DIED in 2017: Two Notable Deaths You Probably Didn’t Hear About

Posted on January 18, 2018 in Life, Theology by

R.C. Sproul Two of the most notable deaths of 2017 were largely ignored by the media; but they were not ignored by everyone.

Every year media outlets publish their list of stars that were lost during the year. It’s a Who’s Who list of musicians, actors, actresses, and influential people that have departed this life. The list is intended, I think, to remind of the accomplishments of talented people as a tribute to their contributions to our society.

The list for 2017 is no different. It is replete with the most talented, accomplished individuals our society has known. Here is just a small sampling of the long list of well-known people that died in 2017:

Gene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon.
Mary Tyler Moore, the groundbreaking actress from the Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore shows.
Chuck Berry, often referred to as the “father” of Rock N Roll.
Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame baseball player that served in Congress.
Greg Allman, a legendary singer and frontman for The Allman Brothers.
Jerry Lewis, perhaps one of the greatest comedians in history.
Edith Windsor, a social activist that helped pave the way for same sex marriage in America.
Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy.
Fats Domino, a legendary pianist and singer that blended rock with blues.
John Hillerman, an iconic actor known for his part in Magnum P.I. and for being the voice of KIT in Night Rider.
Dick Enberg, an iconic sports announcer known for his catchphrase “Oh My.”

The list is full of extraordinary people with extraordinary accomplishments. And yet, there’s at least two names missing from the list.

Norma McCorvey died in 2017. Her name has been mentioned for decades in every media outlet, print and online alike. She has appeared before the Supreme Court on more than one occasion. She has testified before Congress numerous times. She has been an active political activist for more than 40 years. When she died this year it was barely mentioned in the media and many people still don’t know she has died.

You might know her better by the name that made her famous: Jane Roe of the infamous Roe V. Wade case that legalized abortion.

What you might not know is that after abortion was legalized, Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) changed her position and became one of America’s staunchest, fiercest defenders of life. She rejected abortion at any stage of fetal development and spent the rest of her life dedicated to eradicating abortion. National Review posted a beautiful tribute to this tireless defender of unborn children:

Her presence and demeanor in her later years struck me as a bit subdued. She’d made many mistakes in life — committed some grave sins, as she must have now reckoned them in the light of her faith…Norma McCorvey spent the last two decades of her life giving voice to the voiceless, defending the dignity of unborn children and, in the process, herself. She died on Saturday, too young, at age 69.”

The media would have put Norma McCorvey at the top of their list had she continued to support abortion the way she did in 1973. But now, nearly 45 years later, this defender of life goes almost unrecognized for her accomplishments. I doubt McCorvey is bothered by this reality. I have a feeling she is now enjoying the peace and rest her soul longed for after that fateful day in 1973. She has no more regrets.

Another notable voce that is now silent is a man named Robert. You wouldn’t know him by the name of Robert. You wouldn’t even know him by his first and middle name: Robert Charles. And if I said Rob Sproul there’s a good chance you might not make the connection. But if you have paid attention to the most profound, influential voices in theology for any length of time, the name R.C. Sproul is very familiar. (The Gospel Coalition posted this fitting tribute to Dr. Sproul.)

Dr. Sproul has been one of the most prolific voices in Christendom for the last 4 decades. He pastored St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford, FL., while writing countless books and articles still being used today. He was a passionate teacher that was the voice of Ligonier Ministry, the teaching ministry he founded in 1971. Ligonier produced Dr. Sproul’s podcast, Renewing Your Mind, in which he taught deep on theological issues central to the Gospel. Issues like the depravity of man, holiness of God, grace, and sanctification were regular topics addressed on Renewing Your Mind.

It would take a matter of minutes of listening to Dr. Sproul before you realized he was a passionate advocate for Reformed Theology. It was Dr. Sproul’s teaching, along with two patient pastor friends that helped me see the truth in Reformed Theology. I’ve listened to Dr. Sproul teach on the Five Sola’s of the Reformation, The Golden Chain, and the Five Points of Calvinism/Reformed Theology for countless hours. I could listen for hours more.

Speaking of the Five Sola’s of the Reformation, it didn’t take long to know how much Dr. Sproul loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And no period of time captured his heart more than The Protestant Reformation. I often marveled at how knowledgable he was concerning great men of faith like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, and others. No one could weave history and theology together to show how God used these men to bring about theological awakening like Dr. Sproul.

Much more could be said about these two faith driven people. To say our world is worse for losing them would be an understatement. But what occurred to me was the relative media silence at their passing. Why were they not heralded on lists of notable people we’ve lost in 2017? Perhaps it was because the mission of their lives stands in direct opposition to everything the media and this world holds dear. It makes me wonder how many other “notable voices” have gone silent, unnoticed.

But it also makes me realize that the most notable voices are also the ones our society will ignore. The voices that go against the cultural stream will not be honored when they fall silent. But that’s okay because these voices don’t live for the praise of society, these voices live to hear the sweetest words any faithful follower of Jesus could ever hope to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

From my perspective, well done, Norma McCorvey and Dr. Sproul, well done.

You can grieve for me the week before I die, if I’m scared and hurting, but when I gasp that last fleeting breath and my immortal soul flees to heaven, I’m going to be jumping over fire hydrants down the golden streets, and my biggest concern, if I have any, will be my wife back here grieving.” – R.C. Sproul

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