Jump to content

R. C. Sproul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

R. C. Sproul
Sproul in 2006
Robert Charles Sproul

(1939-02-13)February 13, 1939
DiedDecember 14, 2017(2017-12-14) (aged 78)
Altamonte Springs, Florida, U.S.[2]
  • Professor
  • author
  • pastor
Vesta Sproul
(m. 1960)
Children2, including R. C. Sproul Jr.
Theological work
Tradition or movementReformed (Presbyterianism)
Main interests

Robert Charles Sproul (/sprl/ SPROHL; February 13, 1939 – December 14, 2017) was an American Reformed theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries (named for the Ligonier Valley just outside Pittsburgh, where the ministry started as a study center for college and seminary students) and could be heard daily on the Renewing Your Mind radio broadcast in the United States and internationally. Under Sproul's direction, Ligonier Ministries produced the Ligonier Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which would eventually grow into the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Along with Norman Geisler, Sproul was one of the chief architects of the statement.[4][5] Sproul has been described as "the greatest and most influential proponent of the recovery of Reformed theology in the last century."[6][7][8]

Education and personal life[edit]

Sproul was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the second child of Robert Cecil Sproul, an accountant and a veteran of World War II and his wife, Mayre Ann Sproul (née Yardis).[9][10] Sproul was an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates as a youth, and at the age of 15, he had to drop out from high school athletics in order to support his family.[10] He obtained degrees from Westminster College, Pennsylvania (BA, 1961), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MDiv, 1964), the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Drs., 1969), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (PhD, 2001). He taught at numerous colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and in Jackson, Mississippi, and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale.[11]

One of Sproul's mentors was John Gerstner, a professor of his at Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. The two of them, along with another of Gerstner's students, Arthur Lindsley, co-authored the book Classical Apologetics in 1984. Sproul's ministry, Ligonier Ministries, made recordings of Gerstner teaching various courses on theology and the Bible.

He married Vesta Voorhis in 1960 and had two children, Sherrie Dorotiak and Robert Craig Sproul.[9]

Sproul was a passenger on the Amtrak train that derailed in the 1993 Big Bayou Canot train wreck, and sometimes gave firsthand accounts of the story.[12]


Working alongside figures such as Bill Bright and Jim Boice, Sproul served as president of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) from 1977 till 1979.[13]

Ligonier Ministries hosts several theological conferences each year, including the main conference in Orlando, FL, at which Sproul was one of the primary speakers.[14] Sproul served as co-pastor at Saint Andrew's Chapel, a congregation in Sanford, Florida.[11][15] He was ordained as an elder in the United Presbyterian Church in the USA in 1965, but left that denomination around 1975 and joined the Presbyterian Church in America. He was also a Council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Being a staunch critic of the Catholic Church and Catholic theology, Sproul denounced the 1994 ecumenical document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.[16]

Sproul was an advocate of Calvinism in his many print, audio, and video publications, and advocated the Thomistic (classical) approaches to Christian apologetics, less common among Reformed apologists, most of whom prefer presuppositionalism.[citation needed] A dominant theme in his Renewing Your Mind lessons is the holiness and sovereignty of God. Sproul taught that headcovering should be practiced in churches as the ordinance is "rooted and grounded in creation".[17][18]

Sproul was a critic of postmodern philosophy. Having examined the effects of relativism on Western society, Sproul considered the 21st century to be "the most narcissistic generation in the history of the human race."[19]

In 2003, a Festschrift was published in his honor. After Darkness, Light: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul (ISBN 0875527043) included contributions from Robert Godfrey, Sinclair Ferguson, O. Palmer Robertson, Michael Horton, Douglas Wilson, John F. MacArthur, and Jay E. Adams.

