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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Reference Work With A Few Needed Additions
This work is both important and extensive. A number of the articles are near definitive. The buyer should, however, be aware of a few shortcomings. First, this is a best of Mr. Geisler, so it's strong where he's strong (particularly if he has previously written a book on the subject), but weak on things he's not focused on in the past. Actually, it's surprising that...
Published on November 25, 1999 by James S. Taylor

8 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read with caution
While this is a large and comprehensive collection of Geisler's work one would have wished he would have been more accurate in his description of Van Til's thinking. As most non-pressupositional apologists, he has many inaccurate representations which is a shame considering that Van Til was the most influential apologist of the century. For a much better study one should...
Published on May 4, 2001 by David Gray

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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Reference Work With A Few Needed Additions, November 25, 1999
James S. Taylor (Scarborough, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This work is both important and extensive. A number of the articles are near definitive. The buyer should, however, be aware of a few shortcomings. First, this is a best of Mr. Geisler, so it's strong where he's strong (particularly if he has previously written a book on the subject), but weak on things he's not focused on in the past. Actually, it's surprising that Baker would let one person write an entire volume on apologetics in this series when other volumes have benefited from multiple authors and there are other writers available who could have written more authoritatively on some subjects, particularly the science issues. Second, it desperately needs an index. A number of issues are handled under headings which are not obvious, and sometimes over multiple separated articals that haven't been cross-referenced, making them difficult to relocate. This sometimes involves major topics (such as Postmodernism and the Brain/Mind problem) which amazingly have no separate entries, though they certainly deserve them. Advanced readers will also wish he had dealt more extensively with the entire issue of non-foundationalist apologetics, particularly since his work is so solidly foundational. Don't let any of this scare you away, however, as it's well worth the read.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best reference tool for Christian Apologetics, July 11, 2000
In my opinion, Geisler's Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics is by far the best reference tool and study of Christian apologetics available to the church and society as a whole. I turn to this book to not only gain his insight and opinions in apologetics, but in theology, philosophy, and world religions as well-all in one volume! His bibliography alone is worth the price of this book! And his work concerning important or influential thinkers and their beliefs are well-balanced, fair, and very insightful. Indeed, this is a tremendous work and should be a required purchase for every Christian's library; its value is worth its weight in gold. If one cannot study under Dr. Geisler at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., then studying this work is the next best thing. Because of his use of logic, years of study and experience in teaching the Scriptures, theology, and philosophy, and having multiple debates and friendships with some of the brightest scholars known world-wide, this book provides a wonderful source for those who have questions about the fundamental of the Christian faith including the existence of God, the factual resurrection of Jesus Christ, the inspiration and inerrancy (is the Bible without error?) and other subjects like the preservation of the Bible, the actual knowability of truth, infant salvation, existentialism, evolution, higher criticism, and the Person and work of the God of the Bible. He entertains questions like how can Christ be fully God yet fully man? Is Jesus Christ the only path or plan for salvation-are there more paths leading to salvation? What about the other world religions--are their claims legitimate and factual? How do other world religions measure up to the facts of the Bible? What is relativism? Is God the originator of evil? This is not only an excellent book for theologians, pastors, teachers, and students who are attending high school, colleges, universities, and seminaries as a reference tool for both personal and professional study, but for those Christians who are experiencing doubts concerning Christian truths or who were never taught the deep truths of the Bible and factual reasons to believe what the Bible proclaims. This book is also for those people who are curious about what Christians believe and why they believe the things they do. And for those who are afraid they will not understand the terminology or definitions, please don't worry. His definitions are clear and easily understandable; Dr. Geisler doesn't waste words to try to appear scholarly or impressive to academia. My hope is that Dr. Geisler will continue to add more information including charts with every future reprinting of this work.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give him credit, he attempted the impossible, March 1, 2004
Before I go any further I will state my background and possible presuppositions concerning the book. I am reformed, broadly pressuppositional in apologetics, and non dispensational in eschatology; therefore, I understand that Dr Geisler and I will probably not see eye to eye on some issues.
The book is a handy reference despite one's outlook in this area. He attempted the impossible and nearly succeeded. I agree with others that he should have incorporated other scholars to help. Here are the faults that I have with the book: He intends to view most major theologians of the past as *classical* in outlook, Calvin being the major example. Even more ironic is the fact that given his (Geisler) "cold neutrality" towards the Reformed faith, he warmly reivewed Reformed scholars who happened to employ a Classical outlook on apologetics (Machen, Warfield, etc.). Now don't get me wrong, those were good articles that he did. The last problem I have with the book is his treatment of Van Til. Some legitimate criticisms of VT maybe employed (although I certainly wouldn't try) but Geisler gives several columns in praise of VT and 4 pages, double columned in critiquing VT. He even uses John Robbins as a legitimate source on VT (this is nothing against Mr. Robbins, it just should be noted that he is antagonistic towards VT). He also misrepresents Jonathan Edwards.
The Good aspects of the book: Geisler writes with logical precision. He answers most challenges to the faith, and he spends OVER 40 PAGES, DOUBLE COLUMNED in defense of miracles. Obtain a copy of this volume if only for that! Despite my above criticisms of this book, I use it every day and would gladly recommend it to others
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
scott (Glendale, ca USA) - See all my reviews
This tome is a remarkable masterpiece in its breadth, scholarship, and objectivity. The sheer breadth of its topics is unexpectedly wide. The scholarship and conclusions are virtually faultless. And the extent of objectivity, in an admittedly Christian encyclopedia of apologetics, is surprising.
I was surprised at, for instance, its extensive coverage of the inadequacies of Islam from a Christian viewpoint (of course). Also, the fairness and objectivity of the author are quite evident when he analyzes numerous influential thinkers. When discussing Karl Marx, Mr. Geisler does not fail to mention some of the positive effects his works had on the treatment of laborers alongside some of the failings of his philosophy.
This book is impossible to describe as other than a masterpiece. If you are a believer and would like to "have an answer for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence", then this a great encyclopedia to have.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind resource for the apologetics enthusiast, November 30, 2004
Roy Massie (Birmingham, AL United States) - See all my reviews
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I am not aware of another resource that approaches the breadth and depth of Christian apologetics topics found here. I use this book all the time and find the articles concise, informative and insightful. If you are really into Christian apologetics, you have found a book you definitely need.

