Gary Habermas (b. 1950) is an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion. He is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Habermas is noted for his work defending the resurrection and is often cited in the area of Christian apologetics. He has also specialized in cataloging and communicating trends among scholars in the field of historical Jesus and New Testament studies.
In 1985, Habermas and Antony Flew debated the question of Jesus' resurrection as a literal and historical/physical event, before a crowd of three thousand people. The debate was judged by professional debate judges and was published as a book under the title Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate (Harper & Row, 1987).
Habermas' journey to belief in the Resurrection
Gary R. Habermas was born just outside Detroit, Michigan in 1950. Although he was raised in a Christian home and attended a German Baptist Church, he began having serious doubts about Christianity. For more than ten years, he faced uncertainty about key Christian claims and searched other religious and non-religious systems, especially naturalism. His studies centered chiefly on investigating various world views, occasionally getting close to what he thought might be the proper approach. During this time, as he explains, "The last thing I did at night was recall what I had learned that day to further my search. Early the next morning, it seems that the first thing that came to my mind was, 'Where did I end my studies last night?'" This continued for several agonizing years.
Habermas' interest in the field of apologetics began early in his search when he realized that some religions made claims that could be either verified or falsified. He searched the various religious systems to ascertain if such claims were verifiable. After several years of study, he concluded that very few religious claims could be substantiated. Habermas concluded that even Christianity suffered in this sense. While certainly having more evidential considerations than other religions, there always seemed to be a reason why the argument could not be finalized. While Habermas conducted detailed studies of creation, fulfilled prophecy, archaeological discoveries, and the general reliability of the Old and New Testaments, he constantly asked if there were any "clinching" arguments.
Habermas especially studied the notion that Eastern metaphysics were confirmed by modern physics, as well as the claims made on behalf of various other holy books. He reached the conclusion that, while religious beliefs could be held by faith, they usually lacked great evidence and could not be "proven" to be true.
Habermas' search frequently took the form of debating with various adherents of non-Christian as well as Christian views. He told practitioners from both camps that their beliefs were not as grounded as they would like to believe. He especially recalls one encounter where an exasperated Christian told him that he was filled with demons! Once his mother called to see how he was doing, and he announced that he thought he was close to becoming a Buddhist, his latest research interest.
During this time, one subject began to appeal to Habermas more than any other. He realized that if Jesus had been raised from the dead, this would go a long way toward arguing that Christianity was true. He also studied the founders of the major religious traditions, along with some lesser-known figures, to see if there were other claims that someone had been raised from the dead. He was especially interested in whether there was any historical or other evidence for any such teachings. Thirteen hundred note cards later, he was well on the way to a lifetime of being "hooked" on the subject of Jesus' resurrection. Little did he know that his early years of study on this subject would begin his fascination with the topic that has never lessened.
- Ph.D., Michigan State University (History and Philosophy of Religion)
- M.A., University of Detroit (Philosophical Theology)
- B.R.E., William Tyndale College (Majors: Christian Education, Bible, Social Sciences; Minors: Philosophy, Greek, English and Speech)
- The Risen Jesus & Future Hope (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)
- The Resurrection: Heart of New Testament Doctrine (College Press, 2000)
- The Resurrection: Heart of the Christian Life (College Press, 2000)
- The Thomas Factor: Using Your Doubts to Draw Closer to God (Broadman & Holman, 1999)
- Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality with J.P. Moreland (Crossway, 1998)
- In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God's Action in History co-ed. Doug Geivett (Inter-Varsity, 1997)
- Prolegomena to Theology (Harcourt Brace, 1996)
- Survey of Christian Theology (Harcourt Brace, 1996)
- The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (College Press, 1996)
- Why Believe? God Exists! with T. Miethe (College Press, 1993)
- Dealing with Doubt (Moody Press, 1990)
- Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate with A. Flew, ed. T. Miethe (Harper & Row, 1987)
- Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ with K. Stevenson (Servant Books, 1981; Dell Publishing, 1982)
- The Resurrection of Jesus: An Apologetic (Baker, 1980; University Press of America, 1984)