“Can you imagine the joy and confidence — both in death and in life — when you know you already have eternal life?” said longtime PCA pastor and radio show host Ben Haden.

Haden — who didn’t want to wait until death to experience abundant life — passed away early Thursday morning, Oct. 24.

The 88-year-old had just completed his 45th year as a radio broadcaster for “Changed Lives,” a radio and television ministry launched out of First Presbyterian Church (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and aired on hundreds of stations across the country. Before founding the show in 1967, Haden worked as CEO of a daily newspaper in Kingsport, Tenn., and as a lawyer.

Haden became a Christian at age 29 while serving as a CIA operative in the Korean War. Not long afterward, he enrolled as a seminary student at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., later earning his Doctor of Divinity from King College (now King University) in Bristol, Tenn. After being ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA, Haden pastored a church in Key Biscayne, Fla., and later accepted a call to First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. In 1974, under Haden’s leadership, the church decided to leave the PC(USA) and join the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

Throughout his pastoral career, Haden’s previous legal experience gave way to a preaching style in which he often seemed to be arguing a case for Christianity.

“Ben Haden began his ‘conversations’ with his unforgettable signature line: ‘Let’s talk about it.’ Thus, the millions who tuned in to hear — and see — this remarkable and unique minister would then experience this man on fire with the truth he had encountered in his own life and which he seemed to be presenting, like a skilled trial barrister before a jury (his congregation used to tease him that he wrote his sermon points on his fingernails, which he seemed to inspect as he paused to deliver his next powerful plea),” recalls Dr. Michael Milton, friend and successor to Dr. Haden as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, and president of the Faith for Living ministry.

Haden also published several books, including “Why Am I at Seminary?”, “Kingsport: A Modern American City,”  “I See Their Faces,” “Rebel to Rebel,” and “Pray!”

He is survived by his daughter Dallas, her husband, and a granddaughter. His wife, Charlyne, passed away in 2009.

Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.