I will continue to defend my Dad with whatever force necessary for these reasons. First, I believe this report to be driven by a predetermined agenda, not actual evidence and truth. I’ve already given examples of that and will continue to do so.
But the second reason is this: even if the report were true, I would strongly disagree with the way RZIM has handled it. Why?
I’ll do my best to explain it.
I worked at RZIM for a total of 15 years, and lived it for nearly 40. I sat through countless messages, then listened to and edited countless more through my work in their media department. It is safe to say my views of the Gospel were formed by listening to the entire team at RZIM; the same team and message that was supported by the board then, some of whom still remain. I say “some“ because those that disagreed with what the majority did have since resigned.
I thought I was on the same page with all of those people for all of those years. I watched them tell people in the audience that they were not defined by their mistakes. I listened as they said that fact was not dependent on their repentance. I heard them say that regardless of what they did, God did not see them as their mistakes, even if consequences were necessary.
And as such these speakers said that’s how they saw those people, because that’s what Jesus commanded. No, that doesn’t mean you ignore possible sin. But it most certainly does mean that you do not condemn someone to a legacy known only as their sin. And they never said there was any fine print to this. They didn’t say you weren’t defined by your sin unless you committed “x.”
But we certainly haven’t heard any of that from them as it relates to Dad. I’ve had one person within RZIM tell me they still love my Dad. But he helped author a statement that wouldn’t even hint at the fact that there could still be love for my Dad. Not only have none of them had the courage to publicly say that they still love my Dad, they’ve embraced words and conclusions they privately doubt, like abuse and rape. They silence the love they supposedly feel, and preach the verdict that privately don’t.
That’s not the Gospel I heard them preach. Either I was wrong, or they have betrayed their message in an effort to preserve their platform. Here are a few examples as to why I believe they departed from the Gospel in their scorched earth response.
Numerous speakers and leadership have gone on record as not just condemning the alleged actions of my Dad, but also condemning the man himself.
Cameron & Stuart McAllister referred to him as a former friend. The context of that comment was not that he is “former” because he is not here, but “former” because they no longer claim him as one.
Vince & Jo Vitale, have distanced themselves from Dad, not just moving forward, but expressed regret for their ministry alongside him even while they were unaware of any alleged behaviors. (As a side note, they can say they failed to ask questions about the LAT matter all they want and say that is why “truth” wasn’t found. But the fact is that the people who have all of the information there is to be had, have interacted with both sides, and know everything about the NDA still to this day believe that my Dad’s account of that situation is 100% accurate.) So had that taken a different approach it wouldn’t have changed a thing. Dad faced plenty of questions from far more key people and he is still believed by those who knew every answer there was to find.
I thought of all those statements made by staff while I was at church last week, when my pastor talked about Jesus’ interaction with Judas. Jesus, knowing what Judas already had done, and would still do, still washed Judas’ feet at the Last Supper. Judas was in the midst of committing the worst betrayal in history, and Jesus still served him in an act of incredible grace. Then, as Judas approached him in the garden to turn him over, Jesus still addressed him as “friend.”
Think of that. Jesus did not distance himself from Judas. He straight up claimed him in that moment. Judas, one of the greatest sinners, came face to face with Jesus, the only one in that garden who knew the true depravity of his heart, and he was still called friend. Jesus claimed him until the very end. And He most certainly did not issue a public statement saying he no longer considered Judas a friend, or regretted doing ministry with him.
Someone out there will say “Ravi’s son equates his father to Judas.” And Christianity Today might run with that, what with their history of writing for clicks. Hey CT, among a host of other suggestions, next time you do a hit piece you might consider these two little words before you determine the credibility of your initial sources – background check.
But no, I am not comparing my Dad to Judas. What I am saying is that the story of Jesus and Judas is an example of how Jesus did not withdraw from one of the most famous sinners in history. Yet RZIM feels they are evidently more just than Jesus, as they must withdraw from Dad.
Leadership has cited God’s ability to forgive…themselves, that is. Not Dad. They never mention that. They just say that “we serve a God who forgives” in donor communications when they say they are in need of it. God’s ability to forgive Dad is nowhere to be found.
They cite James 3:1 as a reason for their decision to try this in public and to take on their supposedly God given command to be legacy executioners.
For a ministry that was founded on the importance of thought, they haven’t given much of that to their cherry picking of that passage.
First, the way that verse is worded, both in tense and Greek wording, is that it speaks to God’s judgment of teachers when He ultimately judges them later.
Now, while RZIM has taken this opportunity to add the title of God to their list of responsibilities, such a title isn’t a name it and claim it kind of deal. They are not God. This verse speaks to what God will do. Not what He is asking us to do.
Second, the context of that passage talks about stricter judgment for what they say. In other words, teachers are not being warned that their sins will incur greater judgment. They are being warned that their teachings, specifically their incorrect teachings, will incur stricter judgment because those words stand to influence more people.
