RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

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otseng
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RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Zacharias, a widely popular author and speaker, died of cancer in May at age 74. One measure of his stature in Christian circles: Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service, lauding him as a great evangelist “armed with intellect, girded with truth and love.”

Zacharias founded his international ministry, known as RZIM, in 1984, with a mission to engage in “Christian apologetics” — defending Christianity with powerful intellectual arguments. Based in suburban Atlanta, RZIM has operations in about 20 countries and a roster of scores of traveling speakers.

In recent months, the organization has been plunged into crisis, precipitated by a Sept. 29 article in the evangelical publication Christianity Today asserting that over a period of about five years, Zacharias sexually harassed three women who worked as massage therapists at two day spas he co-owned in an Atlanta suburb.
https://apnews.com/article/ravi-zachari ... d12a5bc3de
RZIM’s December 23 statement, summarizing preliminary findings from an outside investigation, marked the first time the ministry acknowledged sexual misconduct by its founder, who died in May at the age of 74. Over five decades of ministry, he grew to become arguably the most famous Christian apologist in the world.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/ ... ation.html

For debate and discussion:
How should RZIM handle the situation?
How will this impact the legacy of Ravi Zacharias and RZIM?

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #2

Post by nobspeople »

otseng wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:13 am
Zacharias, a widely popular author and speaker, died of cancer in May at age 74. One measure of his stature in Christian circles: Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service, lauding him as a great evangelist “armed with intellect, girded with truth and love.”

Zacharias founded his international ministry, known as RZIM, in 1984, with a mission to engage in “Christian apologetics” — defending Christianity with powerful intellectual arguments. Based in suburban Atlanta, RZIM has operations in about 20 countries and a roster of scores of traveling speakers.

In recent months, the organization has been plunged into crisis, precipitated by a Sept. 29 article in the evangelical publication Christianity Today asserting that over a period of about five years, Zacharias sexually harassed three women who worked as massage therapists at two day spas he co-owned in an Atlanta suburb.
https://apnews.com/article/ravi-zachari ... d12a5bc3de
RZIM’s December 23 statement, summarizing preliminary findings from an outside investigation, marked the first time the ministry acknowledged sexual misconduct by its founder, who died in May at the age of 74. Over five decades of ministry, he grew to become arguably the most famous Christian apologist in the world.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/ ... ation.html

For debate and discussion:
How should RZIM handle the situation?
How will this impact the legacy of Ravi Zacharias and RZIM?
Admission and honesty go a long way with most folks (but maybe not as many now as would have, say, 15 years ago with so many today wanting everyone to adhere to their own terms of justice). The organization should be open and honest and do what they think is necessary to eliminate the 'god concept' that so many want to uphold Christian leaders to in recent years.
As far as legacy goes, so long as they present the good AND the bad, I wouldn't have any issue. No one is perfect, after all. That said, I would expect a lot better things from such a leader. But this shows that even the most miniscule amount of power and influence can go to someone's head.
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #3

Post by Overcomer »

When I heard about this, I thought about the flawed people in the Bible who God used -- an adulterer like David who had Bathsheba's husband killed so he could have her; Abraham who was a liar and, instead of waiting for God to fulfill the prophecy about having a son, slept with Hagar to produce one; Solomon who, for all his wisdom as a ruler, was extremely foolish when it came to women. But God used them all to bring about his plan.

It saddens me to add Zacharias to that list. But I do believe God used the man's work for good and will continue to do so.

I feel really badly for his family. He put them in an untenable position.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #4

Post by nobspeople »

Overcomer wrote: Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:24 pm When I heard about this, I thought about the flawed people in the Bible who God used -- an adulterer like David who had Bathsheba's husband killed so he could have her; Abraham who was a liar and, instead of waiting for God to fulfill the prophecy about having a son, slept with Hagar to produce one; Solomon who, for all his wisdom as a ruler, was extremely foolish when it came to women. But God used them all to bring about his plan.

It saddens me to add Zacharias to that list. But I do believe God used the man's work for good and will continue to do so.

I feel really badly for his family. He put them in an untenable position.
Do you adhere to the idea that God can use a person's sinful nature to his advantage?
If so, what is the purpose? Surely God use someone else to get his bidding done without utilizing sin, so what's the point of using one's sinful act? How does that glorify God?
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #5

Post by Overcomer »

nobspeople wrote:
Do you adhere to the idea that God can use a person's sinful nature to his advantage?
If so, what is the purpose? Surely God use someone else to get his bidding done without utilizing sin, so what's the point of using one's sinful act? How does that glorify God?
No, not at all. God never utilizes sin to glorify himself. He hates sin. What Zacharias did was absolutely despicable and inexcusable and disgusting. He used his position, his power, his celebrity to take advantage of women. And he did it hiding behind God. It sickens me. I'm sure it sickens God.

