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PRCongratulations to Wheaton College on naming Dr. Philip Graham Ryken as their new President, succeeding Dr. Duane Litfin. He will begin July 1, 2010. [Here is Wheaton’s official announcement.]

[Watch Dr. Ryken’s announcement to his people here, where he tells the whole story.]

Dr. Ryken, son of Wheaton professor Leland Ryken, joined the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 1995, then became the senior pastor in 2000 after James Montgomery Boice went to be with the Lord.

It is hard to overstate what good news this is, making me quite hopeful for the future of Wheaton. The Presidency of a college and graduate school like Wheaton is one filled with great challenges, and we should pray diligently for Dr. Ryken. (If you need some suggestions for how to pray for higher-ed institutions, I’ve found this very helpful.)

Here is some biographical info:


  • Married to Elisabeth (Lisa) Maxwell Ryken (1987)
  • Five children (1993, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004)


  • B. A., Wheaton College (1988)
  • M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary (1992)
  • D.Phil. [in historical theology], University of Oxford (1995) [dissertation on Thomas Boston]

Boards and Councils


When I am not playing with my kids, I enjoy shooting hoops, reading writers like Marilynne Robinson and Shusaku Endo, and pondering the relationship between Christianity and American culture.

Selected Books

Here are some of the books he has published:

On Christ and Culture

Bible Resources

Commentaries in the Reformed Expository Commentary Series
Commentaries in the Preaching the Word Commentary Series

Other Books

Here’s a TGC video of Dr. Ryken explaining what he believes an evangelical is:

And here’s a TGC video of him expounding 2 Timothy 1:13-2:13:

Phil Ryken Session 3 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

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58 thoughts on “Philip Ryken: New President of Wheaton College”

  1. Andy Naselli says:

    Praise God for this!

  2. Moe Bergeron says:

    Excellent choice! Jimmy Boice would be proud!

    1. Dave Bissett says:

      I heartily agree (but would never called Dr Boice “Jimmy”!). Hey Moe, greqt to see you read the best of blogs!! Pop in on my sometime! Yours by divine mercy, db

      1. Moe Bergeron says:

        Dave! Fancy meeting you here. Justin’s blog is a must read and your blog looks great as well.
        Just want you to know that I had the joy of sitting under brother Boice’s preaching on many occasions at the Seaside Heights NJ Sovereign Grace conference that was held for many years. He liked being called Jimmy. – Moe

  3. gavin says:

    Praise God!

  4. Darren says:

    Why post this before he could tell his own church?

  5. ted says:

    Uhh because its public news Darren. If his church has people that use computers or read I am sure they will know as well.

    1. hubert says:

      It actually isn’t supposed to be public news… An announcement was made to faculty, but it was made clear that it should not be made known to the public as the Ryken wanted to personally let their congregation know first.

      1. Ken says:

        For Immediate Release
        February 20, 2010
        The Board of Trustees of Wheaton College (IL) announces that Dr. Philip Graham Ryken has
        been appointed the eighth president of Wheaton College. He will assume the presidency
        July 1.

        February 19
        New President Selected

        The Board of Trustees selects Dr. Philip Graham Ryken ’88 as the next President of Wheaton College.

  6. ted says:

    That may be Hubert, but its on Christianity Today so that is about as public as it gets in the Evangelical world.

  7. Chris says:

    It may have been posted at CT, but unlike Justin’s blog, no one from 10th reads their stuff.

    1. Bryan P says:

      @ Chris – This is a silly thing to say. What’s your comment supposed to mean? Tenth members have our heads stuck in the ground like ostriches? I’m a Tenth member, and I subscribe to CT.

      1. Chris says:


        That was meant as a complement to Justin, for his service in letting us know what is going on in evangelical circles. A passive aggressive attack on CT, for editorializing a bit too much as they let us know what is going on in religious circles. And, I suppose it was also meant to be a complement to Tenth members, but I see how you could take it another way.



        1. Chris says:


          1. Bryan P says:

            Aha. Well, all right then – I take back what I said.


  9. Justin Taylor says:

    I disagree with CT’s decision to post this.

    I did not know that it was a confidential announcement, so I pulled the post immediately.

    I was then granted permission to post it, given that the information was now public.

    Hope that clears things up. Thanks for checking.

    1. Darren says:

      Thank you.

  10. If CT knew it was confidential information and posted it anyway, I can see why that is questionable. But how were you to know until after the fact? It seems the sources who broke confidence are more culpable than the reporters who reported the news.

