Ravi Zacharias Radio Show Dropped by Bible Broadcasting Network; CMA Re-Investigates Allegations

Bible Broadcasting Network have dropped Ravi Zacharias’ syndicated radio show “Let My People Think” from their broadcasting lineup.

We are saddened and deeply troubled to hear once again of disturbing allegations against Ravi Zacharias.  In the past, after hearing of similar allegations, BBN concluded we would give Ravi the benefit of the doubt based on our longstanding relationship. At the time, however, we expressed to the leadership of RZIM that future questions of this nature would require us to discontinue our broadcast of Let My People Think. We have notified RZIM of this decision, effective immediately. We will continue to pray for the ministry of RZIM.
___________________________________
 For God’s Glory,
Jason Padgett
Business & Operations Manager

 

Also today, Christianity Today published a disclosure that the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination will again investigate the allegations against Zacharias. In 2018, the denomination decided not to pursue discipline against Zacharias. Based on my knowledge of the charges and investigation at the time, I believe that the denomination overlooked evidence and did not do a thorough investigation.  The CT article implies that as well.

 

Ravi Zacharias, 1946-2020

This morning Ravi Zacharias International Ministries released a statement announcing the death of their founder. Ravi Zacharias had been ill with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 74.

Until late in his ministry, Zacharias was universally beloved among evangelicals as a minister and defender of Christianity. He was affiliated with the Christian Missionary Alliance church. Recently, scandals marred his work, but for the most part his fans continued to stand with him. His organization will continue his apologetics work with his daughter Sarah Davis as CEO.

Davis had this to say about funeral arrangements:

Soon our family will gather for a graveside service. In the days ahead we will provide details for a public memorial service to be held in Atlanta and streamed around the world.

Ravi Zacharias, R.I.P.

 

The Washington Post obituary by Sarah Bailey for Ravi Zacharias contains a link to this blog’s exclusive 2018 apology concerning Zacharias’ claim that he studied at Cambridge and was a professor at Oxford.

 

Exclusive: Ravi Zacharias Apologizes for False Claims about His Credentials at Oxford and Cambridge

In response to my request for a comment about his false claim to be a professor at Oxford (see this post for video) in a speech to the C.S. Lewis Institute, Ravi Zacharias sent the following statement to me:

“I am thankful for the opportunities I have had throughout my life to pursue an education from a broad range of outstanding institutions. I earned my bachelor’s degree in theology from Ontario Bible College (now known as Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto) and then completed a Master’s in Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. I was then privileged to serve as Chair and Associate Professor of Evangelism and Associate Professor of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York. In subsequent years, I had the opportunity to participate in guided studies at Ridley Hall, an independent theological college affiliated with the University of Cambridge, which consisted of studies in a few subjects including philosophy and world religions. I was also a Senior Research Fellow, an honorary title which Wycliffe Hall, a permanent private hall of the University of Oxford, bestowed for a number of years. This role provided a wonderful opportunity for me to lecture there.

While I have been privileged to receive several honorary doctorates from other institutions, to be clear, I have never earned a doctoral degree and was never enrolled at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. And while I have lectured at Wycliffe Hall, I am not and have never been a professor at the University of Oxford. I recognize that academic terms and designations are important, and I apologize for any occasion on which I have wrongly titled my association with either of these institutions. For these reasons, I previously updated my curriculum vitae on the RZIM website to best reflect my educational and professional experience.”

The second paragraph contains some new admissions (in bold print). He acknowledges never being enrolled in Oxford or Cambridge and apologizes for using titles in the past suggesting he was a professor at Oxford. This took place over two decades.

In December 2017, Zacharias acknowledged that he did not have an earned doctorate and said he would discontinue using the title “Dr” (he has honorary doctorates). However, at that time, he did not address his past misleading academic claims involving Oxford and Cambridge. Today, this statement partially addresses that situation.

As I did yesterday, I asked for reaction from Canadian apologist John Stackhouse. Via email, Stackhouse said:

It is good to have Ravi Zacharias apologize for misleading claims about his academic credentials—as he has now done again. But now what?

Not only Mr Zacharias himself, but Mr Zacharias’s publishers, the RZIM board, RZIM staff members, RZIM institutional partners, RZIM donors, and the Christian & Missionary Alliance all have vital decisions to make now. What can and should be salvaged of a ministry whose leader has admitted that he lied, repeatedly, about the basic facts of his competence to perform that ministry?

