A Memorial to Christian Thinker Norman Geisler

One of the central thinkers of modern American evangelicalism, Norman L. Geisler (1932–2019), died recently. He was a Christian philosopher, apologist, theologian, educator, and debater. He was also one of the most prolific Christian writers ever—having authored, coauthored, or edited some 127 books.1 Geisler received degrees from Tyndale College and Wheaton College and his doctoral degree in philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago. He had a long, distinguished career and ministry.

Geisler served as a professor at two of conservative evangelicalism’s leading seminaries: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary. He went on to cofound two other schools: Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) and Veritas International University. He founded and served as first president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. He also served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society and was a signer of the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Some of the most important books Geisler authored and coauthored include the following: Christian ApologeticsInerrancyA General Introduction to the BibleIntroduction to PhilosophyThe Battle for the ResurrectionThomas Aquinas: An Evangelical AppraisalRoman Catholics and EvangelicalsWhen Critics AskWhen Skeptics AskSystematic Theology (four volumes), and Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

Geisler was a Protestant Thomist and specialized in the topics of Christian philosophy and apologetics—focusing especially on the existence of God, ethics, worldviews, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Theologically he addressed such issues as biblical inerrancy, creation, and systematic theology.

I first met Norm in 1989 when he visited the Christian Research Institute where I was working as a young researcher. When he first heard my last name he said, “I don’t want the Sample—I want the real thing!” In a field often marked by serious-mindedness, Norm possessed a refreshing sense of humor.

He offered me encouragement when I was writing a series of articles on an evangelical assessment of Roman Catholicism. In the late 1990s I participated in a friendly public dialogue-debate with Geisler and a Nazarene theologian in San Diego, California. The topic of the debate was “Is the Human Will Free to Grasp Salvation?” One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening was sparring with Norm about who was the better all-around Christian thinker: St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas? I backed Augustine and Norm backed Aquinas.

He graciously wrote the foreword of a book I coauthored entitled The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary (Baker, 1992). I respectfully viewed Norman Geisler as the General MacArthur (larger than life, in command) of Christian apologetics. He bore the nickname “Stormin’ Norman.”

Dr. Geisler was married to his wife Barbara for an admirable 62 years. Together they had 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

Norman Geisler has now entered his Savior’s presence. The mark he leaves includes a heritage of family and faith, and his apologetics legacy lives on in the untold number of Christians that he influenced.

Reflections: Your Turn 

Have you read any of Norman Geisler’s books? Do you have a favorite Christian author who has significantly influenced you?

Endnotes

  1. Kate Shellnutt, “Died: Apologist Norman Geisler, Who Didn’t Have ‘Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,’” Christianity Today, July 1, 2019, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/july/died-apologist-norman-geisler-apologist-seminary-ses-theolo.html.

  One thought on “A Memorial to Christian Thinker Norman Geisler

  1. Wayne Vowell
    July 16, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Dr. Geisler was the most influential writer in my life as I was cutting my teeth in apologetics. I have read When Critics Ask, When Skeptics ask, Come Let Us Reason, Chosen But Free, and I have the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics in my library. I loved his writing style and how he turned a phrase. He’ll be missed here as he goes on to his reward.

  2. July 17, 2019 at 7:53 am

    “When Critics Ask” was a stand by for me for years as I discussed Theology with peers. I gifted it to a student for her counseling ministry.

    • July 18, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Thanks.

      Ken Samples

  3. Hank Kreh
    July 18, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Two of his books that I purchased early on in my development in Christian apologetics were his Apologetics encyclopedia by Baker and his “Come Let Us Reason.” As far as Logic books go, for a relative novice like myself, it appeared less formidable than most. I learned a lot from that book.

    • July 18, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks, Hank.

      Ken Samples

  4. August 20, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I have a number of Geisler books on my shelf. Including the three books titled When ______ Ask. They are such helpful reference works. It is sad to see so many such authors/teachers dying in recent years, as they reach advanced ages. But they finished the race well for Christ. Praying God will bring younger gifted teachers for the future to anchor Christians in the faith.

    • August 20, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      Laura:

      Norm definitely influenced me in the fields of philosophy and apologetics.

      -Ken Samples

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