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Ravi Zacharias:The Man Who Answered Life’s Deepest Questions Leaves Us Wondering...

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
February 19, 2021 7:00 pm

Ravi Zacharias:The Man Who Answered Life’s Deepest Questions Leaves Us Wondering...

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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February 19, 2021 7:00 pm

Ravi Zacharias was one of the most well-known evangelical Christians in the world. Speaking all over the world and leading Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), a non-profit, para-church organization based in Atlanta with satellite offices around the world and upwards of $25M in annual revenue.

At speaking events and on his daily radio program, Zacharias was known for being an intelligent and articulate Christian “apologist”—one who provides answers to the philosophical, moral, and existential challenges to Christianity. He was highly respected personally and professionally.

As is typical with nearly all high-profile ministry leaders, especially ones in ministry for 40 years, Zacharias absorbed a couple publicized accusations—one about exaggerating his educational credentials and the other a few years ago regarding a Canadian woman sending him sexual text messages. The latter was explained away as an extortion attempt...

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Ravi Zacharias, the man who answered life's deepest questions, leaves us wondering about the biggest one. That is the topic we'll discuss today right here on the Christian Worldview radio program, where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm David Wheaton, the host, and our website is thechristianworldview.org. Well, thank you for joining us today on the Christian Worldview as we discuss the really almost hard-to-believe scandal involving the well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. Now, we're going to get into that a little later in the program, but before we do, I just want to finish the topic we did last week on Christian nationalism. Last week we discussed this new pejorative, this kind of negative characterization of evangelicals today, linking them or including them in this category of being Christian nationalists.

That's also a term that has a very negative connotation, for sure, everyone on the left, but even those within Christianity as well, because some held Christian flags and crosses at the Trump rally in Washington, D.C. on January 6th that turned into a riot or a melee at the U.S. Capitol. The conclusion now, being pushed by mainstream media and politicians and religious leaders on the left, is that Christian nationalists are homegrown terrorists threatening our democracy. And last week I read this article, and I won't read the whole thing, I'll just read a paragraph or two here from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, titled Capital Siege Puts Spotlight on Christian Nationalists.

The article goes on to say the movement is biggest in the South and Midwest, stronger in rural than urban America, they found. And listen to this, key beliefs include political conservatism, the inerrancy of the Bible, and that the nation is on the brink of moral decay. Now, millions of people in this country believe that, and apparently now to the definition of the left, you're a Christian nationalist if you believe those things about if you're politically conservative and inerrancy of Scripture and the nation being on the brink of moral decay. The article goes on, last paragraph here, these views are commonly held by, and here's the linkage to millions of people, commonly held by evangelical Christians to varying degrees.

What sets ardent Christian nationalists apart is belief that God created the United States as a Christian nation, that U.S. laws must reflect their version of Christian values, and that government has no right to interfere with their religious liberties. We played also last week this podcast called Quick to Listen by the publication Christianity Today, which is a very, I would say, non-orthodox Christian organization now. The guest on the program that we're going to be hearing from, his name is Paul Miller. He's a professor of the practice of international affairs at Georgetown University, and notably a research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

We've talked about them before, the ERLC. This is the political advocacy organization for the Southern Baptist Convention led by Russell Moore. And he's made some very controversial statements, being very anti-Trump. So this is where Paul Miller, this person who we're going to hear from today in the program, he's coming from that particular organization. So let's get first to that soundbite where Paul Miller talks about this issue of Christian nationalism and what the church needs to do about it. So I think today, I think churches, I think particularly white churches, churches that are predominantly white or led by white leaders who recognize the threat of Christian nationalism and they want to do something, they sort of need to adopt a different understanding or an additional understanding of the church's mission.

They are in the business of de-radicalization. He says it so matter-of-factly, like the church should be in the business of de-radicalization as if these are Islamic terrorists trying to destroy the land. Again, 77, 78% of self-identified evangelicals are supporters or accommodators of this ideology.

That's tens of millions of people. And the church's job, I know there's some people out there who are thinking, it's not the church's job, the church just preaches the gospel. Well, the church must always confront false teaching. And we now have false teaching in our midst in this form of Christian nationalism. So if you don't believe like Paul Miller, if you're part of the 70 million people in this country he just referenced, who believe that Christianity should have a place in the public square, you're advancing false teaching. It's also the church's job because we have to confront sin and there are people who are taking the name of Christ and they are involved in public sin by engaging in riots and even political violence and bringing the gospel into disrepute.

