I heard that Ravi Zacharias, who had been struggling with late life cancer, has died. RIP. Ravi was a big name back in the day. He was that 'post-Graham (Billy)' generation of big name Evangelists, when many assumed we were simply in the same world as Billy Graham, but with video games and the latest edition of Microsoft Windows. A truce you might say, where Christian leaders ministered tot he faithful, and then could agree to disagree with the pagan, the heretic, and the blasphemer since everyone wanted a world of peace, tolerance and John Lennon songs.
We had already stopped being there, we just didn't realize it. But in this, his was still that type, large crowds, huge arenas, special guests, vast conferences, that defined and era. Essentially that 'Big Christianity' that would compete with Big Sports, Big Hollywood, Big whatever. It didn't of course.
In response to my statement of admiration for Billy Graham, an Orthodox priest I was talking to quipped that for all his bravado, it didn't do anything for Christianity in America. I held my tongue, but wanted to say for all the monopoly Orthodox Christianity had, it didn't do much to stem the abuses of Byzantine politics, Tsarist Russia, or the rise of Communism. But I didn't.
Nonetheless, point taken. Rev. Zacharias was a relic of bygone age. The last gasp of the old world that Christianity helped build. It was that last generation of leaders who up and coming seminarians imagined they could replace. It was a world where many of my colleagues felt they were the pretenders, biding their time and planning on the day when they would lead Evangelicals to the promised land, while getting White House invites and seats on Meet the Press. I remember so many classmates who you couldn't help seeing in their eyes visions of packed arenas and cover stories on TIME magazine.
But it was not to be. Those who still think they can straddle that fence between the old time religion and the world of secular agnosticism and Marxist inspired dreams for a global, socialist state are all over the map. Some barely sound Christian anymore, much less old Evangelical. Others are trying to play the old 'one to the Faith, one to the World' game. Still others simply say 'Faith always, unless the latest woke movement suggests otherwise.'
For his part, despite this changing world, Rev. Zacharias continued the work of an evangelist. He remained old school, believing that salvation and Jesus, or even salvation and religion, were somehow connected. Heck, he was a radical in believing that the hereafter played any major role in our modern thinking to begin with. To that end, he walked the walked and prayed the prayers. He didn't get too immersed in the latest political wrangling, preferring to follow the old B. Graham approach of worrying more about the bird than either the left or right wing. And for that, he and that old faith he represented, will be sorely missed.
May God embrace him in the hereafter, and shower peace and strength upon all those who loved him who remain in this mortal realm.