interview with Norman Geisler. Original audio here. If you enjoy transcripts, please consider supporting, which makes this possible.
BA: Hello, this is Brian Auten of Apologetics315. Today’s interview is with apologist Norman Geisler. Dr. Geisler is the author, or co-author, of some seventy books and hundreds of articles. He’s taught theology, philosophy, and apologetics on the college or graduate level for fifty years. He has spoken or debated, in some twenty six countries, on six continents. He has a BA, MA, ThB, and Phd in Philosophy, and he’s taught at seminaries in the Unites States including, Trinity Evangelical, and Dallas Seminary. Currently, he’s the Distinguished Professor of Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary at Murrieta, California. The purpose of this interview is to learn more from Dr. Geisler’s experience as a defender of the faith. Thanks for joining me today, Dr. Geisler.
NG: It’s a pleasure to be with you.
BA: Well, first off, I want to acknowledge the impact that you’ve had on so many in the area of defending the faith. And, your years of faithfulness in this area I’m sure has influenced many people to both understand the faith more and learn how to defend it. So, thank you.
NG: Well, you’re welcome, it’s a privilege to serve.
BA: Well, Dr. Geisler, you’ve been teaching in the area of theology, and philosophy, and apologetics for like over fifty years. So, what got you into this field?
NG: Witnessing, evangelism. The people who lead me to the Lord took me out the next day. Cold turkey, door to door calling. The next night was street meetings cold turkey. Wednesday was prayer meetings. Thursday was jail service. Friday was city rescue mission. Saturday was Youth for Christ. Finally, Sunday was church. I didn’t know you could backslide, I just thought you had to serve the Lord all the time. Problem was, I didn’t know much, it was on the job training. But, I didn’t have much training to begin with, like zero. A few weeks after I was saved, I was already tied up in knots by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and a drunk staggered up to me in a ghetto in Detroit, and said, “You’re not supposed to be doing this,” grabbed the bible out of my hand, he said, “I’m a graduate of Moody Insta Bible Toot.” And he took the bible out of my hands and said, “Read this.” Pointed right to the passage in the gospel in red letters, Jesus said, “Go and tell no man.” He said, “Now, get out of here, Jesus doesn't want you to do this.” I had no idea what that meant, but due to my series of being tied up in knots, I had to make a decision: either I’m going to have to stop witnessing, or I’m going to have to start giving answers. And, I chose the latter, and dedicated my life to doing the same.
BA: Well, excellent. It’s the same way I got into apologetics, was evangelism, running into tough questions, and then finding one of your books. So, thanks for writing your apologetics books, because they were some of the first influences. Now, I’m curious to know what authors, or apologists, or theologians were the greatest influences on your own thinking and development.
NG: Well, to start with, we had none. There weren’t even any C.S. Lewis books in those days. And, so this is 1950, I’m talking about, sixty-one years ago. And, I had nothing to go by, I had a few teachers at the bible college who had some interest in apologetics that were influences on my life, like Dr. Shaw, who spent twenty years as a missionary, and knew Arabic, and knew the archeology of the land, that was very influential. I had a professor who taught apologetics, later became Chaplain at Wheaton College, who was an influence on my life. And then later when I went to Wheaton College, I had Dr. Kenneth Kantzer, a Harvard PhD, and a great scholar who influenced my life. And, most of all, historically, I was influenced by Saint Augustine, and Anselm, and particularly, Thomas Aquinas. I call it “triple A theism,” A A A, four hundred A.D., about a thousand A.D., and about twelve hundred. And their influence on my life particularly, Suma de Lógica, I saw the brilliance of the apologetic mind at work, I was immediately attracted to it, and have been a student ever since.
BA: Well, as we’re talking about the changing landscape of apologetics, for instance, what books are available to us and things... over the past number of decades, how have you seen that landscape go from having, as you say, no C.S. Lewis books, to now there being a lot of resources?
NG: It went from zero in 1950, the year I was saved, to what we have today, which is overwhelming when you think of it. There were no apologetics books written by American contemporary apologists until later that year, and it came out I think early next year, John Carnell’s book on Christian apologetics came out. So, I went from zero, the only thing of C. S. Lewis that was even heard of back then was the Narnia series and later of course the books of C. S. Lewis were great influence, the books of Francis Schaeffer, whom I knew personally, and worked with on a couple of occasions, were an influence. Had it not been for C. S. Lewis, and Francis Schaeffer, practically nobody back then, the ‘50s, the ‘60s, and even ‘70s would have even gotten into apologetics.
