Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (1925–2016) was one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1925 and, after considering going into banking, enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Within three years of earning his bachelor’s degree, he finished both a masters and a doctorate in theology from DTS. Four years later, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh.
Dr. Ryrie spent his career teaching in several Bible colleges and seminaries. He also wrote over fifty books, including the seminal Dispensationalism Today, Basic Theology, and The Holy Spirit. He is probably best known for The Ryrie Study Bible, which has sold more than 2.6 million copies since its initial publication in 1978. Available in several different Bible versions, The Ryrie Study Bible includes contextual notes (over 10,000 of them), cross references, maps, book outlines, and timelines, as well as articles on theology, doctrine, archeology, and church history.
Dr. Ryrie’s greatest academic contributions were probably in the area of systematic theology, specifically his works on dispensationalism and dispensational premillennialism. Dispensationalism is the belief that God has worked throughout human history in different ways in various divinely ordained eras. Dispensational premillennialism says that the end times will be characterized by the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the restoration of Israel to a place of preeminence, and the millennial kingdom.
Charles Ryrie’s theology is based on a literal understanding of the Bible that does not spiritualize passages that are not obviously metaphorical. His commitment to the Word was tested in 1987 when his wife divorced him. Ryrie, believing that the Bible’s teaching does not allow for divorce, lived the rest of his life as a single man. Ryrie was steadfast in his teaching that salvation’s only requirement is faith in the gospel, and he argued against lordship salvation.
Probably Charles Ryrie’s greatest achievement was taking profound theological concepts and making them easy to understand. His book Basic Theology is good reading for any believer. And his study Bible provides great clarity on many passages of Scripture as it skillfully traces God’s overall plan throughout history.
Although Charles Ryrie was a teacher of scholars and pastors, he proved that every believer can and should understand Christian theology. Dr. Ryrie influenced thousands of Christian leaders, including Dr. Charles Swindoll, and championed minority students. His writings also influenced most, if not all, of the staff at GotQuestions.org. Ryrie exemplified obedience to 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” Charles Ryrie died in February 2016 at the age of 90.