R.C. Sproul Jr. Accepts Plea Agreement for Drunk Driving With Children in Vehicle, Sentenced to Probation

Reformed theologian, author, speaker and former Presbyterian elder Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. recently accepted a plea agreement surrounding his November drunk driving arrest in Indiana and was sentenced to one year of probation after the initial jail sentence of 1 year and 183 days was suspended.

Public records in the case of “State of Indiana v. Robert C. Sproul” outline that on June 2, a change of plea hearing was held and a plea agreement was filed whereas Sproul pleaded guilty to a felony count of “Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated or Controlled Substance: Passenger Under 18.”

The remaining counts of endangering a person by intoxication and neglect of a dependent through endangerment, as well as operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to .15 or more, were all dismissed under the agreement. The scheduled jury trial was also subsequently canceled.

The initial sentence under Judge Samuel Keirns was 1 year and 183 days in the Indiana Department of Corrections facility, but Keirns decided to suspend the sentence and instead give Sproul one year of probation.

As previously reported, according to an affidavit obtained by the Christian Post, at “about 8:28 p.m. on Nov. 29, Allen County Police Officer Paul Heffner observed the former minister driving left of the center line. [He] failed to maintain his lane, drove off the roadway, struck a curb and was weaving.”

“When he was eventually stopped, the officer observed that he needed support to walk, he swayed, mumbled and had a moderate smell of alcohol on his breath. A chemical test later revealed his blood alcohol content as 0.175,” the outlet outlined.

Christian News Network confirmed that Sproul was then charged with four DUI accounts, including felony charges for being under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, and at twice the legal limit. Sproul, whose wife Denise died in 2011 following a battle with cancer, had just celebrated his remarriage days prior, being wed to Lisa Ringel.

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Ligonier Ministries, led by Sproul’s father, Dr. R.C. Sproul, released a public statement about Sproul’s subsequent resignation following his arrest, but only marked the departure as being for “personal reasons.”

“Last Friday, the board of directors of Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College received and affirmed the resignation of Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. He is stepping away from his duties at the ministry and the college for personal reasons,” it wrote. “This was communicated by phone to his father, Dr. R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries and chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and it was later communicated in writing to the entire board of directors of Ligonier Ministries.”

The statement added that the ministry supports the Sproul family and is thankful for Sproul’s work at Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. He had served as the rector of theology and professor of apologetics at Reformation Bible College and also wrote on biblical topics for his father’s ministry.

“We believe he will be well cared for by his church during this time of transition, and we pray for him in his future endeavors,” Ligonier said.

Sproul had written about his beliefs regarding alcohol on a number of occasions, including in 2003, when he wrote the foreword to the book “Drinking With Calvin and Luther: A History of Alcohol in the Church,” stating, “[I]t’s not enough that we should drink, but that we ought to drink well.”

In 2005, he also stated in a blog post, “Would you please, so as not to cause me to stumble, stop suggesting that it is wrong to drink alcohol in moderation, or that drinking alcohol in moderation somehow is a failure to love my brothers?” In a separate post, Sproul remarked, “One of my favorite intellectual debates centers around this question: Is bad beer better than no beer? A corollary is this, ‘Is free bad beer better than good beer?’”

His “Basement Tapes” collection likewise included discussions on alcohol and tobacco, and in recent times, Sproul had been a repeated guest on the Reformed Pubcast, a broadcast that focuses on Reformed theology and beer.

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  • Sisyphus

    I hope he finds some good 12 Step meetings.

  • David Morales

    Well Mr. Theologian. Either he repents and recognizes ( That’s gonna be SO hard with so much pride in the way ) Or he’ll just keep drinking till’ he drops. In which case God is making an example of this once man of God.

  • Carverelle

    “had just celebrated his remarriage days prior, being wed to Lisa Ringel.” The “celebrating” went on far too long.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Christians should not drink alcohol. Drunkenness is prohibited in the Holy Bible. Drinking has addictive power and leads to drunkenness and to sinning, and it endangers self and those who are around, wrecking the familes. Addiction means a refusal to be controlled by Jesus Christ.

    • Jordan Cunningham

      If Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol then alcohol would be prohibited by the bible, the clue lies in the fact that specifically (and only) drunkenness is forbidden. To just generalise that “drinking leads to drunkenness and sinning” without qualification is to condemn the thousands of christians who know what it means to exercise moderation. If we adopt that line of thinking then we shouldn’t, for example, eat sugary foods lest we get a taste for their sweetness and indulge in gluttony. Living in a fallen world inevitably means we see fallen people abusing God’s good gifts, that doesn’t mean the abused substance is inherently evil.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Alcohol has many different uses. And then there are cultures, but Protestant Christians really should not drink. Drinking, smoking, and doing drugs has too many harms and a too strong addictive power unlike others. Moderation comes to nothing. Drinking Protestant Christians are usually worldly and they get tattoos and living-together as well. Avoiding those means avoiding sins. Those who drink just because Jesus did should keep the Jewish diet and Jewish disciplines as well.

