In the midst of rising cultural hostility toward Christ and the widespread theological confusion within the church, how can Christians remain faithful to the Word of God? The life and ministry of Dr R C. Sproul (1939-2017), pastor, professor, author, and the founder and president of Ligonier Ministries, is an exemplary model of covenantal faithfulness, doctrinal precision, and convictional passion. In a word, he remained faithful to the Word of God. The life of Dr Sproul is beautifully portrayed through a chronological outline of the major moments and convictions that shaped him in Stephen Nichols’ biography, R. C. Sproul: A Life. This biography is warm and personal, enlightening and thought-provoking, as Nichols interweaves apt anecdotes to highlight Sproul’s theological convictions. Nichols draws the reader behind the public ministry, giving us an insight into the man and the motivation behind the ministry. It is this personal perspective that made the experience of reading this biography so sweet. 

Not only is the biography warm and personal, it is also packed with theological conviction. Sproul’s most famous book, The Holiness of Godarose from a deeply personal awakening to God’s holiness during a midnight trek at the chapel of Westminster College in his second year of college. Nichols quotes Sproul recounting this episode where he had a sudden epiphany of the grandeur of God, an “awakening to the biblical concept of God that changed [his] whole life after that” (p. 49). This initial encounter with God led to his lifelong study of God’s holiness, a small sample of the story of R. C. Sproul. His communion with God drove him to study and depend on God’s Word, and the cogent clarity of God’s truth enlightened him to taste the sweetness of God in communion. Consequently, the combination of the two propelled his ministry.

Furthermore, it is important to note that Sproul’s initial hunger to devour the Scriptures led him to the academy. For several years he taught theology and philosophy at various colleges and seminaries, proving that his intellectual ability was superb. However, Sproul’s overwhelming legacy is his clear and accessible teaching of the historic Reformed faith that equipped a generation of laypeople. His books, lectures and sermons are built on decades of theological study, renewing the mind and stirring the hearts of millions of men and women without any formal theological training. Nichols, like Sproul, wrote this biography that people may discover the depths and riches of the God who is not only holy but is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). Therefore, as we reflect on the life and ministry of R. C. Sproul, let us give glory to God, not R. C. Sproul. Dr Sproul understood that his life was a temporary stewardship testifying to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, who alone deserves all the glory (Revelation 4:11). 

By way of conclusion, let me echo one of R. C. Sproul’s favourite Latin phrases that the Reformers in the 16th century repeated: Post Tenebras, LuxAfter Darkness, Light. After the darkness of rising cultural hostility toward Christ, and the pervasive theological confusion within the church, may the light of the gospel pierce through the mind and heart of this generation for a new reformation. 

  • Koh Saito