Tuesday, 16 February 2021

David French on Ravi Zacharias (and John MacArthur)


"The inside story of how Ravi Zacharias’s ministry concealed and enabled his abuse."

To anyone who has personally witnessed the inside of a situation in which one man holds too much power without genuine accountability (but instead has a sufficient number of personal friends or relations or economic or career dependants in key positions, protecting him for a variety of reasons and motives), this account will be harrowingly familiar.

It's a pattern that has played out again and again, causing deep pain to the victims, to those caught up in various ways, to those seeking the truth, etc.

A word to the wise. Never enter into partnership with a ministry that is, whether in name, or in effect, the personal vehicle of one man. You might think it will turn out well. You might think that the man is a Christian hero, and there may be people who praise him from Dan to Beersheba. Just hear this: putting your head in a crocodile's mouth might also turn out OK. But if it didn't, don't let anyone tell you that the severity of the outcome was surprising.

Note that in the Ravi Zacharias scandal, secular investigators had to be called in to root out the truth. They - like the FBI, the crime squad, etc. - are often people who (through real-world experience) really believe in original sin and not accepting the first, smooth, answer that mentions grace and innocent mistakes, etc., - an answer that too many Christians who've been entrusted with enforcing real accountability accept in the false belief that doing so is the gracious thing to do. Isn't that tragic?

And whilst we're in this area, the material now coming out about John MacArthur looks very bad. I expect many Christians might respond to this sort of material by saying "but Christians should't wash their dirty linen in public." That's a dangerous half-truth. There is gossip and innuendo, that should be avoided, as a sin. But the apostle Paul was not indulging in that when he warned people about Alexander and Hymenaeus; he was testifying to truths verified by proper witnesses - he appealed to publicly verifiable facts. These are not gossip, and neither are the facts being documented in MacArthur's case. It's also true that we are not called upon to be busy-bodies, obsessing over things far from our field - we surely all have our own work which the Lord has commanded us to be busy with. But when one brother takes a position as a public leader and representative of Christians beyond the confines of his own church, and his own church fails to hold him accountable or to demonstrate that it has done so, it is perfectly reasonable and right for those who have before been targeted by that public ministry to raise public questions. You can't have your cake and eat it. Start a public ministry that goes around the world, and be accountable for it - or don't. This particular story looks like it's got further to run.

Lastly: may the Lord have mercy upon us, and help us to finish the race world. Whether it's sex, money or power, far better believers than you or I have succumbed in the most horrible ways. What can keep us? Only the daily grace and power of Jesus the crucified. Lord, hear our prayers.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Still CS Lewis

The fact that C S Lewis - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/15/quiet-cs-lewis-is-on-why-subject-of-new-film-could-be-right-for-now
<https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/15/quiet-cs-lewis-is-on-why-subject-of-new-film-could-be-right-for-now> - can still win a sympathetic article in the Guardian in 2021 relating to his role as a Christian apologist and convert from atheism is a testimony to the scale of what God accomplished through him.

The fact that, in 2021, Lewis might still be Western Christianity's foremost public apologist, despite having been dead for over half a century, is less encouraging - and is a telling testimony to the drift of evangelicalism at large during that time into anti-intellectualism or superficiality.

N T Wright could have taken the role, but has sadly with great consistency proved unable to restrict his desire to curry favour with society's gate-keepers by regularly taking any opportunity to sneer disdain at anyone to the right of him, and his silly desire to try to stake out a position as the first person ever to be correct about important topics - desires encouraged him in propagating unnecessary and significant theological errors. This was a great loss, as his combination of intellectual gifts, energy and ability to speak to different audiences were a match to Lewis's. The way he combined top-class scholarship and orthodoxy of "The Resurrection of the Son of God" in particular was thrilling (one of the best-argued and ground-breaking theological books I have ever read - and it stands well alone, so if you don't have a particular desire to plough through reams of "New Perspective" advocacy in the other large tomes in the series, you can easily read it on its own).