Making a Bad Situation Worse: The Ravi Zacharias Scandal and The Temptation to Whitewash Sin

By Walid Zailaa

Recently, many Christian thinkers, pastors, and church leaders have pondered over the shocking allegations of sexual misconduct against the late Ravi Zacharias. To help their congregations absorb the reality of what went wrong with the “great” Ravi, many rushed to either defend, attack, or try by any means possible to explain what happened. I do not intend to discuss the scandal but rather reflect on the language and key phrases some Christian leaders have used in this discussion. In particular, I will focus on three notions that have been widely used to preserve Ravi’s image and minimize the repercussions of the scandal: (1) certain people can be great; (2) some sins are not exceptional because we are all sinners; (3) someone’s failures can be mitigated by leading millions to Christ. These are making a terrible situation even worse by softening wickedness and reinforcing bad theology.

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