Health and death[edit]

On April 18, 2015, Sproul suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital.[20] Five days later, on April 23, Sproul went home from the hospital, suffering no ill effects. He was, however, diagnosed with a diabetic condition "that [would] be addressed through diet and regular medical attention."[20]

Sproul had long suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,[citation needed] and was hospitalized on December 2, 2017, because of difficulty breathing, the result of an apparent infection, an “exacerbation of his emphysema due to the flu” (“not pneumonia”).[21][better source needed] After a twelve-day period of intermittent fever, and sedation and ventilator-assisted breathing, with effort given to restore his respiratory function, Sproul died on December 14, 2017 (at age 78).[21][22][23]


Some of Sproul's best-known books are The Holiness of God, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, and What Is Reformed Theology? He is also well known for Chosen by God, a book about predestination and the sovereignty of God.[24] Through Ligonier Ministries and the Renewing Your Mind radio program and conferences, Sproul generated numerous audio and video lectures on the subjects of history of philosophy, theology, Bible study, apologetics, intelligent design, and Christian living. In addition, Sproul wrote more than 100 books and many articles for evangelical publications.[25] He signed the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirmed the traditional view of Biblical inerrancy, and he wrote a commentary on that document titled Explaining Inerrancy. He also served as the general editor[26] of the Reformation Study Bible (ISBN 0-87552-643-8), which has appeared in several editions and was also known as the New Geneva Study Bible. In addition, Sproul was executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.[27]

Published books[edit]

Crucial Questions series[edit]

St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary series[edit]


  1. ^ Nichols, Stephen J. (2021). R. C. Sproul: A Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-1-4335-4477-4. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  2. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (December 15, 2017). "R.C. Sproul, theologian and religious broadcaster, dies at 78". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  3. ^ Nichols, Stephen J. (2021). R. C. Sproul: A Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-1-4335-4477-4. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  4. ^ Shellnutt, Kate (December 14, 2017), "Died: R. C. Sproul, Reformed Theologian Who Founded Ligonier Ministries", Christianity Today
  5. ^ "Stations - Renewing Your Mind". Renewing Your Mind. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Comas, Martin E. "Prominent theologian R.C. Sproul of Sanford dies at 78". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  7. ^ "A Bright and Burning Light: Robert Charles Sproul, February 13, 1939-December 14, 2017". albertmohler.com. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "Obituary: Rev. R.C. Sproul, Presbyterian theologian, founded Ligonier Ministries". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Robert "R.C." Sproul". Legacy.com. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Taylor, Justin (December 14, 2017). "R.C. Sproul (1939–2017)". The Gospel Coalition.
  11. ^ a b "Dr. R.C. Sproul – The Founder and President of Ligonier Ministries". Ligonier Ministries. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  12. ^ "Train Wreck". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Nichols, Stephen J. (2021). R. C. Sproul: A Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. pp. 124, 133. ISBN 978-1-4335-4477-4. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  14. ^ "Conferences". Ligonier Ministries. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  15. ^ "Dr. R.C. Sproul". Saint Andrew's Chapel. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  16. ^ "Books: Betraying the Reformation?", Christianity today, October 7, 1996
  17. ^ Sproul, R.C. "Do Paul's instructions about head coverings apply today, since he appeals to creation, not culture?". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  18. ^ Barth, Paul J. (July 15, 2019). "Head Coverings in Worship?". Purely Presbyterian. Retrieved April 10, 2022. R.C. Sproul writes, "The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century." Incidentally, I remember talking with my mother some years back, and she told me that when she went to church as a little girl, she and her sister wore hats to church. And she was not Presbyterian – that was the case across all American Christianity. "What happened?" Sproul asks, "Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ which is 'the pillar and ground of the truth' (1 Tim. 3:15)?"
  19. ^ Sproul, R. C. (April 3, 2010). "How Does Today's Postmodernism Affect the Popular Understanding of the Atonement?". Ligonier Ministries. Archived from the original on May 12, 2024. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  20. ^ a b "Postponed: A Google Hangout with John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul" (Press release). Ligonier Ministries. April 21, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "An Update on Dr. Sproul's Health" (Press release). Ligonier Ministries. December 12, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "Dr. R.C. Sproul, Called Home to the Lord". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  23. ^ "RC Sproul Dies at 78". The Christian Post. December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  24. ^ "A Letter to the Church from R.C. Sproul (1939-2017), His Theology, and His Work in the Gospel". The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  25. ^ "R.C. Sproul's Book Release Schedule". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  26. ^ "The Reformation Study Bible edited by R.C. Sproul". The Reformation Study Bible. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  27. ^ "R.C. Sproul, Founder | Ligonier Ministries". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved December 16, 2017.

External links[edit]