“The Case Against Ravi Zacharias”, lawsuit, falsified credentials, RZIM
School deadlines prohibit me from making a longer post, but this video is important. I suspect things will be shaking up in the near future with regard to well-known apologist, Ravi Zacharias.
Attorney, banjo player, atheist, and blogger, Steve Baughman has been following Ravi Zacharias’ story for a while, appealing to Christian leaders to take a look at his (Steve’s) findings, to no avail. It appears that Ravi Zacharias has misled people about his credentials.
Not only that, a lawsuit filed by Ravi Zacharias, against a woman with whom he had an online relationship. was settled out of court. This relationship went on for some time (and included nude pictures), and should leave us all with questions.
Why did he fail to tell his board about this relationship? Why has he not come clean on his credentials? Why did he settle the lawsuit rather than go through the court process?
I spoke with Steve Baughman today. While he readily admits he is an atheist, I can find no other reason that he has investigated Zacharias, written about him, and made videos, other than his disgust that a man who claims to be a godly leader is instead misleading the multitudes by puffing up his credentials. It’s just not cool to be a fraud.
There is a problem when we Christians cannot police our own camp, and a self-proclaimed atheist needs to point it out to us. Hello!!! The world is watching!
Here is Steve’s video. Take a look and see what you think.
I never know if Word Press is really going to embed my videos, so here is the link in case it doesn’t work. https://youtu.be/w0X0YzHISnY
130 thoughts on “Important New Video about Apologist Ravi Zacharias: Alleged False Credentials, Lawsuit, Online Relationship with Married Woman”
I read Throckmorton’s piece on Ravi’s credentials. I have been aware of this for some time, and it bothers me whenever Ravi does his apologetic spiel about seeking truth.
I could actually do the same thing, by coincidence, as I think Ravi is doing. I started teacher training in Oxford, and by the time I started it it the college had been taken over by the university. I could seek to impress by saying ‘when I was at Oxford University’. Would I be lying? Not really, I was in a college affiliated to the university.
But the impression that I had done an undergraduate course there, meaning I’m a bit of a genius, which is how most people would see it if you claimed to have ‘studied at an Oxford college’, would be false.
The sad thing to me about this aspect is I so appreciate Ravi’s demeanour when he fields objections to the Christian faith. It is precisely the opposite to say John MacArthur, who I think does more harm than good by his harsh attitude, even if you agree with the gist of what he is saying.
Daisy – I have jousted with many a British atheist on the subject of religion, and many of them find Dawkins an embarrassment. They nickname him Prof. Dorkins!
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Ravi Zachariah is a GREAT Christian teacher. I just love him. When I listen to him, he keeps me grounded in the Lord God Jesus Christ, he needs no defense and is as legit and real as they come! God has chosen this man and God never makes mistakes, God IS IN CONTROL. Ravi must be offending someone to be so attacked. It is expected. They attacked Jesus too and Jesus said, they attacked me they will attack you too. You are NOT greater than ME, but be of good cheer, I Jesus have overcome. Ravi, Jesus BLess you and Keep you, Jesus is there with you always.
Many of Ravi’s arguments for the existence of God hold true even if Ravi proves a scoundrel. More importantly, I am a Christian, not a Zacharian. Christ Jesus and His holy character saves me. Jesus cannot tell a lie.
A good friend has always been devoted to Benny Hinn. When he was under scrutiny for tax fraud my friend defended him and got angry at those who disparaged Hinn. I gently reminded Vernon that Jesus was in control and He was perfect and holy no matter how Hinn or anyone else behaved.
mkmfrommnandwi, I will be greatly relieved and happy if what you say is true and these are a bunch of lies. God is indeed in control. I’m not happy at the thought that Ravi Zacharias did such things and would rather believe him the victim of malicious slander. Let’s both pray that truth and justice prevail. No matter what.
Not many Attorney’s require people to call them “doctor” so and so. Although I’ve known one or two who were teaching in a University setting and insisted their students refer to them with that title, after all, they hold a Juris Doctor degree. Interestingly, most physicians are used to being called “doctor,” so and so, though they hold the equivalent counterpart in to the JD, the MD, Medical Doctor, or D.O., Doctor of Osteopathy. The M.Div. Ravi holds is likely 90-120 credit hours of graduate school, which puts his terminal degree in the same realm as many JD, MD, or PhD programs. Would Ravi’s critics be satisfied if he had a D.Min as opposed to his M.Div plus Honorary Doctorates? Maybe RZIM isn’t perfect, maybe Ravi could over emphasize in a PR campaign that he holds several honorary doctorates, no PhD’s, and a at least one terminal degree (that I know of, presuming I’m correct in thinking the MDIv is terminal). Maybe that would be confusing to most people in his audience. Maybe it would just be easier to let people think of him as “Dr.” Zacharias, as someone wise, and well-trained. Having worked around PR, and event booking in the past, I would say that many agents, managers, and other industry people would use the term doctor to apply to the various degrees including those earned and honorary. Where does savvy marketing become malicious? When is it wise for evangelists to be innocent as doves? When does it open up new doors to be as wise as a serpent? Of course the makers of hells bells didn’t even want you to use drums in your congregation.
