By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – December 1, 2017)
-- I don’t remember the first time I heard the name Norman Geisler (b. 1932). It must have been in the late 1980’s, connected to one of his books. But by the 1990’s Norman Geisler name was everywhere in my world of Modesto, California: friends were recommending his books, Pastor’s were making his books required reading for leadership, and folks began to drop his name and reference his thought process, particularly as it related to apologetics and ethics. If my memory serves me correctly, the first book by Norman Geisler I bought (sometime around 1992 or 1993) was When Critics Ask: A Handbook on Bible Difficulties
And from that day forward, I’ve purchased dozens (to date there are roughly 100 books associated with Norman). As an example, on the shelf next to me I just counted 37 of his books -- and these don’t include the books I have elsewhere.
And now I can add one more book to my shelf: Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True: A Handbook On Defending The Christian Faith released in 2016 by NGIM Press.
I’ll get to this particular book in a moment. But back to Norman’s influence.
As I continued to unpack Geisler’s philosophical and theological angle (Evangelical-Thomist), I began to appreciate the scope of his thought in regard to a host of topics: apologetics, theology, logic, ethics, law, Biblical scholarship, and the like. As a Christian thinker, there are few others that rival his extent and insight. I also came to realize that there are thousands of other people outside of my little world that have been influenced by the man and his thought, including Ravi Zacharias, Ed Hindson, William Lane Craig, and Walter Kaiser, Jr. And as a recent Festschrift (a book honoring his legacy) shows, many of these people are leaders in the current Evangelical movement .
For my part, I continued to read Geisler with great interest (I’m partial to his work on Aquinas and various tomes in theology), dialoging with people that studied under him, including Veritas Evangelical Seminary (VES) president, Dr. Joseph Holden. I was able to meet Dr. Geisler when Calvary Albuquerque hosted him via a Veritas Seminary conference , where he spoke on the problem of evil. Later, I was able to interview Geisler for a couple radio programs gaining more insight from his mind and ministry . And when the opportunity arose for me to attend VES, I jumped at the chance, reveling in the courses I took with Dr. Geisler. I eventually finished up an MA in Theological Studies , and I proudly proclaim that Dr. Geisler was my theology professor.
And it’s here where I get back to Geisler’s recent publication.
Throughout the courses I took with Geisler there were common themes interwoven within his defense of the Christian faith. One of the exams I took -- I believe in apologetics -- was built around these points, 12-14 to be exact. And though the points can be found in his book, The Big Book of Apologetics, I remember saying to myself, “these arguments should be made into a stand-alone book.” Low and behold, the book came to fruition (others must have thought the same). And with the Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True, Geisler’s apologetic approach is carefully and succinctly described in an enjoyable and high-impact read.
The points are as follows (even Wikipedia has them summarized ):
1) Truth about reality is knowable.
2) Opposites cannot both be true.
3) The theistic God exists.
4) Miracles are possible.
5) Miracles performed in connection with a truth claim are acts of God to confirm the truth of God through a messenger of God.
6) The New Testament documents are reliable.
7) As witnessed in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be God.
8) Jesus’ claim to divinity was proven by a unique convergence of miracles.
9) Therefore, Jesus was God in human flesh.
10) Whatever Jesus affirmed as true, is true.
11) Jesus affirmed that the Bible is the Word of God.
12) Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God and whatever is opposed to any biblical truth is false.
In the VES classes, these points were expounded upon in various forms and ways, and are based on the principle of “undeniability) (meaning it is self-defeating to deny) which is summarized as the following (again, interestingly, found on Wikipedia):
1) There are self-evident truths (e.g., the existential undeniability of the premise “I exist," and logical undeniability of the premise “Logic applies to reality").
2) Truth corresponds to reality.
3) Truth is knowable (all other views are self-defeating).
4) One can proceed from self-evident truths to the existence of God.
a) The argument from Creation (proceeds from “I exist")
b) The argument from morals (proceeds from “Values are undeniable")
c) The argument from design (proceeds from “Design implies a designer")
5) God is a necessary Being (argument from being).
6) My existence is not necessary (evident from the definition of a necessary Being).
7) Therefore, theism is true (there is a necessary Being beyond the world who has created the contingent things in the world and intervenes in the world [chap. 3]).
a) The objection from the problem of evil can be solved.
b) The objection to miracles can be solved.
8) The Bible is a historically reliable document.
a) History is an objective study of the past.
b)There is great historical, archaeological, and scientific evidence to confirm the reliability of the Bible.(Corollary: The Bible gives a reliable record of the teaching of Jesus Christ.)
9) Jesus claimed to be both fully human and fully God.
10) He gave evidence to support this claim.
a) The fulfillment of prophecy
b) His miraculous and sinless life
c) His resurrection
11) Therefore, Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
12) Whatever God teaches is true.
13) Jesus (God) taught that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God and He promised the New Testament.
14) Therefore, both the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God.
An article like this is no place to unpack the points. For that you’ll need to read the book or attend VES (which I thoroughly encourage: http://www.ves.edu/
). But as I wrote in an email to fellow minsters at Calvary Albuquerque:
“Every now and then there's a book I think every Christian, especially a pastor, should own. Norman Geisler's newest book, Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True, is such a book. While I was studying with Norman these 12 points were woven throughout most of his material. The book is especially pertinent for skeptics or those struggling with their faith. And though the book tackles some academic areas (laws of logic, etc.) it does so in a very approachable and readable way. And the outline and summary at the beginning of each chapter is very helpful in bringing it all together. In short, I highly recommend it.”
What I wrote to the pastors I write to the public: Do yourself a favor, read the Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True in 2017. And in doing so, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the truth, reality, beauty, and goodness of Jesus Christ.
4) My first MA was in Pastoral Ministry with a concentration in Christian Education.
Photo captions: Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True by Dr. Norman Geisler. 2) Dr. Norman Geisler at Calvary Albuquerque. 3) When Critics Ask, Geisler and Howe. 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, and minister. He's a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA), Veritas Evangelical Seminary (MA), and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon.
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