Life and Books and Everything
Life and Books and Everything

Episode · 8 months ago

Stephen J. Nichols on R.C. Sproul


Stephen J. Nichols is President of Reformation Bible College, Chief Academic
for Ligonier, and host of the 5 minutes in Church History podcast. He’s the co-editor of Crossway’s Theologians of the Christian Life series, and the reason he joins us for this episode is his new biography of R.C. Sproul.

Life and Books and Everything is sponsored by Crossway, publisher of Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotional by Paul David Tripp.  

Best-selling author Paul David Tripp invites us to set aside time from the busyness of our lives to focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. Each of the short readings in Journey to the Cross encourages us to abide in the abundant joy found in Christ as we encounter the Savior more fully and follow him more faithfully during this Lenten season. 

For 30% off this book and all other books and Bibles at Crossway, sign up for a free Crossway+ account at 


Recommended Devotional for Lent [0:00 – 1:17] 

Not THAT Stephen Nichols [1:17 – 4:05] 

Meeting R.C. Sproul [4:05 – 11:12] 

Shaping Influences on R.C.: Pittsburg, Gerstner, Berkouwer, Vesta [11:12 – 16:57] 

Gravity and Gladness [16:57 – 23:21] 

Ligonier Valley Study Center [23:21 – 30:31] 

The Big Break [30:31 – 36:56] 

Controversies [36:56 – 39:31] 

Jim Boice [39:31 – 42:44] 

Evangelicals and Catholics Together [42:44 – 49:04] 

Classical Apologetics [49:04 – 53:59] 

Favorite Book of R.C. Sproul [53:59 – 56:13] 

Quick Questions [56:13 – 1:06:49] 

Books and Everything: 

Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotional, by Paul David Tripp 

R.C. Sproul: A Life, by Stephen J. Nichols 

The Holiness of God, by R.C. Sproul  

Its FO greetings and salutations welcome tolife and books and everything I'm Kemendy young and I am joined herewith Dollin, Hanson and Justin Taylor, and we will introduce our special yestin just a moment good to be with you again. We have had a great line of yesthis season and today is no exception. I do want to mention at the beginningagain thanks to prosway for sponsoring this episode, and it would beappropriate to mention the devotional from Paul David tripsvery hard to find good devotionals, really there's a lot out there, butgood ones are hard to find, but all rights, good ones, journey to the crossof forty day. Linton devotion also, if you're looking for something during theLinton season, Paul trip uses this book to invite us to set aside time from thebusiness of our lives and think for these forty days and the suffering andsacrifice of Christ. Certainly that would be appropriate and would bebeneficial so check out that book from crossway from Paul trip. All right,good do have the gang here and our special guest. We have Steve Nichols here with us and we'regoing to talk about this wonderful book which he's written RC sprawl a life nowSteve. I went online. Here's what the wikipedia page says for stepen NicholsSteven Nichols is an American actor recognized for his roles on Americandaytime soap operas. He has portrayed the role of Steve Johnson on NBC's daysof our lives. He joined the cast of ABC's General Hospital as StafanCasadine from two thousand nine to two thousand and thirteen. He portrayed therole of Tucker McCall on the young and the restless. Is this you. I willclearly set the record straight here Kevin. That is not I as much as I wishit was me is not I I think you could pull it off. I thinkyou could pull it off the four of US ory. I could see. As you said,wickvedia page, I knew exactly where you're going with that, but and thathave you seen ot I had and I think his one character. I think the Tuckercharacter had an eye patch, so this guys so cool. Let's just put ityeah, I mean look at his name: Stefon Kasadi, yea, hucker mccau. You guysever done the game. Were you find your soap opera name? You take your middlename plus the street that you grew up on. So mine is Lee Parkside, which isnot a bad, so proper name Colin. What would Christopher rural route one nopeNOP ocheral, blackstone o this is gooddsboage novel character there. Justmine would be similar to Colens. It would be Jeffrey. Woral drive numbertwo youoa moral folks, okay, the RealSteveen J Nichols is president of Reformation Bible, College chief,academic officer for Leganer and a leganeer teaching fellow. He hostsnumber O podcast five minutes in Church history and others. The author ofnumerous books and resources related to Jonathan Edwards,and he is the coeditor of the prossways theologians of the Christian lifeseries so good to have you with us and most important Steph, and I once had ahamburger together in Hamburg. We did, I totally remember our hamburger inHamberg very poetic. Yes, it was. It...