As far as settling a case outside of court, wouldn’t most people trying to follow the new testament teachings attempt to settle outside of court? Why did the accuser settle?
Lastly, I think this section of the legal filings from Ravi’s side widens the perspective appropriately:
Prior to their current scheme, on at least one other occasion, the [defendants} have sought a sum of money from an individual whose employment
related to espousing Christian faith. Specifically, in 2008, Mr. [redacted] filed a lawsuit against a pastor and a church, seeking damages based on allegations that the pastor used his religious position to coerce Mr.[redacted] into making certain ill-advised loans and investments.
On information and belief, the 2008 lawsuit was dismissed in 2010 after the parties entered into a settlement.
On information and belief, sometime after the settlement, the [defendants] began experiencing significant financial distress.
As part of the current scheme, Defendants decided that evidence depicting an inappropriate relationship (in person, online, or otherwise) between Ms. [redacted] and a prominent, pious individual like Plaintiff (–or Ravi–) would enable them to force the individual to pay an exorbitant sum of money under the threat of the disclosure of such relationship to the individual’s employer, wife, and the public.
“As far as settling a case outside of court, wouldn’t most people trying to follow the new testament teachings attempt to settle outside of court? Why did the accuser settle?”
Peter, was Ravi Zacharias following 1 Cor regarding taking believers to court? He is the one who sued the defendants.
@Peter. I served in an accredited seminary for 11 years, working for 7 different departments in such roles as administrative assistant for field education and doctor of ministry, special projects for the office of the president, procedure manual writer, and course catalogue and faculty manual editor.
My understanding is that a master’s in theology (whether a MA, MDiv, or ThM) and a thesis is not a terminal degree. A PhD or ThD with dissertation is considered the terminal professional degree (i.e., academic focus) and a DMin with ministry project and extensive report is considered the terminal practitioner degree (i.e., pastoral or practical ministry degree).
From what I’ve been reading, Mr. Zacharias has been making the specific point that he is not a pastor or clergy member — which is relevant to the issue of whether there was a technical legal issue of “clergy sexual misconduct” involved. His claim not to be clergy seems to negate the idea of a practitioner and his master’s degree is not a DMin anyway. And I would suspect many would consider apologetics and philosophy studies as an academic/professional field within theology, so a PhD or ThD would be in order. He may be well educated in other ways, and a life-long learner, both of which are commendable, but they are not official degrees.
Perhaps a professor or administrator who has had to complete the accreditation statistics and studies would be able to answer with 100% certainty, but from what I gathered in my work, I can suggest with moderate certainty that there would likely be problems with accreditation requirements if a college or seminary were to make him a regular professor and call him “Dr.” unless he had the appropriate earned doctorate. An accredited seminary must maintain a certain high percentage of professors with doctorates. Where I worked had to deal with that problem several times. Professors either already had an earned doctorate — or were required to fulfill a contractual arrangement to complete it within a specific (and relatively short) timeframe — or would be let go.
I understand, a professorship is not the world in which Mr. Zacharias is teaching, but there are definitely academia implications given by the term “Dr. Zacharias,” and it lends itself to being misleading.
As a postscript on what I said about “not a pastor or clergy member,” this is more specifically what the Christianity Today article stated:
While that may mean there is no official pastoral role, that does not negate the reality of a differential in authority/power — as a public figure who is a speaker, author, and having been referred to as an expert in apologetics and as “Dr. Zacharias.”
I defer to what Brad/Futurist wrote regarding the use of “Dr.,” and what is or is not technically terminal and would or would not qualify for accreditation, which is even more complex given that there are various accrediting bodies (regional, subject matter, etc..) with potentially different standards.
I’m still unclear whether both the M.Div, and D.Min. could be considered terminal, or if the M.Div. was considered that 30 years ago but with the proliferation of additional degrees in so many fields perhaps what is terminal is being stretched out. It’s interesting that the LLB in Canada is the equivalent of the JD in the usa, and that the LLM is probably not considered more terminal than the JD. I wonder if the MD is considered terminal, or technically undergraduate, though its a post bachelor’s degree in a professional school?
CS Lewis or someone he was referencing talked about how the term “gentleman,” doesn’t mean what it once meant. The term “Dr.” doesn’t mean what it once did, nor does it mean the same thing in the USA as in other places, and particularly it doesn’t mean the same thing to people employed in higher education as to the average american.