Talk about painting with a broad brush. The man just said that if you are part of those 70 million Americans who think that Christianity has an important part in this country, you need to be de-radicalized. You need to stop being part of this false gospel. I don't think any biblical Christian would say that it's the gospel that Christian values need to be integrated into government. But certainly Christians would say it's a good thing. It's a God-honoring thing when leaders and governments respect and revere God in their leadership and their laws. If you had asked me a month ago how I would define Christian nationalism, my mind would have gone to something like Dominionism or Reconstructionism or the New Apostolic Reformation. I looked online and a website called Christian Century had some definitions of those particular terms that I just used, and they say the term Dominionism was popularized in the 1990s by scholars and journalists who applied it to conservative Christians seeking political power. It derives from the book of Genesis, in which God tells Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth and its animals. Dominionism generally describes the belief that Christians are biblically mandated to control all earthly institutions until the second coming of Jesus.

Experts identify two main schools of Dominionism. Christian Reconstructionists, who believe biblical law, including stoning as punishment for adultery and other transgressions, should replace secular law. And the New Apostolic Reformation, the NAR, which advocates for Christians to, quote, reclaim the seven mountains of culture—government, religion, media, family, business, education, and arts, and entertainment. So basically what they believe is—true Christian nationalists, let's say—believe they have a mandate to Christianize the U.S. and the world, which will eventually usher in the return of Christ. Now, I believe this is wrong theology, especially as it relates to the Great Commission. Christians are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, not to make Christian nations.

So they're off on their Great Commission. They're also off on their eschatology that somehow they're going to Christianize the world and pave the way for the return of Christ. Only after the world has been Christianized will Christ return. And again, I don't see that anywhere in Scripture. And some may even be radical, as I mentioned in that paragraph, seeking for like an Old Testament-style law and old order and punishment for wrongdoing. Again, that's what my mind would have gone to a month ago when I would have thought about Christian nationalism, those who are really strident and wanting to impose Christianity on the laws of our country. But I certainly don't know what the people who had Christian banners or were holding crosses in Washington believe.

I don't even know how many there were of them, or whether any of them actually breached the Capitol. But again, it was all being used to broadbrush and to group together as many people as possible who supported Trump—many evangelicals did that—to try to marginalize them and shame them and trying to slander them by saying, Oh, you just want to set up a theocracy in this country. And so I went to GotQuestions.org, which I think gives a very, often a very balanced perspective, kind of these one-page explanations of various questions that they receive.

I think they've answered hundreds of thousands of questions on their website. And I read their article on Christian nationalism. Christians are obligated to individually submit to the will of God, Romans 12.1, and to support one another along those lines. In practice, this means advocating for government actions consistent with a Christian worldview. I think that's a very good point.

That's what we want. We want government actions to be consistent with a Christian worldview. It includes defying government commands to commit sin, where the apostles said, No, we will not stop preaching about Christ.

We must obey God rather than men. At the same time, the article goes on to say, a believer's primary mission is not earthly, let alone political. In fact, the main descriptor for a Christian's relationship to government is submission. That's from Romans 13, not domination. Perspectives such as Christian dominionism, or Kingdom Now theology, rightly invite accusations of Christian nationalism. Those perspectives are not reflected in Scripture. So they're giving kind of a balanced approach here that there should be a Christian worldview in government. That's a good thing.

That's a God-honoring thing. I don't see the biblical commission for taking dominion over government and over these seven institutions that the New Apostolic Reformation sees. But that being said, Christianity also shouldn't be excluded or marginalized as is being attempted today because of the phony charge of separation in church of state.

I mean, the founders never believe that. This has just become a favorite libel of the left to be able to achieve and gather more political power. I mean, if anything, secular humanism, which is the the worldview of the left, that's a religion in itself. They love to force their godless religious values down the throats of everyone. So what they're accusing Christians of doing, these Christian nationalists, they're actually doing far more. I mean, the threat to this country from Christian nationalists is you want to—let's say the more radical groups of them who want to take over America—it's nothing compared to the fact that those on the left with their secular humanism actually have taken over America. And so as you look back over American history, it would be very hard to not say that earlier Americans, our founders, were Christian nationalists. They certainly believed in God, and they wanted Christianity, at least the principles of Christianity, to be a part of this nation. This last Sunday in church, the pastor actually read a quote from Abraham Lincoln back in 1863. I'm just going to read part of it, and you'll see just how freely Abraham Lincoln talked about God and faith and Christian principles, just in this one little quote. He said, In so much as we know that by his divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.

