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R. C. Sproul (1939-2017)

February 2018

The holiness of God, by Robert Charles Sproul, is perhaps one of the best known books written by 20th century Christians and is found on the bookshelves in many Christian homes. This pastor, who died on 14 December 2017, was also a passionate proponent of Reformation theology and supporter of the Reformed Protestant faith.

Mr Sproul, who was born on 13 February 1939, was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida, and first president of Reformation Bible College. He was also on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Mr Sproul was among those who helped rebut the highly misleading ecumenical initiative Evangelicals and Catholics Together (1994). He authored more than 100 books, and was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, a centre for college and seminary students. This ministry was named after the Ligonier Valley just outside Pittsburgh, and produced the Chicago statement on biblical inerrancy.

Seminal ministry

His radio ministry, along with countless published works, helped shape the minds of many influential Christians, including Albert Mohler. Posting a tribute to Mr Sproul on his blog, Mr Mohler wrote: ‘My own pilgrimage as a theologian cannot be traced without the indelible influence of R. C. Sproul. By God’s grace, I came to know R. C. Sproul as a teacher, colleague, encourager and friend’.

Many other commentators expressed their sorrow at the loss, as well as their gratitude to God for choosing to use Mr Sproul. John F. MacArthur commented: ‘Today my friend, co-defender of the truth and theological giant is standing in the presence of our Lord, whom he loved and served faithfully. R. C. Sproul has stood with me for decades in every major theological controversy and I will dearly miss him. There is no one like him’.

Burk Parsons said: ‘He was like a father to me. I am grateful to God for calling RC to proclaim the truth of God, the gospel of God and the grace of God in such a clear and beautiful way’.

Speaking of Mr Sproul’s teachings, Mr Mohler added: ‘When he taught about the holiness of God, a generation of evangelicals was rescued from the emaciated and desiccated theology of cultural Christianity. When he defended Reformed theology, he taught us all how to understand the gospel in terms of God’s eternal purpose to save, consistent with his sovereignty’.

Mr Sproul’s memorial service was held at Saint Andrew’s Chapel on 20 December and recordings can be heard on rcsproul.com

He is survived by his wife, Vesta; their two children, Sherrie Dorotiak and Robert Craig Sproul; eleven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.