“You’re white as a sheet!!!”
I had read his books. I had watched his video teaching. I received his monthly Tabletalk magazine. Then, in 1990, I attended one of his conferences.
He was signing books. My wife Robin kept saying, “Go have him sign your book!” She literally pushed me to the table. I don’t remember anything I said or anything he said. In my mind, I was a schoolboy standing in front of the master. When I returned to Robin’s side she exclaimed, “You’re white as a sheet!”
My estimation of R.C. Sproul has never waned. Sproul was the earliest, most seminal developer of my classroom instruction; learning to teach difficult theology in simple, visual language. The Holiness of God was one of my favorite books. I memorized sections so that I could use them in my teaching. My brief essay below is only limited by the space constraints of the encyclopedia for which it’s written, otherwise, I could have written pages. Gratitude, Dr. Sproul, from one of your many students.
One can tell a good deal about a person by their heroes. Thomas Aquinas and Jonathan Edwards stand as titanic intellects in the Christian tradition, according to R.C. Sproul; a man, many would argue, has followed solidly in his heroes’ footsteps. Influenced by his mentor John Gerstner, a church history professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Sproul wove theological-philosophical-historical insights throughout his teaching. A brilliant philosopher, theologian, logician, and apologist, Sproul’s greatest gift is communication; making difficult ideas understandable.
Dr. Robert Charles Sproul was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1939. Completing his doctorate at the Free University in Amsterdam, Sproul began to teach at seminaries such as Reformed Theological (Jackson, MS and Orlando, FL) as well as Knox in Ft. Lauderdale. Sproul’s speaking and writing gifts shown brightly at his study center, Ligonier Ministries, created in 1971. Sproul’s brilliance combines the deepest content with the clearest communication.
R.C. Sproul is unique among theologians as he honed his communication through story. Children’s books, biography, novels, and hymns are included in Sproul’s authorship of over 80 books. Central to Sproul’s teaching throughout his half century of teaching is Christian doctrine. Perhaps the book which has had the most notable impact is The Holiness of God. To Sproul, God’s distinctiveness, His being set apart from humans, should be the central core of Church teaching. Books such as Essential Truths of the Christian Faith and That’s a Good Question! give an overview of defending the Christian faith through theological clarity.
While Sproul took a decided stand against “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” he has had a wide, long, and deep influence on Christians across denominations. Catholics may be surprised to learn that Sproul’s apologetic position is “classical” following the pattern of the Catholic Church’s luminary Thomas Aquinas. A strong Calvinist, Reformed theologian, and elder in the conservative Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), Sproul’s teaching is definitive, articulate, and winsome.
He has a prodigious writing outlet: over 80 books published. His Tabletalk magazine to which he contributes monthly promoting bible study and devotional readings has a circulation of over 800,000. Sproul’s teaching has been heard weekly in 60 countries through his radio program “Renewing Your Mind”. Add to these contributions, The Geneva Study Bible, scores of articles, a myriad of conference appearances, 5,000 audio teachings, and over 300 video series. Videos capture Sproul’s passionate teaching of Scripture and theology. Appearances at teaching conferences, including his own, offer attendees the immediately personable, generous Sproul spirit.
Sproul’s role as a Christian teaching from the 1970’s into the 21st century has influenced countless theologians, pastors, and leaders, but most of all the general church parishioner; R.C.’s largest audience. R.C. Sproul’s legacy will continue through the creation of Reformation Bible College (RBC) in central Florida. Started in 2011 RBC boasts a classical studies approach to learning: Reformed theological foundations formed first, all other subjects then discerned from the Christian perspective.
Many Reformed thinkers have and will claim Sproul as their theological hero. Sproul’s legacy will include books, videos, and audio recordings. But his lasting legacy will be the lives of people impacted by his teaching who will then pass on what they have learned to others.
In tribute to a man who had a profound impact on my thinking, teaching life. R. C. Sproul, 1939-2017, has joined the great cloud of witnesses. “Sproul, R.C.” © is one of 22 essays included in the History of Christianity in the United States (Rowman & Littlefield) by Dr. Mark Eckel, President of The Comenius Institute.
References and Resources
Sproul, R.C. The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts That Shaped Our World.
Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000.
__________. The Holiness of God, rev. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
__________. “Thomas Aquinas,” Chosen Vessels: Portraits of Ten Outstanding Christian Men.
Charles Turner, ed. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 1985.
http://www.ligonier.org/about/rc-sproul/ accessed 24 January 2015
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/rcsproul.html Accessed 24 January 2015
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/looking-heroes/ Accessed 25 January 2015
http://christianhype.com/heroes-of-the-christian-faith-a-series-by-r-c-sproul/ Accessed 25