Imagine a politician or president saying that sentence today. He goes on to say, We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us. And we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

That was Abraham Lincoln, the president, back in 1863 during the Civil War. So whatever we talk about Christian nationalism today, let's remember that those founders before us very freely talked about who God was and the need to honor him in our country. And Paul Miller, this man who was interviewed on the Christianity Today podcast, said as much. From the time Europeans stepped foot on North American shores, they thought of the polity they were building here in religious terms. So to some extent, it's always been part of the kind of the European Christianity that was imported here.

Look, it's a kind of a version of Christendom, so to speak, this blending of sacred and secular identities to create a unified polity that makes sense of the universe, right? So yes, you can find chapters in American history where something like this is always here. Some Americans during the founding thought that America was the quote, new Israel, right?

They said that, they wrote it that way. And they thought that the revolution was sort of a step forward in the building of the kingdom of God. And it was much more the case during the Civil War, which was this righteous crusade against an evil slave power, which by the way it was, but they use that sense of self-righteousness to construct a form of American nationalism that was highly Christianistic, and highly self-righteous, and it was pretty unhelpful.

So yes, it's always been in the water. I find it kind of ironic that some man in the year 2021 is criticizing the founders for integrating their their beliefs and faith in the founding of this great nation as if it was still in the water, as if they were imbibing something that was sort of toxic. You have to look at this and think, wait now, would we rather have the views of these founders and earlier Americans influencing the country the way it was back then, despite the fact that there was slavery in part of this country?

Of course, that was a big blind spot of America. Or would we rather have the values being jammed down our throats today, these secular values of radical abortion, transgenderism, homosexuality, big government, globalism? Would you rather have this or would you rather have the worldview of the past?

Well, I know which one I think Christians should prefer. How has it changed? Over the past hundred years, as America has grown less Christian and less white, it has put the white conservative Christian population under the defensive. And so we feel like the world's against us.

We're shrinking, our power is shrinking, our influence is shrinking. All of the other forces in the world, non-Christian and foreign influences, are now controlling our country and taking it away from us. So Christian nationalists in the last, say, you know, 40 years, they tend to believe that Christians are under attack and are being persecuted. And that leans towards a worldview that is with a lot of fear, a lot of us versus them dichotomy. Forces beyond our control are steering events against us, even paranoia. And that's, I think, how today's Christian nationalism is different than past generations. And why does it bleed over into some of the conspiracy theory stuff as well? Can you believe that Christianity today, these are professing Christians saying these things, that basically, that if you sense that the country is becoming, not even sense, if you know, if you just watch it with your own eyes, the country has become so secularized and so leftist and socialistic. If you sense a problem there that you're believing conspiracy theories, you're based on fear. And oh, by the way, always race is injected into it.

You're basically just because you're white, you're afraid of being taken over by people who aren't white. The Christian worldview with David Wheaton returns in just a moment. The new year has brought new features to the Christian worldview radio program. First, good news for those who don't have an affiliate station in their area and those who subscribe to our free podcast. The latest program will now be available at our website, thechristianworldview.org or via our podcast feed at 8am central time on Saturdays. Short takes will also be released on Mondays following the weekend airing of the program. These bite-sized highlights are great for those who don't have time to listen to the full 54-minute broadcast. Short takes can be heard at our website, podcast feed, and our social media pages on Facebook and YouTube. For more updates, program previews, and resources, be sure to sign up for our free weekly email by visiting thechristianworldview.org.

We're calling 1-888-646-2233. That's 1-888-646-2233 or visiting thechristianworldview.org. There's an abundance of Christian resources available, but the reality is that many of them, even some of the most popular, do not lead to a sound and strong faith. While there's only one perfect book, a key aim of the Christian worldview is to identify and offer resources that are biblically faithful and deepen your walk with God. In our online store, we have a wide range of resources for all ages, adult and children's books and DVDs, Bibles and devotionals, unique gifts, and more. So browse our store at thechristianworldview.org and find enriching resources for yourself, family, friends, small group, or church.

You can also order by calling toll-free 1-888-646-2233. That's 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. Welcome back to The Christian Worldview. Be sure to visit our website thechristianworldview.org where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print newsletter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry.

