On this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols reflects on the life and ministry of Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Remembering Dr. R.C. Sproul
It’s with a heavy heart that I welcome you back to this episode of Five Minutes In Church History. We acknowledge the passing of Dr. RC Sproul. Dr. Sproul, of course, with no stranger to Five Minutes In Church History. We even had him on here talking about his books for his “Time on a deserted island” – and he will be missed.
On this episode, we’re going to spend a little bit of time talking about his life. He was a figure in church history, and will have a legacy in church history.
I remember reading that he was “an American born theologian”. Well, I’d like to modify that a little bit and say, “He was a son of Pittsburgh”. Yes, he was an American, but he was born in Pittsburgh on February 13, 1939.
His dad, also RC Sproul, was the proprietor of RC Sproul and Sons Accounting. Its offices were right in downtown Pittsburgh. On Christmas Eve of 1942, Dr. Sproul – just a young kid at the time – his father landed in Casablanca and Morocco to serve in World War II.
When you talked to RC about his early childhood, he will tell you that it was about the war. It was the time, these early years of the 1940s, that were dominated by World War II. In fact, he remembers typing his very first letters – they were X’s & O’s. He was sitting on his mother‘s lap as she was typing letters to her husband, and he would hop up on her lap and at the bottom of that letter type his lines of X’s & O’s – hugs and kisses for his dad.
He would spend much time behind a typewriter for the rest of his life.
You wouldn’t have known it if you had popped in on RC has a high school kid. You would have thought he was all about sports. He said he loved hockey the best. But, he was probably the most proficient at baseball. He was good enough at sports to get a scholarship to college – an athletic scholarship.
He went to Westminster College. He went unconverted. But, in his freshman year, he was led to Christ by the captain of the football team.
And then, it was in college that he met a professor, Dr. Thomas Gregory, who had a profound impact on his life. It was Dr. Thomas Gregory who introduced RC Sproul to Augustine, to the great reformers, and to this wonderful stream of the classical reformed tradition.
It was also in college that RC Sproul not only had his first conversion, but as he would say his second conversion.
One night, as he made his way to the chapel – almost drawn there, he said – he found himself going through the large oaken doors under the Gothic arch. And there, he had his conversion to the holiness of God.
I remember him saying one time that when he was first a Christian, he devoured the Old Testament. And as he devoured it and read it, he realize very quickly that this God of the Old Testament is God who plays for keeps.
Well, before he graduated from college, he married his childhood sweetheart, the love of his life, Vesta.
His first book was entitled The Symbol. He wrote it in 1973, and I love the dedication to that book. He writes in there: “To Vesta – To the Romans,a pagan goddess. To me, a Godly wife.” It’s hard to Think of RC without thinking of Vesta.
Well, after The Symbol, RC went on to write many books: The Holiness of God, of course, stands out; Chosen by God, his book that he co-authored with his mentor from seminary John’s Gerstner; the book Classical Apologetics…
These are all part of Dr. Sproul’s legacy. Of course, Ligonier Ministries is a part of his legacy, founded there in the hills of western Pennsylvania 1971 at the Ligonier Valley Study Center and then it moved to Orlando.
He was involved in the Chicago Statement.
He took a courageous stand against Evangelicals and Catholics together. Because, as he read it, he said the Gospel is at stake here.
And, in 2011, Dr. Sproul founded Reformation Bible College.
But as you pull on the strands of his life, you keep coming back to that doctine that he came to grips with as a college student there at Westminster College: The Doctrine of God.
As RC once put it: God is holy and we are not; and in between stands the God/man, Jesus Christ and his perfect work of obedience in his atoning death.
That was the message in the legacy of RC sprawl.
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