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R. C. Sproul: A Life

By Stephen J. Nichols

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R. C. Sproul: A Life

By Stephen J. Nichols

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Introducing the First Biography of the Life and Ministry of R. C. Sproul

R. C. Sproul (1939–2017) was a pastor, a professor, an author, and the founder and president of Ligonier Ministries. His contributions in the areas of biblical studies, theology, worldview and culture, Christian living, and church history continue to be held in high regard.

In this book, Stephen J. Nichols offers an in-depth look at Sproul’s life and ministry—his childhood; his formative seminary education; his marriage and partnership with his beloved wife, Vesta; his influence on broader American evangelicalism; and his many friendships with key figures such as James Montgomery Boice, John MacArthur, John Piper, J. I. Packer, and Chuck Colson. This biography details the profound impact Sproul had on the lives of many during his lifetime, and highlights the various ways his legacy continues to influence countless pastors and students worldwide.

Read Chapter 1


Stephen J. Nichols

Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He has written over twenty books and is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series. He also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.

Product Details

Category: History & Biography
Format: Hardcover w/ Jacket
Page Count: 400
Size: 6.0 in x 9.0 in
Weight: 24.7 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-4477-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-4477-4
ISBN-UPC: 9781433544774
Case Quantity: 16
Published: March 02, 2021

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Great Escape

Chapter 1: Pittsburgh
Chapter 2: Ecclesiastes 11:3
Chapter 3: Student Professor Pastor Teacher
Chapter 4: Ligonier
Chapter 5: Inerrancy
Chapter 6: Apologetics
Chapter 7: Holiness
Chapter 8: Stand
Chapter 9: Holy Space, Holy Time
Chapter 10: A New Reformation
Chapter 11: Doxology

Appendix 1: R. C. Sproul’s Final Two Sermons: “A Glorious Savior” and “A Great Salvation”
Appendix 2: R. C. Sproul Timeline
Appendix 3: Books by R. C. Sproul
Appendix 4: Crucial Question Booklet Series Titles by R. C. Sproul
Appendix 5: Ligonier National Conference Themes and R. C. Sproul Lecture Titles
Appendix 6: Representative Teaching Series by R. C. Sproul
Appendix 7: Selected Sermons Series Titles Preached by R. C. Sproul at Saint Andrew’s Chapel
A Note on the Sources
General Index
Scripture Index


“This theologically rich, warm, and personal look at a rare servant of the Lord is masterful. The range of R. C.’s vast interest and contribution, along with the irresistible charm of his personality, require a biographer who is a church historian, theologian, and very close friend. Stephen Nichols is the best choice, as this account demonstrates. He has brought to the pages a story truly revealing R. C.—an account that lives and breathes the man we loved as our teacher and friend. There will be other biographies of R.C., but I cannot imagine any that would come close to this one.”
John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; Chancellor, The Master’s University and Seminary

“This book is worth your time because it celebrates a man worth remembering. R. C. was a masterful theologian who could so easily squeeze sweetness from what others considered dry doctrine. His sermons and books beautifully adorned the gospel, but so did his life. It’s what I love about Stephen Nichols’s remarkable work. He takes us behind the scenes to reveal the true makings of this great saint of the twentieth century, why his words endure, and why we are inexorably drawn to his live-large character. I’ve always admired R. C. Sproul for his razor-sharp mind; now, with this biography, he’s printed on my heart. Thank you, Stephen Nichols, for helping the reader fall in love with this lion of a man, my friend, the good Doctor Sproul.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center; author, Joni: An Unforgettable Story and Songs of Suffering

“I couldn’t put this book down, for it doesn’t just tell the fascinating story of a life well lived; it takes you on R. C.’s own journey. Through it you see where the fire came from. Through it you get the thrill of soaking up his passion for the gospel of Christ, for biblical truth, and for the beauty of God in his holiness. But my hope for this book is not that it might provide a nice reunion for those of us who knew and loved R. C.; my prayer is that the Lord might use it to inspire more faithful Reformers, more God-fearing defenders and proclaimers of the faith, more like R. C. Sproul.”
Michael Reeves, President and Professor of Theology, Union School of Theology; author, Rejoice and Tremble and Gospel People

