The Salvation-Lordship Debate
In 1988, with the publication of The Gospel according to Jesus, John MacArthur launched an assault on proponents of the view that one can accept Christ as Savior without making him Lord of one’s life. 34 In particular, MacArthur attacked Dallas Seminary founder Lewis Sperry Chafer and professors Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie. The criticism aimed at Ryrie centered on his discussion “Must Christ Be Lord to Be Saviour?” which had appeared in Balancing the Christian Life. 35 Ryrie was responding to, among others, J. I. Packer, who, in critiquing methods of gospel presentation, had asked: “Is this way of presenting Christ [i.e., merely as Savior and not also as Lord] calculated to convey to people the application of the gospel, and not just part of it, but the whole of it? … Or will it leave them supposing that all they have to do is to trust Christ as a sin-bearer, not realizing that they must also deny themselves and enthrone Him as their Lord (the error which we might call only-believism)?” 36 Ryrie argued that “the message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel ( Gal. 1:6–9 ), and this is a very serious matter.” 37 The logic of the position that salvation is impossible without granting Christ lordship leads necessarily to the conclusion that there are no, so to speak, uncommitted or carnal believers, but Ryrie cites Peter ( Acts 10:14 ) and the converts at Ephesus ( Acts 19 ) as examples. What should one conclude? That Peter and the others were never saved? Or did they lose their salvation when they rejected the lordship of Christ?
Ryrie focuses attention on the meaning of “Lord” ( kyrios ). Does usage of “Lord” signify that we have made Christ “Master” of our lives? Ryrie admits that sometimes it does; but when used in relation to salvation, it simply affirms Jesus’ deity. Consider as evidence the controversy that was stirred up when Jesus, an ordinary man from a poor carpenter’s family, was called kyrios. The term obviously meant more than “Sir” or “Master”; it was an affirmation that Jesus is God. He is the God-man. That is also the emphasis in Romans 10:9. Ryrie concludes, “It is the confession of Jesus as God and thus faith in the God-Man that saves from sin.” 38
The issue for Ryrie is the purity of the gospel. He is concerned that nothing be added to the gospel of salvation by grace through faith. If conditions are attached, where do the conditions stop? If the gospel of the Lord Jesus includes lordship over my life, it might very well also include the necessity of believing He is my Creator, Judge, coming King, Example, Teacher, and so forth, on and on, to include every attribute of Deity and every aspect of the perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus. … The emphasis the Bible gives to these words [Lord Jesus] is on His being the God-Man, Man in order to die, and God to make that death effective for the remission of sins. Where do you stop if you start adding something else to this which is the gospel revealed in the Bible? 39
A further confusion in the debate centers on the word disciple. What does it mean? According to Ryrie, “a disciple is one who receives instruction from another; he is a learner.” 40 Given this definition, a disciple may be an unbeliever like Judas or may desert Christ ( John 6:66 ). MacArthur, on the other hand, equates discipleship with salvation. There are, then, conditions for salvation. “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything. … We do have to be willing to forsake all ( Luke 14:33 ). … People with genuine faith do not refuse to acknowledge their sinfulness. They sense that they have offended the holiness of God, and do not reject the lordship of Christ. They do not cling to the things of this world. Real faith lacks none of these attributes. Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus Christ at all costs. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms.” 41
With the publication of MacArthur’s Gospel according to Jesus, to which Packer and James Montgomery Boice had contributed forewords, the battle lines were drawn. In 1989 Ryrie responded to MacArthur’s charges with So Great Salvation, to which Warren Wiersbe contributed the foreword. The issue for Ryrie is still the nature of the gospel. From 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 he concludes that “the Gospel that saves is believing that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. That is the complete Gospel, and if so, then it is also the true full Gospel and the true whole Gospel. Nothing else is needed for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.” 42
In 1972 Ryrie brought out his Survey of Bible Doctrine, an overview of systematic theology for the lay reader. Written without technical jargon, the book explains the basic elements of Christian doctrine in lay language. Ryrie’s thesis is clearly stated in the introduction: “God intended you to understand what the Bible teaches. This does not mean that you will comprehend all its truths at first reading or even in a lifetime, but it does mean that you can expect to learn a great deal. God used language which He meant to be taken just as normally and plainly as the words in this book.” 43
