Ravi Zacharias’ ministry has had great impact among many young people in Malawi. Ravi Zacharias has been a household name among many Christian students on various college campuses in our country. In the light of the depressing and shocking revelations of last week about Ravi’s secret sin, some of these young people are wrestling with the question of what to do with Ravi’s books, CDS, DVDs and other resources. Do they continue using them? This is one of the common questions I have been asked as a pastor. Here are my thoughts:
First, as one of the gifted African theologians St. Augustine observed, all truth is God’s truth. The truth that Ravi proclaimed was not his own but God’s (Psalm 119:160). This even applies to the truth that is conveyed to us by unbelievers, it is still God’s truth. “A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord wherever it is found. Gathering it and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who ‘Though they know God did not glorify him as God’” (St. Augustine).
Second, God’s truth often if not always comes to us through weaker and sinful vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). Of course, some of these vessels that God has used have committed more grievous or heinous sins than others. Some have truly repented while others have not. But there is no one who has not sinned (Rom. 3:23). I can guarantee that there is no single resource that we are going to read or use out there that was not written or prepared by sinful hands or minds this blog post included. Now this is not to excuse sin or downplay the impact of Ravi’s sin upon those he abused, the Church and her witness in the world neither am I implying that everyone should use his resources regardless of the sin, however, I seek to assist us consider that while all truth is God’s truth it often if not always comes to us through sinful agents.
Third, conscience. Will your conscience be at ease to read, listen or use Ravi’s resources? Some might not have any problem while others will never stomach the idea of even touching any of his resources. I am particularly thinking of victims or survivors of sexual abuse. Most of them could find Ravi’s ministry not edifying any more. So, follow your conscience on this one. You are not obligated to use Ravi’s resources. Praise the Lord that he has many vessels out there that he can use to help you grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Christ.
Lastly, a humble suggestion to my fellow preachers and teachers of the word of God. I think discretion should be exercised if we would cite or use Ravi’s resources in our sermons or teachings. I have always appreciated the advice that one of my preaching professors in seminary gave us. He said that when quoting someone in your sermon who might bring out mixed feelings from your audience, it’s often wise not to mention them by name and instead say something like “As one preacher or writer said…” That way you acknowledge that this is not your own material but also at the same time you avoid unnecessary distractions that could come with the mentioning of the actual name of the source. I think as it stands now if one quotes Ravi in his sermon or talk someone in the audience could just hang up on the name. Their train of thought could go something like: “Did you just quote Ravi who did this or that?” and in the process the speaker could lose the attention of that person.
The revelations about Ravi’s hidden life are disheartening but should not be very surprising. As JC Ryle once observed “The best of men are men at best.” We always err if we place our confidence on the arm of flesh which will always fail (Jer. 17:5). As one of my dear friends and pastor has noted, “We are reminded once again that no pastor, no teacher, no orator, no author, nor theologian—no matter how gifted—can be our hope; they are all fallen and will disappoint. Our hope is bound up with the one perfect Godman; He will never disappoint” (Jason Helopolous).