...was wonderful, all right we're going to talk about RC.This is a great book now. I know Youyou saythat at the beginning of podcast, but really I thought I'd read this over acouple of weeks. It's three hundred and fifty pages. When you get all theependacies, I think I read it in two or three nights. I just couldn't put itdown. It's really well written you've done areally good job, so congratulations on that. It really is in the pictures inthe middle, are great and tells RC story. So well done on this reallyfantastic book Steve. When did you first meet RC? So I was college student. This was backin the PCRTDAYS, the filled up conference,reporm theology hosted their tenth press in Philadelphia and I remember itvery vividly a friend of mine and I were standing in line. You know for thebook signing at these conferences and classmate of mine and he had one of ourses books. He was getting itsigned and, as orce was signing it, he asked him DrSproll. By any chance, are you going to be speaking in New Jersey soon and DokProll looked up at him and said? If I am going to be in New Jersey, it'snot going to be by chance, so that was my first personal meeting with DrSprowl. So I decided I'm not going to say anything. I just handed him my bookand had thim sign and then several decades later met himagain came down here for a conference back in thendy ten. I believe and had a dinner with him as all nervous.You know, meeting Dr Sproll and honestly, I remember within just acouple minutes just being put at perfect ease with dark sproll withVesta and just had an enjoyable evening with him. What did he think of youworking on this biography? So the first time I asked him to do itthis wis. Back few years we had dinner. We were dinner together, our C Investa,and I said Dr Sprok. What do you think about my writing? O biography? I said.Oh, that's great great idea on who ands will you and he goes on me. There's no story here and, andthen I think, Vesta very quickly said: Oh we're private people, so I thoughtI'll see how this conversation goes. But eventually he came around and and thought theremight be some merit in it and was very gracious and gave us its full blessing to the project and asEble to spend many sessions with him just sitting in his home with a openMike and just talking about his life. What was your process say a little bitmore about that for doing the biography? How did you do your research and was ithard that's interesting that they would say their private people? Was it hardto get access to really uncover their story? So one of the things that made it hardKevin is the they don't keep things the sprolls like they're constantlythrowing out stuff. I couldn't even find the original manascript for theholiness of God. I think they just threw it out when they made the movethat hear they had correspondence with mantill. Ithink about five letters passed between R C and Vantil. They don't have it soso there I know, think of all this, but there's still as a lot of things.The main sources were t the sessions that I had with him. Recording then,after his passing VESTA and I had a few more sessions to fill in some details,he did record some memoir sessions, video record with Leganar side accessto those had his original notebooks from his student days and the lectureoutlines for his early lectures at the study center ap En Leganer, and then Ihad his library, and that was a lot of... because I could sort of go throughand see the sources and read his margin notes. So those were some of the sources thatI had and what sort of biography would yousay this is mea. Last year I interviewed James Eglinton course isgreat biography of Bavink, a critical biography, not negative, but a critical,proper academic biography of bobbing. So that's one kind, there's the John Piper biographies of heroes thatit's sophisticated, but it's meant to inspire and then there's you knowmissionary Hageography, that's just Robra. What sort of category would youput this biography of sprowl? I would say it is not of the heavyacademic category, but neither is it in the sort of inspirational approach Ithink, somewhere in between. I recognize that there's going to be morebiographies to come and I hope there are- and I hope there are, that thatare of that academic nature in I. I think there could be dissertations tocome, so I did recognize that maybe thiscould be a good source for them. So I wanted to be careful and thoughtful inthe research and present it well and presents sort of the whole story sothat as biographers further biorphers come along. This might be a goodstarting point for them that they can build off of, but I find and I've haven't done, a fool. This wis,the first biography I wrote you know for terms of life to death, hadbiographical material and other books that I've written or written historical,theological books on historical figures. But when I do write biographicalmaterial, I find the person commendable and I want to commend them to thereader. I want to say yeah this. This person wasn't perfect, certainly a, butI think this person was a faithful servant and here's. WhatI think was the e. Their life was about here's. What some of their key ideaswere- and I think, if you spent some time with this person, could be helpfulto you, so I wanted to cover his life and I did want to cover what I thoughtwere some of his main contributions to the church to the Christian tradition.So I wanted to sort of pause at a few key points and elaborate a little bitto sort of stake out. Some claims where I think R C made an made a goodcontribution and actual contribution. Well, you've done that really well, andI think it does fit that middle ground. It's not a critical biography in the academicsense, but it's not a hundred pages. It's not a a funeral eulogy either.Just let's celebrate the man. Clearly Youre sympathetic to him is all of usare and want to celebrate lots that's worth celebrating, but you do a nicejob of telling the story with good pros in a way, that's obviously appreciativeof RC without getting so purple and its pros that we lose sight of a man. L T.let me ask a multipart question and then see it. What Colin and Justin wantto Chime- and I got lots of questions we won't get through all of them, but give me a few bullet points here:Shaping influences on RC and I'm going to give you four categories: PittsburgGersner, Berkower and Vesta say a little bit about those shapinginfluences on RC as a man and a theologian. I think Pittsburgh has a lot to do withit. The more I got into the story. I sensed the texture of time and PlaceYon W. I think it's true of all of us. We live in contexts and we live in acontext of our times and oveur place, and you know all about Pittsburg is, isthe place that impacts or c. There was...

...a toughness to him. There was somethingthat was real about him. He had clearly an academic mind, but somany people with academic minds have difficulty relating to audiences orrelating to Laidy, and there was just a common man down to Earth natured RC andI think all that has to do with Pittsburgh. There was definitely atoughness to RC h. He he loved Luther, because Luther was theone who took the courageous stand, and I think you can see that in Pittsburghand then, of course, he would shape by Pittsburgh. Athletics, so steelers andpirates were very much part of that. So I think Pittsburgh was a huge influencejust the place. He wrote it himself. You can take man out of Pittsburgh,which can't take Pittsburgh out of the man you mentioned Gershner, so here heis an liberal seminary and Gerscheners his lifeline. He youknow he comes into a class. We have a professor here who also went toPittsburgh and the Old Testament professor. There would start the classoff by holding up a Bible and saying this is not the word of God. This isnot the word of God. This is not the word of God, he'd say it three timesevery single class you taught he mentions arsy mentioned sitting inhis New Testament survey class and the professor saying. Okay: next is thebook of Romans, but there's nothing really here, so we're just going toSKAP and go right to the Corentes Measso. Here you go to seminary and youspend literally zero time in Romans. So now wee got kishner. Who just was he describes Gersaas a lifeline as forhim through seminary and then Gercheer's toughness R C saw grorceers mind like a bear,trap and also Gerschners just labor. He worked hard as a scholar, so I thinkall that influenced him. Then we get to burk hower. Of course. The funny thingis our ce goes to the Netherlands S, not knowing a word of Dutch yeah,that's in so, and he spent an hour to work through. I mean all dayto work through a page of twelve hours, yeah twelve hours, one pade. So it'sfunny. He went to Gerchener Gerner hands in the reading list for his firstclass or BUR oward. I'm sorry Burk Cowa our hands and pushes the reading list.Acrosse our sea and orcy reads it it's. You know so many books and Dutch, somany books and Latin or German, and so many books in French and and Berkowercould see the expression of our scenes. prace and Arce couldn't totally outhimself. So all he could bring himself to say to Burkehowrasad. I don't myFrench is not that good brokars ill. Give me the list back, takes Lis back,crosses off the French and add three more Dutch titles. R C said truth.Neither was my dat. Neither was my German, but I just couldn't tell that,but birk cower two just at the time he probably was heleading theologian in Europe and then the other thing that was reallyfascinating was Berkower, just gotten back from Vatican to where he had ashis roommate Hans Kong. So here RC in this classmates are getting a first rowseat, a d color commentary on Vaticand too so very interesting and then vestyeah yeah. You Know Kevin. This is the thing I really enjoyed about the bookas I got into it in the one sense. It's a love story,the story of Orce. It really is they meet when he's in the first gradeshe's in the second, they don't really start dating tilljunior high years. Then they get...

