Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ryken : Wheaton = Mohler : Southern?

Christianity Today reports that Wheaton College has named Philip Ryken as its next president. Wheaton isn't now where Southern was in 1993, but many have noted signals it's on the same course. I can't imagine that a substantial course correction isn't on both Ryken and the board's agenda.

[Update below:]

A week ago Kevin Bauder wrote in his essay, "Conundrum":
Christian leadership is persuasion, but occasions for persuasion are far less common than one might assume. Most of a president’s life is taken up with administrative bustle. Even if he is also a teacher, he does not get to focus simply on the areas that most interest him. Overworked employees are understandably resistant to the suggestion that they might do extra reading or otherwise prepare for extra conversations. Constituencies are alert for any idea that seems unusual. Gatekeepers of churches and other institutions are watchful for any remark that might be construed as a criticism. I have about concluded that institutional presidency is the worst position from which to attempt to propagate ideas. Presidents have less freedom to say what they think, and they are granted less opportunity to say it, than almost anyone else.
A question and a comment, in light of Bauder's persepctive. Question: Can Ryken really effect change, or were pastoral ministry and a church pulpit a more productive platform? Comment: Once again, we ought to give thanks to God for how he's used Al Mohler to accomplish an unthinkable, astonishing transformation from SBTS 1993 to SBTS 2010.

1 comment:

Todd Pruitt said...

As somone who until a little over a year ago was a Southern Baptist I too am deeply thankful for Dr. Mohler and the reformation of Southern Seminary. It shows just how much influence a man in the office of president can have. Of course there are differences. For instance Southern Seminary had a much more clear statement of faith than does Wheaton. So it was a matter of being true to the statement that was already in place. Also, a seminary can be more descriminating than a liberal arts college.

As to Dr. Ryken, I am sad to see him leave the pastoral ministry. I pastor a church in the western suburbs of Philadelphia and will miss his ministry in the area. I have benefited greatly from Phil's ministry as have many pastors.

However, the presidency of one of the most influential evangelical institutions in the english speaking world is a significant oportunity.

It is no secret that Wheaton has been drifting from its former doctrinal identity which is always the case when boundaries are too broad or vague. Perhaps Dr. Ryken can lead Wheaton away from its present drift.