        • Jordan Cunningham

          “Drinking Protestant Christians are usually worldly and they get tattoos and living-together as well.”. Friend that is nothing but slanderous generalisation. Who on earth do you believe you are to condemn hundreds of thousands of believers as “worldly” based on nothing but your own, apparently small demographic?
          “They probably support homosexuality too”? That kind of ridiculous statement screams ‘i’ve been sheltered from the world’ as merely a few visits to countless churches would disprove that idea immediately.

          As to your point about Jesus drinking. Nowhere in the jewish dietary laws was drinking a requirement. Nowhere. It had absolutely nothing to with dietary regulations and I would plead with you not to claim a prohibition in Jesus name that he did not make. Nowhere did he “help people stop drinking”, he affirmed what the Bible always has, that drunkenness is a sin. The fact your personal conscience leads you to take his instruction further by not touching alcohol whatsoever does not give you right to place the same restriction on other believers.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            It’s not a condemnation but a sheer observation. Make some honest statistics between drinking Christians and non-drinking Christians. Which group opposes tattoos, co-habitation, and homosexuality more? You would not need too many numbers for sampling to come to the same conclusion. I’m not talking about case-by-case or individuals. Groups say a lot of things about general reality.

            Not-drinking alcohol is a Protestant tradition and is a very good and wise thing. There are number of things Jesus did and we don’t do today, and the things He did not and we do today. But born-again Christians do know what He wants of us from His Word and by His Spirit. Brother, don’t drink lest you place yourself in the danger of getting drunk because the Word of God prohibits getting drunk. Search the Bible verses and pray about it. Drink juice.

          • Anonymous Warrior

            Sounds like you want to ‘have your cake and eat it too.’ Your first post declares ‘moderation.’ Well, just what is ‘moderation?’ That is ‘subjective.’ Christians should not be drinking alcohol period. Should Christians ‘smoke moderately?’ It takes away from your ‘profession and confession,’ to say the least. How does the world look upon Christians, especially if they’re drinking? Doesn’t ‘look good.’ Not to mention, every alcoholic began as a “social drinker.” I believe you’re just attempting to “justify” drinking because you are a drinker yourself. Are we to be ‘like the world, or to be ‘separate’ from the world?’ I’m sure you know the answer to that. I could say a whole lot more, but I’m not here to ‘preach,’ but to state the case that Christians ought not to be indulging in alcohol. Alcohol is an ‘escape,’ and an ‘excuse’ to willfully sin. “Moderation?” Gee, shall I indulge in moderation in any number of unspecified ‘vices?’ What good comes of drinking alcohol? Nothing. Even a drink or two (playing the ‘moderation game’) can lead to any number of things (thoughts, lust, lies, etc) that would not have come otherwise. The bible clearly states to be of a “sober mind!” You’re basing your ‘opinion’ on what you believe, I’m basing my stance on what the BIBLE says, 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:6; 1 Peter 1:13. I’ll stick with what the Bible says, you do as you please.

          • Jordan Cunningham

            Your comparison with smoking is a red herring, smoking is always hazardous to your health, a beer is not.

            You also state that moderation is subjective as if that’s some kind of proof that it’s wrong. Christians are to do plenty of things in moderation (like eating for example), you cannot force all behaviours into black/white territory, though you evidently have in this case by asserting from out of nowhere that alcohol is always an excuse to willfully sin and and “escape”; it’s concerning how you can presume to discern everyone’s motives so easily and comprehensively.

            Then you make another false comparison by arguing that any alcohol whatsoever means you forfeit a sober mind.

            The funny thing is, I totally respect teetotal stances on alcohol from a “wisdom” perspective, but whenever Christians try and turn abstenance into a doctrine it always results in these wild and inaccurate generalisations that unfairly ascribe sins of drunkenness to people who have no trace of it in their lives.

          • Publius

            Another generalization, just as apt, is that tee-totalers are usually likely to vote for the likes of a Hillary Clinton. On that basis alone, there is ample Biblical warrant to be drunk 24 hours a day!