...engaged at college married before hegraduates. It really is the story of our C INVESTA and she continues to this date to beinvolved in Leganer ministries and help us out with that doting things but yeah, it's sort of like Martin andKatie. You know it's the same thing with ourcee Investa, so it cannot cannot overestmate the influence yeah. Thatwas a a pleasant surprise. I mean I knew that the influence she had but to see thatcome through often in the biography- and you know all of our heroes- havehave clay feet in different ways, but to see a genuine, warm marriage, even it's captured insome of the pictures and their zest and their smile for life and for each otherwas, was really sweet to see, and I'm glad you brought that out. Just in yourquestion, Yeah Steve Thanks for publishing the book with Crosswayi suchan honor to publishing your biography, and I'mreally glad to be talking to you. How would you describe the way in whichRC was able to combine kind of gravity and gladness I'm trying to think ofanybody else that I would compare him to that could have the sort of twinklein his eye the ability to just let out a Gargantuin laugh and yetalso have the reverential seriousness and gravitoss. Can you talk a little bit about wherethat comes from yeah? Be Glad to you know: First Justid,you you think me, and I know this is goingno sound, like mutual admirationsociety here, but really I'm so grateful for Crossway for this projectand you personally, you were. You were right there from the beginning with itbefore I talked to dark proll about it. So, thanks for for all you've done tomake this possible Youras, they all say youre the forst gump of avegelicals andjust show up everywhere. So I'm not sure, there's a whole lot that happensthat doesn't have your fingerprint somewhere behind it. I alse think ofJustin. Is Forest cump that's for another day, yeah, just likee box of tosos. So the serious question here I think well for one: Let's just callit for what it was. He was mischievous. There was a a mistevous sense of humorto him that that was just fun to be around and you never. First of all, you cannever keep up with him, so you didn't even try, but you also. Never youweren't quite ready for it, and I think people weren quite ready for it.Sometimes they expected some sort of seriousness of sort o whatever, andthen he would just deliver this one liner. I remember I kind of Sare a quick storyand then I'l get into your question hereas many stories as you like. Welove stories so when we were doing the dedication of the new building overhere it was the spring of two thousand andseventeen URC was there. We got a a steeler's construction helmet to wearfor the groundbreaking, and I had dug up a part of the sad prior to this and sort of left it loose on the groundthere, and I told Dark Proll that you know when it comes time I'll take mytoe and I'll. Just sort of point right to where it is, and you just lift it upwith shovel, so I point my toihe picked up with shovel. Then he looks up at me.He still sort of been over it. Ovwey looks up at me, gives me this littlewink. Then he looks at my shoes and I knew exactly what he's going todo, and so he throws the the sod onto my shoes onto my dressshoes, while IASstatding there and of course no one seeing this and it's off camera,because the camera is, you know just waste up so anyway that was Dactrsproll. He was mischievous and funny. Aul moler says you know, conferencespeaker, dinners are just boring when...

...our C was not there, when our cee wasthere, it was laughter and w e Ho. Wasn't there you have a bunch ofintroverts, you know srout eating dinner. I think and mentioned this a little bitin the book. You know it's when we realize when we realize what salvation meanswhen we realize that Christ has taken in my place, the wrath of God uponhimself, then we can have true joy in the Gospeland I think, there's a there's something to that. There's there'ssomething to being aware of what redumption really means and ifthere's anything that Dr Sproll vividly grasped, it was what redumption reallyManti. He knew, the holiness of God. He knew the the active and passiveobedience of Christ. He knew the atonement, and these were doctrines. Hereally knew vividly, and I think that gave him that outlookon life that could be at once serious and at once joking I mean you know this.Everyone knows the little what's wrong with you, people that that thing thatcame out at the QNA I was I was there was at that QNA session. When thathappened. I sit next to der Thomas and we could both see it in OURC'sexpression. We could see that our sea was getting. He was angered by this question and wecould see it and he says: What's you know what's wrong with you, people andthe audience started to laugh because they thought he was joking and he wasI'm serious. He turns around and says to the to the audience. You know theseare all his students, I'm serious and Derek, and I both were doing one ofthese cocan. We anwe step back here moment, but but that was our C and andso there was that grab a toss to Huto laughter, and I think I do thinkit has to do with something with understanding ultimate truths. You know it's it's hard. There aren'tmany men of his stature and preaching an intellect and influence who aregenuinely really funny in RC, certainly was, and that's areally important part, and I'm sure he would say this abouthimself and you would to it's not someting, that's not something you can learn. I mean you can't he wasn't, it was who he was, and it wasn'tsomething that he thought of a strategy that I'm going to now be funny. It washis very in some ways: Boyish impish personality. You say at one point: Youknow he a and Gersner both liked to growl.They were, they were growlers, but he also had that big, wide smile and laughter- and Imean I didn't know him like like you did- Ijust met him a few times but boy. I really missed that, and we really. Wereally could use that proper. I, like gravity and gladness, that's a verygood piperian phrase. Ther Justin Colin. I would love to know Steve Moreabout Leganer Valley, Scudy Center. I am too young to be able to relate to thestudy center wave, but it looks like for the lates into the s. That was areally big deal. One of the things that I noted in yourbigraphy of sprol is what he would call Gab fest. One reason why I noticed thatis because at West hopewall Presbyterian church Tim Keller would goon to host something into the onre. Am Two am called Gabfest and we know wherlearned it. He learned it from Arcy and...