In 1986 appeared Basic Theology (diterjemahkan oleh Andi Offset dengan judul Teologi Dasar 1 dan 2), a more comprehensive work which quickly sold over sixty thousand copies. Ryrie’s central presupposition in this volume (as in his other works) is the inerrancy of Scripture. “This stands as the watershed presupposition. If the Bible is not true, then trinitarianism is untrue and Jesus Christ is not who He claimed to be. And we cannot be certain that what we learn from the Bible about the Triune God is accurate unless we believe that our source itself is accurate. Thus the belief in the truthfulness of the Bible is the basic presupposition.” 44
But how shall the Bible be interpreted? Ryrie argues for a literal interpretation because we normally express our thoughts literally, and that, in fact, is the way God has communicated to us. “If one does not employ normal [i.e., literal] interpretation, then objectivity is lost to the extent that he does not use it consistently. Switching the hermeneutical base from literal to allegorical or to semiallegorical or to theological inevitably results in different, inconsistent, and often contradictory interpretations.” 45
Other elements of sound hermeneutics include grammatical and contextual analysis, comparison with other passages of Scripture, and recognition of the progressiveness of revelation. 46 That is Ryrie’s stated hermeneutical system, and that has been his practice. In Basic Theology the reader will find definitive statements of Ryrie’s view of inerrancy, interpretation, the nature of the gospel, charismatic doctrine, the distinctives of the church, and eschatology. Basic Theology will probably prove to be his magnum opus, not only because it summarizes his theology, but also because it is written in his highly readable style.
A Commentator on Contemporary Issues
Another indication of the breadth of Ryrie’s interests is his You Mean the Bible Teaches That … (published in 1974 and enlarged and reissued in 1991 as Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues ). Here he addresses contemporary and controversial issues like civil disobedience, capital punishment, women’s liberation, divorce, situation ethics, and ab
ortion. His purpose is “to try to focus on the major aspects of problems which confront people today.” 47 Ryrie does not have easy answers nor does he opt for popular conclusions. But he is thoughtprovoking.
In discussing divorce, Ryrie explains the exceptive phrase of Matthew 19:9 as relating to the marriage of close relatives, which was prohibited by the Mosaic law ( Lev. 18:6–18 ). He had developed t
his thesis earlier in The Place of Women in the Church . While many interpret the exceptive phrase as a reference to adultery, Ryrie notes that adultery cannot be in view since the penalty for adultery was death ( Lev. 20:10 ; Deut. 22:22 ). Ryrie concludes that Christ taught the indissolubility of marriage. 48 Ryrie’s inference that scripturally there is no justifiable divorce will prove unpopular amid our divorceridden society. He does offer, however, compassionate counsel and words of wisdom: “The church should receive such people and minister to their special needs and seek to help them find a proper place of usefulness. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound o
f cure! Perhaps we are spending too much time today seeking to find the innocent party … it is far more important to indoctrinate young people in scriptural standards concerning marriage.” 49 Of those who avow civil disobedience based on the unconstitutionality of a law, Ryrie asks: “But who decides if a law is clearly unconstitutional? Is it up to each individual, or do we abide by the decisions of the courts?” 50 Civil obedience does not stand in isolation; it is part of the larger picture of constituted authority. As the church is subject to Christ, servants to their masters, wives to their husbands, children to their parents, church members to thei
r leaders, so believers are to be subject to their government. Ryrie concludes, “When civil law and God’s law are in opposition, the illustrations of the Bible sanction, if not obligate, the believer to protest or disobey. But when a believer feels he should disobey his government, he must be sure it is not because the government has denied him his rights, but because it has denied him God’s rights.” 51
In discussing women’s liberation, Ryrie reminds his readers that “Christianity was a women’s lib movement long before
current groups ever devised a plan.” 52
Christianity elevated the status of women. This becomes apparent when one considers the position of women in Greek and Roman society. “Jesus Christ introduced a new appraisal of women. He offered them spiritual privileges equal to those given to men, but He did not sanction equal spiritual activities.” 53 Therein lies the distinction between the func
tioning of men and women in the Christian church. “In various ways, women served the new churches but apparently always in a secondary place. The apostles were all men. The missionary activity was done by men. The writing of the New Testament was the work of men. The leadership of the churches was in the hands of men. Equality of spiritual position for women did not mean equality of spiritual ministry.” 54 So how can women serve in the church? The only possible place of leadership is deaconess, but the relevant texts ( Rom. 16:1–2 ; 1 Tim. 3:11 ) are unclear on the matter.