But RZIM has abused that verse. They have altered that verse to empower and deify themselves. And they have misrepresented it to indicate stricter judgment (aka we will erase you from the face of this earth kind of judgment) for personal failure, regardless of how good your content was, simply because you were a preacher.
Due to what I know about what they’ve said in private, I can only assume they’ve said it so they can find a home amidst the mob mentality that masquerades as spiritual sensitivity. It’s the best way to protect themselves, which they would see as ultimately protecting the Gospel because of their calling to preach it.
But last I checked, God never said to embrace lies or half truths. or to bow to cultural expectations of judgment just so you could keep your foot in the door of culture. He is in charge of all of our callings. So, scapegoating someone else to preserve your own influence is never a formula He commanded.
They haven’t just reduced Dad to his sins, they’ve ensured that that is all he ever will be in some peoples eyes. Instead of allowing for both good and bad to be attached to a man’s earthly legacy, they have published the bad and erased the good, making sure that his life can never do any more good though his teachings. They have given people no other option but to only remember his alleged sin.
It that verse in James is true, as I believe it to be, then it is RZIM who ought to be worried as their actions against my Dad have been made under the guise of doctrine. They could be pure as the driven snow in their lives, but if they are wrong about how they’ve handled this, they will answer heavily for it when they meet the Lord.
Early on in this process, someone left a very insightful comment on my Instagram post. They referenced Joseph and his handling of Mary, when he had doubts about the spiritual origin of her pregnancy.
Matthew 1:19 says:
“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
Other translations say he was a “righteous” man. The cause and effect in that description is powerful. Because he was a righteous/just man, he did not want to handle this publicly. He did not want to air her dirty laundry. He wanted to handle it privately.
He was righteous, and his behavior was considered a logical outworking of that righteousness. His intent was the exact opposite of RZIM’s, and the Bible praises him for it.
Last example. And the most important.
Sam Allberry was a speaker at Rzim. A gifted one. And he was one who positioned himself as comforter and pastor for my family when Dad was popular. Once Dad wasn’t, that desire to comfort and pastor us evaporated in an instant. Then he became pastor to twitter and completely abandoned and ignored my family, except when he decided to lie about my sister’s message to him. (That was such a blatant misquote that it has to be intentional. She, being a better person than me, did not respond. But if Sam would like to challenge that accusation he can feel free. I have the letter he misquoted so I’m ready.)
Not too long after Sam’s social media crusade and the report’s release, he tweeted something that was one of the greatest examples of an intellectual disconnect that I’ve ever seen.
Sam is right – that is what Jesus did. But that is not what Sam has done. When I read that I shook my head. How could a man who just spent months working to exclude/redefine my Dad’s presence from history then talk about the example Jesus gave us of embracing and communing with the sinner? The same man (Sam) who doesn’t even want to share a website, bio, etc with my Dad, is suddenly talking about how appreciative he is that Jesus shared a table with sinners – an act that signifies far more in Jesus’ day than it does in our culture today.
Jesus did confront the sinner, no doubt. But He drew as close to them as He could when He did it. He separated their value from their sin. He made it clear that were sinners, but they were not their sin. He condemned their behavior but embraced their soul. He never ostracized them or distanced Himself from them. He went closer.
Sam and RZIM have done none of that.
In fact, the harshest words Jesus had were for those who claimed to know everything about the sinners hearts; what they were and were not worthy of. You might say He condemned those who had a habit of making public statements about someone else’s sin and where they stood in eternity. Those are the people he responded to with great force and anger. They bristled at the fact that a grievous sinner could commune with the Lord. They hated the fact that they were considered on par with themselves in the Lords eyes. Both in equal need of Him. Both with equal access.
Rzim has played the role of those Pharisees. They have gone far beyond condemning actions they only partially believe in. Even if they believed all of it they have gone far beyond condemning sin.
The Bible is full of characters where God shows us the good and the bad of a person. God always used sinners to do mighty things. Some of them weren’t even believers, but God was not afraid to use them or to make it clear that He had done so.
He made them a part of His story to spread his truth, regardless of where their hearts were. He didn’t erase those who would be inconvenient vessels for him. He let their good and bad live on in history.
But RZIM – they must know better than God. There’s no place for a broken vessel to still have done any good or communicated any truth. They feel the right course is to erase any sign that God used my Dad. They have decided for us – and God – who we can choose to learn from.
They can quote a good game. They can use all the right words Twitter wants them to. But the fact is the Gospel they preach from the pulpit doesn’t match the Gospel them demonstrate in their PR statements.
At the beginning of this I mentioned the audiences who heard RZIM speakers preach of God’s love for them no matter ever, and their worth in the eyes of the Lord no matter what. I would venture to say many of those listeners now would steer clear of ever confiding in one of those speakers. For if they could see their “former friend” as only bad, why would they view anyone else any differently?