BA: Well, you did mention Augustine, and Anselm, and Aquinas as being strong influences, and of course, classics. When you speak to your students, are there any books that you would just almost make required reading for them if they are in this field?
NG: Everything Lewis wrote on the topic is necessary. He is the greatest apologist of the twentieth century, his influence is still unimpeded in the twenty-first century now. Of course, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, God in the Dock, Christian Reflections, The Great Divorce, The Abolition of Man, just for starters.
BA: Have you seen any sort of changing trends in the questions that skeptics or unbelievers would ask since beginning in apologetics and versus questions that you would hear today?
NG: Well, overall, no, same old questions. So, that if you have answers to them, they’re kind of time worn questions and the list hasn’t changed much. The emphasis, the big difference today in the new atheists over the old atheists is that they stress the problem of evil more, and they stress that Christianity is the source of all evils in society, and all wars, and man’s inhumanity to man. So, other than this shift of emphasis, it’s same thing, the same arguments against God, same problem of evil eliminates God in their view, and we don’t have any substantial evidence that God existed or that Christianity is true.
BA: In your studies, and going through all these difficult questions, and you know, if you will, assaults on Christianity, did you ever have any doubts yourself or did you ever hesitate in your faith and wonder, “Boy, I’m not really sure.”?
NG: Nothing major. Minor doubts pass through one’s mind, but I never had any problem with doubt. Doubt is something that I’ve constantly doubted. And if you doubt your doubts, if you’re agnostic about agnosticism, you won’t have any problems. People who become certain in their doubts and sure in their agnosticism that have problems, which is self-defeating, of course.
BA: Kinda one of the reasons I ask that is because I hear sometimes when people start studying the arguments from atheists, or different religions or something, they might go through crises of their own faith and begin to wonder, “Boy, you know, the other side’s case sounds pretty good.” Would you have any sort of advice for how one should study, you know, contrary arguments?
NG: My philosophy teacher in bible college back in the ‘50s used to say, “The next best thing beside godliness is logic.” And my suggestion to them is study logic, learn how to analyze arguments, learn how to analyze fallacies. And, once you learn how to do that, you won’t fear atheists and agnostics, because there is always some flaw in the argument, and the better and the more astute you are in the logic, the quicker you’ll be able to see it.
BA: Good, good. Well, I wonder if you’ve seen any positive growth as well in apologetics happening in the local church, and how you’d recommend maybe people step out to make apologetics a greater part of their local ministries?
NG: It’s encouraging to see the interest in apologetics today. Remember, going from zero and no books in 1950, to what we have today - hundreds if not thousands of books, and hundreds of Christian apologists, many of them PhDs. And we started the Evangelical Philosophical Society way back in the ‘70s, and that’s booming. More recently, we started the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and that’s just getting off the ground. We have numerous organizations, numerous scholars, books, resources, colleges, seminaries that are adding apologetic majors, and even what are normally called the counter-cult or discernment ministries, they’re calling themselves apologetic ministries. I do apologetic seminars, you know, practically forty weekends a year, all over the country. It’s really encouraging to see how people are becoming armed for their faith and becoming trained by and doing what the bible commands us to do, which is to give a reason for the hope that’s in us, 1 Peter 3:15.
BA: Well, we’ve got all of these little sorts of little fires starting up all over the nation, and all over the world. And I’d wonder what you’d say to someone who, they don’t have a fire going at their own home church, and they say, “Boy, I really wish we could, you know, equip our people better.” What would be the first steps that you’d have them take to sort of kindle that?