Many of the articles refer to one another so it is possible to start in one area of interest and be led to other topics that provide further depth. This is especially true in the areas of epistemology, arguments and evidence for God's existence, and the thoughts of most famous philosophers throughout history. As you read through the chains of articles, Dr. Geisler's method as a classical apologist comes through effectively. He frequently refers to the use of evidence combined with reason as being sufficient to prove that God exists (there are other aspects to classical apologetics, but this is a big one). For example, in his article about Gordon Clark (famous presuppositional apologist whose methods were very different from the classical method), Geisler writes: "Logic...tells what could be true; not what is true. To know what is really true, sooner or later one must touch base with the external world. This is what classical apologetics does." p153

The strength of this book is Dr. Geisler's extensive knowledge of philosophy/worldviews and how they interact with world religions, especially Christianity, through the ages. There is a good article on Islam and a slighter one on Hinduism. His writing style is very clear provided you have some background to approach the material being discussed. This is not a shortcoming of his book, it's just the nature of the content in all intermediate/advanced apologetic books.

There are a few things this book is not, that might reasonably be expected. It does not do much to address pseudo-Christian cults (there are lots of them). For example, there are no articles under "Mormonism", "Joseph Smith", "Latter Day Saints", "Jehovah's Witnesses", "WatchTower Society", etc. Unfortunately, the publisher's back cover on the book (which serves as the only preface) indicates that it could be used in counter-cult apologetics. I do not believe it is well suited to that specialized task, though it is generally useful for many apologetics ministries. Dr. Geisler has a book called "When Cultics Ask", but I am not familiar with it. "Fast Facts on False Teachings" by Ron Carlson is useful for basic counter cult information. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics also does not directly address many ethical apologetics topics. There are no articles specifically for: abortion, euthanasia, gambling, etc.

This book may not be useful to you if you are not interested in deeply pursuing a variety of apologetics topics. If you are looking for more down-to-earth, conversational style responses in everyday, apologetic/evangelistic encounters try these authors: Paul Copan, Ken Boa, Paul Little, Cliffe Knechtle.

This is a must have resource for those who are studying apologetics broadly and deeply, especially as it intersects with philosophy, world religions and some scientific issues. There are good articles on Hume, Aquinas, Muhammad, Pascal, Darwin and many others. Dr. Geisler has done us a great service by distilling his gifted lifetime of work/knowledge in this way.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christianity (specifically evangelical breeds) have gained an indispensable ally, February 18, 2006
Love him or hate him, Norman Geisler is undoubtedly one of the most prolific and wide-spread authors of evangelical Christendom. The Bakers Encyclopedia of Christian apologetics is a staggering and mind-numbing compilation that is so enormous in the territory it covers, I often found myself in wonder at Geisler's knowledge, but also of the admirable and humbling fact THAT such a thing was put together by one man.

