Results tagged “Wheaton College; Phil Ryken” from Reformation21 Blog

Our friend and Bible teacher from Every Last Word broadcast, Dr. Philip Ryken, offers a clear view of struggles and reasoning to Wheaton College's view of recent protesting over a recent visit by Rosaria Butterfield.

The statement can be found whole here (but pasted below as well). Every Last Word broadcast can be found at

FEBRUARY 10, 2014

Statement from Wheaton College President Philip Ryken on Chapel Demonstration

Below is a statement from Dr. Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College.

Over the last few days, Wheaton College has been the subject of significant discussion following coverage of events related to a January 31 chapel talk by Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.

In the chapel talk, which is available here, Dr. Butterfield testifies about her encounter with Jesus Christ and how this transformed her life, including her worldview and her experience of her sexuality. In her talk, as in other venues, Dr. Butterfield described herself as a formerly leftist lesbian professor who had despised Christians. Dr. Butterfield's testimony was well-received by the student body, resulting in an extended ovation following her remarks.

In advance of Dr. Butterfield's talk, several dozen students held a silent demonstration on the steps of Edman Chapel to express an array of concerns about the possible implications of what they expected to hear in Dr. Butterfield's message. As is her practice, Dr. Butterfield met with the demonstrating students later that afternoon. The demonstration and the conversation with Dr. Butterfield that followed have been covered in news outlets including the Wheaton Record, the student newspaper.

A key theme of the discussion around these events concerns the value of personal narrative as a way of pursuing truth and understanding. As a Christian community rooted in the universal and unchanging truth of the gospel story, we believe that all stories, including personal stories, must always be weighed using the balance of God's Word. Our conversations as an institution are always rooted in biblical truth.

Wheaton College's conviction on homosexual practice remains as articulated in our Community Covenant, which is affirmed each year by all students, faculty, and staff:

"Scripture condemns . . . sexual immorality, such as the use of pornography (Matt. 5:27-28), pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31)."

Chapel guests and programs speak to various topics, including contentious issues of the day, always in alignment with the biblical standards outlined in the Community Covenant.

As our Covenant states, Wheaton College is a community of living, learning, and serving. We are a confessional Christian academic community with a focus on the spiritual and intellectual formation of our students. While we are not insulated from cultural conflicts over ideas, including our own students' search to understand how the truth of Scripture shapes each Christian's life, our educational model does not require us either to silence critical exploration of complex issues or to accede uncritically to cultural pressures.

Instead, the Christ-followers who lead this Christian liberal arts institution, and who value the minds and hearts of the students entrusted to our care, judiciously employ a variety of responses to student concerns and conduct. These responses may include personal conversation, civil public discussion, godly counsel, admonition, and discipline.

Within Wheaton's historic commitment to biblical truth, as well as in our model of liberal arts education, our goal is to grow a community where questions can be raised, disagreements can be expressed, discernment can be modeled, and disciples can be nurtured.

It was a joy to represent the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and my own congregation, the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi (PCA) at the Inaugural Festivities at Wheaton College. There's a brief description here.

As most of the folks reading this blog will know, The Reverend Dr. Philip Graham Ryken is a Council Member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He also is the speaker for the Alliance's radio broadcast "Every Last Word." Having served faithfully and extraordinarily at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA for some fifteen years (most of that time as Senior Pastor) he was called to Wheaton College (his alma mater) as President.

Friday, September 17, 2010 (seventeen years to the day and hour after Duane Litfin's inauguration as the seventh President of Wheaton), Dr. Ryken was installed in grand ceremony in the Edman Chapel that began about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

It was exhilarating. On Friday morning, I walked across the campus from the Billy Graham Center to Edman Hall, and was greeted all the way by enthusiastic and welcoming students. One of Dr. Ryken's kind assistants walked me to Blanchard Hall and up to his office. I enjoyed a brief time of conversation with Phil, and then the privilege of praying for him in his new duties as President, along with his longtime friend, the Reverend Dr. George Robertson, Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Augusta, Georgia.

I then walked to the Inaugural Luncheon, where I enjoyed fellowship with my dear friend, Dr. R. Albert Mohler. Al and I found a delegate's table and enjoyed a long meal together, along with Dr. David Garner from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and Dr. John Fesko of Westminster Theological Seminary in California. The contents of the program were deeply moving. I'll tell you about them sometime. What a gift it was to be there with so many old friends and new (Al and I got to speak briefly with Dr. Don Sweeting of RTS-Orlando, there, Niel and Kathleen Nielson of Covenant College too, Bryan Chapell of Covenant Seminary, and more - and it was my special privilege to chat with Florence Graham, Phil's grandmother, in whose church I had served when I was at Covenant Seminary).

After the luncheon, we all made our way to Edman Chapel for the service, which was stately and Spiritual.The ceremony was marked by "gravity and gladness" and plentifully peppered with beautiful music ("Pilgrim's Hymn") and poetry (Robert Siegel's inaugural poem: "In My Beginning Is My End"), and appropriate introductions, welcomes, charges and presentations.  Dr. Ryken's address "A World Servant in Christian Liberal Arts Education" was sturdy and inspiring.

The whole Wheaton family seems to know what a special man their new president is. They certainly seem to know that he genuinely loves them and cherishes the institution.  Wheaton is led by a loving shepherd, with a rock solid commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy, a capacious intellect, a voracious appetite for knowledge, a prodigious literary output, a knack for acute cultural observation (as well as timely, bold and gracious engagement), an almost genetic understanding of the mission of liberal arts education, a commitment to what he (aptly) calls the reintegration of faith and learning, and a vision for deploying Wheaton's resources "for Christ and His Kingdom" globally.

There are challenges to be sure, but this day was a day for celebration and thanksgiving. Our prayers will continue to go up for Dr. Ryken and his family, and for the fidelity and fruitfulness of Wheaton. There is much cause for hopefulness here, and even anticipation.