Remembering Ravi Zacharias: 1946-2020

2015 Ravi Zacharias_PortraitThe renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias died today at the age of 74, after being diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer in March.

To me, Ravi was a giant within contemporary Christianity. Many looked at Ravi as this generation’s C.S. Lewis. In one memorial, I heard Ravi described as a person who could help thinkers believe and believers think. I first stumbled upon his radio program as an 18 year old kid and I spent many, many hours listening to him over the years. When I chose a seminary to attend, the fact that Ravi had gone to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was one of the things which influenced me.

Ravi presented the Christian faith and responded to the questions of skeptics all over the globe. He presented on university campuses in America; he regularly had events in his native India; he preached in Moscow shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He lectured in the Middle East. He was articulate and thoughtful. He was a cultural commentator who thought like a philosopher. But there was always a gentleness with how he approached complex and divisive subjects. He respected people with whom he disagreed and invited people in to see the Jesus whom Ravi loved.

“Truth cannot be sacrificed at the altar of pretended tolerance. Real tolerance is deference to all ideas, not indifference to the truth.”

-Ravi Zacharias

Ravi presented Jesus as the only satisfactory and coherent explanation for the deepest longings of the human soul: our need for an explanation for our origin, destiny, meaning, and morality.

Born in India, Ravi spoke many times about his struggles as a child. He grew up under intense pressure to succeed. As a child, he talks of his father’s explosive temper. At 17, he tried to take his own life by swallowing poison. While he was in the hospital, a Bible was brought to him and his mother was told to read to him from John 14.

I had the opportunity to meet Ravi once, at an event when he came back to speak at Trinity. It was one of the highlights of my time in seminary. Former football player Tim Tebow recently talked about Ravi Zacharias on a viral Facebook post. He called Ravi one of his heroes. I agree with the sentiment. The heroes of our faith are people who are still fallen and fallible but who influence us, who touch our hearts, who point us to God, who influence how we think.

Rest in peace Ravi. Well done, good and faithful servant.

In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.
They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term —the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.
It was a decade of protest—church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.
Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion….It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope.
Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.

-Ravi Zacharias