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Westminster Seminary California’s 27th Annual Commencement: “The Power of the Gospel”

9 August, 2008

A little while ago we did a post featuring R.C. Sproul’s 2008 commencement address at WSC, ‘The Power of the Gospel’ — here’s Prof Scott Clark’s reflections on that day:

“Every graduation is special to the graduates and Westminster Seminary California has been blessed with a

Scott Clark
Scott Clark

number of gifted commencement speakers in the recent past-our own Hywel Jones, John Piper, Ken Myers, just to name a few. In fairness to the speakers, giving a commencement speech is a real challenge. A commencement ceremony is not a little like a wedding ceremony. There are a lot of arrangements-pictures to be taken, special clothing to be worn, guests to be invited, and more. It arrives with much anticipation and nervous energy. Most people want the whole thing to go off without a hitch. Parents are beaming with joy and pride. Each actual participant must stand before a crowd and do his part and into all this comes a speaker, usually an outsider, who has to try to say something meaningful to people he doesn’t know, which most will forget before the event is over.

Not so this year.

RC Sproul
RC Sproul

Westminster Seminary California’s speaker this year was R.C. Sproul. Despite all the distractions and the very real physical challenge of traveling cross country, he made a lasting impression with his commencement address, “The Power of the Gospel.” He told the story of Luther’s last sermon, given in Eisleben, in 1546. In this sermon Luther warned the congregation to resist the temptation to try to add to the gospel, to try to remove the offense of the faith. He warned them about certain “jackanapes” (impertinent persons) who were corrupting the gospel, and he exhorted them to let the gospel be the gospel.

The great thing for our graduates, students, their families, the faculty, staff, and everyone in attendance was to see Dr. Sproul stand so firmly, so articulately, so winsomely on the power of God’s Word and the good news of Christ’s obedience, death, and resurrection. The great sin of modernist Christianity has been the sin of trying to “fix” Christianity, of trying to take away the offense of the cross, the offense of the mystery of the holy Trinity, or the offense of the two natures of Christ. Dr. Sproul reminded us that Christianity can’t be fixed. It is what it is. Narrowly construed the word gospel stands for the announcement of great good news, of Jesus’ incarnation, obedience for his people, his mediatorial death, his vindication in resurrection and his ascension into royal power. The gospel, broadly construed as the Christian message to the world and thus including the command to repent, is not a negotiation, it is not a request. It is not calculated to create warm feelings or to enhance self-esteem. As Luther before him, Dr. Sproul called us all to utter fidelity to an uncompromised and uncompromising Christian faith.

The students had an opportunity to see and hear a man who seemed to have the spirit of Luther upon him. I hope and guess they won’t forget it soon.”

* VIEW: Commencement report with pictures >>
* LISTEN: President’s Charge to the Graduates >>
* LISTEN: Commencement Address by Dr. R.C. Sproul >>

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3 Comments
  1. 9 August, 2008 12:00 pm

    I think Dr. Godfrey called him “the brightest light” in the Reformed church today.
    RC Sproul has accomplished so much. For many of us he is what made the Reformed tradition so savory when we were introduced to it. Never a boring preacher or teacher. I tend to prefer the Welshmen as far as preachers go but RC is second to no one and I for one am very grateful for his efforts in the service of our Lord.
    It was really something to see him in person–and at our graduation no less!
    Thanks RC!

  2. Barks permalink
    9 August, 2008 1:00 pm

    Sproul truly did leave a lasting impressing. It was so encouraging to hear from a man like Sproul what we were taught over and over again at WSC: Preach Christ and Him crucified, without shame or fear.

  3. 9 August, 2008 1:32 pm

    Barks! On our website! Yes!
    I know it’s early but I’m predicting that you are the next R.C.
    Hey congrats on finding love. My wife saw it on FB.
    You’re a good man. Good to hear from you.
    ~p

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