Now, back to today's program with host David Wheaton. So what do we say in summary to this topic of Christian nationalism? I think Christians can be much more pragmatic politically while being very principled theologically and spiritually. In other words, Christians can vote for, whether even an unbeliever or a Christian who's not sound doctrinally, who will advocate for Christian values in the public square, whether it's the right to life or morality based on the Bible or the principle of work, incentive to work, law and order, and those kinds of things. A perfect example of this is Trump versus Biden. We have a two-party system in this country. You know, Donald Trump is no model of a born-again Christian. Okay, we know that.

We've discussed this many times on the program. But the policies that he advocates for versus the policies that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party advocate for are like night and day. The Democratic Party advocates for almost nearly everything that opposes God and his word, while Donald Trump and the Republican Party aren't the party of God or not the Christian Party, but the relative difference is just gigantic. So there's the the pragmatic aspect of it. Now, of course, you can vote third party too, but the reality is, we live in a two-party system. It's not about who's perfect, but about who's better, who more closely approximate a biblical worldview for government.

And the answer to that question is not even close anymore. So when it comes to, though, the theological and spiritual issues and partnerships that we join hands with, especially in the Church of the Family, then Christians need to be very principled and precise about who we will link arms with and support theologically and doctrinally. So this is the point of why we've been talking about this topic of Christian nationalism last week and then finishing this week. It's so that the left is going to dismiss Christian beliefs as crazy and false and conspiracy theories and leading to riots at the Capitol.

That was the cause of it. They're going to cherry pick extreme examples of those who want to impose or take dominion over government and then group them with regular conservative Christians and that people are going to be shamed. If you supported Donald Trump, he's a white supremacist. And if anyone acts up in that group, that's why there's thousands of troops in the Capitol. And there's Joe Biden saying this is the biggest threat to America's domestic terrorists of those who are the kind that started the Capitol riot.

This is a typical game plan. It was done with the Jews in Germany. I hate to bring up the whole example of Hitler, but that's what it does. You demonize the Jews in Germany.

They're the cause of all the problems. It was done with Christians in the Roman Empire. Nero burned Rome and then blamed Christians and all the persecution that followed. So we've emphasized this topic just for Christians to know, be alert, be advised that this is nothing new, where Christians are being slandered and demonized a certain way, because it often leads to a very bad end.

It leads to persecution. Okay, so now I'd like to transition to the topic of the day, which is Ravi Zacharias. And the topic is going to be framed around this subtitle of the man who answered life's deepest questions leaves us wondering about the biggest question. If you don't know Ravi Zacharias, he was one of the most well-known evangelical Christians in the world. He spoke all over the world. And he led the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, it's RZIM for short, which is a nonprofit parachurch organization based in Atlanta with satellite offices around the world. And back in 2015, they had upwards of $25 million in annual revenue. This is a very big organization. At speaking events and on his daily radio program, Zacharias was known for being an intelligent and articulate Christian apologist.

An apologist is one who provides answers to the philosophical, moral and existential challenges that people make against Christianity. And he was highly respected personally and professionally. Now as is typical with nearly all high profile ministry leaders, especially ones in ministry for 40 years, Zacharias absorbed a couple publicized accusations over that time in ministry, one about exaggerating his educational credentials, and the other a few years ago regarding a Canadian woman who apparently had been accused him of exchanging sexual text messages. This latter accusation was explained away as an attempt at extortion on Ravi Zacharias. Now fast forward to last year and people all over the world were praying for the fact that Ravi Zacharias had come down with a rare form of cancer. And they mourned his death, they eulogized Ravi Zacharias after he died of cancer in May of 2020. But what no one was prepared for were the allegations and then confirmation by investigators that Zacharias had been involved sexually with women all over the world, even up to a few months before his death.

And so today in the program we're going to discuss some of the challenging questions related to the man who was known for answering life's deepest questions. Now one of the first questions we need to discuss is, should we even be discussing this? Some Christians will say this, why, you're talking about this, this is negative, you're judging him. Well, we're certainly not discussing this to judge Ravi Zacharias. We're no judge, God is the ultimate judge. We certainly don't discuss this to put him down, to put ourselves up.

