Norman Geisler

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Norman Leo Geisler
Born July 21, 1932
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School non-denominational Evangelical Christian,Moderate Calvinism, Neo-Thomistic Philosophy, Premillenial-Dispensational
Main interests Philosophy of religion, Christian Apologetics, Systematic Theology, Philosophy, Thomism/Neo-Thomism, biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, Creationism versus Evolution, Calvinism-Arminianism, Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism (differences and agreements), Christian Ethics
Notable ideas 12 point apologetic argument, Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutic
Influences
Influenced

Norman L. Geisler (born 1932) is a Christian apologist and systematic theologian. He is the co-founder of two non-denominational Evangelical seminaries (Veritas Evangelical Seminary[1] and Southern Evangelical Seminary[2]). He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and is well known for his scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, the creationism and evolution debate, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 books[3] and hundreds of articles.[4]

Education[edit]

Dr. Geisler's education includes a 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]

Biography[edit]

Norman Leo Geisler was born in 1932 in the Detroit area (Warren, Michigan, USA). He attended a nondenominational Evangelical church from age nine to age seventeen before he committed his life to Jesus Christ. He immediately began attempting to share his faith with others in various evangelistic endeavors--door-to-door, street meetings, and jail service, rescue missions, and Youth for Christ venues. Some of his conversations with forced him to realize that he needed to find better answers to the objections he was hearing. This was the start of earning two Bachelor degrees, two Master degrees, and a Doctorate. [6]

In 1981, Dr. Geisler testified in "the Scopes II trial" (McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education). Dr. Duane Gish remarked, "Geisler was. . . the lead witness for the creationist side and one of its most brilliant witnesses. His testimony, in my view (I was present during the entire trial), effectively demolished the most important thrust of the case by the ACLU." [7]

Dr. Geisler was formerly a president of the Evangelical Theological Society but left the ETS in 2003, after it did not expel Clark Pinnock, who advocated open theism.[8] Dr. Geisler also founded and was first president of The Evangelical Philosophical Society. Additionally he was the founder and first president of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

In 1997, Dr. Geisler co-authored When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretation.[9] Forty-seven of the articles listed in the index referred to Mormonism. He contributed to The Counterfeit Gospel of Mormonism.[10]

In 2008, Geisler co-founded Veritas Evangelical Seminary located in Santa Ana, California. The seminary offers masters degrees in theological studies, apologetics, biblical studies, and Divinity. Geisler currently serves as Chancellor, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Theology and occupant of the Norman L. Geisler Chair of Christian Apologetics.[11]

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

Outline of Dr. Geisler's Apologetic System[edit]

Dr. Geisler is known first and foremost as a classical Christian apologist. Between 1970 and 1990 he participated in dozens of public debates and gained a reputation as a powerful defender of the theism, biblical miracles, the resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of the Bible. The first attempt to publish an outline of his apologetic method showed up in an appendix of his 1990 book When Skeptics Ask. The appendix is titled "Reasoning to Christianity from Ground Zero" and in it we see a high-level view the holistic system of classical apologetics he had been developing over the years. The first outline contained fourteen points of argument:[12]

1.      There are self-evident truths (e.g., “I exist,” “Logic applies to reality”).
2.      Truth corresponds to reality.
3.      Truth is knowable (all other views are self-defeating).
4.      One can proceed from self-evident truths to the existence of God.
 a.      The argument from Creation (proceeds from “I exist”) 
 b.      The argument from morals (proceeds from “Values are undeniable”)
 c.      The argument from design (proceeds from “Design implies a designer”)
5.      God is a necessary Being (argument from being).
6.      My existence is not necessary (evident from the definition of a necessary Being).
7.      Therefore, theism is true (there is a necessary Being beyond the world who has created the contingent things in the world and intervenes in the world [chap. 3]). 
 a.      The objection from the problem of evil can be solved. 
 b.      The objection to miracles can be solved.
8.      The Bible is a historically reliable document. 
 a.      History is an objective study of the past. 
 b.      There is great historical, archeological, and scientific evidence to confirm the reliability of the Bible.(Corollary: The Bible gives a reliable record of the teaching of Jesus Christ.)
9.      Jesus claimed to be both fully human and fully God.
10.      He gave evidence to support this claim. 
 a.      The fulfillment of prophecy 
 b.      His miraculous and sinless life 
 c.      His resurrection
11.      Therefore, Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
12.      Whatever God teaches is true.
13.      Jesus (God) taught that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God and He promised the New Testament.
14.      Therefore, both the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God.

