Guest post by Steve Baughman
“My question is simple. If he lies about this, what else does he lie about?” – Dee Parsons on Ravi Zacharias’s credential fraud, published at The Wartburg Watch on October 2, 2015, (five years before Vince and Jo Vitale admitted something was amiss with Ravi.)
Am I the only one bothered by the use of “failure” language in the rush of mea culpas that we now see bursting from the bowels of evangelical Christianity as Ravi Zacharias’s empire goes the way of the Titanic? The latest comes from Vince and Jo Vitale, who invoke “failure” or its cognates over a dozen times in their “Personal Confession” of February 23, 2021
Vince and Jo Vitalre were not failures. They were Christian apologetics success stories. Vince rose to become the Regional Director of RZIM USA. Jo was Dean of Studies at the Zacharias Institute. Yet there is no hint whatsoever in the Vitale Confession that professional ambition had anything to do with the conduct for which they now are “so very, very sorry.”
The Vitale defense has apparently chosen a different tact. With the Ravi Zacharias guilty verdict rendered and RZIM leaders now awaiting reputational sentencing, the Vitales plead ignorance. “We were in a situation that we did not have the learning and understanding to handle well.” We “completely and utterly failed to see” that Ravi was a fraud and a sex abuser. So hidden from the Vitale eyes was the evidence of Ravi’s deceptions that “we have been asking God to search our hearts, to reveal to us the ways in which we personally have failed.”
The Vitales remind me of the pastor who throws the collection plate up to the rafters every Sunday and asks God to take His share, and the pastor keeps the rest. It looks good. And, if you think your flock is that dumb, it is good. And the Vitales may actually pull this off.
But those who have read Luke 15 may recall that The Prodigal Son didn’t say “Dear Dad, please reveal to me the ways in which I have personally failed.” That’s damage control, not repentance. Had the Vitales chosen real repentance they might have confessed a little more like this:
“Despite our sincere love of God, we are, and we remain, professionally ambitious. There was prestige, power, money, honor from our colleagues, pride from our parents, and much more, in those books Vince co-authored with Ravi and in Jo being Dean at ‘the Institute.’ We made a calculated decision to overlook Ravi’s credential fraud and the very real possibility that he was a sexual predator. We did this because our careers and our egos were too important to sacrifice for principle. Indeed, our careers in Christian ministry were even more important than stopping the vicious defamatory whipping our boss continued administering to Lori Anne Thompson until the day he died. We hereby resign our RZIM positions effective immediately and undertake a period of solitary prayer and self-reflection as we seek God’s forgiveness and His guidance for our futures.”
That might get them a table at God’s banquet. But it won’t help them find their next well-paying Christian apologetics gig. Priorities, Vitales. Priorities.
Steve Baughman is a San Francisco area lawyer and musician and the author of Cover-Up in the Kingdon: Phone Sex, lies, and God’s Great Apologist, Ravi Zacharias.
10 thoughts on “The Vince and Jo Vitale Case Study in Pseudo-Confessions”
“We were in a situation that we did not have the learning and understanding to handle well.”
Zoe: The wording here. Sounds like a confession to me.
we have been asking God to search our hearts, to reveal to us the ways in which we personally have failed.
I am sure that when God reveals their sin to them they will keep that a secret too so no one can hold them accountable for their part in the RZ deception. Everyone wants to keep the focus on RZ rather than their part in allowing this to happen. This is how corporations are run not Christian ministries.
The believers have been traumatized over this. We have been dragged into this never-ending spider web. Pray for those that are victimized and revictimized by this. It is embarrassing for many of us to try and explain this to our non-Christian family and friends. Pray for the many Christians that struggle with the truth of this situation. Why would a Christian man, and his Christian organization, want to inflict so much pain on the Body of Christ?
Kay, your statement reveals more about your opinion of how you would react to the Vitales apologies than how believing Christians would react to the Vitales: “I am sure that when God reveals their sin to them they will keep that a secret too so no one can hold them accountable for their part in the RZ deception.” Kay, believing Christians forgive those who sin against them because Jesus forgave them first.
Here is where we really see the differences between atheists and Christians: For atheists who aren’t even the victims, no amount of apologies are ever enough, while for Christian believers who are victims, apologies from other Christians are accepted.
Scripture tell us, GOD’s children, to do the following:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
It is wonderful to forgive your brothers and sisters in Christ who have sinned against you, instead of dragging those sins against you around with you for the rest of what would be a miserable life.
Our GOD is good!
Do you work at RZIM??
I will watch to see where your feet go rather than your lectures. You somehow assume all these people are actually believers. Based on their behaviors I have questions. Maybe you should preach the Gospel to them first. God bless.
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“Here is where we really see the differences between atheists and Christians: For atheists who aren’t even the victims, no amount of apologies are ever enough, while for Christian believers who are victims, apologies from other Christians are accepted.”
that is the most patronizing, insulting thing i’ve heard a christian say in a long time. people of all faiths and no faiths graciously accept apologies every day of the year. i’m not sure what or who has misinformed you that that is the exclusive domain of only bona fide christians.
what you don’t seem to understand is the difference between accepting an apology and seeing errors that need to be corrected, and communicating such things clearly.
an apology can be sincere, and accepted as such, but also not be fully forthright. in the current context, one such error amongst christian leaders is a willingness to make their career, power, prestige and money the priority at the expense of honesty and truthfulness. Even honesty and truthfulness in one’s apology, let alone their own sober self-appraisal.
I’ve observed christian culture spiritualizing away what would otherwise be plain to see. it is irresponsible to stay in the haze this creates and not be ready, willing and able to hear a confronting challenge.
spoken as a christian.
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I privately sent this apology to the Thompsons on Monday morning. I am publishing it now with their permission. I am not trying to be an example. I only want my apology to be as public as my mistakes.-Carson Weitnauer
That is a great apology, Kay. Thanks for posting it. I saw it earlier when he posted it on Twitter.
Notice the handle “kristy”.
AKA “CHRIST-y”. Very Christianese.
On other Spiritulal/Clergy Abuse whistleblower blogs, any blasphemy against THE ManaGAWD (real or imagined) brings a lot of Defenders of the Faith out of the woodwork, most of them with overly-Christianese handles.
I am getting really tired of RZIM workers, and loyalists, saying the public is to blame for RZ and RZIM. If only we didn’t idolize the man or the horrors of celebrity culture. I hate to tell those folks, many of us didn’t idolize RZ, didn’t own his books or even attend his lectures. He wasn’t as famous as everyone makes him out to be and the public is not responsible for his behaviors. We didn’t conspire with RZ or RZIM to defraud the public. I wish they would stop shifting the blame. These folks like being public figures until the public demands accountability for their actions then they moan about us making them celebrities. Insane.
I agree, Kay, he was an evil man, plain and simple…a wolf in sheep’s clothing for decades!