Earlier today, Ravi Zacharias issued statements regarding the allegations of sexting with a Canadian woman and misrepresenting his academic credentials. Apparently, he gave Christianity Today notice of the statements since they published an article about the issue around the time the statements appeared.
I suspect his followers will be placated by these statements. However, there are problems with both of the statements. Let me begin with his statement regarding his biography. My comments are interspersed within his statement:
The veracity of some of the educational credentials—specifically the use of the “doctorate” designation—of our Founder and President, Ravi Zacharias, have been called into question. While Ravi personally does not brandish his credentials and routinely asks not to be referred to as “Dr. Zacharias”—even by employees—our organization bears his name and, as such, we would like to take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding.
Just last week I found numerous instance of his own websites referring to him as “Dr. Zacharias.” I have the screen caps of the websites to prove it. Here is just one from April 12, 2017 which I captured last week from the RZIM You Tube account. I intend to pull together more.
On the last line, RZIM refers to Zacharias as “Dr. Ravi Zacharias.”
Listen to the first few seconds of this video in April, 2017 at Temple University. Zacharias is introduced at this RZIM event as Dr. Zacharias.
Here is one of his senior staff Vince Vitale calling him Dr. Ravi Zacharias in his own institute in March.
Here is an ad put out by RZIM for his appearance at University of Michigan earlier this year. Watch to the end and you will see that this RZIM produced ad promoted Zacharias as Dr. Ravi Zacharias.
How many more of these will it take to demonstrate that this statement from RZIM isn’t correct?
For another one, click this link to see Zacharias’ complete bio from RZIM’s Academy referring to him as Dr. Zacharias taken 11/27/17.
As of tonight, the RZIM Academy website has been scrubbed and revamped to cleanse it of all references to Dr. There is no misunderstanding. The organization has been busy covering up the evidence. Why can’t they just acknowledge that?
You can see it on the web still at the Canadian website.
Neither Ravi Zacharias nor Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has ever knowingly misstated or misrepresented Ravi’s credentials. When it has been brought to our attention that something was stated incorrectly with regard to Ravi’s background, we have made every effort to correct it. Sometimes other entities—such as publishers or institutions where Ravi was speaking—have incorrectly presented aspects of his credentials. We were not aware of these errors when they were made; however, in some instances RZIM should have caught them and sought to have them corrected. We regret any and all errors, as well as any doubt or distraction they may have caused.
If that is true, then why go to such lengths to cover up the changes? It is very hard to take any of this seriously when it is obvious that Zacharias and his organization have brandished the title Dr. and are now denying it.
Currently, eleven RZIM team members have earned doctorates. Ravi is not one of them, nor has he ever claimed to have an earned doctorate. In fact, Ravi often states that he wishes he had done more formal studies, as he values and understands the importance of higher learning. Ravi has a Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University, and has also been conferred with ten honorary doctorates. Ravi is grateful for and humbled by where the Lord has taken him during his 45 years of ministry thus far.
In earlier years, “Dr.” did appear before Ravi’s name in some of our materials, including on our website, which is an appropriate and acceptable practice with honorary doctorates. However, because this practice can be contentious in certain circles, we no longer use it.
Actually, it appeared in numerous materials, not some, and no, it is not appropriate and acceptable. If it was, he wouldn’t be taking it down.
In addition, some confusion may have arisen from a difference in cultural norms, as we are a global organization with staff members based in sixteen countries. In Ravi’s homeland of India, for example, honorific titles are customary and are used frequently out of respect for elders, including by the RZIM India team when addressing Ravi. Still, it is Ravi’s custom to request for the inviting parties not to use “Dr.” with his name in conjunction with any speaking events. Despite this, on occasion it has been our experience that we arrive to find promotional banners and materials welcoming “Dr. Ravi Zacharias.” We will continue to do our best to ensure consistency; however, we recognize that certain aspects are sometimes beyond our control.
This is simply not credible, given the number of times his own organization has used and continues to use the title Dr. with Zacharias. If it is Ravi’s custom to request that inviting parties not use “Dr.”, why can’t his own social media team get the memo? Here is a tweet from RZIM India’s Twitter account on November 19. There are many like it.
— RZIM India (@rziminindia) November 19, 2017
The nature of our work at RZIM can evoke criticism, sometimes fair—in which case we address it—but sometimes completely unfounded and without merit. For example, recently a couple of inquirers claimed to have information that Ravi was facing discipline from his denomination. This is simply false and has never been the case, and it serves as an example of why we choose not to address certain accusations that come our way.
Given the spin being used in the statement above, I don’t accept this statement at face value. My sources have explained that he was investigated but is not now under discipline.
We will be more vigilant about editing and fact-checking at every stage. Our hope is that this will enable us to focus on our primary calling of helping people to encounter the claims and person of Jesus Christ, and will enable others to focus on the strength and merit of our message.
Ravi’s desire and our desire as an evangelistic ministry is to engage the honest skeptic, to take questions seriously, and to be as clear as possible in our communication. We therefore have restructured Ravi’s biography to better reflect his 45 years as an itinerant evangelist and apologist with a passion and a calling to reach those who shape the ideas of culture with the beauty and credibility of the gospel.
There is nothing in this statement about Zacharias’ claim to be a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” He clearly was not but didn’t address this false claim along with others in his bio. He simply removed all claims in the current bio.
While I am not a target of the kind of material Zacharias puts out, I have become a skeptic of his ministry. I had hoped he would truly face the distortions and exaggerations of his credentials. He did not do so in a way that would lead me to trust his work.