Having articles that range from entries on various doctrinal appropriations of christian thought such as annihilationism, creation ex deo and ex materia, sabellianism, arianism, to non Christian religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islamic thought, various forms of new age, and demonic/satanic doctrine. But, perhaps even more useful, are entries on philosophical systems of worldviews (Diest, Theist, Pantheist, Panentheist-Open Theist-DiPolar Theist, Henotheist, Polytheist, Animist, Acognostic, Agnostic, Atheist, Realist, Idealist, Pragmatist, Rationalist, Empiricist, and various subforms of anti-supernaturalist forms of thought such as Ayer's positivism, Bultmann's existentialist demythologization, etc...) On top of these entries, there are further entries on various Christian doctrines, and their implications for Christian dialogue (e.g. various forms of Apologetics, like Pressupositionalist, Cumulative Case, Classical, Evidentialist, to other christian categories like the Trinity, Hell, Theodicy, Incarnation, Atonement, etc...) Of course, the entries mentioned above are hardly exhaustive, and, in fact, barely begin to touch on the sheer volume of work presented in this tome.

All praise aside, there are some problems, however, most of which stem from the basic fact that one man is giving us information on all of these topics. First and foremost, some of the articles lengths could have been greater (though, of course, the material covered does prohibit this) and I found some of the entries to be questionable as to there evaluation of the philosopher in question (e.g. Kant, but most especially Geisler's critique of so called "Fidiests" like Kierkegaard and Van Til, whom it seems to certain extents Geisler draws caracatures of their thought and proceeds to berate them for their lack of using reason. This, of course, is not Kierkegaard's point, rather he uses paradox to express the active involvement of faith on the part of the believer...whether or not that garners criticism should be evaluated on its own terms, rather than dragging kierkegaard into some radical hyper-fidiesm)

Also, because of the often polemic tone of this work (it is, after all, an apologetic resource) I found it strange how Geisler often unquestioningly relies on a type of Neo-Thomistic (and just so a semi-neo Aristotelian) framework in which to evaluate other philosophers, without thereby really having a critique of the Aristotelian or Thomist framework (though this is not unique to Geisler, as there are few who turn their critical eyes upon themselves) Even further, I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Neo-Platonic thought and how it has in various ways influenced our Christian understanding of God, the Incarnation, among other areas, (see, for example Colin Gunton's work: The Promise of Trinitarian Theology, or his last work Act and Being: Towards a Theology of Divine Attributes. But also other Theologians like Robert Jenson,Karl Rahner, Kevin Vanhoozer, Miroslav Volf, and my personal favorite Wolfhart Pannenberg for similar philosophical critiques of traditional Trinitarianism) Hence I was often confused by the polemic against certain philosophers while Geisler maintained a strikingly modernernist Neo-Thomist grasp of Christian doctrine. Now I'm not calling for a revision to Geisler's thought, because he has been in this far longer than I, and has his reasons for believing as he does, I merely am attempting to point out that because of the books singular contributor, many of the articles start to feel like Norman Geisler vs .... whatever area, rather than a strict apologetic. This is, of course, unavoidable, but I think, along with numerous other reviewers, that Geisler could have benefitted from additional contributors.

