Hanging Out with Dr. Geisler

Today’s guest blogger is Scott Lindsey, Ministry Relations Director at Logos.
As part of the Ministry Relations team at Logos, I have one of the best jobs on the planet: introducing people to the power of Logos for Bible Study. Last weekend was a milestone in my 10+ years traveling the country teaching at various conferences. I had the privilege of hanging out with Dr. Norman Geisler. Dr. Geisler and I were both speakers a recent set of Code Blue conferences in Springfield, MO and Bentonville, AR.
The first conference was Friday night in Springfield, MO. So the next morning Dr. Geisler and I left for our 3 hour drive to Bentonville, AR, where the next conference was being hosted. And what a drive it was! The countryside was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the conversation was brilliant. Imagine, 3 hours with Dr. Geisler as your passenger! I witnessed the passion of a man who has dedicated his life to the cause of Christ and has been in ministry for half a century.
Dr. Geisler came to know the Lord because of the faithful outreach of a local church in his home town of Warren, MI. His parents weren’t believers yet. Dr. Geisler always felt a desire to know God. Starting at age 9, he rode the church bus over 400 times to Sunday service until, at age 17, he finally yielded to the tugging of God on his heart. The lesson Dr. Geisler learned was, “Don’t give up; it may take 400 sermons!” After conversion, Dr. Giesler jumped immediately into full-time Christian service. Every night there was some type of church activity: door-to-door evangelism, Bible studies, jail ministry, and more. He even met his bride of 51 years while serving in his church; they worked together in the church prison ministry. Dr. Geisler said the expectation back then was, “Get saved; start serving!”
One night while helping out with the local jail ministry, the scheduled preacher didn’t show up due to illness and someone asked Dr. Geisler if he would teach. Dr. Geisler had only known the Lord for 9 weeks yet sheepishly took the microphone, shared from John chapter 3 and gave his testimony. Several gave their lives to Jesus that night, and Dr. Geisler felt the call to ministry.
A few nights later Dr. Geisler was with his youth group doing ministry in an area in Detroit known as Skid Row—this is where the truly down-trodden of the city lived. While witnessing in the streets, Dr. Geisler was confronted by a drunk who grabbed Dr. Geisler’s Bible, opened it to Mark 8:30, and read, “Jesus warned them not to tell ANYONE about Him!” Dr. Geisler was stumped!!! How could he reconcile the Great Commission with this passage of Scripture? He had no answer for this challenge and realized he either needed to get educated about his new faith or stop evangelizing altogether.
Dr. Geisler heard through some friends that Emmaus Bible School had a Bible correspondence course for FOUR DOLLARS. Dr. Geisler tried as hard as he could to explain to me how much money that was back in 1950!!! I have a new perspective now when I purchase my $4 latte at Starbucks. The problem, though, was that Dr. Geisler didn’t have four dollars. Amazingly, the providence of God was revealed when his boss asked him to work a Saturday shift “bunching radishes”—the amount he earned: $4. The exact amount Dr. Geisler needed! Imagine the enthusiasm that day as Dr. Geisler worked on the farm.
This began Dr. Geisler’s amazing educational journey. The remarkable thing for me was discovering that Dr. Geisler didn’t even learn to read until his junior year in high school. His 11th grade teacher was suspect of Dr. Geisler’s reading abilities and asked him one day, “How did ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ end?” As witty as Dr. Geisler is today at 75 years old, the 16-year-old Norman replied, “With a period!” The day concluded with a familiar visit to the principal’s office.
The correspondence program from Emmaus eventually led him to Detroit Bible College (DBC) where he received his first degree. Upon graduation from DBC, Dr. Geisler took his first pastorate at Dayton Center Church in Silverwood, Michigan. Today, the congregation still invites Dr. Geisler to speak when his schedule permits. After pastoring for 3 years at Dayton Center Church, Dr. Geisler realized his “barrel was empty” and he needed more formal education. He enrolled at Wheaton and received his bachelors in philosophy and two years later earned his M.A. in Theology. He received his Th.B. from William Tyndale College in 1964, and his Ph.D. from Loyola in 1970.
I asked him what led the transition from preaching to teaching, and he said that during college and seminary, the students would always come up to him after class and have him explain what the professors were teaching. He simply had a knack for digesting the hefty theology being taught, and this led to his almost 50 years of Christian teaching.
Of all the things I learned about Dr. Geisler during our drive, I was most inspired by his love for his wife and family and continued devotion to the Lord. Every night after dinner, the Geisler family would gather in the living room for their nightly devotions and time of Bible study. From day one, Dr. Geisler and his wife poured a foundation of the Word into their children’s lives—all of whom are serving the Lord today.
We enjoyed a great plate of Fajitas for lunch, and Dr. Geisler refilled my “joke” quiver. I have enough opening jokes to last me 10+ years of conference speaking! He has authored/co-authored 67 books, and I now wonder when the Dr. Norman Geisler joke book will be released. His humor only adds to the uniqueness of this great man. Even after 50+ years of faithful service, he is still excited about life and the Lord.
As I watched Dr. Geisler teach Saturday night in Bentonville to a crowd of over 900, I had a new appreciation for his brilliance. I have taught with Dr. Geisler at many conferences over the years and have had the privilege of learning how to defend the faith because of his scholarship and teaching, but Saturday gave me a new perspective of Dr. Geisler. I realized that he not only knows the Word, but lives it with passion every day!
You may not be aware that we have several of Dr. Geisler’s books available for Libronix. Be sure to check them out!

