Norman Geisler

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Norman Geisler
Born July 21, 1932
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Moderate Calvinism, Christian philosophy
Main interests Philosophy of religion, Christian Apologetics, Moderate Calvinism

Norman L. Geisler (born 1932) is a Christian apologist and the co-founder of Southern Evangelical Seminary outside Charlotte, North Carolina, where he formerly taught. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University. Geisler is well known for his scholarly contributions to the subjects of Christian apologetics, philosophy, and moderate Calvinism and is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 60 books and hundreds of articles.


Geisler left the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003, after it did not expel Clark Pinnock, who advocated open theism.[1] In the late 20th century, Geisler entered the Mormon arena: he co-authored When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretation.[2] 47 of the articles listed in the index regarded Mormonism. He contributed to The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism.[3] In 2009, Geisler co-founded Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California. The seminary offers masters degrees in Theology, Apologetics & Divinity. Geisler currently serves as Chancellor, distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Theology and occupant of the Norman L. Geisler Chair of Christian Apologetics.[4]

Geisler is married to Barbara Jean and together they have six children, fifteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren


Geisler's education includes a diploma (1955) and Th.B. (1964) from William Tyndale College, B.A. in philosophy (1958) and M.A. in theology (1960) from Wheaton College, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University. He had additional graduate work at Wayne State University, the University of Detroit, and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.[5]

Moderate Calvinism[edit]

Geisler calls himself a "moderate Calvinist".[6] Geisler rejects the traditional Calvinistic concepts of unconditional election (arguing that there is no condition only on God's part), irresistible grace (arguing instead that God persuades those who are "receptive to God's work") and limited atonement (arguing that the atonement is limited only in result). Yet critics reject the term "moderate Calvinism". James White calls it "merely a modified form of historic Arminianism."[7] Michael Horton notes that historically "moderate Calvinism" referred to Amyraldianism, but "Geisler’s position is much further from Calvinism than Amyraldianism."[8] While Geisler contrasts his position with what he calls "extreme" Calvinism, he does concede that "theologians we classify as extreme Calvinists consider themselves simply ‘Calvinists’ and would probably object to our categorizing them in this manner."[9] Geisler contributed to the book Four Views on Eternal Security under the term "moderate Calvinism" but the general editor did not allow Geisler to use the term "extreme Calvinism", only "strong Calvinism".[10]

Graded absolutism[edit]

Geisler advocates the view called graded absolutism, which is a theory of moral absolutism which resolves the objection to absolutism that in moral conflicts we are obligated to opposites.[11] Moral absolutism is the ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong regardless of other contexts such as their consequences or the intentions behind them. Graded absolutism is moral absolutism but clarifies that a moral absolute, like "Do not kill," can be greater or lesser than another moral absolute, like "Do not lie". According to graded absolutism, in moral conflicts, the dilemma is not that we are obligated to opposites, because greater absolutes are not opposites of lesser absolutes, and evil is not the opposite of good but is instead the privation of good. Since evil is the privation of good, only the privation of the greater good counts as evil, since whenever there is a moral conflict, we are only obligated to the greater good. The real dilemma is that we cannot perform both conflicting absolutes at the same time. 'Which' absolutes are in conflict depends on the context, but which conflicting absolute is ‘greater’ does not depend on the context. That is why graded absolutism is also called 'contextual absolutism' but is not to be confused with situational ethics. The conflict is resolved in acting according to the greater absolute. That is why graded absolutism is also called the 'greater good view', but is not to be confused with utilitarianism[citation needed] (see also prima facie right.)

Views on ethics[edit]

Geisler believes the American Revolution was not justified by the standards of either the Bible or Just war theory. However, he is not completely a pacifist either, believing that defensive wars are justified but revolutions are not.[12][page needed]


  1. ^ Geisler, Norman (2003), Why I Resigned from The Evangelical Theological Society .
  2. ^ Geisler & Rhodes 1997.
  3. ^ Geisler 1998.
  4. ^ Veritas Evangelical Seminary .
  5. ^ Geisler, Norman L. "About". Official Web page. 
  6. ^ Geisler 1999b, p. 129.
  7. ^ White, James, The Potter's Freedom, p. 29 .
  8. ^ Horton, Michael, Pinson, J Matthew, ed., Four Views on Eternal Security, p. 113 .
  9. ^ Geisler 1999b, p. 20.
  10. ^ Pinson, J Matthew (ed.), Four Views on Eternal Security, p. 63, ISBN 0-31023439-5 .
  11. ^ Geisler 2009.
  12. ^ Geisler 1989.


External links[edit]