Basic Theology. By Charles C. Ryrie. Wheaton Illinois: Victor Books, 1986. 544 pp. Hardcover, $14.95.
In Basic Theology there are no surprises. For some this is unwelcome. For those who have enjoyed Ryrie’s other works and are committed to a theology that is straightforward and readable, and to wholesome doctrine, Basic Theology will seem like an old friend. Some of this book includes a compilation of many of the author’s other works (see p. 4).
According to the author this book is for everyone. It is for everyone because all are theologians whether they call themselves that or not. Some are armchair theologians and others are card-carrying theologians, all of whom need a recognized systematic approach. Those who wish to study theology have a hard time finding a text that studies all the major systems of theology, is clear, and approaches the Bible with a consistent hermeneutical system.
Of particular interest for those who are concerned for the clarity of the Gospel is Ryrie’s chapter on the Gospel. In that chapter he exposes many errors in evangelism: in adding baptism, in misunderstanding repentance, and in making surrender of one’s life a part of the Gospel. Ryrie specifically defines repentance as changing one’s mind about Jesus Christ. Whatever one thought before, he changes his mind and trusts Christ as his Savior.
Those with a background in theology can appreciate the author’s theology, structure, and organization of material. Though this reviewer has a background in theology, his greatest appreciation was the book’s effectiveness as a basic text for Bible college students. Because of the author’s strong and basic stand on grace, security, and the Gospel, this work makes an outstanding textbook.
Dr. Ryrie is a well-known champion of the Gospel of grace. However, some could see a bit of confusion when he discusses “proof of justification” (p. 300). The author says that “justification is proved by purity.” He uses an analogy of a two-coupon ticket. “Faith and works are like a two-coupon ticket to heaven. The coupon of works is not for passage, and the coupon of faith is not valid if detached from works.” Works may demonstrate faith to men but lack of works is not a proof of the opposite. Otherwise one would fall into works-salvation, which the author earlier calls a “teaching of demons” (p. 165). Ryrie’s statement that works are a proof to men should also be considered. As far as God is concerned the proof is in the heart of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Substitute.
This reviewer and all who strive for a clear stand on the doctrine of salvation find a trustworthy standard reference work in Basic Theology.
Dean of Students/Professor of Greek and Theology
Texas Bible College
San Antonio, TX