So we go into it with an attitude, knowing that we are frail like the rest of the men and women in the world. As a matter of fact, this is what 1 Corinthians 10 says, For I do not want you to be unaware, Paul writes to the Corinthian church, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well pleased, for they were laid low in the wilderness. In other words, Paul saying here that, look, our forefathers, they were led out of Egypt, they were baptized into Moses, they ate the same spiritual food, they had the same spiritual drink, but God was not pleased with all of them, for they went their own way, just like we can go our own way. And then he writes in verse 6, he says, Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. So we're to learn a lesson here from what had happened in the Exodus with the Jews who walked away from God. Verse 7, Do not be idolaters, as some of them were.

As it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play. That was when Moses went up to get the Ten Commandments. They corrupted themselves. It says in verse 8, Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day as a result of God's judgment. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. They say all these things here because there's an aspect that we should fear.

Don't do what they did, because if you do, there's going to be consequences. Fear God's judgment. Now these things, verse 11, happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the earth have come. And here's a key verse. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. And that sentence right there is what we need to have emblazoned on the front of our mind as we think about the life and the fall of Ravi Zacharias. Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. So if you're thinking about Ravi Zacharias, as I tell you what happened, if you think, well, that would never happen to me, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. And then the passage ends in verse 13 here that we're going to read. No temptation—this is the encouragement, this is the hope—no temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. That's from 1 Corinthians 10, verses 1 through 13. So to get back to the question, should we even be discussing this sordid affair of Ravi Zacharias? And the answer is absolutely yes.

As a matter of fact, I think we should be discussing it far and wide. The Bible frequently describes those who have fallen even amongst its most notable characters. There was Noah, the great Noah, the man of faith who built the ark for 100 years when it never rained. Well, all of a sudden we see Noah portrayed as getting drunk and sleeping with his daughters and having children with him. Or Abraham lying about Sarah being his wife, the great patriarch, if shown as a liar and afraid of these other leaders. And of course there's King David, a man after God's own heart, is shown as being not a man after God's own heart all the time, but as an adulterer and a murderer. And it took a while for him to repent of it until he was confronted. Or in the New Testament the apostle Peter, the first mentioned among the apostles, is the one who betrayed Christ three times as Christ was arrested and brought before the religious authorities before his crucifixion. So the Bible describes these sordid affairs of some of its most notable characters in Scripture. What usually happens in situations like this is that churches and Christians quickly sweep these things under the rug.

Just think about the situation with Ravi Zacharias, and I haven't even told you what happened yet, but many of you already know about it. How much have you heard this talked about, aside from maybe reading something on Facebook or something on the internet? Has it been mentioned in your church?

Has it been addressed on radio? Maybe to a certain degree, but the reality is people are going to know about this, but then they're going to move on, because it's uncomfortable to talk about, or they don't want to be deemed as judgmental. But I really do believe, because Scripture gives examples of the fallen and describes these things in detail, that we should be discussing it because of what it does to us. It increases our fear of the Lord. Look at all these passages of Scripture where it talks about the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 16, 6, by the fear of the Lord, one keeps away from evil. So if you have a fear of God, this awe, a reverence, a literal fear of offending the one who created you and the consequences that he's going to bring in your life for offending him, for sinning against him, the Bible says that keeps you away from evil. In Christians, we should want to stay away from evil. Proverbs 3, 7, do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Another one in Proverbs 19, the fear of the Lord leads to life so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

So the recurring theme in just these three verses is this, that if you fear the Lord, that's going to keep you away from evil and sin. So that's really why it's important to discuss things like this, so that we can hear about this and we can fear God greatly so that we don't, so that we turn away from evil. People need to fear offending God in this way, as we talk about Ravi Zacharias today.

We need to fear the shame and the disgrace. Not only that's brought upon him and his family and those in his ministry and all the Christians around the world that have maybe looked up to him and the disappointment he's brought to them, but ultimately the shame and disgrace that he brought on the name of Jesus Christ. So we need to discuss it because we need to also know how to overcome these kinds of temptations that Ravi Zacharias succumbed to. So who is Ravi Zacharias? For those of you who may not know who he is, I'm just going to read a few paragraphs off Wikipedia, just gives a general idea of his biography and what his life was like. Ravi Zacharias was born in 1946 and died, as I mentioned, last year in May of 2020. He was an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist who founded the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry. He was involved in Christian apologetics for a period spanning more than 40 years, and he was the author of more than 30 books on Christianity. Zacharias was the founder and chairman of the board of RZIM and host of the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking. You probably heard those on Christian radio. They've been on the air for many, many years. He was a lifelong minister of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

That's a CMA. The mission, by the way, of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is to reach and challenge those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So they're trying to impact those who are leaders in culture through answering the philosophical and intellectual challenges to Christianity and show that there's credibility to the gospel and to the Bible. The revenue, the last I could find, online at least, for the organization of RZIM was nearly $26 million for this ministry back in 2015. It has a 100% charity rating at least of the year that I looked at. So this was not a small—this is a very large Christian organization. That's a very, very big number, nearly $26 million.

