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Podcast: The Life and Legacy of R. C. Sproul (Stephen Nichols)

This article is part of the The Crossway Podcast series.

A Passion for Growing in Holiness

In this episode, Stephen Nichols discusses the fascinating life and ministry of the late R. C. Sproul. He reflects on the first time he met Sproul and talked with him face-to-face, shares more about what R. C. was like in private as a husband, father, and friend, including his passion for hunting and love of practical jokes, and he explains the key theological emphases and controversies that shaped Sproul's public ministry.

R. C. Sproul

Stephen J. Nichols

This biography offers an in-depth look at R. C. Sproul’s life and ministry, detailing his contributions to the trajectory of the Reformed tradition and his influence on American evangelicalism.

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Topics Addressed in This Interview:

01:33 - A First Introduction to R. C. Sproul

Matt Tully
Stephen, thank you so much for joining me today on The Crossway Podcast.

Stephen Nichols
It’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to this good conversation with you, Matt.

Matt Tully
Let’s start back at the beginning for you: When did you first learn about, or come into contact with, R. C. Sproul as an individual? I’m not saying in person necessarily, but when did you first learn about R. C. Sproul?

Stephen Nichols
This is kind of interesting. The first book I encountered of his is one that very few people actually even know about. It was an early book that he edited with a Latin title—Soli Deo Gloria. And then the subtitle, even far more academic: A Festschrift for John H. Gerstner. I think I was all of seventeen years old when I first saw that book.

Matt Tully
What year would you say that was?

Stephen Nichols
I can’t reveal those particulars. This would have been in the 80s—’86 or ’87, so the book was somewhere around sixteen or seventeen years old. My dad was a pastor in Western PA—we’ll get into this—I grew up only twenty miles from the Ligonier Valley Study Center, but my dad was an Independent Baptist pastor and used the Scofield Reference Bible. So at that time of my life, I was on the different edge of the theological continuum than R. C.. But someone had given my dad a box of books—because he was a pastor and they were just donating books to him. In that box of books, I remember two specifically: one was a really thick John Calvin's Sermons on Galatians. I thought, Oh, I’m going to take that! because it looked impressive. It was big and thick. The other one had this Latin title, Soli Dew Gloria, by this guy R. C. Sproul—I have no idea what this is or who this is. R. C. has an essay in that book on double predestination. That was literally my first encounter with the good Dr. Sproul.

Matt Tully
Do you remember your first thoughts on his chapter when you read it?

Stephen Nichols
Honestly, I felt like I had just come home. I leaned Calvinistic in the doctrines of grace and Reformed in the doctrines of grace, but I wasn’t necessarily surrounded by that. I didn’t read all of John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians, I’ll confess, but I did read some of the opening pages. Then I guess I went to Dr. Sproul’s essay because he was the editor. I felt like I had come home. I felt like it really expressed what I had come to see and what God had brought me to see in Scripture as the way to understand salvation. And then, it was a couple of years later when I was a college student in the Philadelphia area and my wife (at the time when we were dating) and I attended Tenth Presbyterian Church (this is when Jim Boice was the pastor and in the era of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology), and that’s where I first heard R. C. speak in person.

Matt Tully
Beyond just being encouraged by some of his Calvinistic leanings and doctrines, do you remember any of those initial impressions of him as a man, as a preacher, and as a teacher?

Stephen Nichols
Here’s a very funny story. A friend of mine and I from college went to a conference and there were some book signings. My friend had an R. C. book to get signed and as we’re standing there in line waiting to get it signed, my friend says to Dr. Sproul, “Dr. Sproul, by chance are you going to be speaking in New Jersey anytime soon?” Dr. Sproul looks up at him, with his gravelly voice and says, “Young man, if I am in New Jersey in the near future, it won’t be by chance.” So I decided, I’m not saying anything! That was really the extent of it. And then, of course, The Holiness of God and Chosen by God. Like so many people, I really first came to know Dr. Sproul through the printed page. It wasn’t until December of 2010 when I was invited down here to give a couple of talks at a conference that I met Dr. Sproul again and then started up that phase of our relationship. In between, it was the Dr. Sproul of the printed page that I got to know.

Matt Tully
How did you actually get formally connected with Ligonier Ministries and begin working there?

