Nah, he doesn’t get off that easy with sin-leveling or declaring him mentally ill.He had his mental faculties and knew exactly what he was doing; he brilliantly and meticulously crafted a sinful lifestyle to go undetected for years.He continued to feign faithfulness, while living in gross darkness.He deceived the church world which declared him a great teacher; thus, he “will be judged by a much higher standard” (James 3:1).

    John 3:19-21 comes to mind in his case and the case of those potentially covering for him:

    “And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, so that his works may not be exposed; but the one practicing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be manifest as having been done in God.”

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  74. Sòpwith: Q. Has the church of Jesus Christ in general become a den of thieves?

    A. No. The Church of Jesus Christ (the real one, the Body of Christ) is not a den of thieves. However, much of the Christian Industrial Complex (mega-mania, cults of personality, celebrity Christianity, etc.) would fit that description. They not only heap your money upon themselves, but use and abuse, manipulate, intimidate, and dominate … robbing you of spiritual life.

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  75. Headless Unicorn Guy: Sounds like you’re in a Liturgical Church.

    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    At some point I will go back to the church, and more than likely it will be more liturgical in nature (probably Anglican or Presbyterian is my guess). Definitely something with a lot more documentation on polity, governance, addressing grievances. These non-denominational churchs and the one-man kingdoms common in much of Evangelicalism is nothing I want a part of. And Baptist polity also create one-man fiefdoms in their group.

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  76. This was another TGC post about Ravi Zacharias:

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/ravi-zacharias-judgment-god/

    IMO it has a lot of false understanding of scripture though the article certainly has some good points.
    Collen Hansen is right that Ravi won’t escape God’s judgment though Ravi seemed to get away with it here on earth.

    It was shocking to read Collen Hansen say this:

    “That’s why we can obey our leaders and submit to them. They will give an account, as Zacharias must now (Heb. 13:17).”

    A shame that Hansen doesn’t understand how Hebrews 13:13 should properly be translated vs. call almost unquestioning obedience. Sad how he justifies this unquestioning obedience being necessary since one day these same leaders will have to give an account.

    I guess Collen Hansen doesn’t think that regular members should do any thinking for themselves and question to determine if a leader is a wolf or someone distorting the gospel to draw men after them vs. Christ?

    What is worse is Collen is he “serves as vice president for content and editor in chief of The Gospel Coalition” according to this post.

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  77. Friend: Just like the Nuremberg defense, but Christian(TM).

    This is not overstating the matter.

    During the period of time I was growing disenchanted with my last mainstream Evangelical congregation (and a C&MA one at that, which at the time regarded RZ to be an adornment to the Gospel and to the denomination), there was an extended teaching time in preparation for the congregation to make a big decision. The teaching was shaded toward inducing the congregation to make the decision the leadership wanted (a major costly expansion). Part of the teaching was about the “umbrella of God’s authority”, that it was safe there even if the human agents of that authority were imperfect, since it was the system God had ordained.

    The implication was that if you disobeyed your God-ordained leaders, you would depart the safety of the “umbrella of authority” and find yourself in the “rain” of God’s wrath.

    So, when conscience disagrees with your leaders, it is safer to obey the leaders, which is, in effect, to assert that it is better to obey men than one’s God-informed conscience. Luther disagreed.

    (Epilogue: the congregation predictably decided according to the leaders’ wishes, and the wisdom-foreseeable bad outcomes did eventuate, and they endured a decade in a kind of wilderness. It wasn’t as safe under the umbrella as they had been told.)

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  78. Steve240: It was shocking to read Collen Hansen say this:

    “That’s why we can obey our leaders and submit to them. They will give an account, as Zacharias must now (Heb. 13:17).”

    Well, since Christ has almost no authority in New Calvinism, folks have to submit to somebody! These folks seldom mention Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who believers are supposed to obey and submit to. We are losing a generation to this aberrant faith. When the NeoCal bubble breaks (it will), a great multitude of followers will be left confused and disillusioned.

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  79. Samuel Conner: Part of the teaching was about the “umbrella of God’s authority”, that it was safe there even if the human agents of that authority were imperfect, since it was the system God had ordained.

    The implication was that if you disobeyed your God-ordained leaders, you would depart the safety of the “umbrella of authority” and find yourself in the “rain” of God’s wrath.

    Cult.