NG: Go to my website, normgeisler.com and there’s all kinds of resources there and there’s an article. There’s free articles, click on articles, and click on the one “An Apologetic for Apologetics.” And then get stirred up to why it’s needed, then go back to your pastor and your leaders in the church and encourage them to put in some apologetics into the Sunday school. Have a special series on apologetics, or invite outside speakers, that’s what I do all the time while all over the country, to come in and do a series on apologetics to stir up the people. I live near the Billy Graham Center Charlotte, North Carolina, and I noticed in his yearbook, it said his favorite verse was “contend for the faith,” Jude 3. And we need to do what Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer every man.” So, they just need to become aware. Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” So, once they get the knowledge of what the bible commands, there are four reasons basically for doing apologetics – the bible commands it, reason demands it, our culture expects it, and results confirm it.
BA: Well, excellent. Now, I know that many of our listeners are those people who are interested in getting equipped and involved in apologetics in different ways, so I want to ask a series of different things that perhaps will help them to become better defenders. So, we talk about different books that maybe apologists would be reading, maybe required reading and things like that, but what sort of topics do you think are the most valuable that they would really need to focus on?
NG: It all boils down to three issues today that we’re fighting – pluralism, relativism, and naturalism. Pluralism says that all religions are true, that’s deadly to Christianity, which claims to be the truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6 Relativism – your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth, that’s deadly to Christianity because it claims to have the absolute truth. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And naturalism -- there are no miracles, and of course if there are no acts of God, there’s no God who can act. So, God’s existence and miracles, all under naturalism, the absolute nature of truth, and the exclusive nature of truth, whatever’s true, the opposite is false are our three enemies.
BA: Now as far as skills that you think apologists should have or develop. Speaking skills comes to mind, but what would you recommend?
NG: Well, first of all, not only do you need the basic intelligence, which also everyone who’s interested has, but you need to use it, study to show yourself approved unto God. The late Dr. Barnhouse said that, “If I had thirty years to live, I’d study twenty and preach ten.” Most of us would study three at the most and preach twenty-seven. And you can tell when you listen to us. My pastor used to say, “An empty barrel makes more noise than a full one.” We need to study to show ourselves approved unto God. Start in your own home, get out our apologetics course. Just look on our website, normgeisler.com and get the apologetics course, the lay institute, and you can get a certificate taking basic courses. You want to go further, we have an extension course from Veritas Evangelical Seminary, where I teach in California, where you can do the whole thing with DVDs, all of the classes, you can take it right from your own home, and get a degree in apologetics. But, get trained, don’t go out there with no training, that’d be like sending a soldier into battle with no training, no guns, no uniform, it’s going to be fatal.
BA: Now, a lot of people get involved being ill-equipped, as you say there... What sort of pitfalls would you warn Christian defenders against?
NG: Well, don’t think you’re going to convert the world overnight. And don’t think you’re going to convert everyone. Our job is not to bring everyone to Christ, it’s to bring Christ to everyone. And our job isn’t to convert everyone, only the Holy Spirit can convert him. Our job is to lead the horse to the water, and only the Holy Spirit can make him drink. But, we have to convince the horse that there is water, and that it’s good water, and that one ought to drink it, and that’s where evidence comes in. So, our job is to present the evidence, and you’re probably going to have three alternatives, just like the Apostle Paul did, three results – some believed, some mocked, and some say, “I’ll hear you again.” And, if you can have that kind of success, consider it very successful.
BA: I’m thinking about the idea of being well rounded in one’s studies and one’s manner of approaching the subject of apologetics. I wonder if you would say that there are particular areas that might be underdeveloped and should be strengthened as you sort of survey the landscape.
NG: Of course, the best thing you can study is philosophy, because everything boils down in the final analysis to a philosophical problem or an objection, no matter whether it’s coming from science because it’s the philosophy of science, or history because it’s philosophy of history at the root of it. So, study philosophy, get well trained. Learn, you can’t learn anything that God can’t use, because different people come from different angles, and the more you know, the more people you can reach. But, particularly philosophy, and then of course, history, because that’s where the real world is and was, and the history of everything is there, including the Bible and literature, because that’s where you learn the great expressions of truth. So, become fully equipped, fully trained, get the armor of God on, and then face the enemy.
BA: What role do you think that theology plays in one’s studies and overall grounding?
