Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JOTGES 2:2 (Autumn 89) p. 69
So Great Salvation. By Charles C. Ryrie. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1989. 166 pp. Cloth, $12.95.
If this book had been written only several years ago, it would be hard to imagine a debate over the conditions of salvation such as there is today. For many years Dr. Ryrie has caught the brunt of the attack from Lordship Salvation advocates because of his single chapter in Balancing the Christian Life (first published in 1969 by Moody Press). He has not answered in print until now, but the wait has been worth it.
Though the book is more a positive statement about the issues of salvation than an answer to John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus, it does answer Dr. MacArthur convincingly and clearly. The reader will quickly see and appreciate the difference between MacArthur’s dogmatic rhetoric and Ryrie’s reasoned theology.
Ryrie covers all the essential issues in the Lordship debate. There are separate chapters on the four most crucial and controversial issues: the meaning of faith, repentance, Lordship, and discipleship. But he begins where he should, i.e., with the nature of God’s grace. At its heart, Lordship Salvation is a subtle perversion of God’s grace forcefully argued with slippery semantics. But as Ryrie points out, semantics is the battleground, and clarity in terms and definitions is essential.
Other chapters are welcome, such as the chapter which buries four favorite straw men of Lordship proponents. The reader will also be thankful that a chapter has been devoted to defining the Gospel clearly and simply, especially if he has previously read the cumbersome and confusing presentation in MacArthur’s book.
The chapter on Christian fruit-bearing is also very helpful. While advocating that all Christians will bear fruit, Ryrie goes on to argue that a weakness of the Lordship argument is the inevitable subjectivity of “fruit inspectors” in determining what is acceptable evidence of genuine salvation. He then gives a biblical study to show that fruit is not always obvious and discernible (for example, one’s inner character, praise to God, or giving). Ryrie demonstrates that the subjectivity of the Lordship argument is one of its glaring weaknesses.
The doctrine of justification is too often neglected in the Lordship debate, but Ryrie devotes a good chapter to it. He argues that the biblical
JOTGES 2:2 (Autumn 89) p. 70
idea of imputation refutes the Lordship argument that justification makes one righteous. Again, he also raises the Lordship problem of subjective judgment if justification is determined by analyzing one’s works. Though there is a chapter on the doctrine of sa...
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