RC Sproul and the Classical Doctrine of God

Ligonier Ministries are putting out a series of podcasts called Open Book, beginning with never-before-aired recordings of RC Sproul and Steve Nichols discussing important books in Dr Sproul’s life. As T4G18 remember the life of Sproul (here), highlighting Sproul’s singular commitment to the Holiness of God as the organising principle of his life and ministry, this recent podcast is poignant for a couple of reasons: we hear his consistent passion for the doctrine of God; and we hear his assessment of our current situation – the situation he was soon to leave behind.
Months before he died, a new book made it onto Sproul’s list of most important books. James Dolezal’s All That Is in God calls for a recovery of the classical, catholic, creedal and confessional doctrine of God. Along the way Dolezal makes necessary and gracious criticism of some of our favourite high-profile teachers and theologians in terms of their departure (sometimes deliberate, sometimes unconscious) from the simplicity, aseity, immutability, and impassability of God. If we get our doctrine of God wrong, everything else goes wrong.
For many the doctrine of the aseity of God exists only as a category in older dusty theology text books. It’s passing from everyday discourse and the operational foundations of modern theology into abstraction and obscurity has happened without the majority of folks batting an eyelid. Except of course RC Sproul along with a number of other notable exceptions like the late John Webster, James Dolezal, Scott Swain, Fred Sanders, Michael Allen, Sinclair Ferguson, the Ligonier teaching fellows, to name but a few. What is lost, when we lose the doctrine of God that Sproul showed us, is God himself in all His fullness.
Dr Sproul read Dolezal’s book twice. The holiness of God for Sproul was all about the holiness of God. Not just any God. Not a blank abstract creator who we must remember is sovereign, but the Triune simple, immutable, impassable, sovereign God of unbounded life and love, who is self-existent. This God, the Triune Holy one, reached out to those who were not holy so that we could know Him. To know the self-sufficient God gave Sproul goosebumps, he tells us. His life was dedicated to introducing us to this God. His legacy is all those people who saw the God he saw and feel those goosebumps at the mention of his Holy Name.
In this podcast, you can hear the passion of Dr Sproul for the God he loved and now sees face to face and we hear his deep concern for the situation he has now left behind. But when listening to the discussion in light of his passing, you can also hear a baton being passed along: all will be well with writers like Dolezal around. As Dr Sproul quips in this podcast “there are still seven-thousand that haven’t bowed the knee to Baal”. Surely Ligonier and RC Sproul have been – and through his writings and the Ligonier teaching fellows will continue to be – an instrument in God’s hands keeping us from idolatry.

Jonny Woodrow
Faculty member of Crosslands
Elder of The Crowded House Loughborough UK.