Editor’s Note: Today we conclude four days of remembrance of Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, who died last Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. In accord with Ken Ham’s testimony below, we can say that Dr. Ryrie’s life was a powerful reminder of “the authority of the Word of God”—a very appropriate title for today’s final installment.
What a joy it has been to take this time to think about all that we have learned from Dr. Ryrie, as well as to hear the perspectives of so many different men who were impacted by him. We give our most sincere thanks to each one who has participated by offering a tribute.
If you have missed any of the first three parts of this series, you can still read them and share them with others. They are entitled, “An Incredible Legacy,” “The Brilliant Scholar” and “Devotion for Christ.”
I do not think there is another scholar, pastor or leader in the church today who has had as much positive impact on Bible-believing Christians and their churches as Dr. Charles C. Ryrie. While the evangelical left has rejected his views, those who stand firm on the inerrancy of Scripture and a literal understanding of its words have consistently found Ryrie to be clear, concise and helpful in every degree.
I was blessed by Dr. Ryrie’s 1956 work called, Neoorthodoxy: What It Is and What It Does. This booklet is certainly not one of his most famous, but it detailed in a simple format the battle of neo-orthodoxy—versus—orthodoxy of a previous generation. I have found that even though the names and circumstances have changed since 1956, the thinking process of neo-orthodoxy has now taken root in neo-evangelicalism. Because Ryrie was so gifted at getting to the core issues, his book is still relevant today.
My prayer is that Ryrie’s theology would not be in its waning days, but that the dispensational thought he provided would be propagated, understood and proclaimed by new scholars, pastors and Bible study leaders for a new generation.
My favorite exhibit in the Creation Museum is actually one of the smaller ones. It displays a photo of my father (who passed away in June of 1995) and mother, a Noah’s Ark model that my father made for me and my father’s Bible. That Bible is opened to Genesis and museum visitors can see my father’s handwritten notes in the margins. And it is a Ryrie Study Bible.
This exhibit can be summed up in one word: legacy. This display represents the spiritual legacy of a father and mother who taught their children to stand on the authority of the Word of God, defend the Christian faith and present the saving gospel. In many ways, the Creation Museum, Ark Encounter and ministry of Answers in Genesis represent the legacy of godly parents. My wife and I have passed this legacy on to our children, who are now passing it on to their children.
The best way for me to pay tribute to the late Charles Ryrie would be to quote the words of our eldest child Nathan (married with six children), who posted the following on his Facebook page:
Charles Ryrie died this past Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. And for the last couple days, you know what I’ve been thinking about? I’ve been thinking about my Poppa (Dad’s dad), because my greatest memory of Poppa is of him sitting in his easy chair reading his Ryrie Study Bible. Poppa has been with the Lord for 21 years, and I wish I had the spiritual maturity back then to ask him some questions about the Bible! Thankful for the faith passed on to me through my father (2 Tim. 1:5).
Charles Caldwell Ryrie has been a positive force in evangelical theology for more than a half century. Ryrie, a friend of historic fundamentalism, championed the cause of a literal hermeneutic and a dispensational framework of the Scriptures.
Today, many of us who were impacted by his theology and work mourn the loss of our dear brother-teacher. Dr. Ryrie’s impact grew out of his teaching ministry, located largely out of Dallas Theological Seminary, but it also grew exponentially through his various writings. One of the most notable publications was his seminal work, Dispensationalism Today, which eventually would be republished as Dispensationalism (both by Moody Publishers). Other notable efforts included Basic Theology, A Survey of Bible Doctrine and So Great Salvation (also published by Moody).
As a personal note of appreciation I will simply say that Dr. Ryrie’s love for Christ and his commitment to the Scriptures were most evident, not only in the Ryrie Study Bible, but also especially in His love for Biblical doctrine as a direct connection with discipleship. Truth mattered to Charles Ryrie.
In a day and age when emotion and culture often have sway over the Scriptures, it is important to remember that Ryrie was a champion of the sense, literalness and personal application of God’s Word to God’s child and especially to those who would lead in the church. While suffering through various personal struggles in life and ministry, our brother never wavered in his commitment to Jesus of Nazareth and the cause of Christ.
While my personal theology may be a bit more Calvinistic, I remain dispensational and extremely thankful for Dr. Ryrie’s influence over the years. My prayer is for comfort for those who were closest to Dr. Ryrie. With the passing of our brother, may God encourage all of our hearts to continued faithfulness as we plow in our corner of the Lord’s vineyard.
