Review: The Basis of Premillennial Faith

The Basis of Premillennial Faith
Charles Ryrie

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For staunch defenders of premillennialism, there are few names as well-known as Charles Ryrie; this book provides reason enough for that stature and recognition. In The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, Dr. Ryrie brings a wide swath of argument and evidence to bear on the question of the millennial reign of Christ.
He begins with a survey of the beliefs of the Church through the ages, moving from the ancient period, through medieval times, the Reformation, and ending in modern times. Here Dr. Ryrie considers various well known writers of each era, and what their beliefs about the millennial reign of Christ were by examining their writings. While the examination is not exhaustive in each case, the author builds a strong case that premillennialism, by various names, has been a vital part of the Christian Church since the beginning of the Church.
His next section is an examination of the hermeneutical basis for reading the Scriptures that discuss a thousand year reign of Christ on the Earth in a literal way. Here he provides an overview of the way in which prophecy is read by the Premillennialists verses how it is read by the Amillennialist.

Prophecy is not a special case in that it demands special hermeneutics if such a system contradicts the basic principle of literal interpretation. There may be special outworkings of that principle but the principle must be consistent. –page 36

He next turns to the various covenants, starting with the Abrahamic, and moving through the Davidic, and finally into the New Covenant. For each of these, he shows how the covenant in question is related to Israel, rather than the Church, and how the Covenant is permanent, rather than temporary. There is one point on which I must disagree with Dr. Ryrie in this section: the complete separation of the Kingdom of God in Luke from the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew. The case for premillennialism based on this separation isn’t strong to begin with, however, so his argument wouldn’t be weakened by overthrowing this particular line of reasoning.

His discussion of the New Covenant is particularly interesting; the author puts forward the theory that there are actually two New Covenants, one with Israel, and one with the Church. The more traditional views have always left something to be desired in this area, but I’m not certain this is a solid answer, either.

Following this discussion of the Covenants, Dr. Ryrie turns to a discussion of the formation and government of the Church. It’s surprising how much material he finds in this area to support the premillennial reign of Christ. Finally, he considers the subject of eschatology, or last things; this is the shortest section of the book, and the one area where a reader will be able to find a good deal of material in other sources.

A very well put together and argued case.

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