Straw Men and Salvation, Part 4 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #9)


The Bible says in Luke 2:10: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

An announcing angel and other angels appeared at night to a group of shepherds and heralded the birth of the Savior in the town of David, that is, Bethlehem. The shepherds may have been caring for lambs which were destined for sacrifice during the time of Passover. The appearance of the angel and of the radiant glory of the Lord terrified them. The Greek word for “terrified” (literally, “they feared a great fear”) stresses the intensity of this fear. The angels’ message was comforting. The shepherds were told not to be afraid. The message was that “a Savior,” Christ the Lord, was born. This was good news of great joy. Throughout Luke “joy” is often associated with salvation. This news was to be proclaimed to all the people. These were specifically the people of Israel, but perhaps Luke also hinted that the Savior would be for all mankind.

Today’s quote is from R.A. Torrey. He said: “I am ready to meet God face to face tonight and look into those eyes of infinite holiness, for all my sins are covered by the atoning blood.”

Our topic today is titled “Straw Men and Salvation (Part 4)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

The fourth straw man underscores the need to represent accurately opposing viewpoints. Quoting from someone exactly (as indicated by quotation marks around the quote) guarantees an accurate representation of what the person believes. That is what proponents of lordship salvation sometimes do when they lift from context quotes by those who hold a position contrary to their own.

It is not difficult to extract a quotation from its context and make it seem to say what you wanted it to say rather than what the author intended it to say and what in fact it does say. That kind of straw man is easily demolished, especially if you quote something that seems ridiculous out of context.

The misuse of exact quotations has always made me very wary when writing book reviews. A good book review should evaluate a book from several aspects — what is good about it, what may have been omitted, what the reviewer disagrees with. Relatively few books I have reviewed in my lifetime have been totally and completely bad. Therefore, I try to point out in what areas the book will be helpful. But what often happens is that when the second edition of the book appears, the publisher will redo the dust jacket to include excerpts from published reviews. It goes without saying that the publisher will not publicize any detrimental comments. But in quoting only positive remarks from reviews, the reviewer’s evaluation will be misrepresented and sometimes grossly so.

I reviewed a book some years ago and said that it filled “an important gap in our literature,” that it “should be studied,” and that “The publication of this book will be welcomed by evangelicals.” But I also pointed out some of the author’s basic presuppositions with which I disagreed and some of his exegesis which I thought to be wrong. What do you think the publisher quoted on the jacket to the second edition?

So be on guard. If for any reason you suspect that a quotation does not fairly represent what you think you know of someone’s teaching, then check into it. It goes without saying that to misrepresent intentionally, even if quoting exactly, is unworthy of a Christian author or publisher.

Other straw men, such as using the phrase “cheap grace” or saying that salvation has no practical consequences, will be examined in subsequent chapters. But for now, exposing the four which we have covered may help clear the air and focus our attention on the meaning of the biblical text about salvation. That’s where the truth is, and if we understand it accurately and express it with semantic clarity, both the truth and those to whom we communicate it will be well served.


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