...that Leganer Valley, Study Center,where he and Kathy had both participated, so tell me a little bitabout the real leganeer before leganearministries, with its video and relocates to Orlando, but the reallocation of it and the study center phenomenon, moregenerally, which I don't think really continues much, not in the same way, atleast as it was at the time as Great Question Colin, and it wasreally a fun part of the book to write. So it's it's installstown Pennsylvania,which is in the Liganer Valley, which is about an hour's drive to the east and a little bit to thesouth of Pittsburgh. It's a beautiful place of the country. It's theallegheny mountains, which is part of the foothills of the vast appalacianmountains, just a lot of updown twist and turn rural roads. Very rural, veryecluded lots of snow in the winter, and this this is where it was. Thatarea was sort of the playground for the rich of Pittsburgh. So the COUHMANS, aFranklolld rigts, probably the most famous house, F America Falling WaterToif. I franklud right for the coffmins is only about fifteen minutes away fromthe study center. The HELMANS and Dorhellman was the benefactress ofleginer. Her husband, Jane John Hartwell Helman, was billionaire thatlived there, the melons car neggies, so so this isjust a beautiful part of the country Leganer in seventy one. Dora bought afifty two acre farm and turn it over to the sprolls, had an old stone house onit and had their private home, which they called Lecture House. It was asprawling one story home. They knocked out all the walls and a sort ofkitchen dining room, living room, Aria and that could hold eighty people,especially. This is the s right. These are teenagers and they're sitting onthe floor and and they would just come and sit inour CS home and be taught by ource and one of those popular things. They didwere these Gab fests and it was literally any question and Orsee. Hewanted the study center to be a place where people could ask real questionsand get real answers. I mean this was the time of the Cultural Revolution.Sexual Revolution- Kent State is literally just across the river hour orso, and half drive away, so the Democratic convention and streets ofChicago and of the s these were tumultuous times. Liberalism was a mockin the denominational churches, RCS denomination, and so they wanted thisplace to be a place where people would get real answers and for our se thatwould mean for scripture. He wasn't alone, as the teacher earlyon they brought in teachers that Alec Manchur was an early, regular teacher.There bout some fatullty down from Gordon Gerschner would come and teach and they would teach courses ontheology on Biblical studies and people just came for it and they'd sit thereand take these classes, and people could also come stay for a couplemonths and RC would give them their own study. Syllabus to study raspoleum wasone of those and he had already had his bastherous degree but felt like heneeded some theological training, and so I believe he was at this rest says:All he remembers is cropping an infinite amount of wood. Well, he remembers other things too, but this is it and, like you mentionedTim and Caky Keller, were there here's a interesting fact: RC married Tim andCathy Keller, so there's there's quite a legacy there, but there were alsounnamed folks who went I put in the book story of this kid who was Parkin,Lotman, Robil, mall and Carloade girl shows up and says: Hey we're going outto the mountains, for a Bible study...

...went to come along and it was jus likesure hops in the car next th knows is study center and he's sitting thereunder our ses teaching just keeps coming back and back kicking oug. WellAnyway, he got a copy of we put our little leganier. We put outjust the Leganier chapter for ministry partners. He got it, he read it. Hesent me a text and he said that's me and hear this story that Ihad heardwhat is this guy and he went on. It was an engineer but he'sstill faithfully teaching Sunday school and his raisedhis familes Sunday,school teacher and they're still using sproll video series for a Sunday schoolclass. So just so many people went through the study center and it was, itwas just a place where they could get teaching and teaching a God's words wasit. What was that a sustainable? Is that kind of why it died out in general?Was it sustainable lifestyle for the teachers, because it is very much ithearkens back to Luther House, you make a deference there that se, thishistoric example that you give. I think we could throw Edwards into there aswell. That was really how pastoral training you're the expert in Edwards,but that's how pasterole training was done domestically in the home of course,iies the most famous EA for Lebri, which is more of a contemporary rightto Thisr right and they did meet with the shaefers before they founded it,and Shaeffer warned them that the toll is going to be on your family, becausethis is twenty, four or seven. And so after a couple years of this, thesprolls moved about a mile off of the property, because it really was no restfor them. And you know it's meals, it's it's being host and hostess and it'steaching. And then what happened? was he asked if its sustainable hat,what they began to realize in the mid S, was that through the reach of video,the ths tapes atthat, they could have a much moreextensive out reach without this fifty two acre campus, which demanded a tonof the staff, and so that was really the decision to move Leganier toOrlando in the mid S O, which they di one thousand nine hundred and eightyfour. So your question about it was it asustainable model. It was for a good dozen year run, but but not probablysustainable for per much past. That Steve, when do you think humanlyspeaking, RC new or other people knew yeah. Thisis this is going to be a big deal. I mean you mentioned a billionairebenefactor, so somebody is seeing something that seems really significantin our seasn ministry. What I was reminded of reading the biography ishow parapathetic he was early on. I mean you talk about Amsterdam and then Netherlands and newWilvington, again Winna Massachusetts at Gordon Philadelphia, a Sunday schoolclassroom in Orlean, Orland, Presbyterian Church Cincinnati, I n hewent he bounced around to a lot of different places. When do you think putting your historians head on, youwould say: Yep that's when it started to go big and that's when people knewyeah. This is going to make a big impact, so I do think they never started leganier with the idea thatthis was going to be huge. I really think they started leganier justbecause it was something that was put in front of they wanted to be faithful. Two things led into that. One wasteaching that Sunday school ind, the suburb of Philadelphia, was professorat Gordon, his T, thosand. Twenty nine on thirty he's a seminary professor,really at the height of what his professionahe wanted to be and by hisown county saide was bored and the students were sort of. You knowthey were busy. They jobs, they were't...

