Selah R. C. Sproul (1939-2017)

R. C. Sproul died today. He was 78 years old.

I did not know R. C. Sproul. I never shook his hand. I never even personally saw him from a distance. But I did sit under him. For years I sat under him. There was a long pause of my heart when Carrie, my admin, called and told me he died. It was kinda like a “selah” (pause and reflect). I want to offer four “selahs” in honor of this man I never met, yet loved dearly.

Sproul’s Unwavering Commitment to Theological Education for Everyone

I have been trying to think where I got them. I just don’t remember. Maybe they were my mom’s? Nah, she was not too much into theology. I am just not sure. When I was 23, I began listening to an apologetics series by R. C. Sproul on cassette tape. It was a big case and probably had 18 (maybe 20) tapes. At that time, I had never heard of Sproul or been exposed to that level of theology. Ligonier Ministries produced these tapes. This was his ministry. I ate them alive. I could not believe someone as dumb and lazy of the mind as myself could be invigorated to such a degree. But I was. R. C. devoted himself to everyone, not just those in higher education. He believed deeply that theology was for everyone and everyone is a theologian. The “empire” that the Lord built through him was led by one ambition: everyone needs theology. Selah…

Sproul’s Love for the Holiness of God

It is hard to exaggerate Dr. Sproul’s commitment to the holiness of God. Yes, there is the book The Holiness of God (which, if you were on a desert island and you only could get 10 books, this would be one of them), but you could see and hear the holiness of God in and through him. Those of you would listened to him recognize what I am saying. It was a passion, an obsession, an excitement about, a transcendent connection to this neglected reality that God is holy. It was as if he had visited Sinai and had this slight glow about him. This commitment to the “otherness”, the “transcendentness”, the asiety, the simplicity, “the hallowed-be-thy-nameness” caused others to glow with the same excitement and awe as they stood before God. In the dictionary, next to the word “Holy” it will someday say “What R. C. Sproul talked about.” Selah…

Sproul’s Appreciation for those With Whom He Disagreed

After listening to his tapes on apologetics (12 times), I listened to his series on the history of philosophy and church history. I wore those tapes out. It is rare to see someone who is incredibly passionate and calm at the same time. He had a deep appreciation for the Roman Catholic Church, even though you would be hard pressed to find someone who spoke more loudly about the final authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone. While listening to these series, I heard him speak of philosophers and theologians with whom he deeply disagreed with gentleness and respect. This irenic spirit can only be appreciated more considering his time when attacking and demoralizing one’s opponent was the mode of operation among theologians. This spirit came just at the right time in my life for me. Selah…

Sproul’s Presentation Mojo

Sproul had the mojo. I don’t think he can get much credit for this. Don’t get me wrong . . . I am sure he had some classes in homiletics and oration but I doubt he ever used them. Ever so often someone comes along who has the “it” factor. And this is unique only to them. Their passion creates a style that brings a room to silence and causes willing hearts to salivate for more. Sproul’s voice, peculiar archaic words (“beloved”), erratic laughter, and defining silence all came from his heart. This told me one thing: God’s truth was in no way boring. Neither was Sproul. Selah…

You will be missed.

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