[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Charles C. Ryrie and Zane Hodges

by Antonio da Rosa

Don Reiher, speaking in regards to the content of saving faith, has done a good job of showing that the Grace Evangelical Society, in general, and Zane Hodges, in particular, has "not changed[d] [their] theology to the degree [that their] accusers indicate"[1] in the current issue of the Grace Evangelical Society's Journal. In presenting the arguments in favor of his position, Don states this about a book by Zane Hodges, "The Hungry Inherit", which was first published in 1972:

[It is] clear in this book that the object of saving faith is Jesus' promise of everlasting life, not of Jesus' deity, death, and resurrection... Hodges was clearly saying in 1972 that the object of saving faith is the living water, the promise of life, not His person and work.[2]


It can be easily substantiated from a cursory read of the whole book that Hodges considered the encounter of Jesus with the woman of Sychar in John 4 to be normative evangelistic expression from the pen of the Apostle John for the Church age. Don Reiher quotes the following from the 1972 version of "The Hungry Inherit" after this introduction, "Note these words, intended to lead unbelievers today to faith in Christ"[3]:

Ignorant she had come, enlightened she had left. Empty she had arrived, full she had departed. The gift of God? She knew it now - eternal life inexhaustibly welling up within the heart! "Who is it that saith to thee, 'Give me to drink'? She knew Him now - the Christ, the Savior of the World![4]


In 1997, Zane Hodges put out a third edition of this same book, printed this time by his own publishing company, Redencion Viva. Owning all three versions of the book, (the two others by Moody,1972, and Multinomah Press, 1980) and comparing them has led me to believe that there is no disparity of thought in regards to the core conviction of Zane Hodges - eternal life is the irrevocable present possession of the one who simply believes in Jesus through His promise to guarantee this life to the believer. As a matter of fact, this foundational belief is strengthened further with each new version.

In the 1997, Redencion Viva edition, again commenting on the woman at the well of Sychar, Zane states:

The writer of the story we are looking at was the Apostle John. The book in which he placed the story had this simple purpose: "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn.20:31). Now the woman knew the two things Jesus had said she needed to know. First, she finally knew "the gift of God."... it was nothing less than eternal life, God's marvelous gift to thirsty souls. But she also now knew "who it was who said to her, 'Give Me a drink.'" As He had just declared, He was the Messiah - the Christ... she believed what He said [John 4:28, 29]... [a]nd the moment she did she received the gift of eternal life. The truth of His person carried that water with it, and everyone who believed that truth possessed "life in His name." As John the Apostle was later to write: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God' (1 Jn 5:1). The woman believed that now. So she now had God's living water!... Jesus had meant that once this woman knew what God wanted to give her and knew who He himself was, she would already have the gift of living water.[5]


It can't be stated forcefully enough that Zane did not subscribe to the Free Grace Alliance's pre-qualification and theological legalism, which comes in the form of checklist evangelism, in these versions of his book.

I have read a few of Charles Ryrie's books: Basic Theology, So Great Salvation, and Balancing the Christian Life, as well as essays he has written in other works. They have been tremendously helpful in providing a solid framework by which I could organize my own systematic theology, dispensationalism, and Free Grace Theology. Charles has laid groundwork in these areas that are still of great benefit today. In the latest version of Zane Hodges' book "The Hungry Inherit," Charles Ryrie gives the foreword. Here are some points of interest:

The burden of this work is to distinguish clearly salvation and discipleship. No distinction is more vital to theology, more basic to a correct understanding of the New Testament, or more relevant to every believer's life and witness. The distinction is introduced through two of our Lord's earliest conversations [the woman at the well and the interview with Nicodemus]... When one finishes this book, there can be no mistaking the fact that the free gift of the water of life and the call to discipleship are clearly distinguished in the New Testament...

Mr. Hodges is completely qualified in the technical aspects of this work...

As one who is known to share the convictions expressed in this work, I am very grateful to God for its publication. May it be widely read and used of the Lord to clarify and exalt His matchless grace.[6]


The Hungry Inherit clearly does not give any impression that anything other or greater than the simple faith expressed by the woman at the well is necessary in this post-cross era for the appropriation of eternal life. Was Dr. Ryrie beguiled or disengaged from critical observation at the time he gave his glowing and unqualified endorsement? I don't know. Nor have I been privy to any conversations concerning the matter at hand with him either in public or private.

Nevertheless, it is my opinion, which is based upon a educated hunch, that he would be very cautious in the way that he approached this subject, and would reserve judgement until he heard first-hand accounts and arguments from both sides and then compare them to scripture.

