My name is Joel Blunt

My name is Joel Blunt

I came to Cedarville in the fall of 2010. I have never been the academic type but I lasted two years before dropping out. Currently, I alternate between living at a communal farm in rural Tasmania and exploring the Australian mainland while living out of a back of a van. While not a member of the honours program, I was graciously allowed to sit in on the Making of the Modern Mind. Dr. Mills communicated a multitude of knowledge so effectively that I believe I learned more from sitting in on that one class then from any other class I was actually enrolled in my freshman year. After experiencing the Making of the Modern Mind, I decided to become a philosophy major. The philosophy classes I took were the most practical ones I took while at Cedarville. These philosophy professors, Dr. Graves and Dr. Mills, taught me how to think critically. They made me aware that all of life, including the life of the mind, has an ethical component. They opened my eyes to just how many diverse viewpoints can exist within the body of Christ. They gave me a strong appreciation for art and taught me to think through the essentials of my faith. As I went through the process of struggling with the questions that philosophy brings, Dr. Graves and Dr. Mills stretched me by giving me more than I thought I could intellectually handle. They always respected the human ability to think and, unlike other class, did not try to indoctrinate me with simple answers. Looking back, the only classes that left a lasting impression on my life, were the philosophy classes.
On a deeper level, Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves modelled how to be a Christian. While at Cedarville I seemed to go from one personal crisis to the other, Dr. Graves and Dr. Mills doors were always open if I needed someone to talk too. They graciously offered themselves to me in such a Christlike manner. They acted sacrificially more than was practical. I’m sure countless numbers of students have similar stories.
I believe that one of the reasons these two men are so Christ-like is because God has given them such a deep love for philosophy. Philosophy requires hard work and deep thinking. Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves constantly challenge themselves mentally. They desire to live integrated lives as well. As a result they challenge themselves spiritually as much as they challenge themselves mentally. They question whether or not they love as much as Christ would and end up usually challenging themselves to love more. They question whether they have been handling a certain ethical issue correctly. This same trend, at varying levels, appears throughout the philosophy department. During my short stint at Cedarville, I noticed a desire towards godliness within the philosophy students. They always were challenging themselves to be more in every area. Many of those I know who have graduated with philosophy majors are now involved in sacrificial work around the world; teaching English overseas, working with Teach For America. I’m sure there are many examples I do not know of. Philosophy teaches people to look beyond themselves and to sacrifice. Two attributes that any Christian University ought to encourage. In order to encourage Christ-likeness, the philosophy program should be kept if not expanded. Not solely for declared philosophy majors, but for all students who wish to become more Christ-like.

My name is Penelope (Hansell) Shumaker

My name is Penelope (Hansell) Shumaker

I graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy. I am a writer, a mother, a wife and a teacher. I currently work at a small baby store.
I protest the removal of the philosophy major, personally but because without the classes of Dr. Mills, and Dr. Graves, my faith would not be what it is today; and I protest for the sake of the University, because without this major, the University chooses not to engage with the philosophies of the world.

The Philosophy major shows that Cedarville is willing to teach students how to reason, and explore ideas. If Christians are afraid to ask questions about their beliefs, then they must fear that their beliefs cannot withstand those questions. The philosophy major teaches students how to discuss these questions, and not to fear the outcome. God is a God of reason, and is not afraid of questions. But, if this major is removed, than students will learn to think elsewhere, perhaps without godly leaders to guide them.

I also, protest the removal of the philosophy program, because with it, Cedarville will the christian examples of Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves. Both Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves not only discuss the complex issues of philosophy, but seek to follow the examples of Jesus and live out the gospel. A Christian University needs people whose actions align with their beliefs. Christianity is far more than a list of doctrines, it is a faith lived in action. Cedarville should keep the philosophy major, so that students are able to wrestle with the difficult questions of life, and use their conclusions to live out their faith.

My name is Bethany Colas

My name is Bethany Colas

I graduated from Cedarville in 2008 with a
B.A. in English and minors in Publishing and Editing, Creative Writing, and Bible. I’m married to a fellow English major Brandon Colas (’06), and I’m currently a stay-at-home mom for Hannah, our 21-month-old little girl whose favorite pastime as of late is bargaining with her parents (“Clean up and then color, okay?”). We’re also expecting baby #2 to arrive any day now.

