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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  • Recognizing_Truth

    R.C. we disagreed on the answer “to whom did God make the offer of salvation through Christ?”. But we both agreed that God alone saves, and that Jesus – God the Son eternally – effects that salvation through his substitutionary death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. And we agreed that this Gospel of salvation needed to go out far and wide to every nation and tongue. And in that you were most faithful.

    You will be missed.

    • HpO

      Can you please answer RC’s own questions for me? Or is there his answer among them somewhere?

      “The real issue was the design, or purpose, of God’s plan in laying upon His Son the burden of the Cross. Was it God’s purpose simply to make salvation possible for all but certain for none? Did God have to wait to see if any would respond to Christ to make His atonement efficient? Was it theoretically possible that Jesus would die “for all” yet never see the fruit of His travail and be satisfied? Or was it God’s eternal purpose and design of the Cross to make salvation certain for His elect? Was there a special sense in which Christ died for His own, for the sheep the Father had given Him?” (RC Sproul, “Biblical Scholasticism”, Ligonier Ministries, not dated.)

      It’s been awhile since Calvinists & I listened to John Calvin and the Five Tulips’ classic album.

    • TheSayer

      A great teacher he was …(less the Calvinist doctrine) … he was a great teacher indeed.

  • Amos Moses – He>i

    very sad to hear … very sad ….. one of the truly great expositors of the word has past on ……….. :_-( ….

  • The Scotsman

    The church has lost a theological giant. A sad day for us, rejoicing for him.

    • Status Cymbals


  • HpO

    Thank you, sister Heather Clark, for this tribute to brother R.C. Sproul, whom I know nothing about. One of those well-known spokespersons for the faith that for no reason at all I’ve never studied, listened to, quoted. Which means, because of this here In Memory Of, R.C. Sproul shall always be remembered by me. Thanks to you. You’ve ministered unto me on his behalf.

  • Joseph Hydell

    To the family I am very sorry for your loss, I drove for Lorden transportation back awhile and drove the family quite often, I will try my best to be at the service, he will be missed my many

  • Brian Maddox

    This man brought clarity and encouragement to my walk. To this day I teach his theology as a layperson to my local church. My walk was full of fluff and at the milk stage until I found his teaching and preaching. Thank you Jesus for showing him to me. I am sad he is gone, but so so happy he is with our Savior Jesus Christ.

    • HpO

      My 1st who “brought clarity” – of sorts, mind, for clarity comes only from the Holy Spirit, amen? – was Francis Schaeffer. I didn’t “teach his theology … to my local church”, however, but to my Marxist and Anarchist professors at uni. What a dialogue that created between these big guys and poor ‘ol me just 2-3 years in Christ Jesus. So ditto on that note of “encouragement”. But that was infused into what my pastor had already infused in me – the Holy Spirit’s gift of evangelism. May that too was part of RC’s legacy to you, ‘bruh! Otherwise, what’s the good of Christian Apologetics sans Gospel Evangelism?!

      Thanks for the edification.

  • squawneye

    Though I am sad for the loss of such a great teacher, I rejoice in R C Sproul’s promotion to the Kingdom of God. In the not too distant future I will get to meet him.

    • HpO

      I know we say that all the time. Also that we’ll all be crowned by Jesus. Leaving me wondering, though, then what’s sort of eternal kingdom will this be when all’s “Cowboys No Indians” – i.e. all’s kings no serfs, no slaves, no subjects. Same thing with the unquestioned notion that upon death we’re translated into Jesus’ presence, thereby making pointless the event of the 2nd Resurrection (the 1st being reserved for the Rapture of Martrys for Christ per Revelation). Plus, plus, who’s to say “R C Sproul’s promotion” shall be greater than yours, squawneye?

      Thanks for putting these ideas & questions forward to me on this sunny Saturday afternoon with snow on the ground.

      • squawneye

        All I can answer you is that ‘eye hath not seen or ear heard what riches God ha in store for those who love His coming’. Though I cannot prove it Scripturally, I believe that we the redeemed will eventually govern the whole new universe and by our fidelity of work towards furthering His Kingdom here and now, we will be given galactic sized kingdoms to administer under the overall Kingship of Jesus. Since God is unlimited it follows that His creative impulse and genius is also unlimited and the depth and scope of what we can observe here on Earth and in the heavens is a foretaste of what will someday be. I find this a great and motivating thing to hope for and even if I am wrong about it, the reality of heaven will still be far beyond my comprehension.
        God bless and enjoy your snowy day HpO.

  • Garden of Love

    Sproul’s writings probably influenced more Christians than most of the seminaries in America. It’s good that God provides such writers, but isn’t a bit sad that solid biblical teaching is missing from so many churches?

  • FelixUnger

    Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’