Stephen Nichols
Honestly, Matt, I’d like to frame it as a true gift of God’s kindness to me in these last several years. When I first met him in 2010, I had revered him, as so many people do: This is Dr. Sproul. What a legacy! I just so admired his ability as a communicator. I love to write. I love to try to make church history accessible to laity—that’s sort of a goal of mine in my own vocational calling. He was the master at that, and so to just meet him. But then, he just wants to talk about you. He almost throws you off your game because you’re prepared to throw theological questions at him, or you’re thinking you’ll get some kind of lecture. The first couple of times you meet him, he just wants to talk about you. He wants to ask if you have pets. He finds out you have a dog, and now you’re off to the races talking about dogs. But what really impressed me about Dr. Sproul was his kindness. It’s interesting because if you talk to other people who had an occasion to get to know him, it was his desire to be interested in you that sort of throws people. Once we moved down here and I began here at the college and we would spend regular time together, those were just truly cherished moments with Dr. Sproul. I just really enjoyed the time I had to be able to be with him.

Matt Tully
You mentioned that he was such a communicator—the consummate communicator. You see even through the different phases of his public ministry and his work he was consistently able to communicate so much to the average Christian. You actually write in your book: “R. C. was a communicator. He not only knew what to say, he knew how to say it. Precision, passion, power.” Where do you think that came from?

Stephen Nichols
For one, he loved drama. He loved the drama of the old movies—the silver screen era of Hollywood. As a kid, he’s going off to watch the double features of the vampire movies—the Dracula and Frankenstein movies of Bela Lugosi and Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. He was able to bring that level of drama into his speaking. I think the other thing is—I try to make a big deal about this in the book—he’s from Pittsburgh. There’s just something about being from there. Pittsburgh is just a real city, and there’s a solid sense to it. You can hear it in his dialect that he’s from Pittsburgh, but you can also get a sense of just who he was as a person. He wouldn't put on airs. He didn’t really need to impress. He could walk into the academic debate, hold his own, make the argument, but that’s not really what he wanted to do. He really cared about people and wanted to take the message to the people. There’s been some recent work done on Luther, especially by the Luther scholar Andrew Pettegree who did this book called Brand Luther, and it talks about how Luther’s real genius was the ability to speak to the populous, and that in many ways that was one of the key factors that allowed the Reformation to take and to take so deeply and broadly. He could debate Cardinal Cajetan and the top Roman Catholic theologians, but he was primarily interested in being a populous Reformer. I think R. C. sensed that as well and really wanted to do that. He had some of these early influences (the silver screen and drama), he was very capable with words, understood the power of words, but rather than go the direction of academic obfuscation, he thought, Let’s go the route of clarity, simplicity, and directness. I think you see that in his writing and in his ministry.

11:04 - R. C. and Vesta

Matt Tully
Many of us would know Sproul as a public theologian, as a teacher, as someone who did radio shows and had a print magazine for a time, and he had all these old recordings of him teaching to a class of people. But it’s interesting to learn a little bit more about him as a man in private. You’ve shared a little bit more about him in that regard already, but what was his marriage like? I know he was married to his wife for nearly 60 years before he passed away and they had two children together. What was he like as a husband and a father?

Stephen Nichols
Interestingly enough, Matt, part of the way through this biography I thought that in one sense this is a love story of R. C. and Vesta. It’s one of those things where you couldn’t script it better. They first meet when he’s in the first grade and she’s in the second grade. Her family moved into his town just before the end of the school year. You can sort of picture them in the same elementary school together—the school was sort of right in the middle of their two houses. His house is down the one side of the street and her house is down the other street from the elementary school. He sees her, he’s struck by her, and he swears that his first thought was, I’m going to marry that girl.

Matt Tully
As a first grader.

Stephen Nichols
Yes, as a first grader. She says she doesn’t even remember seeing this boy. She’s interested in making friends with the girls. At that time the boys would hang out on the ballfield and the girls would hang out on the playground, and that was pretty much all summer long. But he constantly had his eye on her. They were dating on and off through high school—he says more on, she says more off. When he got a really nice car, that helped him in his prospects.

Matt Tully
Do you know what kind of car it was?

