Q+A: Philip Ryken, Wheaton's Next President

'I want to cultivate a campus-wide community of grace.'

Wheaton College chose from one of its own when it appointed Philip Ryken, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, as its next president. Ryken graduated from the college in 1988 and has served on its board of trustees since 2006. Ryken received his M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary and his doctorate in historical theology from the University of Oxford. He is on the board of trustees at Westminster Theological Seminary, and a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the Gospel Coalition. Ryken will begin on July 1 after president Duane Litfin retires in June. Ryken spoke with online editor Sarah Pulliam Bailey about his plans for the college.

You chose to leave a very prominent pulpit. What is the role of Christian colleges, Wheaton in particular, in shaping evangelicalism?

I see Wheaton College as a definitional institution that in so many ways helps to clarify evangelical commitment for the wider church. Because Wheaton prepares so many young people for kingdom service worldwide, it tends to have a church-shaping influence generation by generation.

Do you think the parachurch drives evangelicalism?

No; however, an institution like Wheaton, which is an interdenominational college, provides an intersection, a meeting place of evangelical commitment that helps the wider church understand the core commitments of evangelical faith.

What do you think the role of college president will demand from you that being the pastor of a large church didn't?

One of the main things is a much wider and deeper understanding of higher education than I presently have. Although I've been very actively involved in various boards at Wheaton College in the past decade, I have so much to learn about higher education. ...

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