Dealing with Flawed Heroes
When allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by noted author, speaker and apologist Ravi Zacharias surfaced after his death last May, I didn’t think much of them. I considered such claims the character assassination of a man unable to defend himself. Besides it’s never easy dealing with flawed heroes.
To show what esteem the evangelist had in public life, then-Vice President Mike Pence, athlete Tim Tebow, football stars, and rappers were among those attending Zacharias’s funeral.
Turns out the accusations against him were worse than first reported. An investigation by a law firm hired by his own ministry led to an early February report outlining a series of misdeeds.
In a story about the incident, Christianity Today noted Zacharias’s ministry “released a statement alongside the investigation expressing regret and taking some responsibility: ‘Ravi engaged in a series of extensive measures to conceal his behavior from his family, colleagues, and friends. However, we also recognize that in situations of prolonged abuse, there often exist significant structural, policy, and cultural problems. . . . We were trusted by our staff, our donors, and the public to mentor, oversee, and ensure the accountability of Ravi Zacharias, and in this we have failed.’”
Out of Print
The day after its initial report, CT followed up with a story about HarperCollins—whose Christian subsidiaries Zondervan and Thomas Nelson had published more than 20 of Zacharias’s books—pulling all his titles from print.
In addition, author Lee Strobel announced he and Zondervan were halting printings of his bestselling The Case for Faith so Strobel can prepare a revised edition that removes a 19-page interview with Zacharias.
This is where the mess struck closer to home. After interviewing Strobel in 2015 for a story in a national Christian magazine, my men’s small group had gone through two of his books, The Case for Faith and The Case for Grace.
The latter was particularly moving, living up to its subtitle: “A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives.”
At one point, our group also watched a video of The Case for Christ. Like the book, the film chronicles the story of the former Chicago Tribune reporter and atheist setting out to prove the Bible was full of fables—only to be convinced it was for real.
Faith in One Deserving of It
In recent years, we have seen megachurch pastors forced to resign for assorted misdeeds, well-known Christians recant their faith, and now a man with an international reputation for faith and integrity exposed as a fraud.
Sadly, it’s enough to make some people lose their faith. But it seems to me that if one’s faith is destroyed by another’s hypocrisy, then one’s faith was more in flawed heroes than God Himself.
Are such cases disillusioning? Of course. Disappointing? Naturally, although when we are disappointed in another’s failings, we are forced to acknowledge that our mistakes have likely disappointed someone else.
However, these failings are to be expected. Because humans are—well, human—we should never worship them. That is reserved for the One who died on the cross and proved Himself worthy of worship.