BOOK REPORT ON CHARLES RYRIE’S DISPENSATIONALISM

What is dispensationalism? In a time where there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation clouding the answer to this relatively simple question, Charles Ryrie addresses the question directly in his seminal work Dispensationalism. In this work Ryrie seeks to correct the many misconceptions non-dispensationalists have concerning normative dispensationalism, and to give a positive presentation and defense of normative dispensationalism. In this paper a brief overview of the author’s purpose and perspective will be presented. Then it will identify the relevant questions the book answers and also presents concerning dispensationalism and the related debate between Christian scholars. There will then be some report on the four views presented in the book: dispensationalism, covenant theology, progressive dispensationalism, and ultra-dispensationalism. After that there will be an evaluation of the book’s content and arguments followed by a discussion of two applications one can apply after reading the book.

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FREE BECAUSE OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

In this paper I will begin by developing a robust definition of freedom, for many of the conflicting theories of freedom and determinism differ on this first premise. The definition of freedom developed will be significantly drawn from Aristotle’s work Nicomachean Ethics, and his dialogue concerning voluntary and involuntary actions therein. The argument will continue by showing how this definition of freedom is consistent with and actually sustained by the presence of a supremely sovereign God, like that of classical Christian theism. This will be done through the arguments and explanations of Thomas Aquinas. Finally the argument will try to interact with and answer other competing theories, such as determinism, simple indeterminism, compatibilism (like that of Jonathan Edwards), and to a lesser extent Libertarian freewill. The next section will develop the theory of freedom.

THE PELAGIAN CONTROVERSY

In this paper the Pelagian conflict will be discussed. First will be an explanation of its rise and the motivation behind its conception. This will be followed by a brief explanation as to why Pelagianism was at odds with orthodoxy. Finally a brief explanation as to how the heresy was condemned will be outlined. Following these sections outlining the controversy itself there will be two sections that deal with the applications that studying the Pelagian conflict has in our modern Church today.

BIBLICAL PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY: THE WHY BEHIND THE WHAT

It has often been said that if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. This relatively cute cliché is really quite profound when one stops to consider its implications for ministry. Many churches operate with poor efficacy and focus because they lack biblical direction with regards to their commission, purpose, and function. The solution is a well developed biblical philosophy of ministry. If God is to bless the ministry of a given church, that church ought to build its philosophy of ministry on a foundation that is thoroughly biblical. This paper will be devoted to defending the biblical philosophy of ministry that the Church is divinely commissioned for the purposes of equipping the saints, presenting them complete in Christ, and entrusting the apostles’ teaching to faithful people.

FOUNDATIONS OF APOLOGETIC SYSTEMS: DON’T BUILD YOUR SYSTEM ON THE SANDY LAND

This paper will follow this basic structure. Taking the four apologetic systems: Fideistic Apologetics, Presupposition Apologetics, Evidential Apologetics, and Classical apologetics, the paper will identify and critique the foundational starting point upon which practitioners of these methods build their apologies. The systems will be dealt with in the aforementioned order. Each system’s apologetic method will be briefly described followed by an analysis of the starting point from which each system originates. After that, the starting point will be critiqued for its efficacy or legitimacy as a foundation for apologetics. Ultimately this paper will conclude that the foundations of Classical Apologetics are the strongest leading to the most effective and comprehensive apologetic method.

THE DOCUMENTARY HYPOTHESIS: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF ITS ARGUMENTS AND PRESUPOSITIONS

This paper will seek to logically critic and evaluate the Documentary Hypothesis, expose its errors, and defend the traditional position of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. To do this, first a brief overview of the history of the Documentary hypothesis will be presented. This will include some of its main developers and supporters. How was it developed, and what were the influences and contexts from which it emerged? Next, the main arguments and claims of the documentary hypothesis will be outlined and explained. Finally, those arguments will be refuted, and an apologetic defense of Mosaic authorship will be presented.

MULTI-ETHNICITY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH: A BIBLICAL MANDATE

The thesis of this paper is that multi-ethnicity in the local church is indeed prescribed by scripture and therefore mandatory for modern churches. Though this paper will not be able to deal with the subject exhaustively, for such an undertaking would be more suited for a book, it will outline five arguments from scripture that taken together form a case for the requirement that local churches should strive to be multi-ethnic. The first argument is taken from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and His call for unity within His Church. The second is that certain characteristics of the church in Antioch, as described in the book of Acts, are intended to be observed as patterns to follow, such as their intentional multi-ethnicity. The third argument comes from Ephesians 2:11-22 and Paul’s discussion of the inclusive unity and mystery of the Body of Christ. The fourth argument is the way Paul’s defense to the people while in the custody of the Roman Tribune in Acts 22:22 is abruptly ended by their response to his words. The fifth and final argument tentatively considers the possible application of the statement in Jesus’ model prayer, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” compared to what is revealed to be true of heaven elsewhere in Scripture.

THE POSSIBILITY OF MIRACLES: A PRECONDITION TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

True biblical theology is built on the supernatural. Christ’s virgin birth, His ministry filled with miraculous healings, His physical resurrection from the dead, and His bodily ascension into heaven are simply a few of the numerous miracles essential to orthodox Christian doctrine. This is to say nothing of the miracles in the Old Testament or those preformed by the apostles. Such is the magnitude of the possibility of miracle as a precondition to Christian theology, that without it orthodox Christianity would collapse. The apostle Paul put it succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

QUICK TO HEAR, SLOW TO SPEAK, SLOW TO ANGER: THE INTEGRATIVE MOTIF OF THE EPISTLE OF JAMES

This paper endeavors to show that the epistle of James is not only well organized but also follows an integrative motif explained by James early in the Epistle. The motif is found in Jam. 1:19[2], “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” This passage is the interpretive road map to the rest of the epistle’s message and unified content.

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