MD’s don’t necessarily hold PhD’s and nobody has a problem calling them “Dr,” but attorneys with a Juris Doctor (JD) aren’t usually called “Dr.” Ravi holds a half dozen Honorary Doctor(ates?), combined with who knows how many credit hours, plus his other earned MDiv. Let the person who is particular about calling their attorney “Dr.” be the one who casts the first stone at Ravi for allowing his marketing to refer to him as Dr., (rather than holder of earned masters but merely Honorary Ds).
Alternatively, i suppose it would be consistent to be someone who introduces others by their given name, followed by their designation, MBA, DNP…. oh man, my fuzzy little head will probably burst when we have to start referring to the doctor of nurse practitioner in a health care facility as the doctor and the physician who holds a DO, or MD as the doctor as well… since all three are different but the same?… i should probably stop typing now, I’m probably wasting your time 🙂
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I have a problem with Christians who are vocal about being called by their “rightful titles” even if the degrees are legitimate. It seems to go against humility–a Christian virtue (Mark Driscoll notwithstanding.) My dad doesn’t like being called “Reverend.” He goes by Brother Jim or Mr. Nichols.
The Quakers–at least in the past–did not use ordinary titles. Mr., Miss, Mrs. If you wished to show due courtesy you simply put the first and last name together. John Smith and Mary Brown instead of Mr. Smith or Mrs. Brown.
Julie Anne, As it relates to settling, I’m suggesting that settling outside of court could be better stewardship and less contentious more in the spirit of avoiding a lawsuit altogether. As to who sued who first, it would appear that the Thompson’s enlisted the services of the Attorney first, I don’t know whether they filed suit first, or merely threatened to do so. In general, both sides should try to work things out without having to go to court, but it appears the Thompsons have been down the road before.
I don’t know for sure whether M.Div. would be considered terminal 30 years ago, but I don’t think so. My pastor 45 years ago got an M.Div. and then did additional work to get a Th.M. Also, fairly certain that the PhD, ThD, and DMin existed that far back — and maybe some other degrees available at some seminaries, like DPysch.
If you’re interested in accreditation issues for seminaries in the U.S., you can check the ATS website — Association of Theological Schools. They have the specialist requirements for religious schools. https://www.ats.edu/
Hope that’s of some help.
Yes Rachel! In many cultures there are very specific title’s given to each relative, for instance my father’s older brother is labeled with a term different from my father’s younger brother distinguishing as two different types of uncles. At the same time my son is taught to refer to some family friends (who behave like true family) as aunt or uncle. And depending on the setting some people might think it weird if he referred to the non-relative as an aunt or uncle, but inside our homes, its heartwarming, not confusing at all. Likewise, there are probably some places where it is good for an apologist to mention his earned degrees, say in a debate. I guess the whole problem with this issue about Ravi’s credentials is whether Brad/Futurist is correct or not:
“While that may mean there is no official pastoral role, that does not negate the reality of a differential in authority/power — as a public figure who is a speaker, author, and having been referred to as an expert in apologetics and as “Dr. Zacharias” Brad/Futurist
“I understand, a professorship is not the world in which Mr. Zacharias is teaching, but there are definitely academia implications given by the term “Dr. Zacharias,” and it lends itself to being misleading.” Brad/Futurist
I see where Brad is coming from to an extent, but IF there’s a problem in academia for Ravi NOW, then there was a problem in Academia awarding the Degrees at the START to him or anybody else. Shouldn’t the accrediting bodies, and Universities themselves tell (or enforce) that recipients do not water down or muddy the waters by using the term “Dr.?”
It’s a little surprising to me that there aren’t more academic people defending Dr. Ravi Zacharias right now… I attended one of his lectures at a large state university and remember thinking that he did an amazing job answering the questions of anybody, and did it with humility and gentleness… students lined up with questions, person after person at the microphone… for at least an hour. Seems like he did a role-model job for a professor–but again, it would be nice to see more academic folk defending him.
I think it’s important to vet degrees (I want to know that the person doing my lobotomy is accredited to do so), but I also think we sometimes put way too much emphasis on them. As a missionary, I worked alongside some very humble people who didn’t trot out their degrees unless asked. They were more interested in serving Christ. I took the same approach-when people there, or now in my current church, want to know why I am so knowledgeable in a certain area (because of service observed), I’ll mention that I’m seminary trained, with a master’s degree. But I don’t major on that. Some of the most gifted people I’ve worked with in Christian ministry circles have the biggest hearts for service and use their gifts in skilled, wise ways. I always want to be one of those people, who I believe will be the most honored in heave. The fact that Ravi needs to have all that stuff listed (check out his bio on Wikipedia) in such detail means his emotional security may be in the wrong place.