Who knows. In light of his high regard for Zane's qualifications and work, he may end up sharing the sentiments of Dr. Earl Radmacher, who stated in one of his books:

...I am indebted to the exegetical expertise and hermeneutical care of Zane Hodges, whose humility before the Word of God and untiring diligence continues to be a model for me of "a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). There have been times when I questioned his conclusions, but further investigation usually demonstrated his superior wisdom.[7]


I believe that the position of Zane Hodges and the GES has the full support of and fidelity to the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, I am persuaded that Charles would agree to Earl's description of Zane Hodges, and if perchance he would do the "investigation" that it would demonstrate to him Zane's "exegetical expertise," "hermeneutical care," "humility," "untiring diligence," and "wisdom".

Or who knows, maybe he already subscribes to Zane's position. He did endorse it by way of his foreword...

Blessings and peace to you all

[1] Reiher, Donald, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring, 2010, pg 48
[2] Ibid., pgs 38-39
[3] Ibid., pg 39
[4] Hodges, Zane, The Hungry Inherit, First Edition, Moody Press, 1972, pg 18 (Don states it is from pg 20; I have the hardcover, I don't know if there was a softcover, and this might account for the discrepancy)
[5] Hodges, Zane, The Hungry Inherit, Third Edition, Redencion Viva, 1998, pg 20
[6] Ryrie, Charles, Forward to The Hungry Inherit, 1972, pgs 7-8
[7] Radmacher, Earl, Salvation, Word Publishing, 2000, pgs IX-X

15 Comments:

  • I thought the Reiher article is excellent. It really proves that the dramatic shift in GES theology just never happened.

    Blessings :)

    By Blogger J Sawyer, at Friday, November 12, 2010 8:47:00 PM  

  • Thank you Antonio for putting together so well your article showing (using Don Reiher's wonderful paper) that GES and Zane Hodges has not changed their theology to the degree that their accusers indicate. This was laid out very well, and it is very helpful. Thank you, and thank Don.

    In Jesus' love,
    Diane

    By Blogger Diane, at Sunday, November 14, 2010 9:36:00 AM  

  • Antonio,
    I think we met Bob and Zane in 1997
    and I agree with you and Don that
    they have not changed their theology. Great article.

    By Blogger Peggie, at Sunday, November 14, 2010 2:03:00 PM  

  • I appreciate the kind comments. I wish I would have gotten the chance to go over some of those things (such as him using the word "Gospel") in my paper with Zane before he died. I think the clarifications in my paper would have been better coming from him, rather than me. A lot of people think I am reading things into Zane that are not there.

    Some of them will agree that there was no dramatic shift, but that Zane and Bob and others never adequately explained their view of the object of faith being Christ alone (and not Christ plus a few other things). I don't see how they got that from Zane and Bob, but apparently they did.

    If a person (i.e. Stegall) thinks that what we are teaching is heresy, then I am not sure folks in his particular camp can sincerely reconcile with us. They are insisting upon a much more sophisticated understanding of Christ than I think Zane or Bob (or the Gospel of John) ever taught. I am glad I did not talk to people like Stegall when I was struggling with how to be sure I was going to heaven. I would have remained confused because I would not know if I believed enough about Jesus.

    BTW, another thing that needs to be proven is that God did not change the Gospel. In other words, is the saving message we preach different from the one Jesus preached? A lot of these FGA folks feel that progress of revelation means that the actual OBJECT of saving faith that we need to preach to people is different now because the CONTENT was added to when Jesus died and rose. They talk of a Post-Cross Gospel, meaning more than content. They think the OBJECT changed. Obviously they are blending elements of the OBJECT with the CONTENT. I wish Zane would have commented more about the relationship between content and object. He made a few comments, mostly in Q&A sessions, but nothing substantial.

    BTW, I gave Fred Chay a copy of my paper. Fred and Bob Wilkin are presenting papers at ETS in Georgia this week (17th-19th). The theme is Justification by Faith. Some of those folks at ETS are really confused! Fred is reading one paper, and Bob is reading two. Pray that they would communicate the Free Grace message clearly. Also pray that they will be able to reconcile some differences between FGA and GES.