NG: Well, apologetics is defending the faith, and you can’t defend the faith unless you know what the faith is, and theology is absolutely necessary to know what the faith is. Theology tells us what to believe, apologetics tells us why we believe it, so we have to study theology, that’s why we wrote the book, Conviction Without Compromise, it has the fourteen basic fundamental doctrines. You need to know what they are, what the bible teaches about them, how to defend them, because sooner or later, you’re going to be called upon to defend what you believe. If you want to get somebody converted to Christianity, they’re going to want to know what they’re jumping into. They don’t want to leap before they look, and no rational person does that, so you want to make sure that you’re well equipped in theology, because they have a twisted theology of some kind. Everybody has a theology, the question is whether it’s good or bad, whether it’s formal or informal, they have one. And, we need a good one and a formal one, and be able to articulate it.
BA: Just a moment ago, you were mentioning the three areas of relativism, pluralism, and naturalism. And, I’m wondering if that’s what you see, things that come against Christianity falling into those categories, or do you see maybe on the horizon, any other sorts of things that might be potential enemies to the gospel?
NG: Those are pretty well all-encompassing categories, most everything else is a subdivision of it. If you look at all the problems in philosophy Christians have to face, it really boils down to defending relativism - relativism and meaning, relativism and truth, relativism and morals. But, relativism is a deadly enemy, and then of course, you have to defend exclusivism, that the opposite of true is false. We live in a world where people think that you can hold opposing views, and they can both be true, and opposites can’t be true. Either there’s milk in the refrigerator or there’s not, it can’t both be milk and not milk at the same time in the same sense. So, pluralism, relativism, and naturalism, well almost all the sciences, what’s the debate in creation versus evolution? It’s naturalism versus supernaturalism. They’ve ruled out the supernatural, and then say to us that evolution must be a fact. Why? Because they’ve already ruled out the only major alternative, namely a supernatural act. So, those are the three issues, and we’ve got to get trained in them, and every important subdivision of them.
BA: One thing that you’ve done in a number of your books is sort of outline various arguments for the existence of God. So, I’m wondering what you believe to be the strongest evidence that God exists.
NG: Well, the strongest argument I think is the cosmological argument, and the strongest form of it I think is what’s called the vertical form of the cosmological argument - that something exists, nothing cannot cause something, therefore, something must eternally and necessarily exist. Even Jonathan Edwards, when he was a teenager had devised an argument that follows that form. I’ve seen people converted on the spot, within minutes, because you can’t deny you exist. If you say, “I don’t exist,” you have to exist in order to say it. So, your own existence is undeniable, but something exists and nothing can’t cause something, then something must have always existed, eternal, and must have necessarily have existed, because if it didn’t necessarily exist, then there wouldn’t be grounds for anything else that exists. I found that to be the most powerful and convincing argument.
BA: Now, in your debates, you know, with skeptics and atheists over the years, I also wonder what skeptic or non-believer you may have learned the most from.
NG: Well, I learned a lot from all skeptics. I tell my students that I spend most of my time studying and teaching what I don’t believe, namely the history of philosophy, and I’m writing a book on it now, The History of Philosophy From a Christian Point of View. You have to have a knowledge of what’s going on, that’s the bread and butter, that’s the standing on the shoulders of giants. As someone said, “You can learn more from the error of a great mind than you can the truths of a small mind.” Because, the error of a great mind is a significant error, and you learn a lot from significant errors. Furthermore, I would encourage reading atheists because when I see the fallacies, the flimsy grounds upon which they base their belief, it encourages me in my own faith. So, I don’t read Streams in the Desert, or Daily Bread for devotion, I read atheists. Because they’re encouraging Nietzsche, and Freud, and Fromm, and Feuerbach, and Schopenhauer, and all the great atheists. Because as I read them, I strengthen my own faith, I see how to answer the fallacies in their writings, and I’m able to do what the bible tells me - to destroy arguments and every proud obstacle against the knowledge of God and bring every thought captive to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.
BA: Well, as you’re mentioning devotions there, and reading atheist literature, I find that kind of amusing. But, at the same time, on a deeper note, I wonder, you know, when we’re talking about devotions for someone who is really, obviously, all Christians should be, have a devotional life and a walk with the Lord that they seek to have fervent. I wonder what you would say to encourage Christian apologists to keep that walk with the Lord close, and fervent, and talk to them about their prayer life.
