Robert Charles “R.C.” Sproul, the Reformed theologian, pastor, teacher, and lecturer who founded and chaired Ligonier Ministries and authored close to 100 books, including The Holiness of God, died Thursday. He was 78. Sproul was known for delivering uncompromising messages on the holiness and sovereignty of God, in his writing, video teaching series, and as a regular speaker at Ligonier’s national conferences in Orlando, Fla. Ligonier’s mission is “helping Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it,” he once said. Born in Pittsburgh in 1939, Sproul graduated from Westminster College, which he attended on a football scholarship. A fellow student at Westminster nudged him on his path to discipleship. Sproul told Christianity Today in 2002 that one evening during his freshman year, just as he had finished buying some cigarettes from a dormitory vending machine, he turned around to see the captain of the football team, who invited him to chat: “He was the first person I ever met in my life that talked about Christ as a reality.”
Sproul earned degrees from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Free University of Amsterdam. In 1971 he helped establish the Ligonier Valley Study Center in western Pennsylvania, which eventually became Ligonier Ministries and moved to Orlando in 1984. He was one of the signers of the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. “Whatever else we do with this gospel, we must never, ever, ever, ever, ever mess with it,” he once said. Sproul, ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), also served as co-pastor at St. Andrew’s Chapel and chancellor of Reformation Bible College, both in Sanford, Fla. His daily radio program, Renewing Your Mind, and his Tabletalk magazine column, “Right Now Counts Forever,” helped spread his message. “Every single moment of life that we experience on this planet is tied to eternity,” Sproul once said. “I find it not just comforting but a delight to be involved in this enterprise in which we are saying to the world, ‘You are not meaningless. God has printed upon you His worth.’”
Sproul’s wife Vesta, whom he had known since childhood, survives him, as do his daughter Sherrie Sproul Dick, his son Robert Craig Sproul, and their families.