While I didn’t personally take any classes from the philosophy department, I’ve experienced the benefits of them in our marriage and family life, and God has used Brandon’s education in the Honors Program and our time in the English department to equip us as parents in ways I wouldn’t have expected. In my limited experience as a
parent, I’ve begun to see the world through different eyes–all of the sin and pain and conflicting philosophies–and quite frankly, it makes me want to pack up our family and run for the hills, at least metaphorically. But choosing to live an insulated life would also mean living in disobedience to God, because he has given us the profound responsibility of being salt and light in this world and to teach the next generation how to be salt and light as well. It’s much easier to withdraw from the world and to think we’re protecting our kids by doing so rather than showing them how to think carefully and engage the world around them in a meaningful way with the truth of the gospel.

This is why the Honors Program and other classes from the philosophy department, and the English department, are so important in the Christ-centered, Christ-professing university. Brandon and I know from personal experience that they teach us how to think critically about the values and philosophies in the world around us, how to search out
the truth, and how to respond thoughtfully, graciously, and
biblically. Professors like Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves help students practice these skills so that they’ll be equipped to use them in very practical ways every day–to reach out to the Muslim couple next door or to have a meaningful conversation with a family member who believes
a mishmash of religions and philosophies.

The philosophy department, professors, and classes provide an important opportunity for students to learn how to be salt and light in their families and churches, in academia and the workplace, and in the rest of the world. I hope that in light of the significance of the Philosophy Department for Cedarville and its students, the board will vote against the proposal to dissolve the department and its major.

My name is Jeremy Williamson

My name is Jeremy Williamson

I am a 2005 Cedarville graduate with a major in Pre-seminary Bible and minors in Philosophy and the Honors Program. After graduating I taught theology for one year in Africa and earned M.A. degrees in Theology and in Applied Linguistics upon my return. I currently work in the financial industry, and my wife and I are actively engaged in our church and with the refugee population in our community.

The philosophy program, the Honors program, and my meetings with Dr. David Mills as director of each, are quite literally the reasons why I attended Cedarville University instead of any of the other public or private universities I considered. I am deeply saddened that my alma mater is even considering eliminating the philosophy department. I’m also fearful that the University’s hope to equip students to “Think Broadly and Deeply” and to “Engage for Christ” a world fundamentally at odds with biblical truth is in serious jeopardy if it dismantles the program.

I’ve smiled as I’ve read the posts here from numerous classmates and friends from Cedarville. I have little to add, and I echo so many of them: the courses in philosophy that I took at Cedarville, most of them with Dr. Mills, continue to be among the most important courses I have taken, bar none. Where else can we try on ideas, explore them, discover their positive aspects, and dissect their flaws and/or implications? I well remember wrestling through some particularly gnarly passages of Derrida in an independent study and thinking–I have to disagree with this guy on this particular point, but how do I even do it? If I disagree with this, then I also have to go back and disagree with this, and I’m not sure I know how to do that…where do I even begin? It seems so comprehensive!

Philosophy disciplined me to think carefully, diligently, and systematically in a way that few other subjects of study do or can do. Dr. Mills frequently quoted historical theologians and their quest for “faith seeking understanding.” Yet “faith seeking understanding” does not occur in a void; rather, we seek understanding amidst a cacophony of competing voices, some obviously and badly recycled, some seemingly quite novel. The University will be impoverished in a way few can imagine without the continuance of the philosophy program and the model of “thinking Christians” that professors like Dr. Mills embody.

I hope that you, the board of trustees and administrators, would consider carefully the practical and symbolic significance that eliminating the philosophy department entails and choose to continue to support and enhance its mission within the university setting.

My name is Captain Brandon Colas

My name is Captain Brandon Colas

I graduated from Cedarville in 2006, with a double major in English and history and minors in Bible and the Honors Program. After graduation, I commissioned in the Army and have served two tours in Iraq. I am currently studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute, which will be followed by graduate school and then a position teaching international relations at West Point.

It saddens me to hear that the board is considering removing the philosophy program at Cedarville University. I’m worried to think Cedarville is becoming insular and satisfied with only talking amongst ourselves, instead of seeking engagement with the world around us, taking every thought captive for Christ. So much of what I cherish about Cedarville comes from the willingness of my professors to be biblically relevant, genuinely seeking to challenge those who are outside the faith in the world of ideas.