          • GNL

            I know you’re trying to be funny but driving drunk with kids in the car isn’t a funny matter. It’s very serious and you’re mocking a very serious issue and mocking anyone who expresses concerns over RCJR’s alcoholism. You seem to have been heavily influenced by RCJR. He too often makes light of anyone who expresses concerns over his heavy drinking, saying things like, “There are 24 bottles in a case of beer. God made 24 hours in a day. You think that’s just a coincidence?” Would this in your opinion be another example of giving “ample Biblical warrant to be drunk 24 hours a day!”?

      • Bradley Ungles

        Well said.

  • Redboyds

    I’ve met R.C.Jr. and he is a good man. Christians sometimes go off the rails. It happens. If the sinner repents, God holds no grudges, so we have no right to hold grudges either.

    • Carverelle

      I’ve met Ted Haggard. He is a good man. Oh, wait…

      Well, Christians sometimes go off the rails. Driving drunk with their kids in the car and all that. It happens. Oh, wait…

      Well, God holds no grudges, so we have no right to hold grudges either. King David was a murderer and all that. God forgave him and all that. It doesn’t matter what the sin is we should just sweep it under the rug and call it “forgiveness.” That’s what Christians do. Oh, wait…

    • Anonymous Warrior

      I don’t believe, nor see anyone “holding a grudge,” nor even judging the man himself here. I’ve never met the man, but I’m sure he is a very good man, that’s not the point. And yes, anyone can go “off the rails.” We’re all still sinners. But, there are ‘consequences’ in life, especially for those in ‘leadership’ positions. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us exactly how the Bible is to be used: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” I wish Mr. Sproul all the best, as I’m sure everyone else here does.

    • Carverelle

      You’re making a judgment call on a man’s character based on merely having “met him”? You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Those who actually know RC Jr know that he’s NOT a good man but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Good men aren’t drunkards. Good men don’t sign up for accounts on sex hookup sites. Good men don’t spiritually abuse their church members (and get defrocked for it). Good men don’t steal finances from their own churches. RC Jr could one day become a good man but it would start with some remorse for his wicked deeds, and some contrition and genuine repentance.

      • Dianne

        Amen Carverelle, I couldn’t have said it better. Many blessings to you.?

      • Publius

        Has anyone informed you, in love, that you are an a$$hole?

  • Michael Ferguson

    Typical lack of being accountable among those professing to be reformed. Typical justification for both drinking and smoking as well. Might want to look up Galatians 5:13 just for starters.
    What is even more amazing is this: Despite those self-proclaimed leaders amongst those claiming to be reformed, they are just as guilty of building their own earthly religious kingdoms as Rick Warren, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen or Oprah for that matter. They plead, prod, beg and pressure folks into supporting their building programs AND self-made/focused resources as they sell their wares- none of which are necessary in order to carry out the Great Commission or learn how to be led of the Spirit.
    Any man who places himself in a position as a mediator in the place of Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is an antichrist. Whether he or she claims affiliation with the Reformed camp has nothing to do with the matter. It’s simply what God Himself has made clear to those with eyes to see.

  • Michael Ferguson

    All that said, we ought to pray for this man- not merely to ascertain what is really going on here and his personal restoration, but that he avoids the all too common pursuit of wanting to be among the Reformed hierarchy like his father who also doesn’t care for what the Bible actually says about the kingdom Jesus is building. The more religious institutions splinter and the more personal failure amongst the hirelings (that’s exactly what these people are according to Jesus) the better off the body of Christ will be. Depend upon and rely upon Jesus for everything- not some man who claims and exemplifies himself as being “over you” in the Lord and who refuses to acknowledge that Jesus’ kingdom is not built with bricks.

    • Martin Scoville

      What on earth are you talking about? RC Sproul Sr. has been calling people to Christ his entire life. If your preaching calls thousands TO CHRIST, let me know. Otherwise, why this ridiculous attack? You back it up with nothing. That is slander and makes you more unfit to give advice than Mr. Sproul. I’ve listened to a lot of his sermons, they are Christ centered and full of wisdom. If deserves your brotherly affection, not your cowardly jibes.

      • Michael Ferguson

        Hello Martin. The reason I did not specifically and scripturally back up my argument is due to the space it would take and out of respect for whoever runs this site. Making criticisms/observations about individuals in not necessarily slander. If it was, every discernment blogger would also be guilty of such.
        If you notice, I did not say that this man was not a Christian. I said he was a hireling which is exactly what he is- he is hired/paid to run or support an earthly religious institution and tow the party/reformed line. These are facts. The fact that these institutions, religious hierarchy, personal religious titles and even sermons are not found in the scriptures are also facts. It is also a fact that anyone who places themselves in the place of God in any manner is acting in an antichrist spirit (whether that person is acting as a mediator between God and men or taking the place of the Holy Spirit in guiding the saints when they gather. Institutional “pastors” do both of these things on a regular basis. These are also facts.