Christians should pray for integrity, honesty, courage, gentleness, and wisdom for everyone involved in this mess—for it is, despite the mild language of this admission by Mr Zacharias, a terrible mess indeed.

 

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Image: Kristamaranatha at the English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Blast from the Past: Ravi Zacharias Made Himself a Professor at Oxford

In a 2012 speech before the C.S. Lewis Institute, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias referred to himself as a “professor at Oxford” after saying he had studied at Cambridge.  Watch (the complete speech is here. The clip is at 52:41):

In fact, Zacharias was never on the faculty in any capacity at Oxford University. He spent some time in the city of Oxford with an honorary position at Wycliffe Hall, a ministry preparation school which has an affiliation with Oxford but his statement here is simply false.

For those who followed the scandal surrounding Zacharias’ credentials back in December 2017, this will seem like old news. However, what was true then is still true – in the public statements from his ministry, Zacharias never addressed his false claims about credentials from Oxford and Cambridge. He has not acknowledged them, even though some of them still persist in his publications and speeches such as this video.

Zacharias’ false claims about his credentials came under scrutiny through the persistent work of attorney Steve Baughman. Christianity Today briefly took up of credential inflation via an interview with John Stackhouse, an apologist and professor at Crandall University in New Brunswick, Canada.

I asked Dr. Stackhouse if I could include his reactions to the false claim by Zacharias to the C.S. Lewis Institute and he agreed as long as I made it clear that he is also a human being who understands the temptations to cover insecurity with credential inflation. Stackhouse said the comment might seem to some observers like “no big deal.” However, he said, “It is a big deal. No one who knows anything about the respective cultures of Oxford and Cambridge universities would claim to be ‘a professor at Oxford’ who wasn’t in fact a full Professor at Oxford.”

Stackhouse explained that in North America, colleges and universities “refer to assistant and associate professors as ‘Professor,’ but at Oxford you have to have attained that final rank for that term to apply to you.” Those who have rank at less than full professor are given other titles.

He added, “And to say you are a ‘professor at Oxford’ while referring to Cambridge University (“my studies at Cambridge”) clearly implies that you are on the staff of the university—not on the staff of the apologetics institute you yourself founded in the city of Oxford, or a lecturer at an affiliated theological college, or anything else.”

In Stackhouse’s opinion, the claim isn’t a “slip of the tongue.” He said:

It isn’t a “dynamic equivalent” translation of a foreign educational situation for a lay American audience.  It is a falsehood that serves only to exaggerate his intellectual authority. One just can’t make a remark like this as a mere error. It’s like saying “I’m an astronaut” or “I’m a senator.” If you understand the terms at all, you can’t use them unless you literally are an astronaut or senator.

Compounding the problem is that Zacharias hasn’t personally addressed these issues. I asked Ravi Zacharias International Ministries for a comment on this video last night and did not hear from them today.

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Christian and Missionary Alliance Church Declines to Pursue Discipline Against Ravi Zacharias

Yesterday, the Christian & Missionary Alliance made public a brief statement of the results of their investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and dishonesty against apologist Ravi Zacharias. The statement in full is below and at the church website:

Evidence does not provide basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.

Ravi Zacharias has maintained his licensing credentials through The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) for 45 years. Along with all C&MA licensed workers, he is subject to the Uniform Policy on Discipline, Restoration, and Appeal.
Recently Mr. Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic credentials. Mr. Zacharias and his employer, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have revised and clarified their communications to address these concerns. The C&MA has determined that there is no basis for formal discipline regarding this matter.
Mr. Zacharias has also been accused of engaging in an immoral relationship with a woman through the use of electronic communications. The C&MA recently completed a thorough inquiry of these accusations, including interviews with those involved and a review of all available documentation and records. While it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the nuances of these allegations, the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.
Questions may be directed to Peter Burgo, at communications@cmalliance.org.

The C&MA Statement Comes Across as Evasive

Immediately, I asked Mr. Burgo where Ravi Zacharias or his ministry addressed the false claims about Cambridge and/Oxford. There has been no reply as of time of publication.
Although I don’t believe RZIM’s statement regarding Zacharias’ use of the title “Dr” was satisfactory, there was some kind of response. However, there has been no response from Ravi Zacharias about his claim that he was a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” Zacharias also incorrectly said he was an “official lecturer at Oxford University.” These claims were never admitted or addressed despite being made for many years.
The RZIM response on credentials is primarily about the use of the title “Dr.” You can read it here. The only paragraph which might relate to credentials in general is below:

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.