...always paying they werent totally intoeverything classroom. Then you teach the Sunday school class to thesePhiladelphia professionals, lawyers and whatnot, and they were eating it up, and this was asay so class on Christology, and I really think it was there at thatSunday, school class in N Orlean that the vision for Leganier ministries wasborn. Then he went to Sarahnac Lake and did a young life conference, and thiswas really a significant moment and Dorry Hilman was a suporter of a younglife. She was there. R C did his first holiness of God series there and after a couple h sessions, shepulled him. Aside. D, She said: If you could do anything in the world. Whatwould it be- and he said I'd start a study center and the wheels got turning and within ayear it's liganeer. I think what happened was. Nobody wasdoing this Kevin. Nobody was taking the the eighteen and twenty somethingseriously in the s. They were being written off by a lot of people. You know now we live in the age of somuch lay education, but there was none of that back in the we're. On the other end, Colin of yourobservation of the young Restwas in reformed here we are wet back o six orfifteen years past that well we're you know we're before that was even therewe didn't have the conference circuit. We didn't have podcast, so you this was a voice in thewilderness and I think it just connected with people because it wasjust. I was not patronizing them. It was not dodging questions. It was justserious teaching for people w who wanted who were thoughtful Christiansand wanted wanted to know God's work betterknow who god was so. I think that was the secret sauce and, and then it justkept us as they were faithful. The other thing is- and I love this aboutLegan Er, and I think this is true of a lot of organizations ther their convictional and confessional, but they're very innovative when itcomes to technology and they're very, very happy to use innovative means toget the message out, and so they were Doin leganier had to send churchescassette players so that they could watch a video cassettes. I mean that'show cutting nobody was had a video cassette player in one thousand ninehundred and seventy seven. You know so they're having to send BCRS to churches,so they could watch tape so from the beginning, leganeer was alwaysexploring how technology could be a good through good stewardship oftechnology. Get the message out. You say in the book that RC was apopulist which is sort of been talking about a wanted to speak, to lay peoplea popular riser. You know one of one of the criticisms and I think it's unfair,but how would you respond? Some people would say even recently readingsomebody say oh RC and sort of others of his ilk. They never were wellrespected among real theologians or real academics and sort of poopooing.The kind of reach that RC had. What did he care about those sort of criticisms?And what would be your response to those? I think he was very capableacademically, and you know his first piece that he published was a journalArticle and it was on Luther and the Solas, and I was first spublished journal Article With the footnotes, academic, Peur, review piece.Then the second thing he published- and this was back- you know throughwids atime when Chrishie today was a medy...

...publication back in the S it hadgravatoss, so he published a second piece was in Christian Today on existentialism and Human Autonomy. Thatwas the title of this article. I think he could have done those kindsof things but, and he did he was in the academy.He was at Gordon College as a professor, he was at Conwell. thiological seminerwas invited to go up with the conwell Faculty when Conwell merged with Gordonand chose not to do that, and instead saw himself. As I said, he sort of wasbored in the seminary. Classroom got really excited jost talking to lightpeople, Ahout theology, and so I think he' said yes, there's theacademy, but that's not his calling. He just really enjoyed writing books forpeople and the fute great I'm going to keep going justin ancall. If you have something jump in because I got lots of question. I wantto talk about some of the controversies that he was involved inso say a little bit about RCE's role in the inarrency controversy and thenwe'll jump a couple of decades forward and talk about Ect, evangelicals andCatholics together. What was Dr sprolls concern and what was his contributionin those to really significant controversies in the Evangelical World Yeah? So the the issue in hisdenomination was authority and reliability of scripture and then thatspills out into every other issue, and so he saw at a first hand, look at Liberalism Botthrough his college and through his seminary days and the church he grew upin. So he was well aware, F of the of whatan arrance he meant and the and the necessity of it and at the same time he was recognizingthat this could be a rallying point for folks in various denominations. whowere another denominations were facing the same battles Beit in southernbaptists or even Lutherans and the Missouri sented Lutherans and, ofcourse, Presbyterians and then just across the board and so early on. They conveined a conferenceat Leganier. It wasn't be able to held a leganer ha, be held a little bit awayat at a retreat center, and this was in seventy three. Seventy four and it wason an arrecey and a book came out of that, and out of that then later camethe Chicago Stateman on Housand, nine hundred and sevty eight. But back inthat seventy three seveny four conference, John Warwick Montgomery-was there a young John Frame. Was There Peter Jones? Was there from Westminster,California and JI packer was there is first time arc met his book Funemellesin the word of God and just come out and he was invited to come and speakand that's where they began their friendship and then that moved intoforming the international council o Biblical narracy, and that was theChicago statement, and you know our CS young in the S, but he's right in thereand of course joined by Jim Boyce, and so that organization had a tenyearlifespand to just speak into the life of the church. On the startrine of anarricy and prol was a significant part of it and made a significantcontribution to it. So before we jump over to ECT, I want to and then we'llget to call in talk about Jim Boyce, because for somelisteners here, especially if they're younger than us, they might not knowhis name. I remember I was in seminary. He died in twothousand. I think twothousand yes yeah hearing that he was in a Bible study with Wal Keiser,who said he'd been diagnosed with cancer, and then it was so soonafterward that he passed away and was such a significant figure in for peoplewho are younger than us. They may know...

