Blast from the Past: Ravi Zacharias Made Himself a Professor at Oxford

In a 2012 speech before the C.S. Lewis Institute, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias referred to himself as a “professor at Oxford” after saying he had studied at Cambridge.  Watch (the complete speech is here. The clip is at 52:41):

In fact, Zacharias was never on the faculty in any capacity at Oxford University. He spent some time in the city of Oxford with an honorary position at Wycliffe Hall, a ministry preparation school which has an affiliation with Oxford but his statement here is simply false.

For those who followed the scandal surrounding Zacharias’ credentials back in December 2017, this will seem like old news. However, what was true then is still true – in the public statements from his ministry, Zacharias never addressed his false claims about credentials from Oxford and Cambridge. He has not acknowledged them, even though some of them still persist in his publications and speeches such as this video.

Zacharias’ false claims about his credentials came under scrutiny through the persistent work of attorney Steve Baughman. Christianity Today briefly took up of credential inflation via an interview with John Stackhouse, an apologist and professor at Crandall University in New Brunswick, Canada.

I asked Dr. Stackhouse if I could include his reactions to the false claim by Zacharias to the C.S. Lewis Institute and he agreed as long as I made it clear that he is also a human being who understands the temptations to cover insecurity with credential inflation. Stackhouse said the comment might seem to some observers like “no big deal.” However, he said, “It is a big deal. No one who knows anything about the respective cultures of Oxford and Cambridge universities would claim to be ‘a professor at Oxford’ who wasn’t in fact a full Professor at Oxford.”

Stackhouse explained that in North America, colleges and universities “refer to assistant and associate professors as ‘Professor,’ but at Oxford you have to have attained that final rank for that term to apply to you.” Those who have rank at less than full professor are given other titles.

He added, “And to say you are a ‘professor at Oxford’ while referring to Cambridge University (“my studies at Cambridge”) clearly implies that you are on the staff of the university—not on the staff of the apologetics institute you yourself founded in the city of Oxford, or a lecturer at an affiliated theological college, or anything else.”

In Stackhouse’s opinion, the claim isn’t a “slip of the tongue.” He said:

It isn’t a “dynamic equivalent” translation of a foreign educational situation for a lay American audience.  It is a falsehood that serves only to exaggerate his intellectual authority. One just can’t make a remark like this as a mere error. It’s like saying “I’m an astronaut” or “I’m a senator.” If you understand the terms at all, you can’t use them unless you literally are an astronaut or senator.

Compounding the problem is that Zacharias hasn’t personally addressed these issues. I asked Ravi Zacharias International Ministries for a comment on this video last night and did not hear from them today.

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Image: Kristamaranatha at the English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


14 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: Ravi Zacharias Made Himself a Professor at Oxford”

  1. I’m currently a Cambridge MSt student. The admission’s process for Cambridge is tough as it is elsewhere. If anyone tries to give the impression that they’re students or were students @ Cambridge Uni (in the full sense of having been admitted and conferred a degree) but in fact weren’t, I must say, it does a disservice to us actual students. Not just anyone can get admitted into Cambridge.

  2. Ever since this guy was budding with Joyce Meyer I knew he was untrustworthy and this only fits it all too well. The guy is obviously a liar, and an embezzler who created a false persona with false academic credentials to establish himself professionally and financially. Zacharias is a plain swindler really and all of his decades long lying and scheming done in The Name of Christ but for his own calculated and tangible benefit. What a shame.

  3. I’m glad this is being brought up again as I have really felt no closure on his whole “scandal”. There has been no justice or confession or repentance and it really ticks me off. I hope this will continue to be drudged up until he takes ownership for AT LEAST this, if not all of the accusations made against him. He hasn’t made a peep.. he just had his organization speak for him. It’s cowardly and I am just sick and tired of men(And sure, some women) abusing their power, but especially men in the church. It makes we want to cry. I just want to be able to trust people(not idolize them, there’s a difference). I just don’t want to be taken advantage of. Is that too much to ask these days?

    1. Rocksy. Yes. Cowardly. That is exactly what it is. Ravi hired lawyers and a PR firm (Mark DeMoss) and tried to divert attention from his deceit.

      No confession, no repentance, no humility. Just tobacco company/catholic church survival mode.


  4. Apparently Oxford now does have associate professors (and is phasing out the old position of reader) so the title is a bit more common. Cambridge I think still has professor/reader/senior lecturer/lecturer. In both cases ‘professor’ is a university title and one that Zacharias is unlikely ever to get at Oxford or Cambridge. I did a check, Oxford has a sum total of 24 professors in the Faculty of Theology and Religion and 18 other people.

    BTW I would agree with him that Cambridge is prettier than Oxford, but, I will admit to a bias.

    1. If we wish to stay focused let’s keep in mind that Oxford has specifically stated in writing that it has no record of Ravi being on their payroll. Wycliffe Hall has stated that Ravi has spoken at their hall before but never held a formal position.

      So it is lies all around whatever the protocols are around the use of “professor.”

      Ravi has removed all non-honorary Oxford references from his CV, which he posted in April.

    2. Well the bias is I was born just outside Cambridge. My grandfather lectured there (though never a professor or even a reader he was significant enough to get an obit in Nature) and I have more than my fair share of relatives who’ve been students, fellows, and other sorts of academics there.

      Cambridge is a smaller city than Oxford and the university possibly more dominant and much of the land around is flatter (fen country) so somewhat bleaker in winter. King’s College chapel is well worth a visit and Trinity Great Court or to walk along the backs to Grantchester (or stare at the Corpus Christi clock). If you do go, I would certainly go a bit further to Ely where the cathedral dominates the countryside in much the way it would have done when it was first built.

  5. Also, in the opening clip he is described as “Ravi Zacharias, PhD”. The CS Lewis Institute knows better. Ravi has no PhD. Not even close.

    Hmmm,….. I tend to buy the insecurity defense, although it is not much of a defense when the cure for the insecurity is massive fraud. But maybe I am being naïve. Maybe Ravi is just a good old fashioned businessman who knows what it takes to build an empire. Nothing insecure about him. He just knows how to lie his way to fame.

    But his memoirs, walking from east to west, do tell a clear story of low self-esteem and a desperate need for adulation.

  6. Lets call this what it is: narcissism. Good Christian leaders kill their egos, they do not feed them so that they grow larger. Good leaders do not leverage Jesus Christ into a way of promoting yourself, expanding your fame and serving the false god of Mammon. Regarding a “human being who understands the temptations to cover insecurity with credential inflation,” that insecurity comes from being distant from our God, no matter what we say with our mouths. In Christ there is both humility and security because our desire to be God himself dies and so we can begin rightly relating to God. We have security as we find that “our life is hidden in Him.”

  7. …he is also a human being who understands the temptations to cover insecurity with credential inflation.

    This idea of Ravi’s “insecurities” was used heavily as an excuse by a commenter who was virtually bouncing off the walls here last year when this subject was being discussed. Is there some information I’ve missed suggesting that Ravi cowers in the corner regularly over his insufficiencies or is this just randomly being assigned as his motivation? If the latter, that would seem to be the most generous of a number of possible motivations.

  8. Nobody brags about being a professor at the University of Phoenix.

    Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale – very different story.

  9. How is it that Ravi’s Christian colleagues have let him get away with this sort of thing for 35 years? Can anyone help me understand that?

    1. Perhaps for the same reason they will likely kiss the feet of the AntiChrist. They are getting good practice for that one now in the US.

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