I don't know what it was most recently, but that's what it was in 2015. Zacharias was born in 1946 in Madras, India. His family was Anglican, but he was a, quote, skeptic, he said, until the age of 17, when he tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. While he was in the hospital, a local Christian worker brought him a Bible and told his mother to read to him from John chapter 14, which contains Jesus' words to Thomas, the apostle. Zacharias said it was John 14 verse 19 that touched him as the defining paradigm, quote, because I live, you also will live, unquote. And that he thought, quote, this may be my only hope, a new way of living, life as defined by the author of life, unquote.

Now, you never know on Wikipedia whether these are exactly accurate quotes or the way he said it. But I think there's an important distinction to make here that Christianity, becoming a Christian, is really not about a new way of living. It's not a way to live. It's a God to know and to worship. And that's a very key distinction. It's not about just doing all these certain acts or deeds of being a Christian. It's not even thinking like a Christian and living like a Christian, like we say in our model, think biblical, live accordingly. That has to do with the Christian worldview. But ultimately, being a born again Christian is about knowing and loving and worshiping and obeying God.

It's a relationship with our creator. The Christian worldview with David Wheaton returns in just a moment. David Wheaton here, host of the Christian worldview. For over 15 years, our mission has been to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We pursue that mission on air through radio programs, in-person hosting events, and online through audio, video, and print resources. We are an all-volunteer ministry but have monthly operating expenses, the most significant being the cost of airtime on the station, website, or app on which you hear the radio program. We are looking for monthly partners so that each station or website is supported by its own listeners.

The level of financial support for a given outlet is a key decision point whether we continue paying to broadcast there. To become a monthly partner of any amount, call us toll-free 1-888-646-2233 or visit thechristianworldview.org. Thank you for listening to and supporting the Christian worldview. The New Year has brought new features to the Christian worldview radio program. First, good news for those who don't have an affiliate station in their area and those who subscribe to our free podcast. The latest program will now be available at our website thechristianworldview.org or via our podcast feed at 8am central time on Saturdays. Short takes will also be released on Mondays following the weekend airing of the program.

These bite-sized highlights are great for those who don't have time to listen to the full 54-minute broadcast. Short takes can be heard at our website, podcast feed, and our social media pages on Facebook and YouTube. For more updates, program previews, and resources, be sure to sign up for our free weekly email by visiting thechristianworldview.org or calling 1-888-646-2233. That's 1-888-646-2233 or visiting thechristianworldview.org. Thanks for joining us on the Christian worldview. Just a reminder that today's program and past programs are archived at our website thechristianworldview.org.

Short takes are also available and be sure to share with others. Now back to today's program with host David Wheaton. Going on with the article from Wikipedia, he committed his life to Christ, praying that, quote, Jesus, if you are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth, unquote.

Now again, that's a really nice sentiment. But again, we don't come to Christ by saying, Jesus, if you are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. We come to saying, I believe that you are the one who gives life.

And we don't make kind of deals as we come in, if you get me out of this hospital bed, here's what I'll give back to you. No, we come to Christ with nothing, just believing in who He is, that He's a Son of God, that our works, our supposed good works can in no way earn salvation. And we come and say, I surrender my life. I believe who you are and what you did for me in the cross. You paid the penalty I deserve to pay for my sin.

And I commit to following you as Lord. Going out with the Wikipedia article in 1966, Zacharias immigrated with his family to Canada, earning his undergraduate degree from the Ontario Bible College in 1972, which is now called Tyndale University, and his master's of divinity degree from Trinity International University in 1976. He spent the summer of 1971 in South Vietnam, where he evangelized U.S. soldiers, as well as imprisoned Viet Cong members. After graduating from Ontario Bible College in Canada, he began an itinerant ministry with a Christian missionary alliance in Canada. In May of 1972, Ravi Zacharias married Margaret or Margie Reynolds, whom he met at his church's youth group.