This vague paragraph does not take responsibility for the deceptive use of positions at Cambridge and Oxford not actually held by Ravi Zacharias. He did this for many years and these claims continue to be a part of his books without explicit correction.
Likewise, the C&MA statement comes across as a cover up of the credentials misrepresentations of Ravi Zacharias. In fact, Ravi Zacharias and his ministry have not revised and clarified their communications to address the concerns. They spun some of the concerns but ignored others. Alas, that is what the C&MA has done as well. Because Ravi Zacharias doesn’t refer to himself today as a visiting scholar at Cambridge, the church apparently isn’t going to comment on the many years that he did it before it was revealed to be a false claim.
According to the C&MA’s Uniform Policy on Discipline, Restoration, and Appeal, those who are investigated can face several disciplinary outcomes ranging from reprimand to expulsion. It is hard to understand how Ravi Zacharias escaped at least a reprimand for repeated misrepresentations of his credentials over the decades of his public work.

Regarding the Online Relationship

Initially, it may appear that the C&MA exonerated Zacharias for his online relationship with a Canadian woman. However, I don’t know that it should be interpreted that way. Because the statement only refers to “available evidence,” the conclusion reached by the church is limited by what they could discover. In fact, both Zacharias and the woman are bound by a non-disclosure agreement. There is little now that anyone can discern based on the legal arrangement between the two parties.

Christian Historian Says He Was Evicted from First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Conference Over Ravi Zacharias

Historian and former Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary archivist Jim Lutzweiler attended the How Should We Then Pastor Conference for pastors held January 25-28 at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FLfbc jax logo hoping to find out more about Ravi Zacharias. Zacharias received the Lindsay Award, an annual award given by the church. Lutzweiler attended a Q&A session the afternoon before Zacharias was slated to get his award (Jan. 28). Lutzweiler told me he wanted to ask lead pastor Mac Brunson, “In this conference about how to pastor, how did you as a pastor deal with the question of Ravi’s phony credentials, sexting, and suicide email, and still retain him on the program?”
I too would like to know the answer to that question. Zacharias has numerous loose ends remaining but has gone quiet since his ministry issued incomplete statements about credentialing issues several weeks ago.

I Will Call Security

According to Lutzweiler, he attended a Q&A session where he intended to ask lead pastor Mac Brunson his question. However, he said Brunson’s son, Trey, got to him before the microphone did. Lutzweiler quoted Brunson as saying, “No, do not ask the question. If you do, I will call security.” Lutzweiler said he complied with that request.
After the Q&A, Lutzweiler said he went to the auditorium for the meeting during which Ravi Zacharias was to get an award. He told me he looked for a good seat:

I got one four rows back.  Suddenly a security guard came to my seat and asked me to follow him.  I did.  When we got to the foyer, he said, ‘We want to ask you to leave.  We understand you want to create a scene.’  I said, ‘What? I am not here to create a scene, I just came to hear Ravi.  In fact, I pointedly did NOT create a scene across the street during a Q&A when Trey asked me not to ask a question about Ravi. I politely consented to his request.’ I could quickly tell this made no difference, that they had a mandate to get me out of there without compromise (like sitting in the balcony 200 feet-or-so away from the platform).  There were two other pistol-bearing guards right there, ready to haul me away.

I sent emails and a tweet to First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Trey Brunson and asked for their side of this story. I received no response.
Jim Lutzweiler is a Baptist and wanted to raise issues which would no doubt have been inconvenient and uncomfortable but given the information available and recent media coverage were fair to raise. In particular, Lutzweiler wanted to know how Brunson evaluated the evidence which is very compelling. Apparently, if you follow this example, how pastors are supposed to pastor is to ignore such things; and have good security guards packing heat.

In Church of England Report, Oxford University Expressed Concern about Wycliffe Hall’s Connection to Ravi Zacharias

See correction below – Ravi Zacharias’ Ligonier bio has been changed to make it accurate.
…………………………………………….
In a 2015 Church of England report evaluating ministry training at Wycliffe Hall, reviewers disclosed that the relationship between the Oxford University affiliateRZIM logo and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries had become a “cause of concern.” In 2006, Wycliffe Hall, a theological training center for the Church of England established the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in cooperation with RZIM. However, Oxford University became concerned that the admissions to the centre were being confused with admissions to Oxford.