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  80. Ruth Tucker,

    Roy Hazelwood was an expert, with excellent research. Criminals don’t get a pass & he analyzed & categorized predatory behavior. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Hazelwood

    Richard Walter of the Vidocq Society is another expert.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Walter_(psychologist)

    A doc on film director Woody Allen, pedophile, has just dropped.
    A reviewer said that seeing the Neverland doc clarified that situation. A doc on RZ is a good idea. Facts. Expertise. Trail. Understanding. Public safety.

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  81. I lived in India for quite awhile. Ravi’s behavior would not be considered out of the norm there. In fact he would be welcomed to speak in most high end crowds in India. I think what I see missing in the Ravi story is Indian cultural problems being solved with American mindsets. In India many pastors will give stunning sermons with about 30 scriptures memorized and step off the stage to have lunch with his mistress. The whole congregation would see it. I have seen it happen myself. The structure of RZIM was Indian. Many of his inner circle was Indian because they get it. His board was mostly family which is common in India. Many Indians say they are Christian because they grew up in a church or their parents are Christian. Very few understand conversion or the Holy Spirit transforming a sinner. They can tell you the words to a song but can’t hum the tune.

    I have a feeling that more will come out and it won’t be good. Indian men tend to get into trouble with sex and money from what I have observed. The ministry has hired a crisis management team with lawyers, PR firms, management firm and some female lawyer that suffered abuse herself. They would not spend all that money if they were not ready for a battle.

    I would not be surprised if they take the position that Americans are racists and they are persecuting a poor brown man. They might blame the whole thing on American culture and say this would never happen in Ravi’s home country. We will be to blame for this. They will try to gain sympathy from the public because that is how this game works for them. Please go research Godmen in India and see how these various characters live their lives. Look at KP Yohannan and Gospel for Asia. There was not sex abuse that came out but there was abuse. There are similar themes. I agree with you that several writers are not getting the full picture.

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  82. CM: These non-denominational churchs and the one-man kingdoms common in much of Evangelicalism is nothing I want a part of. And Baptist polity also create one-man fiefdoms in their group.

    Remember the saying “Non-denominational; that’s Fundamental Baptist with the labels removed.”

    Except where Muff and I are at, it’s “Non-denominational; that’s a Calvary Chapel clone with the labels painted over.”

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  83. A common thread in this and other abuse scandals is fraudulent, abusive authority over people. Wade Burleson’s current Wednesday evening teaching series is helpful.
    Fraudulent Authority – Wednesday Night Study:
    Spiritual authority among Christians is a much debated and, as I’ve discovered of late, a much misunderstood concept. Having served as a pastor for nearly four decades, I know firsthand the ease in which a pastor can assume “rule over” or “control over” the lives of other people.
    https://www.facebook.com/watch/173586649347251/1753014908206126

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  84. Kay,

    Wow. Thank you for this comment. It was so insightful. It sounds like some tables need to be overthrown in that culture.
    I totally agree with you. I believe there will be lawsuits coming out of their ears. They deserve it. I believe that people knew what s=was going on and didn’;t say anything to protect their jobs, their incomes, etc.

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  85. Kay: I lived in India for quite awhile. Ravi’s behavior would not be considered out of the norm there … Very few understand conversion or the Holy Spirit transforming a sinner.

    I have a friend who is a retired Christian college professor. He made frequent trips to India during winter and summer breaks to teach at a seminary there. He said most of the students cheated on their tests. Apparently, the “Christian” culture is much different there.

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  86. Importing a felonious persuation?

    hmmm…

    Ah come on folks, Ravi was just field testing his shenanigans, how his various proposals intersected with anthropic reasoning and the infamous multisex idea, well,
    the Full Monty apparently was to follow…but heaven interviewed.

    This was no fish and chip shop endevour…

    Drive his car? , I don’t think so…

    *

    Drive My Car – Beatles (COVER), Live from Daryl’s House.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPBduIQRZvY

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  87. Max,

    The comments above suggest that Ravi was one of a kind in his bizarre cruelty and power.

    Americans cheat on tests too. And if this is in any sense a Christian nation, some of the cheaters are Christian.

    I have never visited India, but have known Indians since I was six years old. More than one Indian doctor has helped to keep me alive. The Indian restaurant near me is one of the safest places for miles to get takeout food during the pandemic, in part because all of the workers have health insurance. This is off topic, but it’s my direct experience.

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  88. Friend: Americans cheat on tests too.

    Seminarians?!! Most of the class?!!

    I, too, have known professionals from India. As an environmental consultant, I worked with many highly-trained Indian chemists and biologists whose honesty and integrity I never doubted. But, there does appear to be (according to Kay’s direct experience in India) certain cultural issues of those in the ministry there that we don’t fully understand.

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  89. Max,

    Thank you, Max. You are always thoughtful.