    My 2 cents.
    - Don Reiher

    By Blogger dreiher2, at Monday, November 15, 2010 10:50:00 PM  

  • Don, I am so thankful for your paper. You didn't convince me of something that I didn't know as far as the content that had to be believed. You just showed that Zane and Bob never changed the content.... only refined it, or clarified it. When Zane's teaching was made clear to me a number of years ago, I loved it because it so wonderfully put in words what I had believed when I was a teenager and first "got it" many years ago~!!!" I simply believed Jesus' promise to give me everlasting life. For me that meant that I was eternally saved and would be with Him forever. I never logically thought it through like Zane explained it, but once he did I knew he was right. Thank God for Zane Hodges and GES.

    Like you, people are confused everywhere in churches today. It is so sad. But when it's made clear that Jesus forever saves the one who simply believes in Him.... FREEDOM comes to the heart of the saved person. Confusion on that subject is gone, and grace takes over.

    Just ask one of our blogging friends, Gary, about that. He's a wonderful testimony to that very truth.

    I'll be praying for Bob and Fred this week. How I thank God for you~!!

    In Jesus' love,
    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Tuesday, November 16, 2010 4:42:00 PM  

  • Just some thoughts:)

    A testament could not be put in place without the death of the testator, which brought a responsibility (Hebrews 9:16,17).


    Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
    For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:19,20).

    Paul talked about being a partaker of the gospel, which he spoke of as a stewardship (1 Cor 9:16,17,23).

    The Lords supper proclaimed His death until He comes proving that the New Covenant was in force (1 Cor 11:26; Heb 9:17).

    Whereas the living water was offered as a gift that could be taken feely. The object has not changed being "the Christ." The content is the same, it is what Jesus told the woman at the well. If she knew those two things the living water would spring up into everlasting life 1) What the gift was (eternal life), and who Jesus was (the Christ). John 4:10,13-14,25-26; Rev 22:17.

    alvin:)

    By Blogger Alvin, at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 9:28:00 AM  

  • Some more thoughts:

    This morning on my trikke ride I came upon a couple women looking at a tree that had fallen, and it was a BIG tree which covered overhead part of the path, and had tore up a big white fence. But all I was focused on was the fence, and I was wondering how it got tore up. It wasn't until I was on my way back that I saw the reason the fence was busted up, it was from the root of the BIG tree that had fallen. How in the world could I have missed seeing that? It was right in front of me~!
    We can get so focused on one thing that we don't see the reason. Most people in the Christian world are focused on the cross, but are yet to see "the Christ." Unless one connects the reason for Jesus dying with the Christ the One who gives everlasting life to all who simply believe they are still lost. Zane Hodges knew that, so that is why he tried to refocus the Christian world instead on Jesus and His promise of life because he knew if that was all you saw you were born of God~!

    note: If one is looking at the cross and sees the Christ, meaning He has guaranteed their eternal destiny by simple faith then they are born of God even if they don't use those exact terms "everlasting life."

    alvin:)

    By Blogger Alvin, at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 12:33:00 PM  

  • Great illustration, Alvin~!!!

    That's what happened to me many years ago. I believed so much truth written in the Bible. I believed Jesus died for my sins and rose from the grave, but it never dawned on me what that meant UNTIL the light went on in my mind. Of course, now I know that was the Holy Spirit shining His light on Christ for me to see. I looked and for the first time I understood WHY He died. It was to give me everlasting life the moment I believed in Him. Of course at that VERY MOMENT I found myself believing.

    I wasn't focused on the object of my faith until that moment. Like you said... Christ and His message of giving eternal life freely to the one who believes in Him go hand in hand together. Just like Jesus told the Woman at the well...

    "If you knew the
    GIFT*
    of God AND
    WHO*
    it is who says to you...."
    .

    There it is~!!! Focus there~!!!

    ***GIFT and GIVER****

    Believe and you HAVE eternal life.

    To know the Gift and the Giver is to...
    "BELIEVE IN THE CHRIST~!!!"*

    I wonder why so many of our free-grace friends are having a problem with that??? It's puzzling to me.

    Oh, how I'm driven to share this wonderful news~!!!
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 1:02:00 PM  

  • Amen Diane~!!!! The gift and the Giver is the content of the living water, drank (believed) springs up into everlasting life:)

    By Blogger Alvin, at Wednesday, November 17, 2010 2:17:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio, more thoughts:)

    First of all I want to say is that "Knowing God" is always at the core of the Gospel, and we know that to know God is eternal life (John 17:3).


    I believe a KEY to understanding "The Gospel of The Kingdom" that Jesus was preaching to "Israel" telling them that it was at hand was "The Acceptable Year of The Lord~!"

