RBC Spotlight: Stephen Nichols, President of RBC
Posted On August 11, 2021
We recently sat down with Dr. Stephen Nichols, our president, to ask him about his life, faith, and work at RBC.
Where did you receive your education?
I am a graduate of a Bible college. I went to Philadelphia College of the Bible, which is now Cairn University. Next, I went to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I received an M.A.R. in Theology, and then stayed to do my PhD there. While I was at Westminster, I also received an M.A. in Philosophy from West Chester University.
What motivated you to become a professor?
My first semester of college I took Greek. On the very first day of class, the professor walked in, pulled his textbook out of his briefcase—which was J. Gresham Machen’s Greek grammar book—kissed it, and set it on the podium. He proceeded to give the most riveting lecture I’ve ever heard. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in theological higher education.
What has been the biggest area of growth for Reformation Bible College?
Where hasn’t there been growth? We physically see the campus expanding with our new housing development, which is thrilling. Second, we see the ever-growing student body, and that is even more thrilling. But thirdly, I think what we are seeing is RBC coming into its own identity, and growing into its identity, with each passing semester. It’s a wonderful place to be.
What do you see as your priorities for RBC this year?
Our priority this year is student life. Related to that, I am especially eager to see the house system get launched and to become a significant part of the student experience here at RBC. I will confess that it is going to be hard for me not to be partial to Edwards House.
Which of Jonathan Edwards’ works would you recommend to an incoming student?
Begin with reading his sermons. “A Divine and Supernatural Light” and “Heaven Is a World of Love” are great places to start. Then you can move on to his thirty-sermon series, A History of the Work of Redemption.
What was the last book you read?
I’ve been reading a lot of John Steinbeck this summer. I especially appreciate his descriptions of the setting. I’ve tackled most of his short novels, and now I’m making my way through The Grapes of Wrath again. Additionally, it’s been a heavy Augustine summer as well. I just finished his short but delightful “On the Happy Life.”
What experiences or people have influenced you most throughout your career?
The pastors that I’ve had would be at the top of the list. I have been blessed with six pastors through my lifetime. All of them have meant a great deal to me. For a rather random list of influences, dead and alive, they are Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Johnny Cash, David Wells, Derek Thomas, John MacArthur, and a special spot for both R.C. and Vesta Sproul. As for experiences, one of the things I love to do is travel with my children. We have had some truly delightful times together at some very exciting places.
What’s your favorite book of the Bible?
What is something you wish you knew before you went to college?
That it is okay if you don’t have everything figured out for your life in your freshman year of college.
Did you play any sports growing up?
Yes, I dabbled in track and soccer, but the sport I pursued the most was swimming. Our team was very good and very well-coached. We were doing two practices a day for about six hours total. It was a decision moment for me: either devote my high school life to swimming or have a life outside of swimming. I chose life on dry land.
What led you to write the book Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation?
It was a great excuse to expand my blues music library and to spend time listening to blues. I could just call it research. More seriously, as I got into blues music, I quickly realized that there is quite a theological story worth telling here. That’s what I set out to do in that book.
Which chapter of your biography of R.C. Sproul, R.C. Sproul: A Life, did you enjoy writing the most?
The first chapter, which I titled “Pittsburgh.”
What books would you recommend for students starting at RBC?
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. You might even want to read it twice. Keep a good study Bible and a good hymnal, like the Trinity Hymnal, handy on your desk. I would also recommend you get a jumpstart on Geerhardus Vos’ Biblical Theology.
What qualities would you say make a student at RBC successful?
In terms of pure academics, reading and writing skills are a must. They actually go together. Reading broadly, and reading really good authors, will help your writing. In terms of being an overall person, make sure you keep everything in perspective. Academics are important, but they are not the only aspect of your college experience. Pay attention to being a well-rounded person. Finally, your success here comes when you love the church, and you love God. John Calvin said we study theology to revere the majesty of God more. That is the best quality an RBC student can have.
What are your favorite hobbies?
My son, Ben, has introduced me to the beautiful hiking trails and parks of Central Florida. I also enjoy running and reading. And believe it or not, I love weeding the flowerbeds at our home. It’s my way of fighting against the curse.
What activities do you enjoy doing in Florida?
I already mentioned the parks. I do believe they are Central Florida’s best kept secret. In addition, I confess, I love the beach.
Why is it important for young people to study theology?
Let’s go back to John Calvin reminding us that the study of theology should cause us to have more reverence for the majesty of God. Theology leads us to worship God in reverence and in awe. I’ll add this. Studying theology gives us a coherent sense and understanding of God’s Word. Theology helps us fit all of the pieces together into a beautiful whole. We need that understanding of God’s Word at every age.