NG: Keep to the word, and that the word keep in you. Abide in the word and let the word abide in you. Every day, I start the day off with prayer. I fall on my knees out of my bed and pray, and give my life to God for that day. And then I head, fast as I can, to my office, and read through the bible, chapter after chapter after chapter. And then, when I’m through with that, I start over again, and read it again. I keep getting more and more like a snowball going down a hill. You have to have prayer - speak to God, you have to read the bible - God speaks to you, you have to share your faith with others, and you have to learn from others. You have to study the great apologists and thinkers and missionaries of the Christian world in order for you to grow. There are four ways to grow, and it’s like a four legged stool. If you only have all four legs, it’s not going to be very stable. God talks to you, you talk to God - that’s prayer and bible reading. You talk to others - that’s witnessing and teaching. Others talk to you - they share their testimony and their truth with you, and you grow.
BA: You know we talked about different arguments we may use in seeking to overcome objections, or maybe seek to win people over to believing that Christianity is true. I wonder how you would encourage people to develop a strong character and a life of integrity that would speak to that as well?
NG: Well, yes, and not only read the word, but practice it. James said, “Don’t look at yourself in a mirror and go away and forget what matter of man you are. Be doers of the word, not hearers only.” So, it’s one thing to read it, and another thing to apply it to your life. So, what you read in the morning, take opportunity to apply during the day. And, if you do that, you’ll grow. Because, Peter says, “Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, by desire and the milk of the word.” And then later, as Hebrews 5 says, “the meat of the word.”
BA: Now, one of the things that someone had asked me, they found out that I’d be interviewing you, and they said they would want to hear from you about some of the illustrations you use. Anyone who has listened to your talks quickly find out you have various illustrations that you use to get various ideas across. So, I wonder if you have one or two favorite or best ones that you typically use?
NG: One I used in debates for years with atheists was one I took from Richard Taylor’s book on metaphysics, and adopted it and changed it a little bit. An atheist and a theist went for a walk in the woods and they saw a glass ball, eight foot in diameter, and he said, “Where’d this come from?” And the atheist said, “I don’t know, but something must have caused it.” And the Christian said, “Well what if it were sixteen feet in diameter, would it still need a cause?” And the atheist said, “Yeah, of course, if little balls need a cause, bigger ones need a cause.” He said, “Well what if it was eight thousand miles in diameter, and twenty-five thousand miles around, would it still need a cause?” The atheist paused, and said, “Yeah, if little balls need causes, and bigger ones need causes, then really really big balls need causes too.” Then the Christian said to the atheist, “What if we make the ball as big as the whole universe, will it still need a cause?” The atheist snapped back, “Of course not! The universe is just there.” Everybody gets the point. Enlarging the size doesn’t diminish the need for a cause, it increases it.
BA: Okay, do you have another?
NG: Well, I have a lot of ‘em. I’m not giving copies, but that one just happened to be on the existence of God. So, there are just numerous illustrations, let’s through a humorous one in just for the audience. People laugh at miracles. Skeptics laugh at miracles. And I’ve talked about the girl who was standing on the sidewalk with her bible witnessing, and the skeptic came by and said, “You don’t believe that, do you?” And she said, “Yeah, I believe it.” And, he said, “Well, it can’t be true, science has disproven parts of the bible.” And she said, “Like what?” And he said, “Well, like Jonah and the whale, you can’t live for three days and three nights in the belly of a big fish. The gastronomical juices in the stomach would eat you up, there’d be no air to breath.” And, she said, ”You’re talking about Jonah, and I believe it’s true.” And the skeptic laughed and said, “Well, how do you know it’s true?“ And, she said, “Well, when I get to heaven, I’m going to ask Jonah if it’s true.” And he laughed, and said, “Well, what if Jonah’s not in heaven?” And she said, “Then you ask him.”
BA: Very good, very good. Speaking again to those people who are, they’re looking at their studies, and they found the area of apologetics, and their heart is to pursue that further. So, you know, how would you recommend they go deeper in that area? Some people would want to seek a degree of one kind or another, so what are you recommendations to people who come up to you after a talk and say, “Dr. Geisler, what’s next next step?”