...some of his commentaries, but notrealize the significant role that he played. What was their friendship likebetween Jim and R C, because they were very close, though they were differentsorts of people. What was their relationship like? So when arsy was at Conwell? That'swhen they first met, and that was when Jim First went to tenth press curiouslyenough, they lived near each other in Pittsburgh and grew up near each other.They were in rival schools and they would have competed against each other,an athletics, but in his senior years, Jim's Dad, who was a prominent surgeonin Pittsburgh, sent Jim to the Stony Brook School and New York. Otherwisethey probably would have met on the football film then, but they did meet there inPhiladelphia. Then, once the study center got up and in the mid S, they just furthered that friendship andthen Dar sproll as invited over to early pcrt conferences, and then theyreally became Fox hold buddies through the enericy and and through ICBI andthrough the relationship there and they continued that we're going to get to it,but that they continued. That relationship through ECT and the interesting thing is to thefamilies were close. So so now, Vesta, the widow and Linda Voice, jims widow,still occasionally call on the phone. And when we had the funeral here Kevin. Youwere here for the memorial service that we had. All three of Alinda was notable to travel, but the three daughters all came, and it was just a really sweet moment tospend some time with them and just remember how the kindness of Oursy tothem. So this is true friendship and one of the most beautiful things. Ithink in the book is not my writing, but it's the letter that RC wrote. Iwas very O Gim, it's so touching, and I put that in there because I don't thinkpeople who see the platform speakers. I don't realize sometimes how deep someof these friendships they do have with each other and how important they areand that just really comes out in that letter that RC road I mean all of asudden, norsy's writing and then he just stops, and he says I love you Jim,and I mean it's just you just sort of sense. This was a true friendship hereamong among these men. Now they were very different. They used to tease themas the odd couple of Felix and Oscar is because boys would always have thebuttoned up prep school, you know, Princeton, look and ur C would be thetough guy for Pittsburgh, so they played that up quite a bit. The Imageof the two Yeah Colin. My question was going to be about emanjocles andCatholics together, so help Tho segue us into that one thanks teve forincluding Maia first time, hearing RC in your book. That was really one of myexposures to RC. I knowne about him. Really on because Om older students hadintroduced to me to is writing about calvinism against playgianism andsemiplagenism, which you kindly had mentioned actually in the books I talkdabout it. An young rest is rerformed back in two thousand and eight, butthen ended up writing about emadocas Catholics. Together later on in college,it was RC who was my lifeline to take up a critique and many of my mentors,whether it be packer or Timothy, George or others were on that other side. SoI've always been comig on the on sproll side, even with some people that I'mreally close to, but help explain the concept that I'd not seen before. But Ithink it made a lot of sense here of studied ambiguity, because you reallyyou come back to that a number of times in the book that R C's Big problem waswith studied ambiguity, as he saw it in Vadican to we talked about that earlierand then through avangocal theology, and especially, I think, maybeculminating in Ect, which it just...

...reminded me of why I had agreed withhim about this, but that constant haven't quite hurt. It explained thatway so I'd love to have you explain more to the listeners. What is studiedambiguity and why did URC hate it? I think. Is he valued precision, and sothe opposite of studied ambiguity is to be precise, and the idea of a studiedambiguity is to allow enough latitude befor there to be differences under thesame umbrella and sometimes studied ambiguity is inwhat you're not saying, and so this is why you go back to the stavmen on and Erency one of the mostimportant parts of that were the affirmations and denials, and if youask RC, he would say a really important part of that or the denials, becausesometimes you have to say- and this is what we are not including. So we aresaying this a d. here's our parameters, but let's make it explicit, we areexcluding this and so studied. Ambiguity is allows for more latitudeand doesn't make the negating statements. It's sort of will look forwhat we have in common, but not let's drill down too deeply here, becausewe'll find their differences and the the goal of staying together here ismore important, and so, let's put the emphasis on that, and I think one ofthe things that I've seen that I try to bring out in the book of our CSmethodology. In addition to being a populist and some of the things we weretalking about, just a really good communicator was precision. He valuedprecision and especially theological precision. I mean his reading. Mentorswere Edwards and Turriton. These are that Er that heavy lifting reforms,calasdecism of Quinas Aristotle, even as a hero. So so that's the precisionpiece versus the studied ambiguity and then it works itself out when he'slooking at ect and there's not as as much of a discussion of justicationthat he'd like or it doesn't get into imputation versus infusion and Ar cesasraising his hand here saying you can't talk about the Gospel and not deal withthe differences on those issues between avangelicals and Roman Catholics. Steve. Can you talk just a minute aboute? The friendship follow out from that affair? Yeah sure it really was. As RC talkedabout, vestors talked about it. This was the most challenging time, IndArce's life. It was harder than when he had to leave his denomination and moveover to the PCA. It was. It was the most challenging time he talks aboutjust before Ect. I think it was the Ligin Ernational conference. He andpacker were on a Qana Panel and somebody asked do you to ever disagreewith each other and R C answer. I don't think we do because there really was anissue. They were disagreement on and then comes ect and it wasn't justpacker. It was Colson and these were twenty year, friendships with Culsonand with packer, and it was a divide. It cost those friendships act. So thiswas. This was not easy for Dr Sproll and then you know I'll. Add this tother's a little bit challenging to write on it, because wile DCTR sproll disagreed with ECTwrote a two books about it, justification by faith alone andgetting the Gospel right and he named names, and he pointed out where hedisagreed with, but it wasn't something he was comfortable in doing and Ididn't like to go round running people down or putting downpeople for their views. He just wanted to extol the opposite. What he thoughtwas was the right view, but it mattered to him to bring clarity to thesedoctrinal discussions and so... Costom. The friendship it weighedheavily on no doubt about it, hit weighed heavilyon them and it was both with Chuck and Dr Packer, and one of the things that I soappreciated about sproll was that that precision- and it seems like when, when our say, broader Calvinis,Evangelical Movement is healthy. You have both some really topnotch biblicalscholars leading the way and some systematic guys and certainly R C didboth but his theological precision his wanting to and insisting upon thosedefinitions is I more necessary than ever in our day. Isuppose it's always been necessary, but to say we can agree on that, but wereally aren't in agreement, and so we need to get to the real issue, a related topic whonder. If you talk alittle bit about his approach to apologetics and how he came toclassical apologetics and in particular, how did he see that over against? What maybe is the majority view atpresent more Vantilian approach to apologetics? I was at a conference onetime and it was a conference for young people late teenagers early is so justgood Christian living sort of stuff. An and sproll was there, and I was sittingin the front row and he could he went up and I think he was supposed to speakand the holiness of got or something- and he saw in the front row were anumber of leading vantillion scous, who had also been invited and I'm sure theperson running the conference didn't know that there was any. He must have just done something offthe top of his head because he was and the person posting the conferencelookd at me said what what is he doing? I said he saw those other people hereand he went on. You know a forty minute about knowledge and epistomology and Isaid he's giving his his takeon apologetics. I think the students were,you know fairly well helped, but he saw there was something in his sights thathe wanted to address. How did that become such an important issue to him?You talked about earlier exchanging letters with van till. I wouldn't thinkthere was a personal animis toward at presuppositional apologetics. How doyou explain his own view on classical apologetics? So I think it's one of his his maincontributions. So we've been talking about ECT, an stand. He took theirTopabota Narany. I think Hav, to throw I to the mixed, classical apologeticsas one of his contributions. He was a presuppositionalist when he was incollege. His Mentor was Thomas Gregory, who had a PhD from the University ofPennsylvania and as masters from wasmister seminary and taught by VanTill, and so his first apologist. His first poljecs training came from aVantilion, a direct descendant of ventil. If you will intellectually at' o, he went to seminary taking onGerschner in a class, because groce was up there, giving a cassical, pologics,apologetics kind of view, so URC freshman at seminary first yearseminary and you know- take on Gershener and our ce says by the timegrochere was done. You could wipe up the floor with where RC had once stood and so from then on. He was convertedto classical apologetics. It mattered to him. I think it mattered to him for a coupleof reasons. Number one- and I think some of thishas come out recently and some of the books that are out in the Doctrin ofGod, but it mattered to him because he...

