Ravi Zacharias' Ministry Responds to 'Egregious Claims' and 'Slander' About His Character, Accomplishments

(Photo: Screengrab/Facebook/Houston's First Baptist Church)Ravi Zacharias speaks at Nabeel Qureshi's funeral in at Houston's First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, on September 21, 2017.

The ministry of apologist and author Ravi Zacharias is responding to "egregious" claims and "slander" now circulating online about Zacharias' character, actions, and accomplishments related to his academic background and credentials.

"At RZIM it has come to our attention that a number of false assertions regarding the character, actions, and accomplishments of Ravi Zacharias have been circulating online in recent days. It grieves our team to see how the egregious claims and destructive slander of a few individuals have been amplified by wider networks, particularly on social media," a Monday statement posted at 5:24 p.m. on the RZIM Facebook page read.

"As Ravi Zacharias is currently traveling and many of our team members are still to return from the Thanksgiving holiday, we will respond in greater detail to the false accusations as soon as possible. Thank you for praying for us and standing with RZIM as we commend the gospel message in the public square around the world."

In a Nov. 13 post on the Ordinary Times website, Steve Baughman, a self-described "attorney and some-time philosophy graduate student" who also has a YouTube channel called "Friendly Banjo Atheist," argued that Zacharias has made misleading claims about his background and that the "Christian Industrial Complex" has shielded him in several ways.

Zacharias is not a scholar with credentials from elite academic institutions, Baughman maintained in his heavily annotated article — the footnotes show Baughman has been investigating Zacharias for a few years.

Baughman said that he was browsing the Internet for smart Christian apologists "who might ruffle [his] atheist paradigm."

Upon hearing that Ravi Zacharias was a scholar from such elite institutions, he was intrigued and said he found a video lecture where Zacharias "convincingly demonstrated" that the prophet Daniel had made an astoundingly precise, 6th century BCE prediction about the rise and fall of Alexander the Great two centuries later. Zacharias, being a Christian, contended that this was evidence of God's "supernatural" power at work.

"The argument was compelling in large part because it came from a man whose academic credentials were as good as anybody's," the atheist wrote.

Baughman noted Zacharias' resume and memoirs list Zacharias as a scholar with multiple doctoral degrees, a "visiting scholar at Cambridge University," and "chairman of the Department of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought" at Alliance Theological Seminary, a Christian and Missionary Alliance seminary in Nyack, New York.

Zacharias only has "honorary doctorate degrees" and his Cambridge credential is "brazenly false," the atheist argued.

"In 1990 Ravi did a 2-3 month sabbatical at a church ordination academy named Ridley Hall. Ridley is in the town of Cambridge, England, and has affiliations with the University of Cambridge, as, say, Babcock College has with Harvard. But it has never been a part of the University. While at Ridley, Ravi attended lectures and classes at the University," Baughman wrote.

Zacharias' brief time there was somehow converted into an invitation to be a "visiting scholar," he said, a stretch elevated by Zacharias' Christian publishers like Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins, who have referred to the apologist as "Cambridge educated."

Baughman also contended that the Department of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought  at ATS never existed, something a private investigator he hired and two professors who were at seminary in the 1980s — one of whom was there with Zacharias and the other was his immediate successor — corroborated. The seminary had no such formal "departments" at the time as it was too small.

Zacharias headed the "Center for Evangelism and Contemporary Thought" at ATS, and the position was a non-academic one, Zacharias' successor told Baughman.

According to Dennis Hollinger, a former ATS professor who is now the president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the center was "not a center in terms of a think tank, more of an opportunity for students to work with Ravi."

The Christian Post reached out to RZIM for further comment and was directed to the Monday Facebook statement. 

According to the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries website, Zacharias was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family 20 years later. He has authored or edited over 25 books, including Why Suffering? and Can Man Live Without God.

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