On pages 11-12, the report stated:

WH began a relationship with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in 2006, establishing OCCA, the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. The relationship became a cause of concern to the university when admissions to the centre were not clearly differentiated from admissions to the university. Admissions procedures have now been clarified although some concerns remain for the university. For WH, the attraction of OCCA is important for recruitment to the Certificate in Theological Studies, particularly in relation to overseas students, whilst remaining clearly a separate entity. The independent students who had accessed the teaching of OCCA were very positive about it. A member of teaching staff is shared between WH and OCCA.

The concern disclosed in this report may be what led Wycliffe Hall to end Ravi Zacharias’ honorific position of Senior Research Lecturer in 2015 and suspended the use of such titles. According to an email from Michael Lloyd at Wycliffe Hall to Steve Baughman, Wycliffe Hall took several actions pertinent to the Church of England report near the end of 2015.

oxford WH Fellow 3
The organizations are separate. The current websites make this clear. According to this email from Wycliffe Hall, even at the time, it was deceptive to say that an honorific title at Wycliffe Hall meant one was a lecturer at Oxford University. 

Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University?

Currently, one could be forgiven for thinking there is still some connection between Ravi Zacharias and Oxford University. As I pointed out recently, a current Ravi Zacharias bio up on a website for the Ligonier Ministries West Coast conference to be held in June 2018 proclaims that Zacharias is currently a senior research lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. (UPDATE: As January 10, this bio has been changed to remove the reference to Oxford University).

Ravi Zacharias bio ligonierHis current bios at Veritas Forum, BioLogos, The Stream, and elsewhere have this information.

Over the years, Zacharias has created the impression that his work was accredited by Oxford. In 2012, he told Ligonier Ministries:

Our Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is now accredited with degree programs at Oxford University.

He wrote in his autobiography that he is “an official lecturer at Oxford University,” “lecturing there once a year” and has said that in at least one media appearance.  It is no wonder that officials at Oxford and the Church of England expressed concern that there might be confusion about the relationship between OCCA and Oxford.

Ravi Zacharias Did Not Fully Addressed the Credentials Controversy

In RZIM’s December statement, there was no mention of the false claims about connections to Cambridge and Oxford. These were the most deceptive claims but these did not get any explanation. RZIM supporters share the burden of addressing these issues. Ravi Zacharias cannot claim to have addressed the controversy with integrity until he can address head on these issues and take steps to correct the numerous deceptive representations of his work for which his organization is responsible.

This and That: Ravi Zacharias, Husbands as Holy Spirit, Another Fake Jefferson Quote, Dissociative Identity Disorder

Here are a few things I have been thinking and reading about.

Ravi Zacharias, Ligonier Ministries, and His Oxford Thing

UPDATE: As of January 10, the bio has been changed to remove the claim that Zacharias is a senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall.
I thought Ravi Zacharias would be more careful after his brush with controversy over his credentials. However, he is speaking for Ligonier RZIM logoMinistries this summer and they are billing him as a current “senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University.” Problem is, he’s not. Even though Wycliffe Hall is a Permanent Private Hall at Oxford and he once held an honorific title there, he was never considered on faculty at Oxford. I have seen the correspondence from Oxford on the subject and it is clear that he does not have any position now with Wycliffe or Oxford (source, source, sourcesource).
Since December 19, I have been corresponding with Ligonier about this without any change in the description or response from them. Apparently, false claims aren’t a big deal.

Are Husbands Responsible to Sanctify Wives?

photo-1453748866136-b1dd97284f49_optThis piece by Sarah Lindsay directed me to this piece by Bryan Stoudt. Stoudt argues that husbands are responsible “to be instruments of his sanctifying work in the lives of our wives.” This means husbands are supposed to correct their wives without being too angry or too passive. Apparently the process doesn’t go both ways. Wives get to be corrected but not to correct.

Trump Supporter Sheriff Clarke Posts Fake Jefferson Quote

You can’t make this up. On December 31, Trump supporter and former Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke posted to twitter a quote falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson.


A person who claims the liberal media posts fake news posted a fake quote and has so far refused to admit it. His defenders question Monticello.