Stephen Nichols
A Ford Fairlane decked out in chrome. It did the trick. It worked. It was what was needed. So they go off to college. She goes to Wooster College, which is an all-female college at the time; he goes to Westminster. They start dating and after he’s converted, he’s immediately thinking he needs to tell Vesta, but what if she rejects all this? What is she going to think of me? So he invites her to a Bible study and ends up witnessing to her, and she ends up coming to Christ. Then they just continue dating and they get married as she graduates, but he still has one year of college, so he spends his senior year married to her. So, it goes back to first and second grade, and the wedding goes back to 1960. We have mutual friends with the Sprouls—they’re up in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area—and one of their kids thought R. C.’s name was actually R. C.-and-Vesta, because he always heard “R.C. and Vesta.” So when he saw R. C. alone, he would call him “R.C-and-Vesta.” I’m sitting here in my office and I have here behind me portraits of Martin and Katie Luther. It’s very interesting because you don’t find this in other historical figures—portraits of the husband and the wife—but you do find lots of portraits of Martin and Katie together. I think, again, in many ways the story of R. C. is the story of R. C. and Vesta. They were true sweethearts.

Matt Tully
What kind of role did she play in his public ministry over the years?

Stephen Nichols
She is the editor with the non-forgiving pen. Pretty much everything he wrote, and all that came out of Ligonier, she would read with pen in hand. Even to this day, she’ll come into the office every day and she continues to edit the material that comes through Ligonier. She played a significant role and she continues to serve on our board here at Ligonier ministries and she’s also on the board of the college here. So we’re just really happy to have her serve in that capacity.

15:44 - Hobbies and Humor

Matt Tully
What were some of his favorite hobbies or pastimes? You’ve already mentioned that he loved his dogs and maybe occasionally other animals, but what else did he like to do in his free time?

Stephen Nichols
I mention this in the book that it’s probably an understatement to call sports a hobby. If he could have been something else, he would have been a Pittsburgh Pirate instead of a theologian. He did go to college on an athletic scholarship, he was invited to a farm team right out of high school to play baseball, and he went to Westminster college but he was also offered a baseball scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh. He, of course, went to Westminster on an athletic scholarship, but he loved all sports. He played competitively basketball, football, and baseball, but his most favorite sport was hockey. This was classic R. C.: they would wait for a pond to freeze over, and then just go out and play on it. One time he did fall through the ice, he continued to play, got home, his parents rushed him to the doctor, and it’s a wonder he didn’t lose his foot. So that’s a man dedicated to his hobby. He loved hunting. This is, of course, in the mountains of western Pennsylvania. I grew up in western Pennsylvania. The first day of deer season in western Pennsylvania is a school holiday. Everybody hunted in western Pennsylvania in the 1970s. He loved to paint. He had a sketch book, and he also painted. Vesta said he was a terribly messy painter though and that hobby just didn't work out. At the end of his life, he loved puzzles. He and Vesta would do puzzles. He was working on a puzzle when he got sick and went into the hospital just before he died. He left back at home an unfinished puzzle that Vesta finished off.

Matt Tully
What was his sense of humor like? I think many of us have the sense that he was a funny guy and loved to joke around, but what was that like?

Stephen Nichols
You always had to be on your toes with him. Steven Lawson, one of our teaching fellows at Ligonier, called R. C. the “King of the One-Liners.” He really was. He would just rattle them off. He loved to hear jokes. There were a couple of times where I knew he and I would be on a platform together for a conference or for a college event and there was always that sort of dead time where you’re sitting up on the platform and everybody out in the audience always wonders, Are they talking about some deep theological topic? Are they talking about the biblical text they just read? I always went prepared with jokes. I would ask my daughter, whose really good at coming up with jokes or finding jokes, I really need you to find a few jokes because I’m going to need a few for R. C..

Matt Tully
He expected it?

Stephen Nichols
He expected it. And it didn’t matter if it wasn’t necessarily the funniest, but if it was just a new joke, he loved to hear it. If it was corny, that’s fine as long as it wasn’t something he had heard before. He had a great sense of humor. He liked to tease and he liked to be teased. He would come up with nicknames for people and sort of have these playful nicknames. I was Snichols because my email is snichols, so I was Snichols. He was a little mischievous. Can I tell you one really funny story?

Matt Tully
Yes, please. I’m sure we all would like to hear it.

Stephen Nichols
It was a constant battle of what not to put in the book because it would be too embarrassing on me. We had a new building built here and R. C. was not able to see it get completed, which is really sad for me, but he and I did the groundbreaking for it. We got him a Steelers construction helmet and shovel. Prior to the event, I cut out a little piece of the sod and got it all loosened up for him and had it all separated. I told him, When we go out, I’ll hand you the shovel and I’ll just sort of tap my toe right where you should put the shovel, and you dig it out, and all will go well. So, I tap my toe, he gets the little sod on the end of the shovel, and I’m standing right next to him with my black suit on and my black freshly-shined shoes—you always shined your shoes when you were going to be around R. C.—and he has the dirt on the shovel, looks up at me, winks, and then tosses it on my shoes! Of course, nobody else could see what was happening, but I did. And what do you do?