At the personal level, I’m saddened because of the enormous influence that the MoMM program and Dr. David Mills had on my life during my years at Cedarville. I still remember the first few classes I had with Dr. Mills, and the two points he instilled in me that affected (and still affect!) my studies: all truth is God’s truth, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I can also state that the English major and Honors Minor were integral to my past and present work in the military. I felt well-equipped to handle the challenges and stresses of my work in Iraq not only because of the Lord’s constant presence, but because He had equipped me through the English major and philosophy classes of the Honors Program with so many of the skills needed in counter-insurgency work: balancing our needs with those of our Iraqi partners, being able to understand the different viewpoints of complex issues, communicating clearly, sifting through reams of sometimes contradictory information and thinking critically about the salient points, and being able to consider the short and long-term consequences of tough decisions–among other things! The humanities matter, and it’s my hope that Cedarville will acknowledge this not only in word but in terms of having the funding and organizational framework for those who wish to pursue them.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts in this matter. I am praying that the board will consider the long-term implications of this matter, as well as the message it will send to its students and alumni, as it makes its decision.

Captain Brandon Colas
Class of 2006
2010 Young Alumnus of the Year

Our names are Tim and Linda Sizemore

Our names are Tim and Linda Sizemore

We are parents of two Cedarville alumni who participated in the honors program. This challenging program influenced our elder son to pursue a minor in philosophy and our younger son to earn a minor in bioethics. We treasured the many hours spent with them discussing what they were learning in their philosophy classes and looked forward to reading their papers. We often joked that we were getting four educations for the price of two.

Our sons grew mentally and spiritually during their time at Cedarville under the influence of Drs. David Mills and Shawn Graves.
As parents we see Cedarville as a great Christian university.

We find it mind boggling that a University which has grown and improved its academic offerings so consistently over the years would consider eliminating a program that in many ways epitomizes the essence of liberal arts education. Cedarville recently found the resources and motivation to move Cedarville athletics into NCAA Div II membership. Will lack of resources now be the sole reason for eliminating the philosophy program? We hope not as we feel Cedarville University would be taking a step backwards in its pursuit of academic excellence. We ask you as members of the Board of Trustees to vote no on the proposal to eliminate the philosophy degree and the philosophy program at CU.

My name is Julianne Sandberg

My name is Julianne Sandberg

I graduated from Cedarville in 2008 with a B.A. in English and am now earning a Ph.D. in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. I oppose the dissolution of the philosophy program not only because of its vital role in the development of Christian thinkers but also because of what it symbolizes about the direction and values of Cedarville University.

Having worked in Cedarville’s Marketing Department for two years after graduation, I am familiar with the rhetoric used to communicate the values and distinctives of a Cedarville education to alumni, constituents, and potential students. I chose to work in such an environment not only because I supported Cedarville’s mission but also because I believed in and witnessed the genuineness of such rhetoric. For the most part, my experience at Cedarville, both as a student and staff member, lived up to the image presented in marketing materials and by people connected to the University. But now, with the philosophy program threatened with dissolution, I fear that the rhetoric of a rigorous, Christ-centered, mission-minded education will not match the reality of the institution.

Beyond the specific influence it and its faculty have on students’ lives, the philosophy program symbolizes a commitment to Christian thought, the rigorous pursuit of truth, the conviction that the Christian mind can successfully engage its unbelieving peers with vigor and love. To dissolve the philosophy program is to suggest that Cedarville and Christianity are ill-equipped for this task. Moreover, the program’s dissolution threatens the very basis on which Cedarville derives its distinction.

Cedarville cannot claim to be a school that values the liberal arts—indeed, identifies itself as a liberal arts institution—if it removes the program that best embodies this mindset. More than any other area of study at Cedarville (rivaled only by the English Department), the philosophy program unites art, ethics, critical thinking, Christian practice, biblical thought, and orthodox faith. Holistic education, the overlap of secular and sacred, biblical application to every field of thought, and the responsibility to engage the world with the mind of Christ are principles on which Cedarville stakes its identity. Devaluing the humanities, as reflected in the dissolution of the philosophy program, can suggest nothing else but a lack of genuine conviction concerning the value of these very things.

Pursuing a Ph.D. in English has affirmed to me the necessity of preparing students to engage the world of the humanities with the heart and mind of Christ. It can be a dark, lonely, narrow-minded place, but one with a strong and persuasive voice. To enter it without grounding, preparation, and conviction is to risk fleeing from the faith entirely. We need philosophy and humanities programs like Cedarville’s to prepare students not only to thrive in but also transform these places. If we dissociate ourselves from the programs that best position us to engage these critical fields, the world of art, literature, music, religion, discourse, and philosophy will go on without us—to its detriment and our guilt.

