For nearly 50 years, world-renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias commended the Christian faith and addressed life’s great existential questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny with eloquence and grace.
Southern Evangelical Seminary is mourning the loss of a friend and supporter, after Zacharias passed away May 19, 2020, at the age of 74.
Zacharias headlined the 2018 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA) at SES and had for many, many years engaged with students, faculty, and administration at the seminary.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we received the heart-breaking news that our dear Christian brother Ravi Zacharias has gone home to be with his Savior and will now be with Him for all eternity. As we mourn our loss, we will also comfort ourselves with the fact that we had the great privilege of knowing and serving with this spiritual giant who walked among us,” said SES President Dr. Richard Land.
“All of us at Southern Evangelical Seminary considered Ravi, who served as an SES adjunct professor and on our Board of Advisors, to be a vital part of the SES family,” Land added. “Ravi was mentored by our cofounder, Dr. Norman Geisler, and thus shared the Geislarian DNA with the rest of the SES extended family. He often spoke of the great intellectual debt he owed Dr. Geisler. Of course, all of Christendom owes an incalculable debt to Ravi and his ministry for Christ among us.”
Land added that as a token SES’s deep and abiding appreciation for Zacharias’ phenomenal apologetics ministry for the Lord and for His Church, the seminary awarded him its “Lifetime Achievement in Apologetics” award in 2016.
Throughout his career, Ravi Zacharias fully believed that the truth of Jesus Christ can endure the toughest critiques and philosophical attacks. He authored or edited over 25 books in the fields of theology, apologetics, comparative religion and philosophy. In March 2020, Zacharias announced he had a rare cancer discovered after back surgery, and earlier this month, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) announced the cancer was terminal.
When former skeptic and 17-year-old Zacharias heard the words of Jesus in John 14:19, “Because I live, you also will live,” the trajectory of his life changed forever. In a time of helplessness and unbelief—when he was on a bed of suicide—the truth of Scripture brought hope to Ravi, and he committed his life to Christ, promising, “I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.” Earlier in John 14, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” This verse became the cornerstone of Ravi’s ultimate mission as a Christian apologist and evangelist: to present and defend the truth of Jesus Christ that others may find life in Him.
Zacharias’s calling to preach was first confirmed when he was awarded the Asian Youth Preacher Award at the international Youth Congress in Hyderabad at the age of 19. Years later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association invited Zacharias to be a plenary speaker at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (“Amsterdam ‘83”) to address a gathering of 4,000 other speakers. It would be another turning point for him, as he began to seriously consider the critical need of apologetics to remove the intellectual and existential barriers that kept many skeptics from considering the truth claims of Christ. A year later, in 1984, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
Even throughout trials, he remained committed to his calling to represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ through historical, philosophical and moral foundations, and to defend it against objectors with grace, clarity and coherency. He laid the framework of the truth of the Gospel to millions of people in more than 70 countries, including on the campuses of many of the world’s leading universities.
Ravi’s worldwide legacy will continue through RZIM, the global ministry he left behind, which will continue to seek to impact the heart and the intellect of those seeking God’s ultimate truth.
Zacharias and his wife, Margie, were married for 48 years and had three grown children: Naomi, Nathan and Sarah.
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