    1. Rae Whitlock says:

      Seems to me that they could’ve affirmed whether or not it was okay to post beforehand, either from talking to Tenth, Wheaton, or Ryken himself. I dunno.

      (By the way, hi Adam.)

  11. Stuart says:

    Who will be head pastor at 10th Pres now?

    1. Rae Whitlock says:

      Hah. That is not a question that can be answered so quickly, Stuart. The call to a new lead or associate pastor in a PCA church is issued by that church’s congregation, and it’s a process takes months (at least).

  12. Josh Fenska says:

    For my part as a graduate of Wheaton, I’m stoked to hear this news! I’m eager to see what God will do in the coming years on campus.

  13. Ken Wilkins says:

    I hope the new president will restore my faith in the Wheaton I once knew in 1949. It has become far too liberal and has lost my financial support long ago.

  14. Clara Stam says:

    Praise the Lord! What an incredible answer to prayer. Grace upon grace.

    (another recent Wheaton grad)

  15. Scott says:


    Wheaton is liberal? You’ve got to be kidding.

    1. JNWG says:

      I was just thinking the same thing. I’ll need him to define liberal. LOL What, because students are allowed to dance, and faculty may enjoy a glass of wine with their dinners? Oh the disgrace…

  16. Bob Myers says:

    What an outstanding choice for Wheaton College. He has led Tenth church so well.

  17. Susan Hoyt says:

    The news was released by Christianity Today before the Rykens had the opportunity to speak with the congregation.

  18. Richard says:

    Yeah, this announcement, for whatever reason it was done, is a little tacky. Rev. Ryken’s congregation should not have heard it first over the internet.

  19. Steven Rossi says:

    Looks like Wheaton responded to this unexpected announcement. They just put out a press release with a more formal announcement:

    Too bad it had to happen this way, but the news was bound to get out, unfortunately.

  20. Justin Taylor says:

    Dear Friends,

     I had hoped that you would hear this first from me in person, following tomorrow’s 11am worship service. However, since national news agencies unexpectedly broke the story this morning, it seems better to tell you the news briefly now, and then to speak with you at length tomorrow. 

    Last night I was elected President of Wheaton College. After preaching the last verses of Romans 8 on Sunday, June 27, I will begin serving at Wheaton on July 1. Please know how much it grieves me to leave Tenth Church. But please know as well that God has made it clear that this is his plan for my life, and that I have the blessing of our pastors and elders – though it is costing them dearly. 

    There will be a meeting of the congregation around noon tomorrow, following our 11am worship service. Please be in prayer for the help and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our church family, now and always. 

    In Christ’s service, 

    Philip Ryken

  21. donsands says:

    Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, Philip Graham Ryken, and now ?. Can Tenth Pres forge on, and keep the torch burning for Christ?

    “ these post-Christian times, people don’t want to listen to God’s story [the gospel]; they want to make up their own. ….which is really a rebellion against the authority of God.
    …these post-Christian times are characterized by relativism and narcissism. The relativist attacks God’s intellectual authority. He says, “I don’t want anyone telling me what to believe; I demand the right to think what i want to think.” The narcissist attacks God’s moral authority. he says, “I don’t want anyone telling me how to behave; I demand the right to do what i want to do.” Relativism is a sin of the mind, a refusal to believe sound doctrine. Narcissism is a sin of the heart, a refusal to lead a holy life.” -Philip Graham Ryken, From ‘City on a Hill’.

    He will be salt and light to a struggling Bible college. Lord bless him with courage and compassion. Amen.

    1. Bryan P says:

      Agreed! One minor quibble: Wheaton is a liberal arts college (with a strong Bible general education requirement), not a Bible college.

    2. Scott says:

      Again, can someone please enlighten me as to how Wheaton qualifies as “struggling?”

      1. Justin Taylor says:


        This may help:

        It shows how upset some Wheaton folks are that the line is being held on inerrancy and related issues.


        1. Scott says:

          Thanks Justin. I was genuinely curious!

        2. John says:

          The folks behind that essay are on the outside looking in, though, due to Duane Litfin. As that article shows, he did a lot of the hard work to leave Ryken a strong foundation to build on. There are always going to be people attacking you when you’re standing up for the gospel.

    3. Wheaton Student says:

      We are also not a Bible College, for the record. We are a Christian Liberal Arts College. This is different.

  22. Justin Taylor says:

    Here’s my provisional take on the journalistic/PR question of the early leak. I say provisional because one key lesson of leadership is that the people in the bleachers don’t always know the backstory or complexity behind the scenes. But for what it’s worth, here’s my take:

    1. An institution should have been able to trust their faculty and parents not to leak this information, especially when they make it explicit that the announcement is confidential.