My name is Molly Fillion

My name is Molly Fillion

I am what some might term a professional humanitarian, a hopelessly perpetual volunteer. I graduated from Cedarville in 2010 with a B.A. in Biology, having completed the honors program. Growth sustained while at CU, namely as a result of the philosophy program, led me to persevere through 27 months of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, Central America. I am now serving at an intentional community for people with disabilities in rural Ireland, where my core values and strength of character are challenged every day.
Were it not for the philosophy program, I seriously question whether I would have excelled post-graduation. Classes with Mills, Graves, and others taught me to think critically and creatively, to carefully observe all factors surrounding a situation, to understand humanity as a whole. From MoMM to Colloquium, I was challenged to deeply considered what I believe and why, as well as how my beliefs had gotten there in the first place, and to extrapolate such concepts to the world around me and the people I encounter every day. Because of the philosophy program, I am better able to comprehend and empathize with the diverse and often complicated populations with which I work.
What I appreciate most about my philosophy professors was not necessarily how eloquently they made their points in the classroom, but how they lived it out after hours. I had the honor of serving alongside these men in an obscure neighborhood in Springfield; they truly demonstrated how to care for each human soul as a reflection of Christ. Every day, as go to work in a caring profession, I am inspired by their example. It is not the academics at Cedarville I recall most strongly, but the emphasis on thinking critically and exercising the mind daily.
I am saddened and deeply disturbed by the prospect of dismissing such an influential and vital component of a university which seeks to be known as exemplary in both secular and religious circles. It is only through harnessing the power of God-given reason, as the philosophy program so strongly advocates, that we have any hope of making a positive mark on this broken world.

My name is Michael S. Jones

My name is Michael S. Jones

I am a professor of philosophy and theology at Liberty University. I am also a former missionary to Romania and a current deacon at Berean Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. I think I am living evidence that philosophy and theology complement each other: my teaching combines the two in a way that is beneficial to both and very edificational to my students. Philosophy is an attempt to do the very thing that Paul exhorts us to do in I Thess. 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” I’ve known David Mills for over a decade and know him to be committed to this approach to philosophy. He loves God and is devoted to using his mind for God. I’ve occasionally heard other Cedarville professors make presentations at conferences and have always been impressed with the integrity of their work.

I know that various accusations have been leveled against the Cedarville philosophers. These strike me as being based on a misunderstanding, or in some cases a merely partial understanding, of the issues being debated. I am convinced that removal of the philosophy program at Cedarville would be detrimental to the university and to the cause of Christ. I urge you not to make this mistake!
Sincerely,

Michael S. Jones, PhD
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology
College of General Studies & College of Arts and Sciences

My name is Christine Keeports

My name is Christine Keeports

I graduated from Cedarville in 2009 with a B.A. in Psychology, and a minor in French and the Honors Program. Currently, I am a graduate student at Northern Illinois University working on my PhD in Clinical Psychology.
For four years of my life I returned to Cedarville in August to hear Dr. Brown tell us in chapel that Cedarville students are the essence of the university. He said that during the summers, when the students literally scatter all over the world, the university itself seems void of life.
The students are Cedarville. Cedarville is about the students.
As I read about the upcoming changes and hear the voices of my fellow alums, my heart sinks as I realize that this may not be true. Maybe Cedarville is not about the students. Maybe it is about the faculty. Maybe it is about internal workings that are not disclosed to the rest of us. Maybe it is about finances. Maybe it is about an inability to resolve conflicts in a Christ-like way. Whatever it is about, I can no longer say, without a doubt, that it is about the students.
The philosophy-driven Honors Program taught me how to engage with the world. Although it did not come without its ‘sticky’ issues and several critical debates that were left largely unconcluded, I learned. In Dr. Mills’ class, I learned to think critically and to know where I stand. When I went to France as a missionary, I had already thought through the postmodern values held by the young adults I befriended. When other Christian college graduates struggled with issues of God’s will, I had already been faced with the question “Does God plan my future, or does He only know about it?” When I started graduate school, I felt that I had a knowledge-base that is rarely, if ever, really taught to undergraduates. And I had learned all of this in a safe environment where I could integrate my faith, myself, and psychology. I can only imagine that those who majored in philosophy have much more to say about the value of their courses.
Philosophy offers challenges, especially to a Christian university. But philosophy also offers the opportunity to fortify students so that they are equipped to deal with a thinking world. I am unclear about the reasoning for ending the philosophy program at Cedarville, but I am sure that this is not the answer to whatever events have led to this point. I am disappointed by this seemingly rash decision regardless of the University’s ultimate motive.