All in all, however, this is a fantastic achievement that all Christians should have and recommend to others, whether your in seminary or not. However, I would especially caution using this as your sole source for apologetics (as I would caution anyone from using an encyclopedia or dictionary of any kind as their sole source for anything) because of the brevity of the articles, but moreso because of the large potential to truncate and so undermine apologetic positions due to the singularity of authorship.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Book of Answers, September 7, 2000
It'll take me much longer to read the BECA in its entirety than any book I've ever read before. Although it contains 841 pages, those 841 pages actually constitute 3000 manuscript pages. The bibliography is made up of almost 1200 articles and (mostly) books. One can spend hours each day reading through the various sections of the BECA. Of course, reading is one thing. Mastering the information is another.
First, the bad news. There is no topical subject index. Any book of this nature cries out for an index. There are no articles on social issues such as abortion and euthanasia. There are no articles on cults such as Mormonism, Scientology, etc. There are some notable omissions, for example, there's no article on heaven (though there is one one hell).
But, by any measure, the positives outweigh the negatives. The articles that are included are informative and thorough. When Geisler examines a non-Christian thinker, he is fair-minded. He provides not only the negative aspects of a particular person's philosophy but also the positive ones. For example, on Albert Camus, Geisler notes his sharp observation about the absurdity of life apart from God.
The articles on historical and scientific matters (eg. evidence for the bible, problems with biblical chronologies, big bang theory, gospel of Thomas), are quite understandable. The articles on more philosophical and theological issues (eg. panentheism, cosmological arguments, agnosticism, principle of causality) will probably require a little more concentration from a layperson (such as myself). Fortunately, Geisler doesn't use a lot of technical, philosophical jargon. He uses mainly plain language to describe and explain complicated issues (always a sign of a good teacher).
I feel it's incumbent upon all Christians to understand apologetics issues, and to know how to use good arguments to defend the reliability and reasonableness of Christianity. Faith and reason go together. Reason supports our faith. Faith informs our reason.
The BECA will equip any believer to defend what she believes, and to do so thoughtfully and intelligently.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and Concise Resource, January 3, 2001
As has been mentioned in prior reviews, this resource is very lengthy because it attempts to cover an almost universal range of topics dealing with Christianity and religion in general. Because Geisler is among the top apologists and has been for years, he has the kind of unique knowledge required to address the multitude of topics that are covered here, BUT he also has a vast knowledge of other apologetic works and resources that enable him to extensively footnote and reference other works. Both of these reasons make this book a top apologetic resource that in many ways is unmatched in terms of its comprehensive scope.
I want to make something clear, however. I don't want people reading the reviews of this book to be intimidated by the size or scope of the book, or the intellect of Geisler. New Christians who are not extensively versed in apologetics or various theological debates can profit just as much from this book as Christians who have been around the block a few times with apologetics. The reason I say this is because the comprehensive nature of this book actually makes it MORE reader friendly, not less. This is because the myriad of topics covered forces Geisler to be very concise in his topical treatment. Therefore, even a new Christian or sincere seeker who might not feel comfortable trying to digest a 200 page academically natured book on a single topic or two will find the Baker Encyclopedia to be much more their speed because Geisler often confines his analysis of each topic to a few paragraphs or a few pages at most.
Having said that, this book is also a vital resource for those seasoned in apologetics. The main reason for this is not only the narratives that Geisler provides, but just as importantly, the footnotes and references that will help the reader pursue the kind of additional research and analysis on any given topic that Geisler is unable to do here given the topical nature of the book. These reference notes are invaluable and it is doubtful that the reader could find this kind of reference detail anywhere else given the universal scope of the topics covered.
Lastly, I concur with a few other reviews that say that there were a few topics that were not covered. Personally, I would liked to have seen more detail relative to the whole issue of whether the resurrection account in the Bible borrowed from other "resurrection" stories in the pagan mystery religions. The Osiris charge in particular seems to be the current flavor of the month among those trying to discredit the Bible and has been a popular point of attack by the Jesus Seminar. The Baker Encyclopedia does not address this and this is unfortunate. There are other resources available which effectively obliterate the Osiris charge, but I had to conduct quite a bit of research to get to these resources because the Baker Encyclopedia was not helpful in this area.
But regardless of this lone issue, the book is certainly worth 5 stars since I recognize that no single book can ever hope to address every last issue or topic related to Christian apologetics. But this book comes closer than any other that I'm aware of.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An investment you will never regret, October 13, 1999
By A Customer
This book is awesome, I have not much to add to the previous reviews. However I want to mention that this book is not an attack on calvinism nor a rejection of the gospel (!) like the reviewer below (from Kansas) asserts--and this is all he has to say. If he had had the books in his hands he would never such say such a thing: closed-mindedness and hypocrisy work out the contrary effect, he is only giving his beliefs a bad name with such an attitude. Anyway this book is one the best Christian books ever written, and an immense blessing for all Christians, may they be Calvinist, Catholics and in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is an invesment you will never regret, believe me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than IVP's New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics, March 31, 2007
Paul R. Bruggink (Clarington, PA USA) - See all my reviews
Two of the three reviews of IVP's New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics included comparisons with Norman Geisler's Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, a volume of similar size and scope. An an owner of both, I would like to offer my own comparison of the two, focusing on the topics that come up most frequently in Christian apologetics, namely the existence of God, the problem of evil, biblical contradictions, miracles, the resurrection, science and the Bible, etc. Coverage by page count for the two volumes are as follows:

_______________________________Baker Encyclopedia_____IVP's New Dictionary

Evidence/Arguments for God____________32-1/2_________________11

Problem of Evil________________________5-1/2__________________3-1/2

The Resurrection______________________23-1/2_________________5

Bible Criticism_________________________5-1/2__________________2

Bible Difficulties/Errors__________________6-1/2__________________5-1/2


The Trinity____________________________7-1/2_________________3-1/2

Views of Creation/Origins_______________15-1/2_________________4-1/2

Science & the Bible_____________________9_____________________2


Big Bang Theory________________________4____________________1/2

C. S. Lewis____________________________5_____________________1

Salvation of Infants_____________________5-1/2__________________0

In addition, the articles in the Baker Encyclopedia tend to be more structured, with sub-headings, text tables, and numbered lists, which make them much easier to follow and to browse. The articles in IVP's New Dictionary are almost exclusively undifferentiated paragraphs of text.

Furthermore, in the area that I am most familiar with (science & the Bible), the articles in the Baker Encyclopedia are much more informative and balanced.

Therefore, between the two, I recommend Norman Geisler's Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.
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Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L. Geisler (Hardcover - 1999)
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