“I remember once hearing R. C. Sproul preach on Psalm 51, and I asked him afterward how long it had taken him to prepare his lecture that day. He smiled and said, ‘About five minutes . . . and thirty years.’ I have no doubt that future generations will benefit from R. C.’s prolific ministry two hundred years from now, should the Lord tarry. Stephen Nichols has given us a gift in this book. Anyone whose life was marked, as mine has been, by R. C.’s life and ministry will treasure getting to know him better through these pages.”
Bob Lepine, Cohost, FamilyLife Today; Teaching Pastor, Redeemer Community Church, Little Rock, Arkansas

“I am thankful for this accessible biography of R. C. Sproul by Stephen Nichols. His clear and simple way of writing is certainly appropriate in his biography of a man who always sought to communicate the glorious theology of Scripture in a clear and simple way.”
Burk Parsons, Senior Pastor, Saint Andrew’s Chapel, Sanford, Florida; Editor, Tabletalk

“Stephen Nichols has written a fantastic biography about one of the greatest minds and finest teachers of our time. This book highlights the theology, biblical integrity, courage, character, and intellectual prowess of one the late giants of the modern-day church—a man who fought the good fight and had the honor of finishing well the race set before him by his Lord, whom he loved, revered, and worshiped all his life. R. C. immediately recognized when the gospel was at stake, and he applied his keen mind in defense of it, sometimes at great cost. It was a privilege and a delight to read about R. C. Sproul, one of the three men who have most influenced my thinking concerning the character of God in general and his piercing holiness in particular. I am indebted to him in so many ways.”
Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

“Even though R. C. Sproul’s name will stand in the annals of church history as one of its great theologians in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, few people know about his life, career, struggles, victories, and ministries. This book will give you the historical and spiritual context around R. C.’s greatest series, books, and sermons. You will be able to understand the power of God’s grace in R. C.’s life, R. C.’s dominion of all areas in systematic theology, and his ability to understand and teach biblical text in a simple and clear way. Knowing the man helps you better understand the preacher. Stephen Nichols has helped me get to know better the man that God has used to bless my ministry.”
Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, Assistant Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Recife, Brazil; Vice President, Supreme Council, Presbyterian Church of Brazil

“This book is about a man from a small town outside Pittsburgh who was chosen by God to teach, preach, and communicate the gospel to millions of people around the world. The Lord used this disciple of Jesus Christ in a mighty way. His ability to convey the word of God in simple yet powerful ways and his love and kindness toward his fellow man were evident throughout his life. His teaching ministry, books, and lessons have taught so many the truth and holiness of God. We miss him, but he fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith as a servant to our holy God.”
Robert M. Wohleber, Retired CFO, Kerr-McGee

“Stephen Nichols, an extraordinary scholar and exhaustive researcher, does an outstanding job portraying a man of intelligence, communicative ability, and love who devoted his life to Jesus Christ by teaching and preaching the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the holiness of God, and the solas. R. C. was devoted to keeping the gospel pure, logical, and understandable for the laymen. The Holy Spirit, using R. C.’s time, patience, wit, and logic, without ever compromising biblical doctrine, led this ‘heathen’ lawyer and countless others to Jesus Christ. As Nichols so clearly illustrates in this biography of the life of a titan of the Christian faith, R. C.’s ministry will continue to ‘count forever’ for many as they live coram Deo.”
Guy T. Rizzo, attorney

“Stephen Nichols is thorough, well-balanced, and theologically alert in this biography of R. C. Sproul. He writes the way R. C. lived and taught. Readers of R. C. and Reformation lovers will appreciate this story of the leader of Reformed revival for a new generation.”
Russ Pulliam, Columnist, Indianapolis Star

“R. C. Sproul was such a vibrant and interesting person that it would be a mortal sin to write a dull biography about him. On this point Stephen Nichols is sinless, giving us a captivating and deeply insightful portrait of an extraordinary Christian. He shows us R. C. as he was: passionate for God’s truth and God’s people yet balanced and centered; learned yet clear and popular; successful yet humble and always himself. Nichols’s only fault—if it is a fault—is that he left me wanting more.”
W. Robert Godfrey, President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus, Westminster Seminary California; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries

"This theologically rich, warm, and personal look at a rare servant of the Lord is masterful."

John MacArthur

Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; Chancellor, The Master’s University and Seminary