Southern Evangelical Seminary Co-Founder Dr. Norman Geisler’s Ministry Was Invaluable and His Influence Incalculable
‘At What Other Time in History Has It Been More Crucial for Christians to Ably Defend the Faith?’ Asks SES President Dr. Richard Land
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) continues to be staunchly committed to its mission to train men and women, based on the inerrant and infallible written Word of God, for the evangelization of the world and defense of the historic Christian faith.
This mission takes on a new urgency and an even greater commitment since the death earlier this month of SES’s co-founder, Dr. Norman Geisler.
Geisler passed away July 1 at the age of 86 after a decades-long commitment to the field of Christian apologetics. Called the “Father of Apologetics,” he was a prolific author, veteran professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, evangelist and theologian, and had been described throughout his lifetime as a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham.
SES President Dr. Richard Land said Dr. Geisler’s contributions to apologetics dramatically increased awareness of and knowledge in the field.
“At what other time in history has it been more crucial for Christians to ably defend the faith?” Land asked. “This is true in nearly every facet of our culture, from politics to education to church relations. As one who laid the groundwork in apologetics, Dr. Geisler was the ‘go to’ authority for more than two generations of evangelical seminary students who were looking for a bold, erudite and uncompromisingly faithful defense of the inerrant, infallible Word of God and the historical doctrines of the Christian faith. His ministry was invaluable and his influence incalculable.”
Since his death, many current and former SES students have shared their memories of and gratefulness for Dr. Geisler’s legacy, including Ravi Zacharias, who returned from Asia to lead his mentor’s funeral service.
“After graduation, he remained a mentor to me and became a very dear friend,” Zacharias said. “I owe more to him than anyone else for teaching me how to do apologetics for the Christian worldview. His death is a loss beyond words.”
SES Assistant Professor Dr. Doug Potter added that, “All and all, sometimes more and sometimes less, I studied under, worked for and with him for 25 years. I miss him. He meant so much to me … but we will see him again in the flesh, with the Lord, but for now never forget what he left behind, something the world can’t get rid of.”
Dr. Joseph M. Holden, president of Veritas International University, which Geisler also co-founded, said Geisler “loved to teach and loved his students.”
“Though his accomplishments are powerfully influential, he is best known for his uncompromising defense of the Christian worldview, love for his family, humility, sacrificial love for all, and tireless work ethic,” Holden remarked.
Dr. Frank Turek is an SES adjunct professor and has spoken many times both on campus and at special events, including at the seminary’s annual apologetics conference.
“There is no one from whom I’ve learned more about Christianity and the defense of the faith,” Turek said. “He’s left a wonderful legacy that includes 100 books and thousands of apologists, pastors and disciples.”
Dr. Thomas A. Howe, Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages at SES, shared that God showed His great love by sending Norman Geisler to “teach us, to train us, to educate and inform us, to be an example for us, but most of all, to demonstrate to all, Christian and non-Christian, that God so loved the world.”
“He is all these things to me; a mentor, an example, an aspiration,” Howe continued. “But, what is most important to me is, he is my friend. … But who could be in such a class, except of course Aquinas and Billy. I do not use the past tense, because he is still all of these things, and much more than we can imagine.”
William Lane Craig, who has also spoken and debated on the SES campus, said he bears Geisler’s imprint.
“He gave me a strong appreciation for the history of philosophy, which has served me well,” Craig said. “Most importantly, however, he convinced me of the need for a robust natural theology. This emphasis was and continues to be somewhat out of the ‘norm’—no pun intended—for Christian philosophers, but those of you who know my work will realize how indelibly Norm Geisler stamped me with his mark.”
Dr. William C. Roach received his master’s degree in philosophy from SES and also previously taught at the seminary as well as served as Dr. Geisler’s teaching and research assistant.
“The mark of a great leader is found in their ability to live beyond the grave and pass the baton to the next generation,” Roach shared. “Dr. Geisler has now joined the great host of witnesses that have gone before us and he has passed the baton onto each of us. Therefore, it is now our responsibility to say during this time in history: I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”
Steve Shadrach studied under Dr. Geisler at Dallas Theological Seminary in the 1980s.
“His teaching, training, and writings have left behind an incredible wake of tens of thousands of Christian leaders across the planet who have taken his beautiful balance of grace and truth and applied it to building up the Kingdom of God,” Shadrach wrote. “He had an unstoppable drive and passion and work ethic. Retirement was not even in his vocabulary, determined to use his final breath to defend and advance the gospel. Only in eternity will we know the true measure of his influence.”
A week after Geisler’s death, SES also announced the creation of the “Dr. Norman L. Geisler Memorial Fund,” which will be used for student scholarships and special projects that would have been near and dear to Dr. Geisler’s heart. To date, more than $30,000 has been given to the fund. SES also honored its co-founder by renaming its graduate school to “The Dr. Norman L. Geisler Graduate School of Apologetics” and bestowing on him the title of “President Emeritus.”
SES’s 26th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 11-12 at Calvary Church in Charlotte, will focus on the theme of “Why Truth Still Matters” and will welcome some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The conference will also include a special tribute to Dr. Geisler.