y old teacher and friend Norm Geisler’s
funeral was on Saturday, July 6, 2019. This essay is based on the tribute I contributed to his festschrift, I am Put Here for the Defense of the Gospel
, ed. Terry L. Miethe (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016). I share it with you here in his honor–lest we forget.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was a
heady place to be in the early to mid1970s. I went there to hang around rising
Evangelical superstars like Paul Little and John
Warwick Montgomery—and that was a good decision. But the guys I knew about
before I got there proved to be only the tip of the iceberg. In what other one
plaec in the world could I have had I. Howard Marshall for Greek Exegesis,
Murray Harris for Advanced Greek Grammar, Gleason Archer and Walter Kaiser for
Old Testament, John Gerstner and John Woodbridge for Church History, John Warwick
Montgomery for Apologetics and Theological Research Methods, J. I. Packer for a
seminar on Puritanism, Carl F. H. Henry for Contemporary Theology, Harold O. J.
Brown for Theology of Science, and Norm Geisler for Ethics and Theism, all
under the careful, patient, and loving guidance of Ken Kantzer, whose course in
Introduction to Theology got so many of us off on the right foot both
academically and spiritually—and, more importantly, showed us that we could not
really have one without the other? If ever there has been a golden age of
American Evangelical theological education, that was one.
Norm Geisler fit right in. He
showed us that rigorous logic did not have to be the tool of the rationalist
but could be used to bring clarity and force to Christian truth claims. He
showed us that if we had the right premises and avoided the fallacies to which
secular and liberal thought were addicted, logic could be the friend of truth.
He showed us the beautiful rationality of God’s mind reflected in nature and
Scripture. He showed us what thinking to the glory of God looked like.
Norm—and his colleagues in other areas—did not just talk brilliantly about such things; they embodied them. If I have lived the life of a Christian scholar-pastor in a way that did any good for the Kingdom, it was by the grace of God, and the example of those men was one of the major means through which grace worked. (And, at different points along the way outside of Trinity, I could add Paul van Gorder, Francis Schaeffer, and Alan Dan Orme.) If I can live that life before my students half as well as Norm Geisler lived it before me, my life will not have been lived in vain.
Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College in the Hills of NE Georgia. His latest books are Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of J. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018).