Matt Tully
So you’re convinced that was intentional.

Stephen Nichols
Oh, it’s the wink and that little mischievous grin, then you know you’re going to get it.

Matt Tully
Were there things that just really annoyed him?

Stephen Nichols
This is what’s interesting. I think it takes someone who truly understands what it means to have your sins forgiven to know true joy. There’s something about genuine laughter, and you see it among Christians in genuine fellowship. I’s because we know what we have to be joyful about. So the flip side of that, of course, if you want to talk about stuff that really annoyed R. C., he came out of liberalism. He grew up in the church, sang in the choir in the church, but never heard the gospel. He was in a liberal church, was in a liberal denomination, went to a liberal seminary. So nothing annoyed him more than liberalism—having the treasure of the gospel and obscuring it and keeping it from people. Bad theology annoyed Dr. Sproul because he knew how people needed the gospel.

21:52 - Sproul’s Influential Role in Evangelical Issues

Matt Tully
Over the course of his life, he was involved in so many different issues and even controversies at times. I’m sure many of our listeners know one or more of the things that he was involved with, but walk us through them: What were some of those big theological issues and controversies that he ended up wading into in a significant way over the course of his life?

Stephen Nichols
The first big one was inerrancy. The fruit of that labor was the 1978 Chicago Statement on Inerrancy produced by the International Council on Inerrancy. This conference was held in 1978, and that was such a crucial document, especially if you think of the battle over the Bible of that previous generation. R. C.’s involvement in that is fascinating. A conference was held in 1973, sponsored by Ligonier, about ten minutes away from the study center at a place called the Laurelville Mennonite Retreat Center, carved into the hillside somewhere there in Western PA. And at that conference was J. I. Packer. He had just published Fundamentalism and the Word of God, and after that conference was coming out with a little book he wrote called Knowing God. John Warwick Montgomery was at that conference. Peter Jones, who was a young professor at Westminster Seminary, was at that conference. Clark Pennock was at that conference. It was really the first conference among evangelical scholars to talk about inerrancy. That eventually led to the group getting together to form what was then the Chicago Statement. He was early involved in that debate and then served alongside his foxhole buddy Jim Boice as leaders of the ICBI and was an early president of ICBI, very much promoting inerrancy in the church. So that was the first controversy that he was significantly involved in.

Matt Tully
What would have followed that?

Stephen Nichols
In the 1990s there was the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), and this is one of those moments in American evangelical history that you don’t see coming, and R. C. didn’t see it coming. Now, there’s still a little bit of a divide between those that were on the same side back in the inerrancy moment. Of course, the main division here was with Dr. Sproul and his longtime friend Chuck Colson, and then also J. I. Packer. Colson was significantly involved in the writing of Evangelicals and Catholics Together with Richard John Neuhaus—a former Lutheran turned Roman Catholic figure who wrote a big book called The Naked Public Square and was sort of an influential person in Washington, DC. He got to know Chuck and through that was part of the ECT. R. C. and Chuck had a relationship that went way back. They were on each other’s boards. I mention in the book that there was actually a moment of discussion about a merger between Prison Fellowship and Ligonier Ministries, but you have to read the book to find out about that one. Then, of course, Packer supported the ECT statement, and on the other side was D. James Kennedy from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Mike Horton, Jim Boice, and R. C.. They took a stand here and felt that ECT potentially undermined the doctrine of justification, specifically in regards to imputation. That was a difficult thing for R. C. to do, but it was one of those moments when he saw it as an important stand to take.

Matt Tully
Crossway readers and listeners will probably be especially familiar with J. I. Packer, who’s such an important author with Crossway. What kind of impact did that difference of opinion on ECT have on Sproul and Packer’s relationship?

