Editor’s Note: This is our second day of honoring Dr. Charles Ryrie, who was promoted to heavenly glory on Tuesday of this week, just short of his 91st birthday. If you missed our first day of tributes, make sure to read them. They are entitled, “An Incredible Legacy.” Today we find that, as Dr. LaHaye states so aptly below, Dr. Ryrie was indeed “the brilliant scholar.” He taught many of our teachers, and all of us freely quoted his words with certainty and conviction in our sermons and research papers. Thus, we use this descriptive phrase as a title of honor over today’s installment as we continue to remember the life and ministry of Dr. Charles C. Ryrie. (In the photo above, Dr. Ryrie speaks at the Grace Conference at Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church in Lake Zurich, Ill., in July of 2007.)
He taught thousands of future ministers, missionaries, professors and many others the Biblical truths that he loved and lived.
Thankfully his writings will continue for years to come, influencing thousands more—to God be the glory!
I began in earnest to study systematic theology and dispensationalism at Grace Theological Seminary in the late 1950s and into the ’60s. I found his approach, proposals and refinements in Dispensationalism Today to be exactly what I was looking for.
For 40 years I followed his basic ideas in teaching Old Testament theology, dispensationalism, Old Testament exposition and systematic theology.
Dispensational studies will be eternally in his debt, for which we thank our great and good God.
Like many who were young students or starting ministry in the 1960s and ’70s, I first became acquainted with Dr. Charles Ryrie through the publishing of his book, Dispensationalism Today. I felt that book was such a carefully reasoned and balanced guide to dispensational thought. It did not attempt to answer every theological issue or question raised by proponents and detractors of dispensationalism, but it was such an excellent guide—in my young opinion back then—to help me carefully shape theological convictions that stay with me today. Even though it was a slender volume, it seemed to me to have a very important influence to make me study, think and consider great Biblical truths.
Charles Caldwell Ryrie was a giant of a man. Not in terms of physical stature or personality—indeed, he was very meek and unobtrusive—but in his brilliance, spiritual maturity and effectiveness for the cause of Jesus Christ, he was truly a giant. Countless Christians have been forever enriched because of the tireless work of Charles Caldwell Ryrie.
As an articulate spokesman for dispensationalism, Ryrie was unmatched. I have sometimes joked that the “holy trinity of dispensationalism” is composed of Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord and Charles Ryrie. With the passing of Ryrie, all three are now in glory, and we who stand in their long shadows are greatly impoverished by their absence. Together they forged a body of solid dispensational theology of which we are the grateful inheritors—but it was Ryrie, in particular, who put his finger on the essence of the dispensational system and gave us its clearest, most cogent articulation.
Ryrie will also be remembered for his large corpus of written works. His output was prodigious: He wrote on Biblical theology, systematic theology, spiritual maturity, isagogics, pedagogy and theological method, to say nothing of his study Bible, commentaries and articles on a variety of issues. In criticizing aberrant theologies (including neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement and Lordship salvation), Ryrie was crushingly logical, unswervingly faithful to the Biblical text and constantly charitable (even toward those with whom he disagreed most strongly).
But most of all, we should remember Charles Ryrie as one who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with a single-minded passion and fervor. It was that love for the Lord that drove everything he did, and his works have instilled that love in countless others. We celebrate Ryrie’s promotion to glory to be with the One he worshiped, adored and served so remarkably well. May we endeavor to follow the example of this “good and faithful servant.”
May he enjoy the peace of being in the presence of his Lord.
In 1978, he gave me a “Limited Edition” copy of the Ryrie Study Bible, which I have filled with many hundreds of my own notes and have used for lectures in many countries.
In my evaluation, he was one of the greatest theologians of modern times, with specially keen insights in the realm of Biblical eschatology—the events that will precede and follow the second coming of Christ (the rapture of the church and the great tribulation, and the millennial kingdom and eternal state).
My prayer is that God will continue to use his study Bible and the other 50 books he wrote until our Savior returns.
In April of 1997 when Dr. Ryrie spoke at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, I introduced him by quoting Martin Luther’s three characteristics for the study of theology: prayer, meditation on God’s Word and trials.
All three of these things characterized the life of Dr. Ryrie. He prayed that the books he had written, and especially the notes he had written in the Ryrie Study Bible, would help Christian people to love the Lord more deeply as they understood His Word more greatly. His writings demonstrate Dr. Ryrie’s ability to communicate—in a few simple statements—complex Biblical and theological truths.
But in his personal life, the trials he faced forced him to draw close to his Lord and Savior and experience the truths of which he taught.
Please comment below with your own tribute to Dr. Ryrie!
Coming up Monday…
Our remembrances of Dr. Ryrie will continue for a third day as we share testimonies from Dr. Woodrow Kroll, Dr. William Barrick, Dr. Ron Bigalke, Dr. Thomas Ice and more. Please be sure to come back and join us then!
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