Norman Geisler, noted apologist and theologian, dead at 86

Norman Geisler, senior professor of Theology and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary, in an interview for the 2018 documentary 'The God Who Speaks.'
Norman Geisler, senior professor of Theology and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary, in an interview for the 2018 documentary "The God Who Speaks." | (Screenshot: Vimeo/American Family Studios)

Apologist, prolific author, and theology professor Norman Geisler has passed away at age 86, about two months after he retired from Southern Evangelical Seminary over undisclosed health issues.

The Norman Geisler Ministry Page on Facebook announced Monday that he died peacefully earlier that morning, twenty days shy of his 87th birthday.

“He has left behind an amazing legacy that will continue to have a ripple effect for many years to come,” they stated. “We will be sending you further details today as to where the funeral will be and it will be open to the public.”

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In the announcement, the ministry also asked for prayers for Geisler’s family, noting that funeral services will be held on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Born on July 21, 1932 in Warren, Michigan, Geisler graduated from Wheaton College in 1958 with a bachelor of arts in philosophy, received a master’s in theology from Wheaton Graduate School in 1960, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University in Chicago in 1970.

Geisler often participated in academic debates and wrote extensively on topics like creation and evolution, humanistic ethics, sexual morality, and the existence of God.

“Norm has authored or co-authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. He has taught theology, philosophy, and apologetics on the college or graduate level for over 50 years,” noted an entry on his website.

“He has served as a professor at some of the finest Seminaries in the United States, including Trinity Evangelical Seminary, Dallas Seminary, and Southern Evangelical Seminary.”

(Photo: Norman Geisler)
(Photo: Norman Geisler)

In 1992, Geisler co-founded Southern Evangelical Seminary along with evangelist and former Calvary Church pastor Ross Rhoads, who passed away in 2017.

“Pastor Rhoads’ burden for evangelism and Professor Geisler’s concern to defend the historic Christian Faith combined in the two-fold vision of the seminary to evangelize the world and to defend the historic Christian Faith,” explained SES.

“The Seminary grew rapidly, attracting students from all over the United States and several other countries; from the beginning it attracted national attention by its unique program in evangelism and classical apologetics. In 1995 the first graduate received his degree.”

In late April, SES announced that Geisler was retiring from his teaching position at the seminary due to undisclosed health problems.

SES President Richard Land, who also serves as executive editor of The Christian Post, said in the press release after his retirement that Geisler was “the pre-eminent Christian apologist of the past half-century.”

“If they ever construct a Christian apologists’ Mount Rushmore, they would unquestionably start with Dr. Geisler’s visage. He has truly been one of God’s great gifts to His church,” stated Land at the time.

“Southern Evangelical Seminary would not exist without Dr. Geisler’s vision and dedicated service over the past 27 years.”

In 1957, Geisler married Barbara Jean, with the couple having six children. Geisler himself lived to see his grandchildren have children. 

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