Reflecting on Ryrie

My freshman year of college at the Word of Life Bible Institute I had Charles Ryrie as my eschatology professor. At the time I didn’t know much about him, but I had owned his systematic theology for about a year at the time. I was told that he was a major heavyweight in evangelicalism, and that it was a huge opportunity to take a course with him.

The thing that struck me when I saw him was that he looked a lot like the Emperor from Star Wars. He sat mostly still while he taught, which was a bit distracting, but I took copious notes, as I was told he was a world class scholar. At WOLBI while I was there we were constantly told that only Papists and liberals rejected dispensationalism, so needless to say, this was an important class.

That week Dr. Ryrie also gave an unusual devotion in my dorm; rather than preparing anything, he just sat down and told us that we could ask him anything we wanted about the Bible and he would answer us. I wish I had been a Presbyterian at the time, because my questions would have been much better.

At one point during that week I asked Dr. Ryrie the same question that I asked each guest lecturer we had that year, “If you could be any sandwich, which sandwich would you be?” Dr. Ryrie was the only professor that refused to answer the question, as he had no time to posit on alternate realities. He did tell me that he would rephrase the questions to one that he would answer, being which sandwich he liked best. His answer? Ham.

Though I have spent much time in research refuting his hermeneutics and eschatology, the week I had an Eschatology course with Dr. Ryrie was enjoyable. He was a pleasant man, and I have no doubt that he is in heaven now. Of course, that being said, in the last day or so his theology has no doubt changed tremendously, and he is now a solid, covenantal theologian.

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