Dissociative Identity Disorder Documentary

I have always been skeptical about Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). A friend recently pointed me to this 1993 documentary on the subject featuring the work of discredited therapist Colin Ross. One may generalize some aspects of the therapists’ mistakes to what reparative therapists do to falsely consider their techniques to be useful.

Feel free to comment on any and all topics. Add some of your own. What are you reading about? I’ve also been reading articles on free will and determinism, arguments against Calvinism, why there is something rather than nothing, whether or not hydrolized wheat is gluten free, autogynephilia, lost cities of Finland, arguments against an immaterial soul, the Collective Unconscious, the Milgram experiment, the history of Fleetwood Mac, and a few other things.
I might get on some theme soon or then again, I might not.

Should Recipients of an Honorary Doctorate Use the Prefix Dr?

As follow up to the story about the use of the title “Dr.” by Ravi Zacharias and his ministry, I examined the policies of over a dozen colleges and universities both here and abroad.

The most recent statement from Ravi Zacharias claims the following:

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.

Zacharias’ ministry claims it is an “appropriate and acceptable practice” to use the title “Dr.” with honorary degrees. I would like to know where that is the case. My research tells a different story.

I found that an honorary doctorate does not grant the privilege of using Dr. as a prefix at most schools. I only found one school which expressly allows (well two if you count an unaccredited school where you can buy a degree). Some schools don’t have policies online, whereas most I consulted advise against it. Below are the policies I found.* I start with the UK schools since this is the world where Ravi Zacharias claims to have gotten some honors.

Oxford Brooks UK

15. Honorary graduates may use the approved post-nominal letters as contained in section A1.1.8 of the University Regulations: ‘Honorary Degrees’. It is not customary, however, for recipients of an honorary doctorate to adopt the prefix ‘Dr’.

If you click through to Section A1.1.8, you see the titles which are supposed to be used by degree recipients after their names (e.g., HonDLitt, for a Doctor of Letters). This alerts the public to the fact that the degree is honorary.

University of Brighton

Honorary graduates shall be advised that recipients of an honorary degree may use the approved designatory letters after their names; Hon DArts, Hon DEng, Hon LLD Hon DLitt, Hon DSc, Hon DTech. It is not customary, however, for recipients of an honorary doctorate to use the title ‘Dr’ in front of their name.

Robert Gordon University Aberdeen

Recipients of an honorary degree may use the approved post-nominal letters [e.g., HonDArts]. It is not customary, however for recipients of an honorary doctorate to adopt the prefix ‘Dr’.

In the U.S., university policies vary in wording but consistently indicate honorary degree recipients should not represent themselves as holding an earned degree.

University of Wisconsin

While a significant and important award, an honorary doctorate does not have the same standing as an earned doctorate and should not be represented as such.

From here on, the policies leave no room for doubt about the matter.

Florida Atlantic University

In no instance will the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Florida Atlantic University represent the award as being an earned doctorate or an earned academic credential of any kind. This award does not entitle the recipient to use the title of “Dr.” or append “Ph.D.” or any other earned degree designation after his/her name. Inappropriate use of the award could result in its withdrawal by action of the President and Provost, with the input of the University Faculty Senate Honors and Awards Committee.

Arcadia University

…always indicate degree was honorary, ie “an honorary doctorate of humanities”; do not refer to person as Dr. if he/she has only an honorary degree.

Delaware Valley University

A recipient of an honorary degree should never be referred to as doctor (if this is the only degree held). In running text: • Drew Becher holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Abbreviations of Honorary Degrees • Honorary Doctor of Arts – D.A. (h.c.) • Honorary Doctor of Arts and Human Letters – D.A.H. (h.c.) • Honorary Doctor of Business – D.B. (h.c.) • Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts – D.F.A. (h.c.) • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – D.H.L (h.c.) • Honorary Doctor of Liberal Arts – D.L.A. (h.c.) [h.c. abbreviates the Latin honoris causa – “for the cause of honor”]

Drexel University

Do not refer to an honorary degree holder with the courtesy title Dr. or Hon. When referring to someone who holds an honorary degree, make clear that the degree is honorary.

Brandeis University

Recipients of an honorary doctorate do not normally adopt the title of “doctor.” In many countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, it is not usual for an honorary doctor to use the formal title of “doctor,” regardless of the background circumstances for the award.

