By PAUL J. SCHARF, M.Div.
Editor in Chief
Editor’s Note: It would be very difficult to calculate the magnitude of the ministry impact made through the life of Dr. William Barrick. This brilliant gentleman has been involved in so many different disciplines—including teaching, writing, editing, missions, Bible translation and cross-cultural translation—at the very highest levels that one can barely comprehend it! And he has done it all as a traditional dispensationalist. Who, then, could be a better subject for this month’s interview on the theme of dispensationalism across the globe? We warmly welcome Dr. Barrick’s partnership at Dispensational Publishing House, and commend his ministry and his writings to you.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
“I became a dispensationalist by my own conviction—sitting under college professors that I came to really admire and trust,” stated Dr. William Barrick. “They were very clear in where they stood on classical dispensationalism. That was further developed by my professors in seminary.”
Barrick attended San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary—which closed in the late 1980s. But in its day, Barrick said it was a model institution.
“When I was convinced that I needed additional training, that is the first place I turned,” stated Barrick. “It was vibrant. The professors were some of the finest men I have ever sat under. We had a world-class institution back then with world-class Biblical scholars. They gave us a first-class theological education.”
Judging by the fruit that education bore, who can argue? Barrick became a seminary professor immediately after receiving his master of theology degree, and went on to earn his doctorate of theology in Old Testament and Hebrew from Grace Theological Seminary. As he neared graduation from that program, however, he found out that he was soon to be out of his own teaching position in Denver.
“I had wanted to continue teaching, but the Lord seemed to be closing doors,” said Barrick.
But that closed door back at the seminary where he taught turned into an open door to make a global gospel impact using the tools of Biblical scholarship.
“The way it all fits together is the Lord’s will and His sovereignty and how He led me,” stated Barrick. He and his wife Barbara became missionaries to Bangladesh with ABWE International. For most people, that would sound like the path to obscurity. For Barrick, it led to highways of amazing opportunity.
His missionary career involved church planting, Bible institute and seminary teaching, and serving as a translator or a consultant on translation into eight different languages.
“My interests had always been in the Biblical languages and in exegesis,” said Barrick. “Friends would say, ‘You ought to be involved in Bible translation work.’”
“I believe God used it to help me refrain from becoming a mere ivory tower academic,” he said.
“I was involved in seven or eight different Bible translation projects with five different languages,” said Barrick. “I learned two of them and began a third. For the others, I served as an adviser and as a checker. I was also involved in training other Bible translators. I helped train men and women for at least nine Bible translation projects.”
”We did a translation of Unger’s Bible Handbook,” he added. “I helped write a commentary on Daniel in Bengali, and got involved in quite a few other projects as well.” Among them was a commentary on Revelation that Barrick co-authored, which was translated into Bengali. He also wrote literature for use in Sunday school, Bible college and seminary on the mission field.
But then, once again, the Barricks heard the sound of one door closing—and another opening.
It was a natural spot for Barrick to land in light of his long-standing friendship with the seminary’s dean, Dr. Richard Mayhue, since the two had been classmates together at Grace. The new position also provided Barrick with many additional opportunities for service—including some high-profile writing and editing projects.
“I had contact with TMS since they began,” Barrick said. “They actually invited me to be their first Hebrew professor. Whenever I was back in the United States. I usually went to The Master’s College to teach a class or to speak about Bible translation work.”
Barrick speaks five foreign languages—in addition to the Biblical languages—and has lectured in 21 foreign countries in the last three decades, and he takes the message of dispensationalism with him everywhere he goes.
“I always stood firm with the dispensational viewpoint—never backed down,” he said.
“Even foreign Bible students are engaged in the process of thinking through it because of materials available on the internet, and in DVDs,” he said. “As the material comes out and is available, you have more saying, ‘Hey, what is this all about?’ Whether it is in Siberia or Myanmar or whether it is Albania or Bangladesh, everywhere I have gone and taught or preached there is an interest, and students wanting to learn more about dispensationalism and how it is distinct from covenantalism. They are pursuing the truth.”
“I am convinced that anyone who reads the Scriptures consistently and regularly will perceive that God deals differently with His people in different periods of time,” Barrick stated. “That is not talking about salvation—that is talking about sanctification and what God tells them they ought to be doing. That is the essence of dispensationalism. Right away they see it when we are not offering the sacrifices of Leviticus. How does a Christian relate to the law of Moses? That is a question best answered by dispensationalists, not by covenantalists.”
In a recent post on his own blog, Barrick has provided a list of his top ten recommended books on the subject of dispensationalism. He also had some encouraging words to say about our website.
“I think the Dispensational Publishing House blog serves a really important niche worldwide. The types of blogs that you have posted—the series that you have published, the interviews that you have shared—are extremely valuable. It is good material, it is not fringe or conspiracy theories. People everywhere can get some good, solid material.”
As one might expect, Barrick has a passion to see dispensational theology move forward—fueled by the study of the Bible in its original languages.
“We need to encourage exegetical—original language—studies that help to explain the dispensational foundation in Scripture. We need to look at how the text presents progressive revelation in the original languages.”
Barrick said that he reads the original text of the Bible every day and continues to do technical reading and research.
“It keeps one immersed in it,” he said. “That is the key—immersion, not leaving it, but always having the original languages open and reading the various exegetical commentaries, reading the grammars and syntaxes and theological dictionaries so you stay informed, up-to-date. Stay engaged. If you are going to write and teach and preach, you are taking in, but you are pouring back out. You are processing it.”
“I read exegetical commentaries,” he stated. “That keeps you fresh. You question things so you spend time on a rabbit trail to see if the argument is accurate or not.”
When asked if enough pastors and professors “stay engaged” in the Biblical languages in this manner, Barrick replied: “There ought to be more. There are more than what I know about—thank the Lord—otherwise we would really be in trouble. I think every Bible college and seminary has at least a few men who stay really engaged.”
“I have told my students that they, even as pastors, need to set aside at least an hour every other day in the week to stay immersed in the languages,” he said. “As a professor, that needs to be at least two hours every day. One of the ways I stay is engaged is through my blog, where I post my Hebrew Whiteboard.”Previously in this series:
- A Dispensational Discourse: An Introduction (June 4, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Rich McCarrell (June 11, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Charles Dyer (July 2, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Ron Bigalke (August 6, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Christopher Cone (September 3, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Woodrow Kroll (October 3, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. J. B. Hixson (November 5, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Thomas Ice (December 3, 2016)
- A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Michael Vlach (January 21, 2017)
Copyright © 2017 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.