    2. An institution in this day and age—even a Christian one—simply cannot pre-announce confidential information to a large number of people and be surprised if it’s leaked. Christians should be able to do this, but they simply can’t.

    3. Three sources relayed this information to CT, but did not relay the information that this was confidential. So the sources simultaneously burned both their institution and CT, making both look bad. Prudence may have suggested that CT wait for something official, but I shouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that CT intentionally broke confidences.

    In all of this, let’s not forget to pray for the congregation of Tenth (this sort of news is always hard to receive), and let us pray for Dr. Ryken and Wheaton. The challenges ahead are significant.

    1. That is a great take, Justin. You put it in such better words than I ever could!

  23. John says:

    “Three sources relayed this information to CT, but did not relay the information that this was confidential.”

    The sources may not have known it was supposed to be kept confidential, since CT’s blog post was made nearly 30 minutes before meeting with faculty started. The sources obviously spilled the news before the meeting.

    The news wasn’t very well hidden, anyway, because students had already figured out it was Ryken based upon statements made at the sesquicentennial earlier in the week. It was just an awkward plan. The meeting was called to inform the faculty, but that meant making an unofficial announcement before the official announcement–which was a bad idea. Also, the faculty coming out of the meeting were excited about the announcement (there was loud applause from the room when the name was announced), and it’s obviously hard not to spread the news.

  24. Lydia says:

    Great perspective on the leak, JT. Surely many people played a small part in the early release of the news, which resulted in the big mess. Hindsight is everything sometimes. Thanks!

  25. donsands says:

    “Again, can someone please enlighten me as to how Wheaton qualifies as “struggling?””

    I thought they had slipped from a firm stance upon the Holy Scriptures, not completely of course, but less firm on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. I could be wrong.

    I hope I am.

  26. Chris says:


    No one likes taking shots at an institution when it appears it is taking the right steps.



  27. donsands says:

    Whatever the truth is it is. I don’t know much about Wheaton, just what i have heard. We know that good colleges that were full of the Spirit and truth have turned in the past like Princeton and others.

    I’d love to hear Philp Ryken’s assessment. I’m sure it will be out there and available as time moves on.

    I did say Dr. Ryken would be a blessing for sure.

  28. Craig says:

    As an alumnus of Wheaton (in the 80s), I am delighted by the choice.

  29. Jeff says:

    What a wonderful selection by Wheaton College! Praise God. I will be praying for Dr. Ryken

  30. Joe says:

    Wonderful news.

    On the leak, any administrator knows, if you tell more than one or two people, you have told the world. To tell the faculty… LOL… Are you kidding me? That is like telling the Barber Shop or the entire Varsity and JV Cheerleading Squad, and then acting aghast, saying “All right? Who told about the news about a new coach?”!

    Anyway, excellent news. Makes me feel good to be an Evangelical.

  31. Bob Kellemen says:

    Excellent choice by Wheaton. Dr. Ryken’s role as a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, his M.Div. training at WTS, and his pastoral experience all bode well for his leadership of Wheaton at a crucial time in its history.

  32. Aaron Hand says:

    Whoa, he probably has his hands full with his third child – who’s 1,810 years old!

  33. Apostolos says:

    This shows that Wheaton is happy with the course that Dr. Litfin has taken the college as Ryken seems to be very similar to Litfin. I personally would have loved to see the new president have more experience in global engagement, as I see that as a major weakness of Wheaton College today. Still, he has my support until I am shown that it should be otherwise.

  34. chris says:

    “But please know as well that God has made it clear that this is his plan for my life, and that I have the blessing of our pastors and elders – though it is costing them dearly.” — Dr. Ryken

    I have to ask: how can anyone know for certain what is best- the actual “plan for their life” from God? What did God do to make it clear? The opportunity itself, or some other sign? I am serious, as I hear this language from Christians often (putting God’s imprimatur on their actions), but I have not heard a clear explanation as to how they know this.

    Is Dr. Ryken’s desire to actually be the president not also a consideration? Also, what of a pastor staying put in the place of his pastorate? Is this a professional move or a spiritual one? Other men, great men, have been offered the same kind of opportunity and refused, for the sake of the people they were ministering to at the time.

    Also, Dr. Ryken’s description of a Minister (one who has given up their life to serve Christ) is actually just the description of a Christian when you get right down to it.


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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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