One of the Greatest Apologists of Our Time, Norman Geisler, Dead at 86

This morning the great apologist Norman Geisler passed away. It was announced on his ministry page, but I saw the news from my colleague Scott Lindsey, who knew Dr. Geisler personally.

Scott has permitted me to share his reflection here, which reveals a side of Dr. Geisler many weren’t privileged to see.

Here is Scott’s reflection: 

Norm wrote over 100 books. And was one of the greatest apologists of our time. We spent many weekends together driving around the country doing conferences. I always wondered why he had never released a joke book. Literally, Norm has told me hundreds of jokes and puns. I think humor was the pressure release valve for his brilliant mind.

I’ll never forget one Saturday afternoon with Norm at a Starbucks in Jackson, Tenessee. We sat outside sipping our frappuccinos, a delicacy Norm enjoyed until his doctor got after him. A Muslim man sat next to us and started talking to Norm. For the next hour, I watched Norm kindly yet powerfully show the supremacy of Christ. The man literally smoked an entire pack of cigarettes as he nervously engaged with Doc. Every argument against Christianity the man tried to throw at Norm was graciously refuted. I literally witnessed an entire seminary apologetics class in this incredible engagement. The conversation ended with both men exchanging phone numbers and hugging one another. That was Norm Geisler.

I have always marveled at how Norm could take a very complex subject and break it down to its essential elements so anyone could understand. He was a master of logic.

Although it’s sad to lose such a giant of the faith, I can’t help but smile at the thought of Norm waking up this morning to the glory of the Christ he defended so powerfully his whole life. And because he’s in Heaven and doesn’t need to defend the Lord he now stands with, I guarantee he’s gathered a group of saints around him . . . telling them a new joke.

This was Dr. Geisler—one always ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15), and who spent his life helping others be ready, too. Geisler, who once said,

So I cast my lot with him—not the one who claimed wisdom, Confucius; or the one who claimed enlightenment, Buddha; or the one who claimed to be a prophet, Muhammad, but with the one who claimed to be God in human flesh. The one who declared, “Before Abraham was born, I am”—and proved it.

We pray God’s peace for Dr. Geisler’s loved ones and thank and praise God for his faithful ministry. 

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You can explore many of Geisler’s works on Logos.com or the desktop app.

Comments

  1. George Gallant says:

    While I was a student at Toccoa Falls College back in the early 80s, I heard Dr. Geisler and I have admired him ever since. I will miss him

  2. I knew Norm Geisler both as a professor and thesis advisor, but at times also as a friend. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew who could also outthink and out-maneuver you when he was half asleep.

    He made jokes at his own expense as well as that of others. We were coming back from a debate one night when he suddenly asked me – “Do you know what IFCA stands for?” I pled ignorance. “I Fight Christians Anywhere!”

    Another time, in the middle of a lecture – “I like alliteration because I’m illiterate.”

    I collected dozens of his sayings, only to lose them later. Comments like –
    “I’m aiming to become a Christian.”
    “Quit aiming and pull the trigger!”

    Geisler was the first person I knew who owned a photocopy machine. He would photocopy quotations from books instead of writing them out. Then he would paste these together on blank pages and end up with an outline of quotations that distilled the book. This was long before personal computers.

    Geisler moved from TEDS to DTS not long after he built his dream house outside Chicago. I asked him if it had been hard to leave it behind. “Not at all. It’s all just tinder for the Tribulation.”

    Geisler was probably the first and only professor to teach a semester class at DTS just on Soren Kierkegaard. And to say he thought SK was “in a class with Augustine and Aquinas in terms of his brilliance.” This from one of the few Evangelical Thomists among us.

    Geisler was brilliant, tireless in getting at the truth, did not suffer fools easily, but patient with anyone seeking the Truth. He found that truth in Jesus, and now is in His very presence. “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

  3. Richard Strout says:

    Crossed paths with him many years ago at the base of Mount Hermon. Thank God for men like him whose ministry and writings have and will continue to have a positive impact. Richard Strout