My name is Brett Smith

My name is Brett Smith

I graduated from Cedarville University with a BA in Philosophy in 2008. I also minored in Honors and Greek. In 2011 I received my MDiv from the Corban University School of Ministry (formerly Northwest Baptist Seminary). I just finished applying to PhD programs for the fall of 2013, and I aspire to teach theology and/or church history on the college level someday. I urge the trustees of Cedarville University to retain the philosophy program if at all possible.

I can honestly say that being a philosophy major at Cedarville changed my life. It strengthened my faith to the point that I have no doubts about the basic truths of Christianity (and I can articulate why). At the same time, I learned to think critically about how I was forming my beliefs on the basis of Scripture. I learned why others have thought differently, especially at other times and in other places. In short, I began to learn humility. (That’s still a work in progress.) I also learned to love God with my intellect. Some of the most emotional moments in my spiritual journey have been those in which I came to the end of my understanding and realized that comprehending God and the wondrous world He had made was still far beyond me. Only then could I fully appreciate what God had said in Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than you ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Anyone who has not been amazed by God in this way needs to study philosophy at Cedarville University. (Do you think they’re going to get that at Ohio State?) Although Dr. Mills and I still do not see eye-to-eye on some issues, he has been one of the greatest influences in my life for good.

Academically, I could hardly overstate how well the philosophy major prepared me for studying theology in seminary. Of course most seminary programs cannot incorporate much philosophy, yet Christian theology is greatly strengthened and enriched by philosophy carried out in faith. I was often the only student in my theology classes who understood what the professor was saying because I was the only one who had studied philosophy. Thus seminary was more valuable to me because of my philosophical training. In addition, some of the PhD programs to which I just applied require a background in philosophy as a basic prerequisite. If Cedarville is going to continue to prepare people for seminary, the school must maintain the philosophy program. I recall that a good number of the students in my major classes at Cedarville were in fact preseminary Bible students. Yet without a philosophy major in place, most of those courses could not have been offered. If a philosophy major simply cannot be maintained financially, let it be restructured into a philosophy and religion major. At the very least, a philosophy minor must remain.

My name is Dave Baggett

My name is Dave Baggett

I’m Dave Baggett, philosophy professor at Liberty University. I’m heartsick over the potential loss of the philosophy department at Cedarville. As a philosophy prof at a fellow evangelical university, I am horribly concerned over the message this sends. It is the completely wrong message. This is a time for evangelical Christian institutions of higher learning to be more committed than ever to reverse the popular picture of evangelicals an anti-intellectual. Removing a philosophy department will only reinforce the worst stereotypes of Christians as uninterested in the life of the mind. Cedarville prides itself on promoting a Christian worldview, but nearly every fundamental question a worldview answers—What is real? How is knowledge possible? What is right and wrong?—is philosophical in nature. C. S. Lewis once said we need good philosophy if only to answer all the bad philosophy out there. I sincerely hope and pray that Cedarville not do this. It would be devastating. I would implore Cedarville not to do this.

My name is Jodi (Muehling) Stratton

My name is Jodi (Muehling) Stratton

My husband and I are Cedarville Alumni, graduating in 1997 and 1998 respectively. We have settled in the area, as we desired to retain the community of friends that we made while at Cedarville University. My husband earned his MBA through the Executive Program at Ohio State University and he is now a Program Manager for Space Computer Corporation. I am a homeschooling mom of four children. We are 14 year members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Xenia. We love the Lord and I spend my days with my children, in large part studying the Bible, the Catechism, Hymns and memorizing Scripture together. We are part of Classical Conversations, which is a Classical Christian homeschooling group. My intention is to train our children to know our great God and to learn how to think critically so that they can be an effective testimony for Christ in the world. I also hold a monthly book group for ladies in my home devoted to books of spiritual significance so that together we may grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Jeff and I are very thankful for the time we had at Cedarville and have been excited to see Cedarville moving forward in several areas such as the arts, which were lacking when we were students. Recently, we were thrilled to hear that the Bible professors at Cedarville had proposed a Theology major for the University. We were very disheartened to hear that the Trustees (as we understand it) rejected the Theology major, and we have become increasingly disheartened after similar events that followed including, but not limited to the dismissal of Dr. Pahl, the refusal to grant tenure to theologians in the Bible department, and now to the potential dissolution of the Philosophy department. I can not tell you how many conversations my husband and I have had concerning these matters. I have pleaded with God that those who are making these very disappointing decisions would be able to see the amazing, godly people that they are letting go and the impact they are making for Christ in the lives of students. I can say without a doubt that some of the professors who will not be granted tenure because they are theologians (students of God) love the Lord and His Word and the students who are within their care. They desire to shepherd their students to Christ not only in class but also by inviting them into their own home and lives. As my husband was part of the Making of the Modern Mind program while a student at Cedarville, I can also say that Dr. Mills had a direct impact on his life and his love for the things of God.

