Nothing matters more! An interview with Wheaton College’s new president

“…the school’s board has sent a clear message. In picking Ryken, the trustees have said boldly—and unanimously—that Wheaton’s historic evangelical commitments matter.”

When Wheaton College’s trustees gathered on Friday evening, Jan. 19, it was to wrap up the most important task any such board ever takes on. They voted to approve the appointment of Philip G. Ryken as the college’s eighth president in its 150-year history.

Ryken, 43, is a Wheaton graduate (1988) and holds degrees as well from Westminster Seminary and Oxford University. For the last nine years, he has been senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Philadelphia.

I’ve explored several times on this page those forces that prompt schools either to hold fast to their founding principles or to drift, as they so often do, to the left. In that context, I’ve concluded, nothing matters more than top leadership.

So now, to those critics, cynics, or more casual observers who have sometimes puzzled over Wheaton’s direction over the last generation or two, the school’s board has sent a clear message. In picking Ryken, the trustees have said boldly—and unanimously—that Wheaton’s historic evangelical commitments matter. I asked Ryken:

Wheaton College, for at least a couple of generations, has enjoyed a reputation as the flagship academic institution of evangelicalism. Does Wheaton still deserve that reputation in 2010?

By the grace of God, Wheaton continues to set a high standard of excellence in Christian liberal arts education. Wheaton is also a definitional institution. People both inside and outside the evangelical community look to the college for clarity about what it means to be evangelical. Although we do not claim a position of leadership for ourselves, we do seek to provide leadership where it is looked for.

READ MORE: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/16467