    Israel was God's servant (Lev 25:42,54-55), and the Year of Jubilee had come to set the captives free (Luke 4:18,19). They had come into bondage not only to Rome but to sin (Luke 1:67-79). So the salvation that was being proclaimed came by way of "forgiveness of sins," (Luke 1:77). That is why they were being called to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 10:5-7; 15:24). It was said that the "whole land" was going out to John the baptist to be baptised, (Mark 1:4,5,15) but they were still rejecting their King. Jesus was the rightful heir to Davids throne, and would have set up His Kingdom if they would have known "their time" (Luke 19:41,42,44). That would have meant they would not only have been in harmony with their God through the forgiveness of sins, but would have believed on their anointed King who was the Christ for eternal life. Jesus would have been glorified, and poured out His Spirit upon His servants as a nation of Priests to the world declaring peace to all men. A throne of righteousness would have been established as will be in the Millennial Kingdom where the law would have been written in their hearts and minds establishing the new covenant (Jer 31:31-36). Their sins would have been forgiven, and no one would say "know the Lord" because they would have all known Him. The nations would have come up to Jerusalem, and living water would have flowed freely. But, they did not receive their King so His kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom where righteousness reigns in the One New Man. This is a new creation in Christ where the world has been reconciled through Israel's disobedience for the purpose of making them jealous that some may be saved (Rom 11:11-36). Oh the mercy of God, Israel is an enemy for the gospels sake that mercy has come to the Gentiles through their disobedience.
    The salvation that Paul was offering was "Christ crucified" where there was neither Jew or Gentile but One new man "in Christ." This salvation was more than knowing God which was to have everlasting life but was a salvation that was the power of God through resurrection passing out of the sphere of the law to live unto God in the One New Man.
    This is the gospel Paul preached which was the salvation of God (Acts 28:23,24,28,31). It was entered into by faith alone the moment a person believed that Jesus was the Christ. This salvation was only realized after Jesus death and resurrection by the promise of the Spirit being given to the Seed of Abraham (Gal 1:6,7; 2:16; 3:8,14-29). It was only then that the Gentiles could be reconciled in One body through the cross (Rom 11:15; 2 Cor 5:19). Justification by faith alone was the foundation of this salvation (Gal 2:16) which was first promised to Abraham but the blessings (New Covenant partakers, Holy Spirit) were not granted to the Gentiles until after reconciliation of the world to God had been completed. Now the Gentiles have become partakers with the Jews of the promises that are all "in Christ." By believing in Christ (John 20:31) is how they receive the reconciliation, when they do they are a child of Abraham.

    By Blogger Alvin, at Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:32:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio, some new thought's on the gospel.

    Hi Antonio, more thoughts:)

    First of all I want to say is that "Knowing God" is always at the core of the Gospel, and we know that to know God is eternal life (John 17:3).


    I believe a KEY to understanding "The Gospel of The Kingdom" that Jesus was preaching to "Israel" telling them that it was at hand was "The Acceptable Year of The Lord~!"

    Israel was God's servant (Lev 25:42,54-55), and the Year of Jubilee had come to set the captives free (Luke 4:18,19). They had come into bondage not only to Rome but to sin (Luke 1:67-79). So the salvation that was being proclaimed came by way of "forgiveness of sins," (Luke 1:77). That is why they were being called to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 10:5-7; 15:24). It was said that the "whole land" was going out to John the baptist to be baptised, (Mark 1:4,5,15) but they were still rejecting their King. Jesus was the rightful heir to Davids throne, and would have set up His Kingdom if they would have known "their time" (Luke 19:41,42,44). That would have meant they would not only have been in harmony with their God through the forgiveness of sins, but would have believed on their anointed King who was the Christ for eternal life. Jesus would have been glorified, and poured out His Spirit upon His servants as a nation of Priests to the world declaring peace to all men. A throne of righteousness would have been established as will be in the Millennial Kingdom where the law would have been written in their hearts and minds establishing the new covenant (Jer 31:31-36). Their sins would have been forgiven, and no one would say "know the Lord" because they would have all known Him. The nations would have come up to Jerusalem, and living water would have flowed freely. But, they did not receive their King so His kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom where righteousness reigns in the One New Man. This is a new creation in Christ where the world has been reconciled through Israel's disobedience for the purpose of making them jealous that some may be saved (Rom 11:11-36). Oh the mercy of God, Israel is an enemy for the gospels sake that mercy has come to the Gentiles through their disobedience.
    The salvation that Paul was offering was "Christ crucified" where there was neither Jew or Gentile but One new man "in Christ." This salvation was more than knowing God which was to have everlasting life but was a salvation that was the power of God through resurrection passing out of the sphere of the law to live unto God in the One New Man.
    This is the gospel Paul preached which was the salvation of God (Acts 28:23,24,28,31). It was entered into by faith alone the moment a person believed that Jesus was the Christ. This salvation was only realized after Jesus death and resurrection by the promise of the Spirit being given to the Seed of Abraham (Gal 1:6,7; 2:16; 3:8,14-29). It was only then that the Gentiles could be reconciled in One body through the cross (Rom 11:15; 2 Cor 5:19). Justification by faith alone was the foundation of this salvation (Gal 2:16) which was first promised to Abraham but the blessings (New Covenant partakers, Holy Spirit) were not granted to the Gentiles until after reconciliation of the world to God had been completed. Now the Gentiles have become partakers with the Jews of the promises that are all "in Christ." By believing in Christ (John 20:31) is how they receive the reconciliation, when they do they are a child of Abraham.