They had three children, Sarah, Nathan, and Naomi. In 1983, Zacharias spoke in Amsterdam at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's first international conference for itinerant evangelists. After Amsterdam, Zacharias spent the summer evangelizing in India, where he continued to see the need for apologetic ministry, both to lead people to Christ and to train Christian leaders. He has a very extensive background speaking all over the world. In August 1984, RZIM was founded—the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries was founded in Toronto, Canada—to pursue his calling as, quote, a classical evangelist in the arena of the intellectually resistant, unquote.

Today, its headquarters are located in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Zacharias attracted media attention when, in 2004, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the LDS church, opened its signature pulpit at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to him—this is the Mormon Church—for a series of messages. Zacharias delivered a sermon on who is the truth defending Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life to some 7,000 laypersons and scholars from both Mormonism and Protestant camps in an initiatory move toward more open dialogue between Mormons and Christians. I actually remember that particular—and there was controversy as the Wikipedia column mentions here—so some evangelicals criticized Zacharias' decision not to use this opportunity to speak with the Mormon Tabernacle to directly address the deep and foundational differences between the traditional Christian faith and that of the teachings of the LDS church.

I remember that particular time. I think he was probably one of the most—top 10 or top 15 or 20—most recognized evangelicals in the world. Just a couple more paragraphs here from this Wikipedia bio on him. Zacharias has represented the evangelical community at occasions such as the National Day of Prayer in Washington DC, the annual prayer breakfast of the United Nations, and the African Union prayer breakfast in Mozambique, and was named honorary chairman of the 2008 National Day of Prayer Task Force. He has also participated in the ecumenical Together 2016 meetings in July 2016, which Pope Francis addressed, describing the event as a valiant effort.

Just as an aside here, I never like to see this. I'm trying to make ecumenical outreach with those of a false religion. The Roman Catholic Church, very ill-advised, does not end up well, is confusing to those as to what is the actual gospel, confuses the gospel. He also signed in 2019 the ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration.

You remember that? We covered it on the program, affirming with the different branches of Christianity, the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and evangelicals as they came together to stand for the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, as the uni of a husband and a wife, and the freedom of religion—all things that biblical Christians would agree with. But we don't need to join hands with those who are teaching false biblical doctrines to do so. Zacharias argued that a coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions—that of origin, meaning in life, morality, and destiny. And he hit on those topics in many, many of his messages. If you heard him on the radio, he spoke to those things a lot—the meaning of life, origin, where we came from, what morality is, and destiny after we die. He said that while every major religion makes exclusive claims about truth, the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions. Zacharias's style of apologetics focused predominantly on Christian answers to life's great existential questions with defense of God. So I went online, and I wasn't a big listener to Ravi Zacharias over the years, although I did hear him when I was in the car and listening to the radio and so forth.

I think I may have heard him speak in person once, but I wasn't a close follower of his. So I went online to YouTube and just pulled up one of the examples of him preaching, just to give you an example, an idea of just how much of a skilled and compelling communicator he was. And interestingly enough, in this particular soundbite, he talks about how the sacrifice of Christ is unique to all religions. The gospel story is unique in its salvation narrative. There is no other worldview that brings you to a Savior slash Redeemer, by the grace of God.

Only the Judeo-Christian worldview points to that. So when he says, you shall not test the Lord, your God, our Lord goes to get simony. And on his knees, he's battling this out. He wanted the companionship of his disciples and never got it. They were so tired and fatigued. They couldn't stay up and pray. And finally, when they led him away and the whole story began to unfold, it already prayed, if there is any other way, but not my will, but yours be done. The beauty of the gospel is on that cross.

There was a book written some time ago by a leading preacher in the land, and I don't like to take hits at people, but I'm taking hit at a thought. And the book is called Your Best Life Now. So I read, I want to see what it is that people find so attractive in this speaking. You go through page after page after page, there's not a single mention of the cross.

You cannot have your best life without the crucifixion of Jesus Christ providing for your redemption and your salvation. It's a very powerful message that he just gave there. And I think shows just what kind of speaker he was. He was compelling. He wasn't a humorist up there.

I mean, occasionally little bits of humor. But he spoke with a lot of authority and passion, as you could hear in that particular message that he gave. Now, just a last paragraph of this bio on him on Wikipedia. In March 2020, this is last year, Zacharias was diagnosed with a malignant and rare cancer in his spine. And on the 19th of May, 2020, so literally only about two months later, he died at his home in Atlanta at the age of 74. Following his death, a number of high profile Christians posted messages online detailing Zacharias' influence upon them. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, as well as US Vice President Mike Pence, expressed their sympathies for Zacharias following his death. So that's who Ravi Zacharias was.