...saw classical apologetics as the better purveyor and the bettersort of transponder of good old, classical robust, classical theism inthe reformed classical tradition, and so he saw classical apolgetics as abetter vehicle for bringing that o generation to generation a good,classical theist position. What we're talking about here is tomisticrigtdoctrine of God and Augustine's doctrine of God. We can leave Augustine.We can leave Aquinus's eclusiology on the table, a we can leave a sotereologyon the table, but let's take his doctor of God and if you look at Turton HodgeBerkoff, the classic reform, theologies they're, just they're, just followingthe Suma and Thomas on the doctr, no God so. Tho t mattered to him for that,and then I think. Secondly, he thought classical pogetics was the better view.He thought that you could make a rational case for the existence of Godand that you could make a rational case for the reliability of scripture. Nowyou still need scripture to present the Gospel and there's still plenty of roomfor faith in this whole process and there's still plenty of room for theconviction of the Holy Spirit. But he felt that he thought that you couldmake a rational case for the authority for the existence of God and he used to Qinus h's argument that youuse that which is known to reach the UNNO. You start with that which isvisible to get to the invisible, and he saw that as a perfectly healthyapologetic methodology, and he was concerned about presuppositionaism,especially in the reformed world, because he didn't think it wasconsistent with the history of the reform tradition. Let's, let's talk change gears a littlebit. That's really helpful. Wevwe only have maybe ten minutes leftand we haven't talked about his book on holiness, did did Arce have a favorite book ofhis either a favorite that he wrote in theprocess or just that he knew was the most significant. Would it be theholiness of God, or was there something else yeah? He definitely was aware that thatwas the book. When I first after that, first dinner an we talked aboutbiography, then I had a session with them in his office, and I and I workedup what I thought were some of his major themes on of his major books andwe're just going to have conversation. Am I on the right track here and I satdown in his office very firstt. Yo said to me: Kevin was Knowi. First started teaching on theholiness of God before we'veeen found e Liginor ministries and it signaled tome that what he wanted to be sure was conveyed in this book that, to the endof the day, the holiness of God is going to be the contribution he wantsto be remembered, for I mean we're all fans of David Wells, and you know Ithink it's his God in the wasteland book, where he just has that stingingindictment of the American church that God rests too casually on the shouldersof the American church. RC felt that he would say it's also true culture that,whether you're in the church in the Pew or whether you're in culture, what aperson must know is who God is, and that is the holiness of God- and you know it was Aza- was a text thatjust caught RC early on it was Isaa chapter six. These are very dramatictexts, arse loved the drama of it, they're very pivotal in his ownformation and his own thinking. So really right from his at he would sayhis very first reading of the old test, Mane Offr and said you know the firsttime I read the Old Testament through as a young Christian. I came to theconclusion. This is a god who plays for...