The question now is -- what does it do to his legacy re: apologetics? I read one man's opinion. He said that, if a man told you that 2 + 2 = 4, and you later found out that man was a pedophile, would you stop believing that 2 + 2 is 4? The information he gave was correct so you can't dismiss it just because the bearer of that information had done heinous things. He believed that the same is true of Zacharias, that people will still use his apologetic arguments because they're valid even if he, as a person, was living a lie.

But the problem with that analogy is, of course, the fact that the pedophile dispensing information about mathematics is a far cry from a Christian supposedly representing God as a moral and upright human being. In some fields, character doesn't matter. In Christian ministry, it does.

It will be interesting to see what the RZIM Ministry does now. Surely it will disband. I don't think they can simply drop the name and the association and carry on. Core members may start a new ministry, but no one will want to work under the Zacharias banner again. And they shouldn't. The good news is that the members of the organization are being transparent about the whole thing -- as they need to be -- and are admitting that nobody really made Zacharias accountable to them and that was a huge mistake on their part.

Again, as I said, I feel badly for his family.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #6

Post by Purple Knight »

otseng wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:13 amHow should RZIM handle the situation?
The same way all religious groups should: Pick your leaders by a lottery.

Religious people are, overall, a higher quality of people than the areligious. However, you erase all that because your extra-goodness makes it extra-easy for your leaders to extra-exploit you. You're honey, and you attract flies. You're giving and selfless, and you attract exploiters. You're faithful and trusting, and you attract deceivers.

This is the same song, played out again and again: Religious leader turns out to be sexual predator. I'm not sure exactly what this fellow did or didn't do and it might not even be too bad, but as one more tally on the wall it's unacceptable.
Overcomer wrote: Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:49 amThe question now is -- what does it do to his legacy re: apologetics? I read one man's opinion. He said that, if a man told you that 2 + 2 = 4, and you later found out that man was a pedophile, would you stop believing that 2 + 2 is 4? The information he gave was correct so you can't dismiss it just because the bearer of that information had done heinous things.
I have a post on this issue and it's why I don't feel ad hominem should be considered a fallacy.

The difference is that one is a statement of math. Math has predefined quantities anyone can check. I can verify myself that 2 + 2 = 4. I can go over a mathematical proof myself.

When someone purveys morality, there is always an element of trust-me-I'm-good. This person is claiming, inherently, that he is more moral than I am and knows better than I do about morality. He may be right. I can't check that for myself. What I can do is ignore him and everything he says if he turns out to be a sexual predator, and trust myself instead, because I am not a sexual predator.

Feel free to present his arguments as if they are your own. That's the beauty of logic; logic is exactly as valid in one hand as in another. If that's what he produced, then you have nothing to worry about. If they're winning arguments and solid proofs, recycle them, because they'll be every bit as good coming out of you as they were when they came out of him.

However, if what he produced was charisma, or even in part charisma, using his personality to lend strength to weak, medium, or even just decent arguments, the story is different.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #7

Post by Overcomer »

Purple Knight wrote:
Feel free to present his arguments as if they are your own. That's the beauty of logic; logic is exactly as valid in one hand as in another. If that's what he produced, then you have nothing to worry about. If they're winning arguments and solid proofs, recycle them, because they'll be every bit as good coming out of you as they were when they came out of him.
Excellent advice, Purple Knight. The arguments are not personal to Zacharias alone. Divested of him, they are still valid and still worthy of discussing. They are arguments that have been made historically beginning with the early church fathers and have been made by others as eloquent and intelligent as Zacharias. To use a cliche, we should never throw the baby out with the bath water.

Thanks again, Purple Knight.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #8

Post by Dimmesdale »

Overcomer wrote: Sat Mar 13, 2021 10:48 am
Excellent advice, Purple Knight. The arguments are not personal to Zacharias alone. Divested of him, they are still valid and still worthy of discussing. They are arguments that have been made historically beginning with the early church fathers and have been made by others as eloquent and intelligent as Zacharias. To use a cliche, we should never throw the baby out with the bath water.

Thanks again, Purple Knight.
It is true that logic remains logic regardless of who the logician is. A person's character does not have an impact on objective truth.

But there is a sense in which I understand people's disillusionment, and I feel such a thing as this speaks to Christianity's validity.