Stephen Nichols
Immediately, when Dr. Sproul found out about it, he called Packer and they discussed it. They never did come to see eye to eye on it. R. C. would say to Packer, This is a defining issue. This is central to the issue. It’s essential to the gospel. Packer would say, It’s central to the gospel. R. C. would say, It’s essential and defining to the gospel. So, they just couldn’t come to see eye to eye on it. But interestingly enough, I remember when Dr. Sproul passed away back in 2017 there were a number of people that different folks of us here at Ligonier called just to share with them the news that R. C. had passed. We wanted to reach out to them personally. On my call sheet was Dr. Packer. I called him, and immediately his mind went back to the conferences they shared together in the 80s and 90s prior to ECT, back to the inerrancy moment. So, even though there was that rift at ECT and that difference of opinion that both sides maintained after the moment, there still was that history of a friendship there between these two stalwarts.

Matt Tully
It’s wonderful to think of them now, both together in glory, reunited, and any of those rifts healed. Did Sproul ever change his mind on any significant theological issues? You said he came out of a liberal Christian background, but maybe later in his life as a Christian did he ever evolve in his thinking?

Stephen Nichols
That’s a great question, Matt, because I think you see that a lot in people. I think at the center of his thinking, absolutely not. In fact, right early on at the center is The Holiness of God and The Doctrine of God. It’s even there in his bachelor’s thesis as a college student, writing on Herman Mellville’s Moby Dick. You see in there his Doctrine of God. There was a chapter in Moby Dick called, “The Whiteness of the Whale.” I remember one time telling R. C. that in the class here at the college where I have them read Holiness of God, before they read it I have them read “The Whiteness of the Whale” first. His eyes got all big and he got right up in my face and said, “That’s it! That’s it! That’s the chapter behind the book!” So, if you haven’t read Holiness of God, or you’ve read it and you want to reread it, go read “The Whiteness of the Whale” from Moby Dick.

Matt Tully
Had you read his thesis before you assigned that in your classes, or did that just happen?

Stephen Nichols
In research for the biography I came across the thesis and that’s when I thought, I have to assign this chapter. And I love Moby Dick myself. My favorite chapter is the shark attack chapter, but his is “The Whiteness of the Whale.” He would joke about eschatology. At one point he said, I think I’ve held every single view there is to hold when it comes to eschatology.

Matt Tully
That’s encouraging to some of us.

Stephen Nichols
I said, Well, I think there is a minor footnote to that because I don’t think you were ever a dispensationalist, much to the chagrin of John MacArthur. So he held every position on eschatology. He did change his mind on the creation days. He went back and forth on that, and at one point he was not a day-age person, but sort of a framework person. But, he was convinced that there is an implication here for the inerrancy position. That’s how he took it. I know people like Al Mohler have a similar approach to that. At the end, he was very much affirming—this is where he was not necessarily welcomed by the early earth, literal day folks nor the other side—because while he held to a literal day creation, he felt like the Bible was silent on the question of the age of the earth. So he was very careful not to declare that it must be a young earth position, but he was a literal day person. And his mind did change on that from time to time. When it comes to the doctrine of God, inerrancy, and justification by faith, you can see those at the core—all the way through fifty years of ministry—consistency on those doctrines.

30:46 - Dealing with Fame

Matt Tully
How did R. C. deal with his fame? He was in the spotlight for decades. He had a public ministry that reached probably at its peak millions of people around the world. How did he deal with that?

Stephen Nichols
I think he always loved people. He tells a story in one of his books about how early on he had a job as a janitor at a hospital. There was a guy pushing a broom that was a bit of an older gentleman. It turns out, he had been an academic, philosopher, PhD, professor in Europe, had to flee Europe under Nazi regime. Then, because of the Communist takeover never went back, was unable to find work in his field, and ended up pushing a broom in a hospital. It was sort of a pivotal thing for R. C. to recognize that so often people can be overlooked or can be underappreciated. I remember talking to Vesta one time and she said, He truly believed that he had something to learn from everyone, so he never thought of anyone as not worth time or worth his attention. No matter who would write in to R. C., he would write back. If it was a kid or whatever, he would figure out how to get a letter back to him. We have a big prison ministry here at Ligonier. A lot of prisoners would write from time to time. What they don’t know is that most of the time the person writing back to them was Vesta. She used her maiden name of Voorhis rather than Sproul, so they had no idea who this was. But it was Vesta. He always cared about people, and I think that gave him a proper perspective on his time. At the end of his time, I read a lot about how people said, You can’t reach him; he’s insulated; you can’t go up and talk to him after a conference. Some of that was because of his COPD. He was very susceptible to pneumonia, so there was a sense of just trying to keep him from shaking hands with a thousand people. But that was just towards the end and it’s not an indicator of how much he loved people and being around people. I think that always kept him grounded. The other piece to it is he loved pagans and heathens. He had golf memberships at golf clubs and he would play cards with these guys over lunch, and a number of them came to Christ. One of them I write about in the book, and there’s quite a few of them that I actually met here in central Florida that came to Christ. But I think just being around people and being around real people who could care less what he was. They didn’t even know what he was.

