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Former Christianity Today editor and second dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Kenneth Kantzer died Thursday June 20. He was 85.

Kantzer was known as a biblical scholar, a caring professor, and a proven builder of influential organizations. "He was a very important figure in following up the pioneering work of the previous generation of evangelicals and in strengthening important institutions," said Mark Noll, McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. "Kantzer was a helper who maximized the work of others. He strengthened institutions to allow others to follow."

Kantzer, born in Detroit on March 29, 1917, is survived by his wife, Ruth, and two adult children, Mary Ruth Wilkinson of Galliano Island, British Columbia, and Dick of Pennington, New Jersey.

In high school, Kantzer rebelled against his Lutheran parents and their religion. He said in a 1996 Christianity Today interview that he considered himself an atheist until he met members of the League of Evangelical Students while attending Ashland College. "I would go to them with the question: How in the world do you believe all of this?" he recalled. "They would recommend books for me to read, and over the course of a year I came to a firm faith in Christ."

He received a master's degree in modern history from Ohio State University and continued his schooling at Faith Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the Evangelical Free Church of America, earned a doctorate from Harvard University, and studied theology in Germany and Switzerland.

The self-sacrificing builder

Kantzer taught theology at Wheaton College from 1946 until 1963. That year, John D. Woodbridge, research professor of church history at Trinity, was a student of Kantzer's. Upon graduation, ...

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Influential Teacher and Leader Kenneth Kantzer Dies
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