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Liberty University
[email protected]
Faculty Publications and Presentations
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate
Spring 1989
Review: Basic Theology
A. Boyd Luter
Liberty University, [email protected]
Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs
Part of the Biblical Studies Commons, Comparative Methodologies and Theories Commons,
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Recommended Citation
Luter, A. Boyd, "Review: Basic Theology" (1989). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 293.
This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at [email protected]
University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Faculty Publications and Presentations by an authorized administrator of [email protected]
University. For more information, please contact [email protected]
Basic Theology, by Charles C. Ryrie. Wheaton: Victor, 1986. Pp. 544. $16.95.
The author of the popular Ryríe Study Bible and a host of biblical and
theological works, and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at Dallas
Seminary, has now contributed a volume aptly subtitled "A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth." Basic Theology is indeed wellwritten at the targeted popular level (pp. 9-10), characteristically systematic
and thorough, though compact (featuring "bite-size" chapters), and lucid.
Ryrie again demonstrates his exemplary facility for clarity and economy of
expression in dealing with theology at an introductory, but not insignificant level.
This reviewer was pleasantly surprised to find that Basic Theology was
not simply a revision or an expansion of Ryrie's 1972 primer, A Survey of
Bible Doctrine (Moody). While there are obvious similarities, the very order
of development of the doctrines and the foundational styles of the books are
so different as to quickly convince the reader that Basic Theology is a
substantially fresh treatment. That is a lot of "freshness," too, when it is noted
that Basic Theology is almost triple the length of the earlier Survey (544 pp.
to 191 pp.).
As to content, there is little that is creative exegetically or theologically
about Ryrie's moderate dispensational approach here, although he has been a
bellwether theologian at times in his career (e.g. his Dispensationalism Today
[Moody, 1965]). At a juncture when dispensationalism is increasingly diverse
in expression (see V. Poythress, Understanding Dispensationlists [Zondervan,
1987], it would have been welcome for a theologian of Ryrie's stature and
insightfulness to address such issues, though that was not his aim. He did,
however, fire a salvo in the mounting debate over the content of the gospel
(pp. 337-39).
As to proportional handling of the various doctrines, it is hardly surprising,
in the recent evangelical context, to find that the treatment of the "Godbreathed" scripture is considerably longer (54 pp.) than that of the doctrine
of God (34 pp.) or of Christ (37 pp.). However, even granting dispensational
eschatological distinctives, it is still somewhat of a surprise to find "Things to
Come" covers 83 pages in a volume of this size!
Basic Theology can be heartily recommended, not only for its readability,
compactness, and trustworthy content, but also for such consistent features as
charts (e.g. "How the Bible Came to Us," p. 117) and practical application
(even applying the Trinity, on p. 59). There also are helpful concluding
sections on "Central Passages for the Study of Theology" (pp. 525-30) and
"Some Definitions for the Study of Theology" (pp. 533-38), as well as scripture and subject indices. Disappointing by its absence, though, is even a
"basic" bibliography, or list for further reading and study, befitting such a fine
introductory theology text.
Now, it is hoped that Ryrie will see fit to move beyond "basic theology"
to the more indepth kind of treatment of which he is clearly capable. There is
still plenty of room for another evangelical magnun opus on the theologians'
bookshelf, such monumental works as Henry's God, Revelation and Authority,
Erickson's Christian Theology, and Lewis and Demarest's Integrative Theo­
logy not withstanding.
Talbot School of Theology
La Mirada, CA
The Coming World Leader by David Hocking. Portland, Oregon: Multnomah,
1988. Pp. 319. $10.95 paper.
David Hocking is the Senior Pastor of Calvary church in Santa Ana,
California. His radio broadcast is heard nationally on "The Biola Hour". He is
the author of two other books and a series of pamphlets.
The current volume is a commentary on the Book of Revelation. Since
that book focuses on Jesus, he must be assumed to be "the Coming World
Leader". The book is written for those who have not studied that book of the
Bible in depth, and who are not looking for a commentary on the Greek text,
even though the author makes frequent reference to the meanings of Greek
words. The study has a format that suggests it is the outcome of an extended
sermon series. About one third of the volume's comments are on Revelation
1-3. His eschatological position is Premillenial. He holds to a Pre-Tribulational
Rapture position, but acquaints his audience occasionally with other views.
Hocking has provided a useful introductory commentary for pastors and
Sunday School teachers.
Before pointing out some of the valuable features of the commentary, let
me indicate some identifiable weaknesses. First, the elementary nature of the
book promotes simplistic approaches to complex problems: for example,
what one has to do to understand the Revelation (p. 9), the use made of the
Old Testament in the Apocalypse, and the question of authorship. A second
weakness is that it is an uncritical commentary in the main. Perhaps this
feature emerges out of the author's reading habits, the bibliography append­
ing the book contains no book written on Revelation in the last twenty years,
it consults no "liberal" commentary, and apart from Swete's commentary, has
not taken into account any commentary making use of the Greek text and
grammar, including conservative works. On two occasions where the author
makes use of the textual apparatus, it appears that he is not well-acquainted
with the science of textual criticism: the number of manuscripts for or against