Ryrie has delivered a work that is absolutely astounding. I recently took a class in Systematic Theology and this was our textbook. I found a new interest in Theology due in part to the depth of information that is neither dry nor overly technical. False teaching is exposed and "rock solid" doctrine explored in a way to make anyone a more excited scholar of Systematic Theology. When this book is used with the Ryrie Study Bible you will become a sound theological force to be reckoned with.
A friend of mine told me not to read this book: it was too dry. THEY WERE WRONG! I guess I would be a "layperson", but I found reading this book really set me on the road to understand sound doctrine. Ryrie's writing doesn't confuse or leave the uninformed behind, and by the time your done reading this, you have a solid footing with which you can study Scripture from. Ryrie gives enough information, enough background on the topics to allow the reader to see the history of Christian Theology, and yet have a surer understanding of what it is you believe. All Christians are called to understand sound doctrine, and this is a good place to start.
"Basic Theology" is a very sound overview of Christian theology. The book is written from an evangelical perspective that examines different camps that exist within the theological realm. Ryrie does not hesitate to expose the weaknesses of some heretical views, which is very helpful for the "lay" reader who might lack the ability to discern the truth. Overall I would definitely recommend this book for the beginning theology student as well as the seasoned professional.