    My concern is a belief that any culture is beyond Jesus’ reach. One tradition holds that Doubting Thomas ministered in the place we now call India, and introduced Christianity there. True? False? I don’t know. But the message of Jesus should have the power to transform souls anywhere on earth, as we hear at Pentecost and in the Great Commission.

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  90. Friend,

    I agree with you. In retrospect, I should have been more nuanced in y response. I am always interested in allowing people to give me their perspective on things. Even if wrong, it helps me to understand the zeitgeist within a particular segment of people. I appreciate your thoughts and, again, I wished I had been more careful.

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  91. Friend: the message of Jesus should have the power to transform souls anywhere on earth

    Amen!! That’s why you hear me commenting on TWW with passion about aberrant theology, wayward ministers/ministries, and stinkin’ thinkin’ about walking in faith. Only the Gospel (the real one) can save and transform souls … regardless of geographic location. The problem arises when a soul being transformed decides to hold onto some of their bad behavior and mix it with Christianity … which, of course, is the substance of most TWW posts. From America to India, we are lost and undone without God and His Son.

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  92. ishy: I wonder if the TGC guys have rationalized systematic abuse and long-term patterns of sin as normal, because that is normal to them. Maybe their whole theological construct is based around the fact that most of the people in their group are frankly awful people?

    I wonder about that too. When I left the church, I came to realise that many people in my fellowship were very miserable, fearful people, deeply unhappy with their lives. And two things were at play: they were drawn to that church and its teachings because they were already unhappy, and church leaders emphasised certain teachings and passages of the bible to rationalise that unhappiness. We often had sermons on how life is terrible but don’t worry, heaven is waiting for you. Looking back, it makes me sad, because if people had been allowed to access therapy, read books other than christian devotionals, enjoy movies, music, art without worrying that it was “secular” and thus tainted, etc etc, maybe they would be better off. Rather than being told that misery is God’s plan for your life.

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  93. Friend,

    There is a place in Chennai, India where Thomas had spoken. It is a pilgrimage of sorts. The Mar Thoma church springs out of this in the South. South India is like the Bible belt we have here.

    Ravi Zacharias had a distant grandmother that converted to Christianity from Hinduism I have read. They were from a high Hindu priestly caste. The Grandmother changed her last name to Zacharias to indicate she was now Christian. I don’t recall ever hearing Zacharias as a Christian name in India. This is common to change the name but many take the last name of Masih-which is Hindu for Christ or Christian. RZ real name is Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias.

    Many Christians in India will say they are Christian because they were raised in the church or raised by Christian parents. Many have head knowledge only. Since RZ grandmother changed her name I would assume she had a conversion experience. Going from a high caste Hindu to a Christian would mean she lost status in society. I doubt she would do that if she didn’t count the cost.

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  94. Kay: Many Christians in India will say they are Christian because they were raised in the church or raised by Christian parents. Many have head knowledge only.

    Many Christians in North America will say they are Christian because they were raised in the church or raised by Christian parents. Many have head knowledge only.

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  95. Max: I know a great multitude of churchgoers in my area who would give such testimony. They are religious, but spiritually destitute.

    There’s another category, of Nones/Dones raised by Christian parents but not practicing the faith. Honestly, I am not sure what our own youngs think of Christianity these days. They were raised in the church, but opted out when I burned out… that time was frightening to them as kids. I still live the Christian example, and they know I returned to the church in the Before Times. They live out Christian values, but without necessarily calling these values Christian.

    My belief is that God knows the whole story and accepts us all; and that living the faith is more important than calling it by name. At some point, though, a nameless faith might vanish entirely from a person or family.

    I hope that enough healthy Christians and healthy churches will survive this age of abuse, so that future generations can find communities worth joining.

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  96. Friend,

    you conveyed a lot with a little bit of information. what you describe is identical to my situation.

    i couldn’t be more proud of my kids. like you say, they live out Christian values, but without necessarily calling these values Christian. honest, personal responsibility, good work ethic, helpful, kind, compassionate, generous.

    they live this way because it is their moral code – in no one’s name. according to no plan or program. there is no guilt or threat or obligation, no one to please, nothing to prove. they selflessly do it because it is good and right.

    they’re not sure what they believe about God. They pray with me when there are difficult things that matter to all of us, or even if it’s just me and/or my husband who are having a difficult time. they do their best, even though they’re not sure what they think or believe.

    i think people can know God/Jesus/Holy Spirit without being on a first name basis. (well God knows them by name and calls to them, whether or not they recognize it)

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