Robert Charles (R. C.) Sproul (1939—2017) was an American theologian, seminary professor, Presbyterian (PCA) pastor, and founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. He was a proponent of Reformed theology and was influential in its rise in popularity over the past century.
R. C. Sproul was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1939. He became a follower of Christ during his freshman year at Westminster College, where he attended on a football scholarship. Sproul married his childhood sweetheart, Vesta Voorhis, in 1960, a year before graduating from Westminster. Sproul then earned his Masters of Divinity from Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary in 1964 and later went to the Netherlands to study at the Free University of Amsterdam. He completed his Doctorandus from there in 1969. Sproul and his wife also had two children, Sherrie Sproul Dorotiak and Robert Craig Sproul, during this time.
In 1971, R. C. Sproul founded Ligonier Ministries. The ministry grew to include publishing a daily devotional, a daily radio broadcast called Renewing Your Mind, Tabletalk magazine, audio resources, and video teaching materials as well as hosting an annual conference. Sproul was instrumental in creating the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy along with Norman Geisler in 1978. He was a tireless defender of the sufficiency of God's grace alone for salvation and therefore was critical of Roman Catholic theology. Sproul openly opposed the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) document of 1994. While serving as chairman of Ligonier Ministries, he also taught at Reformed Theological Seminary (1980—1995) in Jackson, Mississippi and in Orlando, Florida. He then taught at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from 1995 to 2004 while founding and pastoring Saint Andrew's Chapel (founded in 1997) and also completing his PhD from Whitefield Theological Seminary in 2001. In 2011, R. C. Sproul founded Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida with the curriculum he wished he had as an undergraduate.
R. C. Sproul authored over one hundred books and hundreds of articles in evangelical publications. His best-known book is The Holiness of God, published in 1985. This book is emblematic of his focus on the holiness and sovereignty of God. R. C. Sproul believed, "when we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and hopelessness." In 1995, Sproul was the general editor for the New Geneva Study Bible (now called the Reformation Study Bible) which includes interpretive notes and study aids from the Reformed (or Calvinist) perspective. Sproul was often invited to speak at conferences, churches, and schools around the world where he continued to popularize the Calvinistic approach through his gifted teaching. He made complex topics easy to understand while displaying his infectious humor and generous spirit.
Sproul had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), so when he contracted the flu at age 78, he had to be hospitalized. His body succumbed to the illness and he passed away twelve days later on December 14, 2017. His teaching can still be heard on radio programming and his books continue to be popular today.
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