Pastor John Piper has spoken out about late apologist Ravi Zacharias's alleged misdeeds and identified the "lessons" Christians can learn from his "posthumous fall from grace" following allegations of misconduct.
Reporting on Piper's entry on his Desiring God website, the Christian Post quoted him saying that "there's a lesson to be learned from Ravi's manipulation of people - a lesson to be learned about the need for tethered sympathy."
The chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota explained that where compassion is needed, it must be "tethered to the truth, so that it is given lavishly when the truth calls for it and is withheld when the truth clashes with it."
"How did [Ravi] manipulate people into sinfully providing him with sexual stimulation?" posits Piper. "He did it by demanding untethered sympathy. He portrayed himself as an embattled, burdened, wounded warrior in the righteous cause of the gospel. And ironically, he turned his position of power into a form of neediness and woundedness. And then he tried to coerce untethered sympathy under the guise of calling for 'kingdom therapy for the wounded warrior.'"
Piper further stated that he had witnessed this type of "demand and manipulation for untethered sympathy" among fallen Christian leaders.
Piper then mimicked the standard lines used by these fallen figures when soliciting sympathy in order to groom their victims.
"To which the administrative assistant or the old college flame or the teenage boy in the locker room should say, 'That's disgusting. Don't ever talk to me like that again. My sympathy is not for sale; it's tethered to truth and righteousness,'" declared Piper.
Piper urged those who came to Christ through Zacharias' ministry or whose faith was greatly increased by what he taught to not "let the imperfections and shortcomings of men drive (them) away from the perfections and triumphs of Christ, who would never, never disappoint (them)."
An investigation published earlier this year discovered reliable proof of Zacharias's lengthy history of abusive conduct. The apologist who established the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries reportedly pressured a massage therapist to engage in sexual acts at a spa in which he was co-owned.
Additionally, it revealed a stash of pornographic images of young women on his phone. At the time of his death in May, the apologist was one of the most well-known Christian apologists in America for decades.
Numerous publishers withdrew Zacharias' books in the aftermath of the report's release, and RZIM was forced to completely overhaul and rename the organization.
Michael Youssef, bestselling author and pastor, told The Christian Post that Zacharias' downfall serves as a sobering reminder that "accountability" must be a significant pillar of ministry.
"Accountability is a word that's almost a dirty word among some of the celebrity preachers, and that's got to come back," he said.
He went on to say that regardless of the size of the church or ministry, a minister must always be held accountable.
Tim Keller, a pastor based in New York, told CP that while many of the Christian leaders who have abused their position of power will be held to account, their moral failure doesn't invalidate the Christian faith.