Fellow Apologists Call Leaders of RZIM ‘Not Fit’ for Ministry Positions
Several prominent apologists have signed a statement calling the senior leadership team of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) “not fit to be in ministry and leadership positions.”
The statement, signed by Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Debbie Licona, Michael Licona, and Sean McDowell, comes after the committee independently investigated and inquired about claims of abuse made against the senior leadership team by former RZIM employees.
The members of the RZIM leadership team include Michael Ramsden, Sarah (Davis) Phillips, and Abdu Murray. Phillips is Zacharias’ daughter.
“Rather than providing a transparent accounting of their behavior, Ramsden, (Davis) Phillips, and Murray have excused or minimized their roles in various ways,” the statement reads.
It goes on to encourage the former RZIM leadership team to seek counseling about how they participated in the abuse and how to move forward in repentance.
The committee of well-known apologists justified its investigation because of the position RZIM held in the apologetics world. The statement read, “Since no apologetics governing body exists that is responsible for such an inquiry, it was our conviction that as apologists committed to truth and the integrity of the apologetics community and the global church, we are responsible. Therefore, we believe that we had both a spiritual and moral obligation to set up a committee to make an inquiry and follow the evidence wherever it led.”
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RZIM ceased its apologetics ministry in March 2021. It hired Guideposts Solutions to conduct an investigation into the allegations against it and its response, but didn’t release the report until six months later under pressure because Christianity Today had received a copy.
The committee of apologists said their investigation included interviews of 25 people, reviewing supporting documentation, and consulting with experts on abuse and institutional response to abuse. In the end, the members spent about 1,000 hours looking into the abuse allegations.
While the statement does not claim to be exhaustive, the committee recited 18 findings from its investigation that led to its conclusion.
Some of the findings include acknowledgement that RZIM employees were justified in “going public” with their concerns about serious issues at the ministry, that the senior leadership team claimed to be victims and created an atmosphere that led others to believe the worst about former employees, that they engaged in retaliation such as orchestrating a smear campaign against some employees, and that they forced employees to sign nondisclosure agreements.
The members of the committee assert they are grieved to draw such conclusions about Ramsden, (Davis) Phillips, and Murray because several have known them for many years.
However, they close the statement by quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.”