Dr. Geisler is also a Logos user. Here’s what he has to say about Logos:

Wow! What a great way to get into the Bible. With a whole library at your fingertips and language tools in the palm of your hand, anyone can benefit from Logos Bible Software. Whether someone is a scholar, pastor, Sunday school teacher, or layperson Logos can help them accomplish their academic and spiritual needs. If you are in Seminary or Bible College then you should have this program. Logos is already the standard in Bible software and for good reason—it is simply the best.

Comments

  1. Are any other Geisler books being planned for Logos? How can we request some? I would love to see books like “Chosen But Free” available in Logos.

  2. David Pereira says:

    Thanks for the window into your traveling visit together, Phil. It always blesses my heart to see someone still excited about the Gospel a long ways down the road. THAT is encouraging!

  3. Andy Anderson says:

    We often speak of the “big names” in the ministry and in the world of publishing, and getting to know those wonderful contributors is very rare. What a great opportunity for Scott to be able to travel with Mr. Geisler, to get to know him better. Thanks for sharing your story Scott, and I will remember your fond memories as I tap into the books of Dr. Geisler. By the way, keep those stories coming!

  4. That was a great and informative post. Thanks for sharing. Learned a lot about Geisler.

  5. OK, Dr. Geisler was one of my favorite professor’s in Seminary. But somewhere along the line I missed the “Dr. Geisler Joke Book” aspect of Dr. Geisler… oh, to be sure… he was very witty, and his concrete explanations in class were outstanding…really encouraged thought! But I just don’t remember all the jokes!
    I think it was the sure number of papers and theological questions we needed to answer!!! I got robbed! :) We got THEOLOGY!!!!
    I’ll be the first to sign up for the joke book! :)
    JJ

  6. Dr. Geisler is one of the BIG GUNS, not just in our time, but all of Church history. His name appears on lists with Augustine and Aquinas.
    Speaking of Aquinas, when are you guys at Logos going to offer the Summa? Dr. G would totally approve……..

  7. Dave Geisler says:

    Its true growing up my father (Norman Geisler) emphasized family devotions. As a result I learned much about the bible at a very early age and accepted Christ when I was 4 years old. As a result I have continued what I learned. Every night I spend time with my kids before bed time and have family devotions. It is one of the many things I appreciate about my dad.
    Blessings,
    Dave Geisler

  8. Derwin L. Gray says:

    Dr. “G”, as I love to call him is one of my heros. Not only is he my professor and mentor, he is also my friend. Before I preached my first funeral, he walked me through the “how to’s” with tears in his eyes.
    Dr. “G” is a gift to the church. Thanks Dr. “G.”
    Pastor Derwin L. Gray (aka., The Evangelism Linebacker)
    http://www.oneheartatatime.org

  9. I just wanted to let all of those who eagerly anticipate new publications by my father (Norman Geisler), that the book I co-authored with him (which was based on part of my Doc. of Ministry in Apologetics Dissertation) called Conversational Evangelism: How To Listen And Speak So You May Be Heard, will be out in March 2009, published by Harvest House.

  10. Thanks for letting us know, Dave. Good to hear.