Pastor's Blog

Thank you, Dr. Ryrie Posted 2.17.2016

It was a sad week for me.  I spent one day in silence in my office.  Twitter isn’t the most comforting vehicle for conveying heartbreaking news.  On Tuesday, the Church lost a stalwart of the faith.  And I lost a friend.  Dr. Charles Ryrie passed away and heaven gained an eminent theologian. Dr. Ryrie was instrumental in some pivotal moments of my life.  He befriended me and a couple of friends as first year seminary students.  He made going back to the heat of Dallas summers something to anticipate.  He presided over my ordination, and almost my wedding (but life interrupted).


Dr. Ryrie retired just before my forth year at seminary.  Oh, he was teaching a few classes, but the last chance to take Senior Theology from him was to take it a year early. I asked and was granted the honor of sitting in that last class of what was affectionately called, “Ryrie Roulette.”  He would give us the topic of the next class and then you had to prepare to answer any of his questions as we discussed theology.  If you weren’t ready, it could be humiliating.  But it was always enlightening and energetic and challenging.  No one complained. I never did.


As I got to know Dr. Ryrie better, I was invited for Thanksgiving dinner.  That cost me a gamma globulin shot when two days later he was diagnosed with some form of Hepatitis.  The meal was well worth the sore bottom.  I was his grader for a while (another chance to learn what he considered important material in the classes he taught).  If I remember correctly, I even graded exams in that Senior Theology class – though of course, not my own.


This week I’ve been able to think about some of the lessons I learned from this man of God.  Things I’ve never forgotten, most of which were probably outside of the classroom setting, though not all.  He had a heart to teach, and said he learned to be concise by taking time to teach children.  And boy could he take deep theological truth and express is in a way that a child could understand….or a thick-headed seminary student. You had to pronounce words correctly, “pitcher” vs. “picture.”  Enunciation was important to him.  And you’d better spell “millennium” correctly.  I just did, by the way.


He always asked about the ministry and travels, and came to speak here at Peninsula once.  Travel became a burden later in life, and as he approached 90, I didn’t want to put him through the rigors of another trip to Los Angeles.


I learned to love the Word because of Dr. Ryrie.  The text is important.  He would always handle the Scriptures with great skill and love.  On the wall is my office is gift he gave to me when I finished seminary.  It is a leaf out of an original King James Bible (Matthew 14). I cherish it now more than ever.


I weep with hope. By God’s grace, I was touched by a spiritual giant.  I will never be the same.  My ministry has never been the same.  Thank you, Dr. Ryrie.


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