Ryrie summarizes: “(1) the primary and honored place of the Christian woman is in her home, which takes precedence over all other opportunities; (2) her position in the body of Christ is equal to that of every other believer; (3) her function as far as office and activity is restricted, recognizing the leadership and ministry of the church as the responsibility of men.” 55 Though You Mean the Bible Teaches That … is but a small volume, it clearly reveals Ryrie’s position. He is willing to accept a difficult conclusion if he is convinced that it is the biblical teaching. He is willing to assume a stance that runs contrary to popular opinion (even popular evangelical opinion). There is no question that his authority is the Bible. Perhaps that is the secret to the success of Ryrie’s writings. Though his readers may not agree with h
im on every issue, they are aware the man writes with an unshakable conviction of the normativeness of God’s Word. The Bible is his authority. It has the final say.
The Ryrie Study Bible
A hallmark of Charles Ryrie’s academic achievements is The Ryrie Study Bible. First introduced in 1976, it is now available in various editions (NIV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, Portuguese, and Spanish). Unlike The Scofield Reference Bible, which is theologically oriented, The Ryrie Study Bible is more exegetically oriented in that Ryrie seeks to illuminate verses for the reader through explanatory notes. These notes provide historical, geographical, grammatical, etymological, political, cultural, and theological information. While Ryrie remains firmly committed to his theological views, he explains other positions. In the introduction to the Book of Revelation, for example, he discusses different interpretive approaches to the book, though he clearly states that he holds the futurist view. Charitable toward opposing interpretations, The Ryrie Study Bible sometimes does not take a position where it could. Accordingly, it has even been accepted by charismatics.
Like many of Ryrie’s other writings, the Study Bible has plowed new ground, providing the average reader with helpful introductory information on each of the books of the Bible (author, date, historical background, purpose, content, outline).
In one volume Ryrie offers a concise commentary, word studies, and doctrinal helps. The chain that had anchored the Bible to the pulpit, and that Martin Luther broke, has been broken further, giving the reader a clearer understanding of God’s Word.
Charles Ryrie has made a unique and important contribution to twentieth-century theology. His ability to communicate to the layperson undoubtedly stands without peer. Few theological volumes written in this century have communicated truth as effectively to the ordinary individual as have Ryrie’s works. Part of his legacy is his example of crystalizing and clarifying the complex topics of theology. Many Christians have been guided into an understanding of Christian doctrine through books like A Survey of Bible Doctrine and The Holy Spirit. Many more will undoubtedly be helped by his Basic Theology . Ryrie’s writings serve to clarify the teachings of Scripture “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” ( 2 Tim. 3:17 NASB ).
Ryrie’s legacy also challenges the Christian reader to serious thinking about how biblical teaching relates to the contemporary world. He has grappled with how the Bible applies to the serious issues of the day: the role of women, divorce, legalism, the nature of the gospel, the charismatic movement. He has not necessarily arrived at popular conclusions, but he has drawn the reader back to the Scriptures. For Ryrie the authority is not society or experience, but the Bible. This engenders confidence in his writings as well as encourages average Christians to study the Bible on their own for theological answers. What could be of greater satisfaction to a theologian?
Ryrie, Charles C. The Acts of the Apostles. Chicago: Moody, 1961. _____.
Balancing the Christian Life. Chicago: Moody, 1969. _____. Basic Theology.
Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1986.