George Fox University

A person with an honorary doctorate is not called Dr.

Lycoming College

honorary degrees All references to an honorary degree should specify that the degree was honorary. Robert Shangraw ’58, H’04. Do not use Dr. before the name of an individual whose only doctorate is honorary. an honorary doctor of laws degree (emphasis in the original)

University of Richmond

For those who receive honorary degrees, the letter “H” is used after the individual’s name with the date the degree was conferred. Do not refer to someone as “Dr.” if he or she has only an honorary doctorate.

Saint Mary’s University of MN

“Dr.” before a name is acceptable in internal communications to indicate either an academic doctoral degree or a physician’s credential. For external use, use Ph.D., M.D., or similar abbreviation after the name. • do not use the redundant Dr. John Smith, M.D., or Dr. Steve Smith, Ph.D. • do not use “Dr.” for honorary degrees.

Hood College

To designate using the honorary degree • Wil Haygood, LHD (h.c.) The (h.c.) is Latin for “honoris causa.” A recipient of an honorary degree should never be referred to as doctor (if this is the only degree held)

West Virginia University

Honorary degree recipients are properly addressed as “doctor” in correspondence from the university that awarded the honorary degree and in conversation on that campus. But honorary degree recipients should not refer to themselves as “doctor”, nor should they use the title on business cards or in correspondence. However, the recipient is entitled to use the appropriate honorary abbreviation behind his or her name, for example, [full name], Litt.D. On a resume or in a biographical sketch, they may indicate an honorary degree by writing out the degree followed by the words “honoris causa” to signify that the degree is honorary, not earned.

When addressing a person who has received an honorary degree from another university, it is not correct to use the term “doctor” nor should the title be used in correspondence, biographical sketches, introductions, or on place cards.

One school — Lynchburg College in Virginia — allows honorary degree recipients to use the title Dr., but that is the only one I could find among accredited schools during my search.* One other, the Los Angeles Development Church and Institute proudly proclaims that you can make a donation and get an honorary doctorate. Then it is just fine to call yourself doctor.

Although I suspect Ravi Zacharias fans will continue to believe he has been entitled to his title and perhaps still is, this survey of policies should make it clear to an objective observer that the trend is against using the title Dr. with the honorary doctorate alone.

*I stopped after a searching through about two dozen schools when it became apparent that the trend was that an honorary doctorate recipient should not use the title “Dr.” If someone can show me schools I missed with different policies, I will gladly add them to this post.

Christianity Today Podcast: John Stackhouse on Ravi Zacharias and Credential Inflation

This Christianity Today interview with Crandall University professor John Stackhouse is well worth the time. Mark Galli and Morgan Lee get to theRZIM logo heart of the matter of Ravi Zacharias’ inflation of credentials.

Stackhouse revealed that he raised the issue many years ago with two of Zacharias’ staffers only to have the concerns ignored.

Near the end of the interview, Lee asked Stackhouse a key question:

Lee:
John, what do you think with regards to character? So when someone does this and it is revealed that the information in their bio may be exaggerated or may be outright fabrication, is it okay to question their integrity overall?

Stackhouse:
Well, when your whole job is to tell the truth as accurately, carefully, rigorously as possible, when what you’re really asking people to do by setting forth your credentials – which literally comes from the same word as creed or credo – why I should be believed, then you really take on a tremendous burden to speak very circumspectly. And if right out of the gate your credentials are suspect, then what are people supposed to do in the audience when he makes certain claims? Are they all supposed to hit their phones, or tablets and start checking everything you say because the stuff they can check isn’t quite true. Isn’t quite true. And I think as soon as we get into the it’s not quite true phase, I think you’re done. I just don’t think you can continue as an apologist if you’re not going to be scrupulous about telling the truth in a way that you can predict your audience will understand. Otherwise, you’re in the wrong game.

This phrase is a keeper: “I think as soon as we get into the it’s not quite true phase, I think you’re done.”

The issue of credibility and trust is central to the entire problem. As a part of his talks, Ravi Zacharias makes fact claims. Some sound a little suspicious to me. Now that I know that some of his credentials claims are off, I am reluctant to fully trust much else.

Stackhouse’s critique is devastating because he is a Christian apologist in his own right. Although the fans of Zacharias are loyal, I hope Christians continue to bring this to RZIM’s attention and ask for accountability and correction.