Modern Galatianism -- By: Charles C. Ryrie

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 01:2 (Fall 1960)
Article: Modern Galatianism
Author: Charles C. Ryrie

Modern Galatianism

Charles C. Ryrie

President of Philadelphia College of Bible

This address was delivered at the twenty-third annual Graduation Service of Grace Theological Seminary, June 2, 1960.

President McClain, members of the Board, faculty, honored graduates, students, and friends of Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College. Commencement is quite properly an occasion when we think of deserved congratulations for past accomplishments and the challenge of the future which faces you graduates. Five or six years from now it will be most interesting to observe what your classmates have done. Some will be completely forgotten, and should you meet such an one on the street or in a church you will find yourself groping for the name. Some, even in that short time, will be rocketed into places of leadership. Many will surprise you—one way or another. That quiet student who sat next to you may be greatly used of God, and that fellow or girl to whom you never gave a first, let alone a second, glance might even be your husband or wife. Yes, in five or six years a lot can happen.

It was so in Galatia 2000 years ago. Without championing or even considering the North and South Galatian views, we may rightly surmise that five or six years had elapsed between Paul’s previous visit to those churches and the writing of the Galatian letter. Could it be that those trouble-free congregations had so quickly and so thoroughly been infected by the contagious teachings of the Judaizers? Indeed they had, and the error which we call Galatianism had not only poisoned those churches in that day, but by its very existence has exposed the church in every generation to the same plague. And it is to this disease in its modern forms that I wish to direct your attention tonight. Modern Galatianism—what is it? what are its symptoms? and how can it be prevented or cured?

If there is one thing that I insist of my students, it is that they define terms. We are very lazy and hazy about this in Christian circles today. Lest I be guilty of addressing you on Galatianism without ever defining it, may I propose a definition at the very start. Galatianism is any action of the flesh which hinders spiritual progress (5:7). “Ye did run well”—that’s progress. “Who did hinder you”—that’s a reference to the Judaizers with their appeal to the flesh. “That ye should obey not the truth”—that’s the terrible outcome. Anything that stems from the flesh and hinders spiritual progress is a form of Galatianism. “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” What is the flesh? It is not some entity within—some coarse, rough, hairy, ugly brute of a man who lives inside you and who is alw...

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