Reaction to the passing of Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias continues to spotlight the extraordinary man of God he was.
Whether debating the latest rising star among atheists or connecting with young people, as he was here earlier this year at the Passion 2020 Conference, Ravi Zacharias was always a voice of clarity:
Zacharias: "My work is in Christian apologetics. But people think that apologetics historically is restricted to giving answers. Not so. It also involves clarifying truth claims."
Some eternal truth claims were no doubt clarified in his mind on Tuesday when Ravi Zacharias, 74, went home to meet his Savior. He had been battling sarcoma – a bone cancer – for only a few months before losing that struggle. But his daughter, Sarah Davis, writes that "today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been."
In an interview with OneNewsNow, fellow apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says Zacharias will be remembered as a stellar mind and a credible witness, and deserves to be mentioned in the company of the great theological thinkers in Christian history.
"The Church has lost a great defender of the faith. The world has lost a great representative of the gospel. Heaven has gained a true disciple of the Lord Jesus," McFarland states matter-of-factly. "He defended the gospel valiantly and he managed his cancer nobly. His legacy will be that of a latter-day C.S. Lewis-type of figure."
McFarland notes that Zacharias is the latest in a growing list of notable Christian thinkers who have recently graduated to glory.
"We're in a world now – no Chuck Colson, no D. James Kennedy, no Ravi Zacharias – [where] some of America's most beloved evangelical voices are gone … and many, probably within a few years, will be," he laments.
In her tribute to her father, Davis illustrates his undying devotion to a Savior who literally turned his life around almost five decades ago:
"It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about. Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a seventeen-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture – a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years."
Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias was born in Madras, now Chennai, in 1946, in the shadow of the resting place of the apostle Thomas, known to the world as the "Doubter" but to Zacharias as the "Great Questioner." Zacharias's affinity with Thomas, says RZIM.org, meant he was "always more interested in the questioner than the question itself."
"We will grieve his loss, but we are comforted by the fact that he's now with the Lord and that we had the privilege of having a giant walk among us as we served together."
"When you were talking with him it was like you were the only person in the world. He had a real pastoral gift."
Dr. Richard Land, president
Southern Evangelical Seminary
(Zacharias served on Board of Advisors for SES)
Tributes from other ministry leaders
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and Billy Graham Evangelical Association:
"His suffering is over because as a young man he confessed his sins, he invited Jesus Christ to come into his heart, and Ravi was born again. So … all of his life, [Ravi] was preparing for that moment that he would stand before the King of Kings – and today, he's done that. He would not come back for anything in the world. He's more alive now than he's ever been."
"We will miss him. He was one of the great minds in the Christian world. He was incredible at defending the Christian faith, and there was no one who could ever stand against him. He was just so much smarter than everybody else. I'm just glad we had guys like that on our side."
Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy:
"As a Christian, [Ravi Zacharias] spoke ecumenically [with] sort of the same tone as Billy Graham but from more of an intellectual framework – and he has distinguished himself as among the top … Christian apologists in America over the last 20 or 30 years."
"Almost certainly he has touched the lives of probably hundreds of thousands of people in terms of winning them to faith in Christ, but just as importantly strengthening the faith and resolve of persons who are already believers in Christ."
Dan Wolgemuth, president/CEO of Youth for Christ:
"Ravi [had the] ability to take the truth and make it both accessible and, respectfully saying, palatable. In other words, he was not offensive in his delivery, even when he was confronting those who were staunch advocates of a different theology or perspective."
"He stands as a wonderful beacon to young people today who we are engaging with who want to see an example of someone who knew what they believed but wasn't so antagonistic in how they communicated it that it made the gospel unattractive."
5/21/2020 - Comments from Dr. Richard Land added.