One of the central thinkers of modern American evangelicalism, Norman L. Geisler (1932–2019), died recently. He was a Christian philosopher, apologist, theologian, educator, and debater. He was also one of the most prolific Christian writers ever—having authored, coauthored, or edited some 127 books.1 Geisler received degrees from Tyndale College and Wheaton College and his doctoral degree in philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago. He had a long, distinguished career and ministry.

Geisler served as a professor at two of conservative evangelicalism’s leading seminaries: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary. He went on to cofound two other schools: Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) and Veritas International University. He founded and served as first president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. He also served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society and was a signer of the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Some of the most important books Geisler authored and coauthored include the following: Christian ApologeticsInerrancyA General Introduction to the BibleIntroduction to PhilosophyThe Battle for the ResurrectionThomas Aquinas: An Evangelical AppraisalRoman Catholics and EvangelicalsWhen Critics AskWhen Skeptics AskSystematic Theology(four volumes), and Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

Geisler was a Protestant Thomist and specialized in the topics of Christian philosophy and apologetics—focusing especially on the existence of God, ethics, worldviews, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Theologically he addressed such issues as biblical inerrancy, creation, and systematic theology.

I first met Norm in 1989 when he visited the Christian Research Institute where I was working as a young researcher. When he first heard my last name he said, “I don’t want the Sample—I want the real thing!” In a field often marked by serious-mindedness, Norm possessed a refreshing sense of humor.

He offered me encouragement when I was writing a series of articles on an evangelical assessment of Roman Catholicism. In the late 1990s I participated in a friendly public dialogue-debate with Geisler and a Nazarene theologian in San Diego, California. The topic of the debate was “Is the Human Will Free to Grasp Salvation?” One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening was sparring with Norm about who was the better all-around Christian thinker: St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas? I backed Augustine and Norm backed Aquinas.

He graciously wrote the foreword of a book I coauthored entitled The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary (Baker, 1992). I respectfully viewed Norman Geisler as the General MacArthur (larger than life, in command) of Christian apologetics. He bore the nickname Stormin’ Norman.

Dr. Geisler was married to his wife Barbara for an admirable 62 years. Together they had 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

Norman Geisler has now entered his Savior’s presence. The mark he leaves includes a heritage of family and faith, and his apologetics legacy lives on in the untold number of Christians that he influenced.

Reflections: Your Turn

Have you read any of Norman Geisler’s books? Do you have a favorite Christian author who has significantly influenced you? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Check out more from Reasons to Believe

  1. Kate Shellnutt, Died: Apologist Norman Geisler, Who Didn’t Have ‘Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,Christianity Today, July 1, 2019,


About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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