...keeps and thats one thousand nine hundred andfifty seven, and you see it right on through D andculminates then with the publication in eighty four o, The holiness of God,Colin and Justin. I have three disjointed questions for Steve to bringus home, but before I give that final triumphr it any questions, you guyswanted to ask I'll, be I'll, be quick on this oneSteve you've used the term, you use the term battlefield teelogen a number ofdifferent times and I think get's suitable, and I think the inspirationof Luther makes a lot of sense. Is there a time when that battlefield teologen can be tooitching for a fight absolutely, and I think, when you get off of thosedoctrines that are essential and RC was willing to give a lot oflatitude on those. I think you didn't talk about. Church government talkabout views, Baptiss, there's always just debate raging. Can you be Baptistand be genuinely reformed? Arce would say o course you can be. So I think weere talking about justification O talkg about in arency and R C would also say you could not believe in Erency andstill go to heaven. So he would he would prioritize the doctor ofjustification over the doctrine of anerrancy certainly would and then the order understand theGospel we have to know who god is and holiness of God. So we talk about thosekey doctrines. Yes, Wen talk about some of those now moving out and thesecondary andterciary doctrines. He he wasn't a fighter on those youknow is the disagreement with packer over justification is very similar tothe disagreement between Linzelle and Henry overnarancy. Lonselle found it tobe essential to be an avangelical and and refound it to be important, andthat was enough of that rift and it sounds like that's the same of higherstakes between packer and yeah sure, and you know RC he would do. Hedefinitely would prioritize scripture RS sorry justification overovernursing, not that he was saying you Tokay, whatever you blieve on inhereand see H, he wanted to fight for that, but justrocations at the center. Just in anything just about the church,the founding of Sint Andrews and preaching from a pulpit Weeken and weekout and the last chapter, the last part of his ministry. Why did he feelcompelled to do that? He didn't didn't, need the money didn't need the fame.What was it that drew him to the expository preaching of the word? I think he, I think. Well, what drum was he groupof people that sort of just hounded him to start sint indrew's and he did, butI think it's something that he told John Piper once Justin, I said I wasshed done this earlier in my ministry. It's my only regret that I didn't havea local church earlier in a local church, Password Ministry earlier thanthen, when he did. She started in ninety seven and I think even now you know inVustha's life now that she's, a widow and our sees past she's tremendoussupport and friendships and sint Andrews, and so I think this is thething about his church. It was sane interest in a genuinely local churchand he really enjoyed being part of that. so He loved it and I think he it. He says it and I have the line inthe book. You know, then, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety sevenGod did something that I had never expected and he sawned about SINTANDREWS HM Steve. Three disjointed questions willstart with the the least important, but a fun one we talked about is humor talkabout the importance of sports because we can't UNDERSANDRC. If you don'tunderstand his love for sports, he was...

...also a very good athlete back in theday. So how how did sports shape RC the man yeah? He was an athlete and got thecollege on an athletic scholarship. Probably Baseball was his best sportand he rectdanself Planin, the others. His knees and s forth playing footballgot concussions playing basketball, so you probably should h just stuck tobaseball but tremendous athlete and, of course, loved golf to so. I think it did shape him in termsof that. You Know Game Day put on that game faith- and I mentioned this in thebook that idea of he was the athlete who just left everything on the field. So this is some. I don't think peoplerealize how fatiguing it was for him to speak towards the end of his lifebecause of the COPD. So he's not sleeping well. So that's in efectrinterfering with everything else going on in his life and Edie would just get up and do it.You know at seventy eight years of age just get up and do it and I think a lot of that was theathlete in him, and I think he goes back to some of that. Toughness thatPittsburgh toughness also was the athlete in them. So second question of these final three:is you look at his life? You knowwe're right to celebrate andsee what God did through him and, of course, use a man as any of us are were there were ther weaknesses thatyou encounter to do in the biography. Surely tthere were or if you don't wantto look at at that, just things that RC had to grow into that the RC of o one thousand nine hundred and eightywas different than the RC of two thousand and fifteen. So, however, youwant to take that lessons to be learned from his imperfections. The areas he neededto grow regrets change his mind. What can we learn from those? You know one point he gave this in theteaching series and he was talking about sanctication talking about ond. Ican do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and he struggled that with that,because- and this is his own testimony- that he couldn't give up smoking and itwas just one of those things that he personally struggled with, that hewanted to give up, and yet he couldn't give it up, and then he was having ahard time with aligning that with whill. I can doall things through Christ who strengthens me and then finally, the doctors just saidwell, no you're going to give up smoking. So so that was it, but youknow he talked about his own Christian life and the struggles that he had in Santrication that we all have withthose sins that those besetting sins that are difficult. I think he had aremarkable trust in people, and I think that was true, even sometimes of folksat Leganer ran leganeer and just had an implicit trust in them and and maybe could have been, you know lookinga little bit closer at what they were doing and, and he also shared some ofthat by his own admission and his own expression. I don't really think you know I. canyou hear a lot about the celebrity culture and theres a lot who sort ofwhoopoo that and for see him in that and would consider him one of those.That was all part of that. Honestly. I don't think that was aweakness, though I didn't really see that in him that that need foraffirmation and sort of big on his own ego. So I think some have accused ofhim of that or just by nature they accused some big celebrity celebrityavangeliclism. I don't think he was that yeah. Henever struck me as someone who was psychologically needy. I don't think you would describe or seethat way needing people to give him affirmations and strokes. Okay. Sohere's the last question: You have a...

...mountain of books from Dr Sproll. Youhave various institutions, you have the legacy and different movements andcontroversies. What would you say is his enduring legacy. What do you think Christians will still be benefitingfrom learning from fifty years from now? I think it's holiness of God the bookthere's just something about that book draws you in and it's got so much in it. So I think the book will stand as aclassic text. He wanted people to study scripture,and so I think two things will stand there. One is the reformation SudyBible and I'm a big fan of study bibles, the more the marrier. So I think thereformations study Bible, but I also think his dust to glory teaching seriesm. You know I think if people were to just take the time and work throughthat they would have such a foundation inthe word of God, and I think that is going to come to be one of those series.That's just going to be rare and be sort of rarefied eir because who'sdoing that sort of really lengthy teaching series. So so I would think those are twothings and then the other thing is you know he wrote these beautiful hymns andto him projects at the end of his life, and you think about some of the figuresfrom Church history. We don't read their books, but we sing their hinds,so maybe a few centuries out, some of those sprol hymns will make their wayinto the himals. It's great. The book is RC sproe a life by our friend and avery good author and historian and Theologian Steven j Nichols so reallycrosswits. An a great job, it's a handsome sturdy book. I know you can'tsee this on the podcast. It has some great photographs that Steve found inthe middle and it's about three hundred pages of tax and then some someappendases and some index. But it's a wonderful read so steve thanks forbeing on here. Thanks for being our friend thanks for the work you're doingdown there and sunny warm Florida, it's the only place right now that is sunny,ans crum, so only wat O whato op you enjoy it. Comevisit US anytime. We wuld go out Ohey, okay, wonderful good to be with you alland thank you for listening and until next time, O you or if I got, enjoy Hemforever and read a Good Bok.

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