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Brad/Futurist– Thanks for the links. Sounds like in his field the term “terminal” should not be applied to an MDIV, If I could go back and edit the initial post, I would say Ravi holds a degree in the credit hour range that is similar to other degrees that have a D. I find it more confusing in professional degrees, I think prior to the advent of the DNP, a master’s in nurse practitioner or maybe even the BSN were terminal? In the legal field, I’ve definitely heard academic folk refer to the JD as terminal, no Masters of Law or higher required (though those people might have been wrong).
Anyway, you’ve helped clarify for me that this whole discussion of terminal or not, is sort of, well, academic…. Professor on a resume for general purposes is fine, but on a CV for an academic position, you would need associate, or assistant, or what not…
This reminds me of the office, Assistant Regional Manager, vs Assistant to the Regional Manager…
Does anybody remember that?
Linn: It’s not logically required to presume that Ravi is emotionally insecure. I could imagine wikipedia, or an intern updates that page.
Even you mentioned your degrees in a post on the unimportance of mentioning degrees.
In fairness to Ravi, maybe churches or organizations who invite Ravi to speak ask the question about his experience, and education… Maybe eventually it becomes more efficient for his representatives to provide a blurb in advance? And even in the case that a Christian speaker used aggressive (dare i say “worldly”) marketing strategies wouldn’t you rather they broke into whatever mission field they were breaking into?
RZIM has had a significant presence on some hostile campuses like no other similar christian apologetics organization, and I believe to a lessor extent in government settings where I’m sure there’s a lot of grand standing or trotting out of designations and titles, etc…
If Ravi directed someone to place PhD next to his name on a flyer, we would have an issue.
If Ravi directed someone to refer to himself as “Dr.” before he was given the honorary degrees, we might have an issue.
“Dr,” may refer to a bunch of things, including DNP, MD, JD, PhD (earned), or Honorary Doctor of “xyz” (unearned)
If Steve Baughman questioned RZIM and Ravi Zacharias about the inflated academic credentials about 2-1/2 years ago. and they failed to acknowledge it, or make proper changes, we would have an issue.
Oh, wait….we have an issue!!!
New post up at Spiritual Sounding Board: “Resource Archive and FAQs on the Ravi Zacharias and RZIM Situation.” It includes numerous links to primary source documents, plus links to posts with observations, analysis, and interpretations. This was developed in response to what look to be the most frequently asked questions about all the parties involved. So far, concerns addressed include about the prior lawsuit by the couple involved, the current legal documents and follow-up statements by Mr. Zacharias and RZIM, Zacharias family members on the RZIM board of directors and staff employees, Mr. Zacharias’ use of credentials and titles, updating of his biographies and titles, and the impact of the non-disclosure agreement.
If you’ve got concerns about some of these issues, you will likely find sources to study so you can come to your own informed conclusions.
I’m not going to watch the video. I was an aethist for 38 years and I do have an excellent formal education. I read all the articles and I believe that Ravi got into a tangle with people who have not an ounce of integrity…as this has happened previously with another unfortunate man they ‘befriended’ and it didn’t end well for them. People need to perhaps look at their debt, and see if they’re willing to be transparent about that issue. That will tell a different story. Mr. Zacharias should never have been in any type of contact with them. He should have referred them to counselor’s within the framework. He didn’t and now we’re here. I choose based on what I personally know of people who scam…and we all know some…that Mr. Zacharias is telling the truth, they are not. I became a Christian because as I desperately tried to disprove God through science, He proved His existence to me. I do not care what this particular aethist says; he has an agenda. Life is like a whisper…all too soon it’s finished as his will be one day. Let God judge this and anything else this man decides to do. No one should give him credit for anything, especially a video that we all know is biased. I choose not to give the man or any other detractors (without hard evidence, which they do not have) a moment of my time. Their rhetoric is meant to derail the truth through a world gaze that seeks destruction of anyone, or belief that does not align with their twisted concept, of the truth.
The issue of credentials is a real concern. However, I don’t see anything in the video that indicates Zacharias asked for nude photos or pursued the woman. Regarding his claim that he would kill himself if the couple went public to accuse him, I think it is important to note that as a young man Ravi Zacharias attempted to kill himself. Maybe this is something that he struggles with in instances of extreme stress. Obviously being accused of something like that, even if one is innocent, would be very stressful for a public person. In addition, I think it is important to note that the couple had previously attempted to sue another pastor alleging the pastor “had used his position of influence, trust, and authority for his own financial gain.” The husband apparently was seeking one million dollars. The suit was dropped. My point is that while it is certainly possible the Zacharias is guilty of something here, it is by no means obvious that he is. He has stated that he asked for the communication to stop on several occasions. In addition, there is no evidence to the contrary that he did not ask for it to stop.
WillyB-it is patethic the way this leader is attacking another! I guess he and everyone commenting are flawlessly!!