Biola University’s President Reflects on Ravi Zacharias’ Passing

May. 19, 2020 By Office of the President

I was twenty-four, single and living outside Philadelphia when I first heard him speak. Before that Sunday, I didn’t even know his name. Ravi Zacharias was a forty-year old guest preacher. As he stepped to the pulpit at Church of the Savior in Wayne, Pennsylvania, he opened his Bible to the Old Testament book of 2 Kings. “Why sit we here until we die?” was his sermon title, an exposition of the four lepers in chapter seven who refused to give up or give in to their pending death, resisting the urge to wait idly for their day to come. Instead, they rose up as one and redeemed the time.

In these intervening thirty-four years I’ve listened to countless preachers and lecturers, but only a few sermons truly stuck. Ravi’s was one of the unforgettables. Decades later, the text and the theme from his 1986 sermon I still remember. “Why sit we here until we die?” The world is calling us to rise up, move forward and follow the Lord’s bidding, redeeming the time for the days are evil, as Paul wrote the church in Ephesus.

Today, May 19, 2020, Ravi died. And his life was spent redeeming the time, refusing to idly spend his days, asking of himself as he did others, “Why sit we here until we die?”

A dear friend of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology, our brother, God's child and a defender of the faith, Ravi Zacharias, is being remembered around the world. Ravi, diagnosed with a rare cancer deemed untreatable, was a good and faithful servant. To most, the world’s foremost Christian apologist and evangelist. The founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), he was a gifted speaker and teacher who presented the gospel of Jesus Christ through historical, philosophical and moral foundations, defending it against objectors and doing so with grace, clarity and coherence. He shared the truth of the gospel to millions of people around the world, in more than 70 countries, including college campuses. Beyond his teaching and preaching, he has also authored or edited over 25 books in the fields of theology, apologetics, comparative religion and philosophy.

In 2014, Biola hosted a dialogue between Ravi and radio host Dennis Prager. With over 2,400 people attending in person and more than 4,000 viewers streamed online, he captured the hearts and minds of listeners and did so at one of his favorite college campuses. Ravi was scheduled to serve as the honorary speaker for our Spring 2020 Commencement just ten days ago, a day this community was anxiously awaiting. RZIM’s online education arm, RZIM Academy, partners with Biola’s Talbot School of Theology by offering students advanced standing credits at Talbot. Clint Arnold, Dean of Talbot School of Theology, joins me in offering our condolences in the passing of our dear friend, saying, “I am so grateful for the life and ministry of Ravi Zacharias. His work has encouraged the faith of countless individuals. His legacy will cast a long shadow and have an enduring impact. Talbot School of Theology looks forward to continuing its partnership with RZIM.” 

Please join us in praying for Ravi’s family, including his wife, Margie, and their three grown children: Sarah, Naomi and Nathan.



  • Jacquelyn Flora May. 19, 2020 at 8:18 PM

    Beautiful tribute Dr. Corey. Your IG post said it all "Whose heart was as tender as his mind was profound" #ThankYouRavi

  • WAYNE C COOPER May. 19, 2020 at 10:02 PM

    Ravi Zacharias was one of the Persons that inspired me to go into the field of Christian Apologetics, and I did by matriculating at BIOLA’S program, and graduated in 2005. I loved Ravi and will missed him greatly, and will someday meet him.....AFTER I meet my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • Scott McKinney May. 19, 2020 at 10:03 PM

    What a precious and useful example Ravi has been to the Church. Thank You Dr. Corey for writing and sharing.

  • Greg Neff May. 19, 2020 at 10:17 PM

    I really love listening to his bible studies. He was very knowledgeable, and they are very uplifting! He will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  • Lorraine Hendricks May. 19, 2020 at 10:27 PM

    I first heard him at an Urbana missions conference. I have Ben a fan ever since.

  • Judah Dorn Dec. 25, 2020 at 10:53 PM

    We should not be surprised by a discovery that anybody is capable of wickedness regardless of their public persona. Unfortunately, making heroes of men often (more than often?) results in disillusion when faced with the reality of revelations of corruption. It seems RZIM is taking a proactive approach in seeking the truth of Ravi’s actions and I commend them. Dr Corey’s experience is still true and meaningful to him but this article should probably be revisited ASAP. Unrelated but telling of mainstream evangelicalism’s priorities, it’s unfortunate the other evangelical organizations and leaders haven’t take a similar approach to a certain political leader their adherents have embraced en masse. At what point do we renounce the title of evangelical? I know of many alumni who already do renounce if in it’s entirety now that it’s been shown to be sociopolitical to its core and not a divine movement.

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