When I heard the news today that R. C. Sproul had died, I felt a sincere shock. I knew it was coming; anyone following his health situation over the past 12 days did. But it was surreal. It still is.
R. C. Sproul has had a tremendous impact on me, my thinking, and my understanding of God and Biblical truth. I think I first encountered his teaching when listening to Knowing Scripture in audiobook form. Not too long after that, christianaudio.com released The Holiness of God as the free audiobook of the month. I grabbed it immediately.
The first thing I remember is that I didn’t care for the narrator in comparison to Knowing Scripture. Robertson Dean has a wonderfully resonant voice whereas Grover Gardner…doesn’t. But the text itself sucked me in. Who was this God whom Dr. Sproul described? How majestic! How incredible! How…to put it bluntly…holy!
I’ve read a lot of theology books over the past few years. But that one probably impacted me more than all the others in ways I still don’t understand. Some books you remember consciously, and you actively seek to tailor your thinking to them. Others, like The Holiness of God, dig so deep that you don’t even realize it. Through that book, Dr. Sproul showed me a profoundly different and altogether more wonderful vision of God than I’d ever known or considered. That vision has shaped my thinking, my writing, my prayers, and my life without my even trying to make it so.
Those books were it for me. I subscribed to Renewing Your Mind (where the series What is Reformed Theology? convinced me I was Reformed) and Tabletalk Magazine, I got the Reformation Study Bible, and I even went to two Ligonier West Coast Conferences. I got his autograph on a copy of The Priest with Dirty Clothes, a book I told my wife was for the kids, but is really a wonderful picture of the gospel for anyone of any age. Another book, The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, impacted my prayer life. Through all of this I encountered this holy God Dr. Sproul was so committed to.
All of this came through the work of one man — short, frail, and not particularly good-looking (he once said looking at himself in the mirror “was not a pleasant experience”) — but titanic all the same. None of this, of course, was his own work ultimately; it was our holy God using him — quite effectively, I might add — for His glory.
You may be wondering why I have scare quotes in the title here. It’s because I’m tempted to conclude by saying we lost one of the good ones today. But I think Dr. Sproul would correct me and point me to Mark 10:18: “No one is good except God alone.”
So, to R. C. Sproul. We lost him, but he has gained much by leaving us and going to the only good one, the one he dedicated his life to help others know.