        I’m sad that you have apparently never questioned these things and instead have focused upon the supposed “good” these men have and do accomplish. In reality though, God Himself cares very much about how these men and many others claim to represent Him. No error or sin is ever acceptable before God and should always be confronted head on. It is only because after numerous attempts to get any so-called “christian” leader to justify their continual return to Old Covenant practices that I have used this medium to raise these issues. The God we serve is not giving these men a pass like so many others do. Here is the last fact I want to share.

        The most serious warnings in the entire Scriptures are found in the book of Hebrews and detail what happens to people who willfully continue to sin. The context does not center around any willful sinning but rather ONE willful sin- a return to Old Covenant practices in light of what God has provided in THE better way through His Son Jesus Christ. That is exactly what every “pastor” or “priest” in a religious institution is doing and encouraging you to do.

        Please understand me. I have no desire to have to speak in this fashion. But seeing that no supposed wise person has been willing, God has had to use this weak and uneducated soul to address and rebuke those who think they are wise.
        Things are not what they appear to be friend. Please seek your Father and ask Him to show you just how deep and prevalent the current deception actually is. Even if these men are accomplishing some good and teaching the real gospel message, the manner they live out that message is inconsistent with biblical principles and biblical practice. That’s makes these men not just merely unqualified as elders but extremely dangerous to be following. Follow only those who truly and wholly follow Christ.

  • Dianne

    What a tragic story and a travesty of justice. He needed a long stay in jail for this offense and shame on his church for being part of the “cover up”. This man wasn’t even ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism.
    Dunkards shall NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. 1 Corinthians 6:10

    • Publius

      And the Lamb’s soul has come to dwell in us who were formerly stiff-necked asses whose souls were damned to hell. Now we rejoice that the Lamb and those of a lamb’s soul are bound for eternal life but not those whose souls are like those of the stiff necked ass. Praise God there are no Ass Soul’s in heaven; kinda leaves you out, huh?

      • Dianne

        For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye SHOULD FOLLOW HIS STEPS: Who did no sin, NEITHER WAS GUILE (profanity) found in his MOUTH: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being DEAD TO SINS, should live unto RIGHTEOUSNESS: by whose strips ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
        1 Peter 2:19-25 ?

  • Martin Scoville

    These comments are almost as tragic as the above article. Where is our Christian unity and brotherly love? Don’t be so quick to attack fam.

  • Herrnhut

    Sadly many modern translations of 2 Corinthian 10:5 misguide most believers, including the chiefest theologians among them “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” All these social outcast addicts (and secret sin deacons) with humility confessing Christ’s kingship and Christ righteousness all in one declaration” I am the righteousness of God in Christ” when sinning turn their flesh captive to the Holy Ghost is brilliant from the preaching of Joseph Prince after the anointed teaching of Watchman Nee have so many success stories daily for so many in Christ Jesus.

  • rehoboth2

    I am so deeply saddened to hear of Dr. Sproul’s recent arrest. He is a dear man who will have my prayers always.

  • Publius

    Once again, the anal retentive pharisees in the church throw a brother to the curb, in ‘love.’

  • GNL

    Thanks for your willingness to say something that I’m sure many of us
    who’ve personally known RC have seen too, “I believe God is
    disciplining him.” RC believes in and teaches the sovereignty of God. So one has to wonder how so many tragedies could befall him, and even on some of those who’ve enabled him, and yet he fails to see it as the hand of God? That situation with the two mothers (15 children between them) killed by a falling tree as they were driving home to Mendota surely was not just a freak accident. St. Peter Presbyterian Church had many months before been publicly exposed for the cult that it was (and still is). Some families got out, but most clung on to their fantasy of living in home school full quiver denim jumper utopia. Especially after his defrocking it became more and more hazardous staying too close to RC (and I’m not just talking about getting in his car with him behind the wheel). In spite of all the years of one tragedy after another RC has never repented for the devastation he’s caused. But then what cult leader ever has? God is not mocked though.

    Let me just correct you about one thing, “his income as he received little from the church.” One hardship that RC has never had to face is a financial one. He has always, always, taken a six figure salary for himself, regardless of the church he “pastored” and whether or not they could afford it. He never had an issue with creating a financial hardship for any church so long as his own exorbitant cash flow was maintained.