NG: Well, start at a basic level. Get our book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist because that covers the whole waterfront in one book. And, read it, and be challenged and inspired by it. A lot of atheists, agnostics have been saved reading it. Then if you want to go a little further, then get our series on apologetics, get our DVDs, “The 12 Points That Proof Christianity Is True,” and to listen to them. And if you want to go a little deeper, then take a course, take our lay institute course on apologetics, you can get it right on the internet from our website normgeisler.com. And, take that, and get the certificate. Now, if you really want to get serious, and get an academic degree, then you need to go to Veritas Evangelical Seminary, which is veritasseminary.com, and sign up. All of our courses are on DVD, and we have the top apologists in every area of apologetics in the United States. The top guy in world religions - Win Corduan, the top guy in historical apologetics - Gary Habermas. We have the top people in archeology, like Professor Collins, we’ve got people in you name it, every area, in cults - Ron Rhodes. And study under the best, because it’s all taped in class, it’s the next best thing besides being there, because you can hear the lecture, see the students, and listen to the questions, and then you can email your question in and get an answer as well. But, you cannot possibly go to battle if you’re not equipped. An old man and a young man were out in the harvest field, harvesting wheat with their sickle, There was a little cloud in the sky, and as the day wore on, the cloud became larger and larger, and the old man sat down, and started to sharpen his sickle. The young man said to him, “What are you doing? See that cloud, the storm is coming, don’t waste your time sitting there sharpening your sickle, let’s get the job done.” And the young man looked at him and said, “He who stops to sharpen his sickle, wastes no time.” And, I would say, the best thing you can do for yourself is sharpen your sickle. Get educated, get informed, get trained. And then you’ll be equipped to go into the harvest field.
BA: Well, I love that quote by the way. I know, some people are wondering, “Boy, am I too old to seek a new degree?” What are your thoughts on, you know, different walks of life, people might be in, and how that might, may or may not be, for them?
NG: Moses was eighty before he was fully trained. He spent forty years getting a sheepskin, the University of Egypt, and then he spent forty years learning how to tend sheep. And then after age eighty, he was ready to spend forty years serving God. But look at the impact he’s had on the world - wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, the foundation of everything else, got the ten commandments from God, written with the finger of God. Very few people in the history of thought have been greatly used of God who weren’t educated, and practically nobody who refused to be educated was greatly used of God. Yes, you find a D.L. Moody here, and a Peter there, but who wrote half of the New Testament? The Apostle Paul. Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, we need people who are the great apologists. Augustus, Anslem, Aquinas, C. S. Lewis, all people highly trained and educated. So, God sometimes uses people who don’t have a formal training, but He doesn’t use people who refuse to learn, and refuse to take opportunities that they have.
BA: I know another question that people have about, you know, choosing seminaries or their different areas in which they might study. Aside from what age they might be at the time, but would be, what are the pros and cons of an accredited versus and non-accredited degree? And what do you think are some of the considerations that people should have regarding one or the other?
NG: It just depends on what you’re going to do with it. If it’s for your own enrichment, it doesn’t make any difference. Study under the best. Study under the teachers who have written the books. Our faculty at Veritas Seminary have written over two hundred books, probably closer to three hundred books. Find the place where you can study under the people who have produced the best literature and the best books on the market, because they’re the ones that you want to get it from, and get it from directly.
BA: Well, I wonder if I could ask a more personal question again, and that’s along the lines of different experiences you’ve had in Christian ministry, teaching, and apologetics. As you look back, what do you think are the most important maybe battles or struggles that you’ve gone through in your life. Whether it’s personally or maybe in an apologetic perspective.
NG: Well, from an apologetic perspective, and I’ll stick with that, the great battles that I fought over the last forty years or so, after I got my initial training, because I’ve been at it now for sixty years. I went to school twenty years, from high school, 1950 to 1970, got two bachelors degrees, the equivalent of two masters, actually one, but the equivalent of another one, and a PhD. And then I started to really produce and to write, and have written now seventy five books, mostly related to apologetic topics. And, I fought four major battles, and I don’t regret a single one of them, because they’re all on great fundamentals. The battle for God - who is God, and what are His attributes, and we wrote a book by that title. The battle for creation - and wrote probably four or five books on creation versus evolution. The battle for the bible - I wrote four or five books on the inerrancy and inspiration of the bible. Those are battles worth fighting. Creation, the battle for God, the battle for the bible, and now we’re engaged in the battle for truth. I mean, truth is fundamental to everything. ”Thy word is truth,” Jesus said. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” So, pick your battles, don’t spend all your time debating how many angels can dance on the point of a needle, or which end of the tribulation are we going to come out of, spend your time on the great essentials to the Christian faith. Because, in the bible, the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. Find out what they are, learn how to defend them, and spend your life doing it.
