Norman Leo Geisler
July 21, 1932
Warren, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||July 1, 2019 (aged 86)|
|School||non-denominational Evangelical Christian, Amyraldism, Neo-Thomistic Philosophy, Premillennial-Dispensational|
|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|
|12 point apologetic argument, Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics|
Norman Leo Geisler (July 21, 1932 – July 1, 2019) was an American Christian systematic theologian and philosopher. He was the co-founder of two non-denominational evangelical seminaries (Veritas International University and Southern Evangelical Seminary).
He held a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and made scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, Biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He was the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 books and hundreds of articles.
Geisler's education included 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.
Norman Leo Geisler was born on July 21, 1932, in Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He attended a nondenominational Evangelical church from age nine but was not converted until the age of eighteen. 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 forced him to realize that he needed to find better answers to the objections he was hearing. He subsequently earned two bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, and a Doctorate.
Geisler's decades of degree work overlap a professorial career begun at Detroit Bible College (1963–66) and continued at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1969–70) and Trinity College (1970–71). He was later Chairman of Philosophy of Religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1970–79) and Professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary (1979–88).
In 1981, Geisler testified in "the Scopes II trial" (McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education). Duane Gish, a creationist, 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. Unfortunately, in my opinion, no testimony, and no effort by any team of lawyers, no matter how brilliant, could have won the case for the creationist side."
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. 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 2008, Geisler co-founded the Veritas Evangelical Seminary located in Santa Ana, California. The seminary offers master's degrees in theological studies, apologetics, biblical studies, and Divinity. Geisler served as Chancellor, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Theology, and occupant of the Norman L. Geisler Chair of Christian Apologetics. He retired from this post in May 2019.
Geisler was married to Barbara Jean, and together they had six children. He died of cerebral thrombosis at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 1, 2019, 20 days before his 87th birthday. Geisler's funeral was held at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ravi Zacharias gave the eulogy.
Outline of Geisler's apologetic system
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 defender of 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 of the holistic system of classical apologetics he had been developing over the years. The first outline contained fourteen points of argument:
- There are self-evident truths (e.g., "I exist," "Logic applies to reality").
- Truth corresponds to reality.
- Truth is knowable (all other views are self-defeating).
- One can proceed from self-evident truths to the existence of God.
- The argument from Creation (proceeds from "I exist")
- The argument from morals (proceeds from "Values are undeniable")
- The argument from design (proceeds from "Design implies a designer")
- God is a necessary Being (argument from being).
- My existence is not necessary (evident from the definition of a necessary Being).
- 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]).
- The objection from the problem of evil can be solved.
- The objection to miracles can be solved.
- The Bible is a historically reliable document.
- History is an objective study of the past.
- There is great historical, archaeological, and scientific evidence to confirm the reliability of the Bible. (Corollary: The Bible gives a reliable record of the teaching of Jesus Christ.)
- Jesus claimed to be both fully human and fully God.
- He gave evidence to support this claim.
- The fulfillment of prophecy
- His miraculous and sinless life
- His resurrection
- Therefore, Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
- Whatever God teaches is true.
- Jesus (God) taught that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God and He promised the New Testament.
- 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:
- Truth about reality is knowable.
- Opposites cannot both be true (The Law of Noncontradiction).
- It is true the theistic God exists.
- If God exists, then miracles are possible.
- Miracles performed in connection with a truth claim are acts of God to confirm the truth of God through a messenger of God.
- The New Testament is historically reliable.
- As witnessed in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be God.
- Jesus' claim to divinity was proven by miracles, especially the Resurrection.
- Therefore, Jesus is God.
- Because Jesus is God, whatever Jesus affirmed as true, is true.
- Jesus affirmed that the Bible is the Word of God.
- Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God and whatever is opposed to any biblical truth is false.
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 in 2004 and for Geisler's 2012 e-book Twelve Points that Show Christianity is True.
Geisler was a conservative evangelical scholar who wrote a four-volume systematic theology.