And so now the next question is, well, what went wrong? And this is really where the story takes a very sordid turn. You can find this many places online. Christianity Today has several articles on the exposure, the allegations, the investigation of Ravi Zacharias. You can read them there. It's all over the internet.

You can find it. But I think Wikipedia gives more of a matter of fact, just overview of what took place. And I think it's good enough for our purposes today just to read their summary of what went wrong. It says Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic qualifications and multiple sources accused Zacharias of serious sexual misconduct, including rape. On February 9, 2021, Miller and Martin, the law firm hired by his own ministry, RZIM, to look into these matters, look into these allegations, confirmed their veracity.

And I think that's important to note here. These aren't just allegations. These have been investigated. This is public knowledge. We are not bringing up something here that is merely hearsay. This has been investigated.

As a matter of fact, the ministry itself has confirmed these allegations as true. Before we get into the sexual aspect of it, the academic credential controversy was something that had been brought up a long time ago. In an earlier edition of his biography and in some of his books and in an about section, Zacharias claimed that he studied at the University of Cambridge in England and is a professor at the University of Oxford. In multiple speaking engagements, he said that he had taken class in quantum mechanics under John Polkinghorne. And while a visiting scholar at University of Cambridge, he had heard Stephen Hawking lecture and saw him struggle between agnosticism and theism. Ravi Zacharias often claimed through his books and preaching that he was invited to be a visiting scholar at University of Cambridge.

And while at Cambridge, he focused his studies on romantic writers and moralist philosophers. Now, again, that was completely denied by the University of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge said they denied that Zacharias had ever enrolled or studied at their university. And also University of Oxford denied Zacharias having held any academic positions at their university, which is really truly astounding.

I mean, these are two of the most notable academic institutions in the world. And Ravi Zacharias had intimated that he was involved with them and speaking at them, and apparently he hadn't been. And this is something that had been a controversy many, many years ago. So there was some question there as to why he was claiming this, and there was something to do with him claiming to be—he was called Dr. Zacharias because he'd been awarded some honorary degrees. And the ministry sort of explained that away as saying, well, in India, when you're given honorary degrees, you can assume those titles in America, it's a little different. Anyway, he ended up dropping the doctor title in time. So there were some controversy accusations about him credentialing himself as having higher academic credentials than he actually did. But that's not what we're going to talk about today.

What we're going to get in today was the shock which occurred at the end of his life that was brought out even after his death. Wikipedia goes on to say that Canadian Laurie Ann Thompson and her husband sent a demand letter to Zacharias requiring him to pay $5 million in exchange for them refraining from filing a lawsuit that would have accused Zacharias of impropriety involving an exchange of text messages between Laurie Ann Thompson and Zacharias. She had texted nude photos of herself to Ravi Zacharias. In response, Zacharias filed a RICO lawsuit against Thompson accusing the couple, she and her husband, of trying to extort money from him.

The case was settled in November 2017 with a non-disclosure agreement, an NDA that's called. We're going to have to leave it there for today, but we are going to take up this topic in part two next week because there's a lot more to say and to learn about the situation with Ravi Zacharias. We're also next week going to be getting into the example of Joseph and how he overcame the temptation of sexual immorality because there are lessons in that story from Genesis 39 for every single one of us. So thank you for joining us today on the Christian worldview. Pray for the family of Ravi Zacharias and all the women and other people who have been involved in this really terrible situation and pray that the name of Jesus Christ above all can be lifted up.

We never want to sully his name. Until next weekend, think biblically, live accordingly, and stand firm. The mission of the Christian worldview is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end. To hear a replay of today's program or to sign up for our free weekly email or to find out what must I do to be saved, go to our website, thechristianworldview.org or call us toll free at 1-888-646-2233. The Christian worldview is a listener supported ministry and furnished by the Overcomer Foundation, a non-profit organization. You can find out more, order resources, make a donation, become a monthly partner, and contact us by visiting thechristianworldview.org, calling toll free 1-888-646-2233, or writing to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. That's Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Thanks for listening to the Christian worldview. Until next time, think biblically and live accordingly.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-23 11:23:47 / 2023-12-23 11:43:11 / 19

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