    alvin:)

    By Blogger Alvin, at Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:50:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio
    You said;
    "The Hungry Inherit clearly does not give any impression that anything other or greater than the simple faith expressed by the woman at the well is necessary in the post cross-era for the APPROPRIATION of eternal life."

    It seems to me that you are saying we have to do something to get eternal life.
    But the Bible said that eternal life is a FREE gift from the Lord.
    If the Lord has given us that free gift then we have it and we don't need to appropriate it.
    If we are not in possession of eternal life, then we simply have not received it and it matters not how much faith we have, since it is a FREE gift.
    If eternal life is appropriated by faith then it is not a free gift and it would be on the condition that we do something like directing our faith to Jesus etc. and that would be a conditional gift or more likely a deal between two people.

    I understand that we all like to think that we had to play a part in our salvation and eternal life.
    It is natural to think that Jesus could not save us unless we are willing and cooperate with Him, but that is not spiritual.
    Regards
    Paul

    By Blogger Paul G, at Tuesday, December 07, 2010 10:57:00 PM  

  • hello,
    i would like to know your opinion on different questions , is it possible?
    My e-mail is erwanlebihan@yahoo.fr
    god bless you

    By Blogger erwan, at Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:46:00 AM  

  • Ladies, Gents, Fellow Believers,

    I believe the rather simple declaration in this quote sums up the content of this blog; "The legitimate offer of a free gift comes with no other requirement but to simply receive it."

    I took that as a direct quote on a previous blog entry to which all adherents here heartily agreed.

    Matthew 7:21-29 has a lot of action words that would seem to refute this notion of simply receiving. For instance in vs 21 we get the sense that not everyone will enter into the kingdom. Why? They prophesied. They expelled demons, they performed many powerful works, these inquiring people did, but alas, some would be left behind. And what was Jesus' response about who would enter? He said, "the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will."

    You would agree that "doing the will" implies something more than simply receiving? Although you might argue that receiving is in effect doing something, albeit passively. But the phrase "doing the will of my Father" is an altogether different thing. At a minimum it would require finding out what that is and then of course, actually doing it. It would seem that simply receiving is not quite the hurdle that is anticipated by those words.

    Or you might be suggesting that Jesus in one passage simply contradicts himself in another? John vs Matthew, which one do we hang our hat on? I know you wouldn't suggest that, but you're leaving the impression that you have.

    It seems that James has been readily dismissed here, being somewhat of a wet blanket on this notion of "free", but as much as it pains me to suggest it...no wait, the bible seems to state emphatically at 2 Tim 3:16 "all scripture is God-breathed" emphasis "All", so as much as I would like to believe that James might be dealing in hypotheticals, I fear that our God would prefer that we adopt an interpretation that provides consistency not ambiguity or outright contradiction. Which in my view means that "simply receiving" is only part of what is required. But Matthew is not so easily marginalized. I would point out that the scripture in Matthew is Jesus speaking, so if that's not God-Breathed I simply don't know what is.

    So please help this poor truth seeker reconcile these two seemingly opposing concepts.

    By Blogger Chris, at Wednesday, May 04, 2011 10:54:00 PM  

  • Chris,
    You said:
    Matthew 7:21-29 has a lot of action words that would seem to refute this notion of simply receiving. For instance in vs 21 we get the sense that not everyone will enter into the kingdom. Why? They prophesied. They expelled demons, they performed many powerful works, these inquiring people did, but alas, some would be left behind. And what was Jesus' response about who would enter? He said, "the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will."

    John 6:39-40 tells you what the will of the Father is:

    39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    By Blogger Peggie, at Monday, July 11, 2011 10:39:00 AM  

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