R.C. Sproul 1939-2017
Written by Gabriel Rench on December 18, 2017
I met R.C. Sproul during the first week of March 1982 in San Diego at the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy’s Congress on the Bible. I was introduced to him by my friend, Franky Schaeffer, and immediately I was struck by Dr. Sproul’s boundless energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humor. He was brilliant; that much was obvious—like so many of the other men who spoke at that conference: Francis Schaeffer, James Boice, John Frame, Jim Kennedy, John MacArthur, Roger Nicole, and Ed Clowney. But Dr. Sproul’s garrulous laughter, his rapier wit, and his attentiveness in conversation set him apart. His down-to-earth, unpretentious, and fervent character adorned his genius with peculiar grace.
Over the thirty-five years that I knew him, that first impression has only been reinforced a hundredfold. Without ever using notes, he could wax eloquent on everything from Greek morphology to Modernist philosophy, from art, music, literature, and architecture to ecclesiology, epistemology, and ontology, from the wonders of the Magisterial Reformers to the feats of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And yet, he always somehow managed to communicate even the most complex ideas with utmost clarity and simplicity. He was, by any measure, a marvel.
Over the years, I read his books, listened to his lectures, subscribed to his podcasts, attended his conferences, poured over every page of his Table Talk magazine, and studied his gripping oratorical methodology. I was greatly privileged to speak on the same platform with him, write for his publications, come to know his family, and enjoy his hospitality. He was a beloved and kind mentor. He was and is my hero.
In 1976, in tribute to his own mentor, John Gerstner, Dr. Sproul declared, “In an era of Church history when theology is in chaos, the Church is being shaken at its foundations, and Christian ethics shift and slide with every novel theology, we are grateful for the vivid example of one who stands in the midst of confusion as a bright and shining light.”
That much and more can be, indeed must be, said of R.C. Sproul.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying: Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:13