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.
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.