In other words, is Christianity really a strong enough force to prevent men like RZ from falling down and going bad? We all like to pin the blame on the man, as if it is all his own fault. And to some extent it is, in my view. I believe in free will.

However, free will has to be controlled by something greater. It has to be conformed to a larger will/system. And people think that Christianity fits that bill, that Christianity itself is perfect. I don't think so.

I think Christianity is not a good enough cure for sin in other words. Here is a man who was literally immersed and saturated in all the intricacies and nuances of the religion. As a famous apologist, he was exposed to Christianity in a way that most laymen never are. He imbibed the essence of all Christianity's insights, lived them as it were. And yet still, that robust Christianity was not enough to protect him from serious moral failure, to control and moderate his wayward will.

In my mind you can put all the blame on the man, but that I think is not being true to the facts. It doesn't cross anyone's mind to think that Christianity itself may not have been strong enough, powerful enough, to stay his evil. Why ignore this possibility? Why focus only on sinners, and not on the cure and whether the cure is really sufficient? Of course, this is anathema to devout Christians, but it is a point that ought to be raised in my view.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #9

Post by Overcomer »

Thanks for that thoughtful contribution to the discussion, Dimmesdale.

You wrote:
In other words, is Christianity really a strong enough force to prevent men like RZ from falling down and going bad? We all like to pin the blame on the man, as if it is all his own fault. And to some extent it is, in my view. I believe in free will.

However, free will has to be controlled by something greater. It has to be conformed to a larger will/system. And people think that Christianity fits that bill, that Christianity itself is perfect. I don't think so.

I think Christianity is not a good enough cure for sin in other words.
I agree that Christianity is not a good enough cure for sin. However, Jesus is. Now let me unpack that statement:

Before conversion, our spirits are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). Upon conversion, the Holy Spirit brings our spirits to life (Eph. 2:5). At that point, a transformation should start to occur. We should start to work with the Holy Spirit through a process of sanctification by which we become more and more Christ-like over time, a process that will only be completed in the next life. In the meantime, we will still commit sins. John, writing to followers of Christ, makes this clear in his first letter:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9,10)

Jesus says that we are to abide in him as he abides in us (1 John 2:5,6). It is through that constant abiding that we mature and learn to overcome temptation and sin. We are able to do that through the person and power of the Holy Spirit. But it takes constant work as we still have to wrestle with our old sin nature that doesn't automatically disappear at conversion and we have to wrestle with the spiritual forces of darkness that constantly attack us to get us off-track.

So when you say that we have to conform to a larger will/system, I say that will is Christ. He is the one to whom we must submit our own wills. It means becoming a "Romans 12" Christian as follows:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom;. 12:1,2)

That's what the sanctification process is all about -- being transformed by the renewing of our minds, that is, gaining the mind of Christ. That power belongs to Jesus, but it is not forced on us and we can resist and ignore it if we so choose. That's the free will you're talking about. So it isn't that Jesus isn't able to cure sin. He is. It's just that the cure has to be battled out in real life in real time and we are not perfect learners. We make mistakes along the way.

But you are absolutely right that just being immersed in God's Word and knowing what it says and being able to argue for its truth and reliability, etc. is no guarantee that we will become paragons of virtue by any means. Look at the number of atheists who insist they have studied the Bible but still don't believe it's true. I sometimes wonder how a person can do that and manage to miss Jesus, yet some do. But that isn't the fault of God or Scripture. The reason for unbelief lies in the individual. The reason for continuing to sin lies in the individual. God does not force himself and his will on us. He requests our cooperation. If we don't give it, that fault is indeed ours, not his.

Bottom line: Jesus is in no way lacking. But we are.

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Re: RZIM sexual misconduct scandal

Post #10

Post by Purple Knight »

Dimmesdale wrote: Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:04 pmBut there is a sense in which I understand people's disillusionment, and I feel such a thing as this speaks to Christianity's validity.
The one thing they need to work on is not being such easy prey. When taught to be sheep, they attract wolves.

A wolf amongst sheep looks charismatic, bold, confident, ambitious, and prodigiously talented. Naturally they're picked to lead over sheep that have been taught to be humble. Christian beliefs are very good for the community that actually follows them because they minimise hypercompetitive, energy-wasting behaviours such as deception and self-promotion.

However, a serious consequence that needs to be taken very seriously is that when someone is in that community and ignores those beliefs, instead doubling down on ambition, confidence, deception, and self-promotion, they look a hundred times better in comparison to people who practice humility.

Christians need to start shooting the wolves and exalting other sheep instead.

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