“A giant of the faith. A theologian of God’s church. A man of wit, wisdom, and conviction.”
“It is hard to overestimate his influence on gospel-resurgent evangelicalism.”
“Through his teaching ministry, many of us learned that God is bigger than we knew, our sin is more deeply rooted than we imagined, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is overwhelming.”
When Dr. R. C. Sproul passed away on December 14, 2017, the world lost a dedicated Reformed theologian, pastor, and teacher. Tributes such as the ones above (from Owen Strachan, Russell Moore, and Ligonier Ministries, respectively) have flooded the media, reflecting only a small portion of his wide influence.
As a freshman in college, Robert Charles Sproul started his over-sixty-year journey of wholly serving the Lord. He held degrees from Westminster College (he attended on a football scholarship!), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam, aside from the handful of honorary degrees he received. 1960 saw his wedding to Vesta, whom he met in first grade. In 1971, he founded the Ligonier Valley Study Center “as a place where Christians could immerse themselves in guided Biblical, theological, and philosophical study,” according to RCSproul.com. Relocated to Orlando, Florida in 1984, it was renamed Ligonier Ministries and continues its work today.
Christianity Today described Dr. Sproul’s influence, saying: “Sproul brought theological education to the masses through his radio show Renewing Your Mind, his ministry’s Tabletalk magazine, over 300 lecture series, ninety books, and dozens of articles.” At Westminster College, Dr. Sproul wrote his college senior philosophy thesis on “The Existential Implications of Moby Dick.” Now, titles among the books he authored include The Holiness of God, Pleasing God, Chosen by God, Knowing Scripture, What is Reformed Theology?, Defending Your Faith, The Consequences of Ideas, and Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Leading a team of scholars and churchmen, Dr. Sproul played a key role in compiling “what would come to be one of the most significant documents of the 20th century church, The Chicago Statement on Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” says RCSproul.com.
The Washington Post wrote of him, “Whether he was writing for children or speaking to adults, Sproul brought theology — which to many seemed abstract and hard to comprehend — to the common person. Sproul taught Christians to follow God not only with their hearts and souls, but also with their minds.”
Dr. Sproul was “hospitalized with severe respiratory problems that were complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and the flu,” says USA Today. His passing on December 14, 2017 saddened the Reformed community; how much more has it directly impacted Saint Andrew’s Chapel, the church he co-pastored!
Mark Lyford, a longtime TPS student, has ‘known’ Dr. Sproul since about 2009, when he first started attending his church, but got to know his pastor more in 2011 when playing in the ensemble. His favorite memories of Dr. Sproul include: “things that made him real, beyond the famous author the world knew. Finger guns to kids, banging a drum on the chancel just ‘cause it was a drum, teasing our violinists from the pulpit.”
How will the church recover?
“The church has had a plan for his passing, and has now put it into action. We have a new lead pastor, and plan to proceed as before. Recovery is mostly spiritual, as we finish mourning his loss and instead focus on the mission of God again,” Mark shares.
In the holiday season, the sorrow is doubly great, yet there’s joy as well.
“Here’s to your best Christmas ever, Pastor Sproul. I know you would be rejoicing in the season here: another Christmas, another year,” Mark wrote in a tribute to Dr. Sproul. “It’s hard to see the season without the dark tinge of loss—to see that it is your best Christmas, a joy like you wrote about in your music. I guess I don’t know what else to say. Thank you.
“We’ll remember your legacy forever.”
His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” -Matthew 25:21.
R. C. Sproul, theologian and religious broadcaster, dies at 78. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/12/15/r-c-sproul-theologian-and-religious-broadcaster-dies-78/955229001/
Died: R. C. Sproul, Reformed Theologian who founded Ligonier Ministries. http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/december/died-r-c-sproul-reformed-theologian-ligonier-ministries-pca.html
Theologian R. C. Sproul, who influenced evangelical beliefs about the Bible, dies at 78. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/12/15/theologian-r-c-sproul-who-influenced-evangelical-beliefs-about-the-bible-dies-at-78/?utm_term=.65006ef1b3f5
Remembering R. C. https://rcsproul.com/remembering-rc/obituary/
Dr. Sproul’s Legacy. https://rcsproul.com/legacy/
Dr. R. C. Sproul, Called Home to the Lord. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/rc-sproul-called-home-lord/
Legacy // Goodbye. https://lyrestoliars.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/j15-legacy-goodbye/
Matthew 25:21. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/25/21/s_954021