Matt Tully
They didn’t know how famous he was.

Stephen Nichols
No. They didn’t know anything about him. And yet, that kept him just grounded and he never seemed to be susceptible to that sort of celebrity image.

34:06 - A Legacy of Making Disciples

Matt Tully
When he looked into the future, were there things that worried him when it came to the health of the church, the health of God’s people?

Stephen Nichols
Absolutely. I think of a number of things.You see this in Galatians, which was one of the last books he preached on. Here is Paul who founded this church, and the churches in Galatia become susceptible to a false gospel. Then you have Luther. One of the last sermons that Luther preached at Wittenberg was basically chastising the people in the pew because they were sneaking off to relics and they were going back to their own paths and ways. What ended up being one of the final sermons preached at Wittenberg, in it Luther is chastising them for abandoning the gospel and turning their back on the gospel. R. C. had that as well—that sense that you just always needed to preach the true gospel and always needed to be aware of how susceptible people are to a false gospel. So, contending for the true gospel and the church preaching the gospel—an uncompromised gospel—was very much a concern for him. He was very much concerned with an awakening. In fact, the theme of the 2018 conference for Ligonier was themed “Awakening.” It was a theme he picked. He died in December of 2017 before we could have that conference, but he purposefully picked it because that was very much a theme that he wanted. He would talk about, even in his own church just right across the way from me here (Saint Andrew’s Chapel), to pray for an awakening in Saint Andrews so that people would not just think they know the gospel or think they know Christ, and pray for an awakening across the church in America and the church around the globe. Those were definite concerns that he had in addition to just the cultural pressures that you can see of secularism and pluralism that are really upon us everyday from every angle of the church. But that sense of not abandoning the gospel and being susceptible to a compromised gospel very much was a concern of his for the church moving forward.

Matt Tully
You mentioned him praying for his own church, that there would be more than just a knowledge of the truth or just a knowledge of the gospel. As we think about R. C. Sproul, I think one of the terms that might come to mind is he was a pretty intellectual guy who spent a lot of time teaching ideas and teaching history and doctrine. And yet, it seems like you’re saying he was keenly aware that that wasn’t enough—it’s not enough to know the truth. We need to have our hearts matching what we know. Would you say that’s true?

Stephen Nichols
It’s great you bring that up. We have this event—here at Ligonier we call it “Reformation Circle.” It’s a group of some of our significant supporters we meet with every year. R. C. loved that group. We usually meet with them in October. In 2015—either 2015 or 2016—as he spoke to that group, he spoke on being a disciple. He spent time discussing the difference between a learner and a disciple. He said both learn; but the difference between the two is the one actually obeys and lives. He said at Ligonier, from the beginning, we were not after only learners; we were after disciples. He was all for learning. You must know before you can believe; you must know before you can obey. So it’s not disciples instead of learners; it’s not only learners; but disciples that move from just simply knowing the truth to obeying the truth; from just simply knowing God to loving God; from just simply affirming the holiness of God to embracing the holiness of God. And then saying, I need to grow in holiness. It’s interesting. I look back on this, Matt, and it blows my mind. In 1984 he published his Classical Apologetics, which is a classic text co-written with John Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley. Back to nicknames, he called Arthur “Art the Dart.” So you had Classical Apologetics, a classic text published in 1984. In 1985, Holiness of God—a classic text. In 1986, Chosen by God—another classic text. In 1987, Loving God—which, I think, is one of his best books. I really enjoyed that book. It’s not as well known. Then, in 1988 he writes Pleasing God. In one sense, all of those books led to that one. Pleasing God is actually a book on sanctification. It’s been republished recently as Growing in Holiness. It’s not just singing “Holy, holy, holy!” as a worship chorus and we leave enraptured in ecstasy. It is that, but then it is we have an obligation to grow in holiness as children of a holy God. It’s so great you picked up on that because I think that really gets to the heart of what he wanted Ligonier to be about and what he wanted his ministry to be about. Not just learners, but disciples.


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