BA: Well, I think that’s good advice. What would your prediction be for where the battle lines will be drawn in the future?
NG: Well, I don’t have the power to look into the future, and if I did, I wouldn’t make any prophecies, because they’d be afraid that somebody would reinstitute the Mosaic law might be stoned. Because, they would I’m sure contain false prophecies. But, you see, you know, you see new trends, you see things that are going, and the old problems are perennial. If you get trained in apologetics, and apologetics deals with naturalism and pluralism and relativism, you’d be well equipped to come to the contemporary world, because it’s just different variations on those themes, that they bring up, and different books from different angles, but you’ll be equipped. I think of myself as a fireman. I’ve got a fire truck, I’ve got the equipment, I know how to put out fires, but I wait to see where the fires are, I don’t go up and down the neighborhood squirting houses. I wait until I see where the fire is before I go to the fire. But, once you have the truck, and once you have the equipment to put out the fires, then you are ready to go.
BA: Well, I wonder also, what sort of legacy that you’d want to leave for the next generation of Christian apologists?
NG: It’s not my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to serve God, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. As Jonathan Edwards said, and I’m paraphrasing, “God wants to reach the heart, but He doesn’t want to bypass the mind on the way to the heart.” So, my purpose is just to be faithful, to serve, use the talents I have to fight the battles that are at hand, and to be able to say when I die, 2 Timothy chapter 4, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.”
BA: Well, I do want to ask you about Veritas, but one final question before that, and that’s, after doing apologetics for so many years, if you only had one thing that you’d want to pass along to future apologists, one thing that you’ve learned that would be the only thing maybe you could stick in their hand to run with, what would that advice be?
NG: Get all you can, can all you git, and sit on the lid. You got to put yourself to it. You have to make an earnest effort to learn all that you can, to be the best you can, in the field that you choose, so that you can give the best defense for the faith. I was not a genius. I am not a genius. I was an average person. In fact, when God got a hold of my life, I was below average, because I couldn’t read, I was a senior in high school, I had never read a book all the way through. Made it all the way through high school without ever reading a book, and they found out I couldn’t read when I was in eleventh grade, and put me in a remedial class, and God looked down, and said, “I want to make you a scholar,” you know. And I say, ”Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.” You know, you can see why Sarah laughed. Because that’s funny. But, he’s got a lot of grace, and a sense of humor, and twenty years later, He had me prepared for the battle.
BA: Alright, great. Well, finally, talk about Veritas again, and the opportunities that are available there - what is it, where is it, are there distance courses, how long does it take, you know, people want to pursue those sorts of things, tell them about it.
NG: Veritas Evangelical Seminary. Just go to veritasseminary.com, (it means truth) and it’s all there. The courses are outlined for you, you can get a masters degree, we have the best teachers, the least expensive tuition, all on DVDs that you can do from your own home, or you can come and take the classes on-site in southern California - Murrieta, California. But, it’s the best seminary to study apologetics in the country at the present time. Because, there is no other seminary that has a better faculty, and the faculty is the seminary. We have top experts in each of the fields, and Win Corduan who is the top in world religions, and Ron Rhodes is the top guy in cults, and we have the top guys in theology, like Wayne House, and the top guy in cults like Ron Rhodes, and I do philosophical apologetics, and Gary Habermas, historical apologetics, and the top archeologists - two of them in the country are actually on our faculty. It’s the greatest school in the country to study apologetics because it has the greatest faculty who have written the greatest amount of books and the best books on the topics. So, we highly encourage you to go to veritasseminary.com, get an application, sign it, take ‘em in your own home, come to California, but get all you can, can all you git, and sit on the lid.
BA: Dr. Geisler, thanks so much for joining me today, and thanks so much for your labors in the kingdom.
NG: You’re welcome, God bless you.
Friday, December 14, 2012
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