Long before I studied under Dr. Ryrie at Dallas Theological Seminary, I knew about him through his writings. He gave the commencement address at my Bible college around 1960 and I still remember his text and topic: the Macedonian asking for spiritual help in Acts 16. His writing and teaching style were designed to make profound spiritual truth understandable. The notes in his study Bible are priceless in their clarity and succinctness. It would be difficult to improve on his definitions of theological terms.
One summer, probably in 1984, Dr. Ryrie accompanied me on a trip behind the Iron Curtain to Eastern Germany, my former home. He wanted to meet some of the believers and brought along an entire suitcase of his study Bibles, which he shared with pastors who could read English. He wished to visit three places and was thrilled when we explored the little room in the Wartburg Castle where Luther translated the New Testament into German. From there we visited the Castle Church in Wittenberg where Luther posted his famous 95 thesis in 1517. Then we drove another hour to East Berlin. In the Pergamon Museum we walked through the Ishtar Gate of Babylon to see the reassembled altar from Pergamos, “the seat of Satan.”
Dr.Ryrie was the paragon of a Christian scholar and gentleman All those who knew him—and that includes the thousands of students whom he taught through the years—bear testimony to his exemplary life. His gracious decorum matched his godly doctrine. May that be true of each of us!
I took the class soteriology from Dr. Ryrie. I was amazed at his ability to define difficult theological doctrines. I studied his book Basic Theology to prepare for my ordination exam. I read Balancing the Christian Life in college and it helped me to know how to live as a Christian. His book Dispensationalism impacted my life and teaching. I read and studied his notes in his Ryrie Study Bible.
I appreciated that Dr. Ryrie came to Baptist Bible Seminary for Minister’s Enrichment on several occasions. My wife Kim and I took him out to dinner. I loved his humility and dry sense of humor.
We will miss you, Dr. Ryrie. We are all looking forward to the day when Christ returns for His church before the tribulation period—as you faithfully taught.
Charles Ryrie was a humble Christian and an excellent teacher of God’s Word. His emphases in the classroom were upon being precise, clear and balanced. I remember in soteriology class (Theology 103), when talking about the sovereignty of God and man’s responsibility, he would debate with students on the basis of which side of the issue they were defending; he would balance out their view with evidence from the other side. And when discussing Lordship salvation, he would say that what was needed was not adding to God’s plan but rather making the gospel message clear.
His dispensational theology shown through in his interest in the distinctive aspects of the church age—the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit, the unique characteristics of Christian living, the clear presentation of the gospel message, as well as issues of prophecy like the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, etc. His writings all reflect this, especially his Basic Theology and his notes in the Ryrie Study Bible.
It has been a privilege to have had him as a teacher and also as a friend.
Pastor Allen Rae
On the morning of Feb. 16, 2016, the evangelical community woke up to realize that one of our beacons had gone out. A bright light that fought the strong and swift currents of liberal agendas faded into eternity. I learned so much from this man—a scholar that I had never met. However, he met me in his writings, and I am a better pastor because of his ministry. I have no personal stories to share about Dr. Ryrie, but only what his ministry has meant to my walk with Christ.
I still remember struggling out of the darkness and into the light. I began a serious study of the Bible at around 16 years of age. I grew up in church, and I had always carried a Bible. In the search for answers and resources to find those answers, I was quickly pointed to the Ryrie Study Bible.
College and seminary brought me closer to Ryrie, not just with his definitive texts on theology, but also in his other academic writings. Ryrie himself led me to the titanic Systematic Theology by Chafer. Ryrie was the door through which I entered theology, but as the years progressed he became a home to which I invariably returned. I have never outgrown Basic Theology, and I honestly hope that I never do. It goes without saying that Ryrie was neither infallible nor inerrant. He would recognize that before we did! When I sit down to read theologians I do not seek out prideful arrogance for their position, but humble convictions for the views that they espouse.
I never sat in Ryrie’s classroom, but I daily sit under his tutelage, and I will continue to do so.
Dr. Charles Ryrie made an incredible impact on American evangelicalism during his life of 90 years and left a legacy of Biblical scholarship for generations to come. He will long be remembered for his insight, ingenuity and humility in tackling theological issues from soteriology to eschatology.
His Ryrie Study Bible, sold more than 2.5 million copies and is still a favorite of many. Known for his dispensational and pre-tribulational views, Ryrie was a staunch defender of Biblical inerrancy, historical-grammatical interpretation and practical application of the Biblical truths which he held so dear.
In addition to his earned Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from the University of Edinburg (Scotland), he was also awarded the honorary D.Litt. from Liberty University in recognition of his long and influential writing career.
Thank you for joining us for these days of honoring Dr. Charles C. Ryrie.
May the Lord help us to live in light of all that we have learned from him—
and will continue to learn—until Christ returns!
Copyright © 2016 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.