Stegeman Coliseum is usually a place for gymnastics, basketball and the occasional graduation.

But Thursday night, it was a place to examine spiritual questions.

Ravi Zacharias, an international lecturer and evangelist, spoke about the relativity of religion at his talk titled "Heaven and Hell: Is There a Middle Ground?"

With thousands of seats filled, Zacharias' lecture addressed the issues and "ramifications of remaining neutral about God," said Bill Hager, coordinator of the Christian Faculty Forum - one of the sponsoring organizations.

"He's one of the best-known Christian speakers in the whole world and second to Billy Graham," Hager said.

One of the strengths of his lecture was that Zacharias "uses a rational approach to talk about God and spiritual questions," Hager said.

Zacharias last spoke at the University in 1999 and said he enjoys speaking at universities.

"It's very intellectually stimulating and more real," Zacharias said. "You get a lot more honest questions."

Some students thought Zacharias gave many real-life stories, which helped relay his messages.

"He has really a lot of insight on life and God," said Hayley Poy, a freshman from Tucker.

His lecture revolved around the issue of an existence of middle ground in the Christian faith. He identified three areas that created the struggle of the middle ground - secularization, pluralization and privatization.

After the lecture, the remaining time was dedicated for an open forum to discuss such questions.

"In the spirit of learning, we ought to be able to discuss with rationality and curiosity," he said.

Though he is a self-proclaimed Christian philosopher, Zacharias maintained that his talks did not exclude anyone.

"We are very open with everyone - in the arts, politics and academy," he said.

Among the attendees were visitors from Mississippi, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Hager said. In addition to Christian Faculty Forum, sponsoring campus organizations consist of Athens Acacia Fellowship, Baptist Campus Ministry, Crossroads, Georgia Christian Student Center, Reformed University Fellowship, Team United and the Wesley Foundation.

Zacharias' schedule until the end of the year includes: Virginia Tech, Atlanta Christian Assembly, Toronto and New Delhi.

For Virginia Tech's lecture, Zacharias said it will "deal with the mere issue of making sense of pain and suffering."

The full touring schedule and other information about Zacharias is posted at www.rzim.org.

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