A TRIBUTE

Norman L. Geisler

On July 1, 2019, Dr. Norman L. Geisler went home with the Lord. He was an author, professor, pastor, administrator, and expert witness. He took great joy in his family. In fact, he sent me an email on June 6th to make sure I updated the number of great-grandchildren in his bio for an upcoming book. He even called me on June 19th to be sure I applied the update. Someone was a little excited, wasn’t he?

Norm Geisler passed away

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A personal connection

Since so much has already been written about Norman Geisler’s accomplishments, I’ll just highlight a few. He wrote about 130 books and hundreds of articles. He participated in dozens of debates. Geisler co-founded two seminaries, founded the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (1988).

Geisler on success

How did he accomplish so much? When asked how he measured success, he answered:

I measure my own accomplishment by the standard of God’s Word. In the final analysis, have I brought every thought captive to Christ? I am successful to the degree that I think and live Christocentrically and captivate every thought, whether it happens to be about politics or ethics or family, in the light of Christ and His revelation in His Word.[1]

Geisler’s history

Many do not realize that Dr. Geisler was virtually illiterate in high school. He became a Christian at the age of seventeen then God called him to be a scholar. As he often pointed out, God is more interested in our availability than our ability. He is able to equip us; we need only to humble ourselves before Him.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Geisler entrusted me to preserve his writings.[2] When I picked up the articles, they filled an entire suitcase! I opened the first folder, discovering some of his graded papers from college. His early papers had excellent structure, but they were filled spelling and grammatical errors.

Geisler received a low grade
Geisler's paper filled with grammatical errors

More about his journey will be available in NGIM’s upcoming documentary, “Norm Geisler: Not Qualified.” But let this be a reminder of how God can turn one’s weaknesses into his strengths.

What impressed me the most about writings was not only the range of subjects (theology, philosophy, religion, cults, apologetics, law, government, ethics, and more), but also the variety of publications. He wrote scholarly articles for journals, devotional thoughts for magazines, dictionary entries, newspaper editorials, campus newsletters, encyclopedia sections, online writings, and tracts. He was eager to get the message out!

Called to faithfulness

Not everyone is called to be a scholar. We should be faithful in whatever task God has given us. In Geisler’s article, “Faithfulness pays off,”[3] he notes how impressed he was in his youth by a small church’s faithfulness. Volunteers at a small Baptist church drove him to church over 400 times before he became a Christian. As we pay tribute to Norman Geisler, let us also be grateful for those bus drivers. Their faithfulness paid off. May we likewise be faithful in our work. As Paul instructs us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col.3:17 ESV).

Notes

[1] Hunt, Angela Elwell, and Norman L. Geisler. “The World Is His Classroom.” Fundamentalist Journal (September 1988): 20–21.

[2] His collected works will be available in the upcoming weeks from Bastion Books. Fortunately, I was able to provide him a copy of the entire collection (arranged chronologically in 5 volumes) just a few weeks before he passed away.

[3] Norman L. Geisler, “Faithfulness Pays Off,” in Practical Christianity (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1987), 104–105.

About the author:

Paul A. Compton

Paul serves as a chapter director and Director of Technology with Ratio Christi. He co-authored a book with Dr. Norman L. Geisler, Having Fun Under the Sun.

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