_____. The Basis of the Premillennial Faith. Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1953.
_____. The Bible and Tomorrow’s News. Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture, 1969.
Reprinted as The Final
Countdown. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1982. _____. Biblical Theology of the New
Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1959. _____. Dispensationalism Today. Chicago:
_____. First and Second Thessalonians. Chicago: Moody, 1959. _____. The
Grace of God. Chicago: Moody, 1963.
_____. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1965.
_____. The Living End. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1976. Reprinted as The Best Is
Yet to Come.
Chicago: Moody, 1981. _____. The Miracles of Our Lord. Nashville: Nelson,
1984. _____. Neo-orthodoxy. Chicago: Moody, 1956. _____. The Place of Women in the Church. New York: Macmillan, 1958.
Reprinted as The Role of
Women in the Church. Chicago: Moody, 1970. _____. Revelation. Chicago:
Moody, 1968. _____. Ryrie’s Concise Guide to the Bible. San Bernardino, Calif.:
Here’s Life, 1983. _____. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago: Moody, 1976.
_____. So Great Salvation. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1989.
_____. A Survey of Bible Doctrine. Chicago: Moody, 1972.
_____. Transformed by His Glory. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1990.
_____. What You Should Know about Inerrancy. Chicago: Moody, 1981.
_____. What You Should Know about Social Responsibility. Chicago: Moody,
1982. _____. What You Should Know about the Rapture. Chicago: Moody, 1981.
_____. You Mean the Bible Teaches That. … Chicago: Moody, 1974. Reprinted
as Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues. Chicago: Moody, 1991.
1 Charles C. Ryrie, What You Should Know about Inerrancy (Chicago: Moody,
3 Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1989), 48.
4 Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Neptune, N.J.:
Loizeaux, 1953), 6.
5 Quoted in Ryrie, Premillennial Faith, 22.
6 Ibid., 23. 7 Ibid., 46. 8 Ibid., 47.
9 E.g., William E. Cox, Amillennialism Today
(Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1966), 40–42.
10 Ryrie, Premillennial Faith , 74–75.
11 Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1986), 459–60.
12 Charles C. Ryrie, Neo-orthodoxy (Chicago: Moody, 1956), 50.
13 Ibid., 60.
14 Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1959), 16.
15 Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody, 1963), 11.
16 Ibid., 76.
17 Ibid., 80–81.
18 Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody, 1965), 92.
19 Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945), vii.
20 Ibid., 262.
21 Daniel P. Fuller, “The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism,” Th.D. diss., Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1957—Fuller builds on his dissertation in Gospel and Law: Contrast or Continuum? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980); Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960).
22 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody, 1965), 9.
23 Ibid., 22–47.
24 Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945), 5.
25 Charles C. Ryrie, “Dispensation, Dispensationalism,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology , ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 322.
26 Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today , 41.
27 For an exposition of this third tenet see Charles C. Ryrie, Transformed by His
Glory (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1990).
28 Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today , 27.
29 Ibid., 48.
30 Ibid., 177–91.
31 Ibid., 187.
32 Ibid., 110–11.
33 Ibid., 123.
34 John F. MacArthur, The Gospel according to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988).
35 Charles C. Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life (Chicago: Moody, 1969), 169–81.
36 J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Chicago: Inter-Varsity, 1961), 88–89.
37 See Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life , 170–73.
38 Ibid., 175.
39 Ibid., 177.
40 Ibid., 178.
41 MacArthur, Gospel according to Jesus , 78, 87.
42 Ryrie, So Great Salvation , 40.
43 Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972), 9–10.
44 Ryrie, Basic Theology , 16.
45 Ibid., 113.
46 Ibid., 114–15.
47 Charles C. Ryrie, You Mean The Bible Teaches That … (Chicago: Moody, 1974), 9.
48 Ibid., 45–56. Ryrie’s thesis has been amplified by a former student of his; see J. Carl Laney, The Divorce Myth (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1986).
49 Ryrie, You Mean , 56.
50 Ibid., 15.
51 Ibid., 19–20.
52 Ibid., 34.
53 Ibid., 36.
54 Ibid., 38. Ibid., 43.
55 Ibid., 43.
Sumber: Elwell, Walter - Handbook of Evangelical Theologicans (memuat 33 Biografi Singkat para Teolog abad 19 dan 20)