The Christian world has been saddened at the discovery that Ravi Zacharias, the world-renowned Christian apologist who died in May, was leading a double life – publicly serving God and defending the faith, but privately committing sexual sin.
In late September, Christianity Today published a bombshell article that claimed Zacharias, over a period of about five years, sexually harassed three women who worked as massage therapists at two "day spas" he co-owned in an Atlanta suburb. RZIM, the ministry he founded and that bears his name, hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims in the CT article. The full report is yet to come, but an "interim update" released just before Christmas stated that the claims have merit and hinted that even more damning revelations were to come: (See earlier article)
"Some of that misconduct is consistent with and corroborative of that which is reported in the news recently, and some of the conduct we have uncovered is more serious," the law firm's December 22 letter states. "Our investigation is ongoing, and we continue to pursue leads."
Fellow apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says often times great success is harder to handle for famous Christian leaders than is failure. "They felt like they could give themselves a pass on issues of integrity because they were doing the 'great work' of defending God," he explains.
McFarland emphasizes that while Zacharias got away with the deception while he was alive, he will be facing the judgment seat of God for believers.
"Think about decades of sacrifice and religious activity, only to find it was for nothing – nothing at all," the apologist describes. "Salvation is predicated on having a born-again relationship with Jesus. Christian leadership is predicated on living a holy, blameless life."
The news has devastated Zacharias' family, and the future of RZIM is unclear. According to McFarland, the effect on the wider body of Christ will likely be felt for years.
"The tragedy of it is really about three-fold," he tells One News Now. "For one, it's hard to see anybody ensnared by sin when they could have had freedom and a clear conscience. Secondly, within the Body of Christ, there are believers who, when their heroes fall, their faith can be shaken."
But the "saddest part of all," McFarland concludes, is the impact these revelations could have on the unbelieving world. "They look at a person whose life might be false – and they conclude that the message of the gospel is false," he laments.
The legal firm expects to conclude its investigation by early February at the latest and submit a final written report to the ministry's board of directors – which is expected to release it publicly.