I sit at Ken Kantzer's desk—literally. The furniture In my office is one of the last physical reminders of our esteemed former editor who passed away on June 20.

On the desk's business side, the finish is completely worn away. On the matching credenza there are indelible stains where his beloved African violets sat. The furniture is too bulky for today's tastes—and not well suited to the computer age. But one reason I keep this lovely old furniture is that it was Dr. Kantzer's. With some regularity, my desk helps me remember what Kenneth S. Kantzer did for Christianity Today.

He rescued this magazine at a crucial juncture in its history. Under previous leadership, the magazine had been given too scholarly a tilt for it ever to become reader-supported. The board of directors had been frequently forced into a fundraising role, and many had helped to meet the chronic deficits from their own pockets. The board knew it was time for a magazine that would attract a large enough readership that it could be self-sustaining.

Who could be found that could draw on the best evangelical scholarship, but frame it for a thoughtful nonacademic audience? Billy Graham thought it should be Ken Kantzer. The great evangelist wouldn't take no for an answer—though no was Dr. Kantzer's repeated response. Finally Mr. Graham's persistence won—or perhaps the Lord won. The evangelical movement was clearly a winner.

"You don't know how grateful we are that the Lord led you to accept the editorship of Christianity Today," Ruth Graham wrote to Dr. Kantzer. "I know that it has lifted a tremendous load off of Bill's mind and heart."

It always pained Dr. Kantzer to write and edit for a popular audience. He believed that the value of his academic stock would inevitably sink because of such work. (Tributes from his academic colleagues posted on Trinity International University's website prove him wrong.) Despite his conflicted feelings, Dr. Kantzer did what he knew the magazine and the evangelical movement needed.

The magazine and the movement needed balance and an irenic spirit. "Hard-knuckled" and "feisty" is how publisher Harold Myra characterized some people's perceptions of the magazine back then. Today, he uses words like bold, strong, and principled to describe Dr. Kantzer—but also words like balanced and compassionate.

Christian leaders are forever getting themselves in trouble. Dr. Kantzer had a wonderful sense of when these leaders needed to be exposed and when they needed help explaining themselves. In the first category, Dr. Kantzer boldly pursued serious financial and moral questions surrounding several ministries. In the second category, he helped misunderstood leaders whose teachings were being attacked (and who undoubtedly had themselves contributed to the confusion). Among those he allowed to state their orthodoxy for the record were Robert Schuller and Tony Campolo (who was being assailed for saying what Jesus said: That we must see Christ in the poor and imprisoned).

For years after he left, Dr. Kantzer continued to be a wisdom person for us. And now that he is gone, he continues to inspire us.

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Before his death, Kantzer and his wife donated their Illinois home to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. The sale of the home created a scholarship fund for Masters of Divinity students. The Kantzer family has requested that memorial gifts be made to this Kantzer Scholarship Fund, or to his home church.