The theology of John Charles Ryle
This thesis is a study of the theological views of a leading Victorian evangelical Anglican, Bishop John Charles Ryle. The main sources for the study are the bishop's extensive writings, which run to some seven thousand pages. Ryle's writings, for the most part, are occasional, pastoral and evangelistic, but they are suffused with theological concern, to the extent that a "systematic theology" can almost be compiled from them. Because of this, the method adopted in this work is to study Ryle's writings according to the traditional theological "loci," and to analyse his understanding of each of them. The study also seeks to make the analysis in the light of the historical theological and ecclesiastical background to his writings, particularly as Ryle frequently interacted with the various disparate elements that comprised the Victorian religious scene. The most extensive studies in this thesis relate to Ryle's exposition of the distinctive emphases of Evangelicalism, viz. the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, human depravity, the Atonement, and the saving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Other important areas are the sacraments, in which Ryle engages in a strong polemic against the Anglo-Catholics of his day, and the doctrine of the Church. The thesis emphasises some characteristics of Ryle's theology, in particular its biblical basis, traditional orthodoxy, evangelicalism and moderate Calvinism. An interesting feature of Ryle's work is his polemic, which is directed against the newly emerging liberals, and the increasingly influential Anglo-Catholics. We also take note of Ryle's style of presentation, including his simplicity of expression, strong pastoral application, and his didactic method of inculcation by repetition. The thesis concludes with a resume of his work, a description of its character, together with a constructive critique and evaluation, and an indication of Ryle's importance for our own day.
- Theology