The overview of his system was later streamlined slightly into a 12-point schema. As of 1999 it could be summarized as follows:[13]

1.      Truth about reality is knowable (see TRUTH, NATURE OF; AGNOSTICISM).
2.      Opposites cannot both be true (see FIRST PRINCIPLES; LOGIC).
3.      The theistic (see THEISM) God exists (see GOD, EVIDENCE FOR).
4.      Miracles are possible (see MIRACLE).
5.      Miracles performed in connection with a truth claim are acts of God to confirm the truth of God through a messenger of God (see MIRACLES AS CONFIRMATION OF TRUTH; MIRACLES, APOLOGETIC VALUE OF).
6.      The New Testament documents are reliable (see NEW TESTAMENT, DOCUMENTS, MANUSCRIPTS; NEW TESTAMENT, HISTORICITY OF; NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS).
7.      As witnessed in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be God (see CHRIST, DEITY OF).
8.      Jesus’ claim to divinity was proven by an unique convergence of miracles (see MIRACLES IN THE BIBLE).
9.      Therefore, Jesus was God in human flesh.
10.      Whatever Jesus (who is God) affirmed as true, is true (see GOD, NATURE OF).
11.      Jesus affirmed that the Bible is the Word of God (see BIBLE, EVIDENCE FOR; BIBLE, JESUS’ VIEW OF).
12.      Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God and whatever is opposed to any biblical truth is false (see WORLD RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY; PLURALISM, RELIGIOUS).

These same twelve steps served as the framework for the chapters of the highly popular book I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist [14] in 2004 and for Geisler's 2012 e-book Twelve Points that Show Christianity is True.[15]

Theology[edit]

Geisler is a conservative evangelical scholar who has written a four-volume systematic theology.

He is a strong defender of the full inerrancy of the Bible, being one of the co-founders and framers of the “Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy” (1978) and editor of the book Inerrancy (Zondervan, 1978). More recently co-authored Defending Inerrancy with William Roach (Baker, 2013). He also co-authored (with William Nix) General Introduction to the Bible (Moody Press, 1986) and From God to Us, revised (Moody, 2012).

Geisler considers himself a “moderate Calvinist,” as expressed in his book Chosen but Free (Harvest House, 2001) and Systematic Theology, in One Volume (Harvest House, 2012). On the Five Points of Calvinism, he believes (1) Total depravity extends to the whole person but does not destroy the image of God in fallen human beings; (2) Election is unconditional from the standpoint of God’s giving it and only one condition for human’s receiving it—faith; (3) Election is unlimited in its scope—Christ died for all mankind—but limited in its application to only the elect; (4) Grace is irresistible on the willing but does not force the unwilling; (5) All those who are regenerate will, by God’s grace, persevere to the end and be saved.

Ethics[edit]

Dr. Geisler has written two significant books on ethics: Christian Ethics [16] and The Christian Love Ethic.[17] He provides his perspective on ethical options, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, biomedical issues, capital punishment, war, civil disobedience, sexual issues, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, ecology, animal rights, drugs, gambling, pornography, birth control, and more.

Of the six major ethical systems (antinomianism, situationalism, generalism, unqualified absolutism, conflicting absolutism, and graded absolutism), Geisler advocates graded absolutism, which is a theory of moral absolutism which affirms that in moral conflicts we are obligated to perform the higher moral duty.[18] 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". 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[19] (see also prima facie right.)

Geisler believes the American Revolution was not justified by the standards of either the Bible or Just war theory. However, he is not a pacifist, believing that defensive wars are justified but revolutions are not.[20][page needed]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://veritasseminary.com
  2. ^ http://ses.edu
  3. ^ http://normangeisler.net/about/default.htm#BooksByNorm
  4. ^ http://normangeisler.net/articles/default.htm
  5. ^ Geisler, Norman L. "About". Official Web page. 
  6. ^ http://www.christianbookpreviews.com/christian-book-author-interview.php?isbn=0764225529
  7. ^ Geisler, Norman. Creation & the Courts: Eighty Years of Conflict in the Classroom and the Courtroom. (Crossway Books:2007)
  8. ^ Geisler, Norman (2003), Why I Resigned from The Evangelical Theological Society .
  9. ^ Geisler & Rhodes 1997.
  10. ^ Geisler 1998.
  11. ^ Veritas Evangelical Seminary .
  12. ^ Geisler, N. L., & Brooks, R. M. (1990). When skeptics ask (p. 289). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  13. ^ Geisler, N. L. "Apologetics, Argument of," in The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 1999
  14. ^ Geisler, N. L., & Turek, F. I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. 2004
  15. ^ http://bastionbooks.com/shop/twelve-points/
  16. ^ Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, 2nd Edition. Baker Academic. 1989, 2010.
  17. ^ http://bastionbooks.com/shop/the-christian-love-ethic/
  18. ^ Geisler 2009.
  19. ^ Christian Ethics, Chapter 4
  20. ^ Geisler 1989.

Publications[edit]

External links[edit]