R.C. Sproul, Reformed Theologian and Founder of Ligonier Ministries, Dies at 78

SANFORD, Fla. — Dr. R.C. Sproul, a well-known Reformed theologian and founder of the Florida-based Ligonier Ministries, died on Thursday. He was 78.

Ligonier released a statement advising that Sproul died following a nearly two-week compounded battle with already existing respiratory issues. Updates on his hospitalization prior to the announcement outlined that he had been sedated in ICU and placed on a ventilator to aid his breathing.

“Dr. R.C. Sproul went home to be with the Lord this afternoon around 3 p.m. surrounded by his wife, Vesta, and family in his hospital room in Altamonte Springs, Fla.,” the statement read. “He died peacefully after being hospitalized twelve days ago due to severe respiratory difficulties exacerbated by the flu and complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”

Sproul, who co-pastored St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford and founded Reformation Bible College, was also known for his “Renewing Your Mind” radio broadcast and various conferences, as well as his prolific writing, including the books “The Holiness of God,” “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” and “Are These the Last Days?”

“R.C.’s writing of hymns was a natural extension of his lifelong love of music. Along with Vesta, he sang in the youth choir at Pleasant Hills United Presbyterian Church and in choirs at school,” his ministry outlined in a tribute. “R.C. also sang bass in a school quartet. He was a pianist, and later in life, he picked up the violin, taking lessons at the newly founded Saint Andrew’s Conservatory of Music. R.C. also painted.”

“As a trained philosopher and theologian, R.C. was a major advocate of classical apologetics. He was known for having a strong pro-life position, once remarking that abortion is perhaps the crucial ethical issue of our time,” it added. “He was, above all, a theologian. He loved the doctrine of God. Through it, he found the gateway to knowing God, adoring God, and worshiping God.”

However, Sproul “knew his health was declining” in recent years, Ligonier said. He suffered a stroke in 2015 and was also diagnosed with diabetes. Sproul was hospitalized earlier this month with “an exacerbation of his emphysema due to the flu.”

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His last sermon, preached on Nov. 26, was entitled “So Great Salvation.”

A memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Chapel, and will also be live-streamed on RCSproul.com.

“It belongs to others in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead to assess the impact of R.C.’s ministry in the history of the church. In this moment, we feel loss—immense sadness and profound loss—the loss of a pastor, a teacher, a leader, a brother-in-Christ, a friend,” Ligonier said.

Sproul was adamant that the ministry continue after his passing, and as part of carrying on the work, he established with the board of directors a teaching fellowship, which currently includes Sinclair Ferguson, Steve Lawson, Al Mohler, Stephen Nichols, Burk Parsons, Derek Thomas and board chairman W. Robert Godfrey. Sproul’s messages have also been archived and catalogued so that they may be accessed by the public for the years to come.

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