He defended the full inerrancy of the Bible, being one of the co-founders and framers of the "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" (1978) and editor of the book Inerrancy (Zondervan, 1978). More recently, he 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 considered 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 believed:
- Total depravity extends to the whole person but does not destroy the image of God in fallen human beings;
- Election is unconditional from the standpoint of God's giving it and only one condition for humans receiving it—faith;
- The atonement is unlimited in its scope—Christ died for all mankind—but limited in its application to only the elect;
- Grace is irresistible on the willing but does not force the unwilling;
- All those who are regenerate will, by God's grace, persevere to the end and be saved.
Geisler wrote two significant books on ethics: Christian Ethics and The Christian Love Ethic. He provided 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 advocated graded absolutism, which is a theory of moral absolutism which affirms that in moral conflicts we are obligated to perform the higher moral duty. 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 (see also prima facie right).
Geisler believed the American Revolution was not justified by the standards of either the Bible or just war theory. However, he was not a pacifist, believing that defensive wars are justified but revolutions are not.[page needed]
- "Dr. Norman Leo Geisler". Veritas International University. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- "Home". Southern Evangelical Seminary. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 22, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 22, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Greene, Richard (May 2014), "Take a Stand on Biblical Inerrancy", Decision Magazine, retrieved 4 July 2019
- Geisler, Norman L. "About". Official Web page.
- "Interview with Dr. Norman Geisler". Christian Book Previews. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
- "About Norman L. Geisler". Homepage. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
- Geisler, Norman. Creation & the Courts: Eighty Years of Conflict in the Classroom and the Courtroom. (Crossway Books, 2007)
- Geisler, Norman (2003), Why I Resigned from The Evangelical Theological Society, archived from the original on 2013-06-30.
- Geisler & Rhodes 1997.
- Geisler 1998. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFGeisler1998 (help)
- "Norm Geisler has Retired". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- "Author Detail". Moody Publishers. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- "Died: Apologist Norman Geisler, Who Didn't Have 'Enough Faith to Be an Atheist'". Christianity Today. July 1, 2019.
- "Christian Theologian Norman Geisler Passes Away at 87". CBN. July 1, 2019.
- Shellnutt, Kate. "Died: Apologist Norman Geisler, Who Didn't Have 'Enough Faith to Be an Atheist'". News & Reporting. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
- Seminary, Southern Evangelical (July 10, 2019). "Norman L. Geisler Memorial - Ravi's Eulogy". YouTube. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
- Geisler, N. L., & Brooks, R. M. (1990). When skeptics ask (p. 289). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Geisler, N. L. "Apologetics, Argument of", in The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 1999
- Geisler, N. L., & Turek, F. I Don't have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. 2004
- "12 Points that Show Christianity is True" (PDF). Bastion Books. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
- Kreider, Glenn. "Review: Systematic Theology by Normal Geisler". Dallas Theological Seminary. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- "A General Introduction to the Bible". Christian Book. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- Allen, Bob. "Traditional Southern Baptists counter Calvinism". Baptist News Global. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, 2nd Edition. Baker Academic. 1989, 2010.
- "The Christian Love Ethic". Bastion Books. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
- Geisler 2009. sfn error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFGeisler2009 (help)
- Christian Ethics, Chapter 4
- Geisler 1989, chapters 12–13. sfn error: multiple targets (5×): CITEREFGeisler1989 (help)
- Official website
- ———, The Dating of the New Testament, Be thinking.
- ———, "I Believe… in the Resurrection of the Flesh", CRI, ICL net (56).
- ———, "Answering Islam", CRI (interview), ICL net (72).
- Geisler, Norman L, 1996 Presentation: Cults - Their danger and their draw.
- Rhodes, Ron, "The Battle for the Resurrection", CRI (interview with Geisler), ICL net (41).
- Critique of Norman Geisler's apologetic scholarship.
- Why I am a Christian.
- The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.
- I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
- Twelve Points that Show Christianity is True.
- Course Christian Apologetics by Dr. Norman Geisler