God is not threatened by our study of thought and of Him. God is enlarged as we study and grow in our critical understanding of Him. The Christian band, Gungor, who we enjoyed hearing play at Cedarville just days ago, wrote the song “Cannot Keep You” about our attempts to contain God. But He can not be contained. Who is like the Lord? The Maker of the heavens. May He heal us all of our blindness, so that can more clearly see His glory.

This is my plea to let the study of God and of thought flourish at Cedarville to the praise and glory of God. I ask that those who are making decisions to dismiss professors, deny them tenure, or deny their proposals to study God, would meet with these professors, hear their testimonies and see their heart for God and for students to know Him better.

I appreciate your time. All of those involved are in my prayers. May He be glorified through this time which is so difficult and trying for so many involved.

Your sister in Christ,

Jodi (Muehling) Stratton

My Name is Jen Buckner

My Name is Jen Buckner

I graduated from Cedarville University in 2004 with a degree in Spanish and minors in Music and Bible. After graduation, I taught in an urban elementary school for two years and then served in Mexico as a missionary for a year and a half as a house mother at an orphanage. In 2011, I completed my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and am currently working as a children’s librarian.

I protest the dissolution of the philosophy department at Cedarville because the study of philosophy is necessary for scholarly community. Philosophy teaches people how to listen, think, and communicate distinct ideas between individuals. This is essential for a Christian university community where students of different backgrounds live for four years with a common goal: to grow in the wisdom and knowledge that will transform the world for Christ through various vocations. These skills also provide success for Cedarville graduates, living outside of the bubble, interacting with ways of living or thinking that are different from their own.

Philosophy, a beautiful dialogue of questions and answers, parallels rabbinical teaching methods, methods Jesus himself engaged in, particularly in Luke 2:46-52. After which, the Bible says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 NIV) There is no better way to be a “Christ-centered” institution, than to teach students to interact with others in the same manner as Christ did, sitting, listening, and asking questions.

If we expect Cedarville students to grow as Jesus did, we need to give them the opportunity to pursue wisdom and love knowledge. The philosophy program and its skillful professors form an integral part of teaching students to “engage their spheres-of-influence.” This program should and must continue to influence lives, both of their students and the people they interact with, as long as Cedarville envisions these goals as a crucial part of their institutional mission.

My name is David Hawkins

My name is David Hawkins

Regarding the philosophy program at Cedarville:

When my daughter was investigating universities for her upcoming matriculation, the decision eventually came down to Cedarville or Grove City. After visiting both schools, it was still a tough call. To our investigation, Grove City is academically more rigorous, while Cedarville is larger and offers more opportunities. She was ready to choose Grove City until we heard about Cedarville’s Honors Program.

During our follow-up visit to Cedarville, we were able to attend one of Dr. Mills’ lectures and to speak with him afterward. His involvement with the Honors program, and particularly the centrality of the philosophy department to that program, made the difference.

My daughter started Cedarville as a biology major, but her exposure to the importance of the themes of philosophy to Christian thinking eventually resulted in a switch to the philosophy program. Two years later, my oldest son entered Cedarville, and also was accepted into the honors program. As an engineering major, he found the philosophy department’s challenge to think well and carefully about Christianity to be a vital part of owning his own faith. As for my daughter, she graduated Cedarville with high honors in philosophy and is now pursuing her philosophy Ph.D.

Why is philosophy so important? Because philosophy is the mother of every field of inquiry. The ability to think logically, to assess ideas, to reason to conclusions, and to avoid fallacies are all children of philosophy. Literally, every pursuit into gaining knowledge must and does begin with a philosophical foundation (though most fields of study, and especially the sciences, would prefer to believe they stand alone).

With the tools of philosophy we are able to understand what a worldview is, and how it dramatically influences every train of thought we have. As a Christian university, there is no greater charge than to instruct students in the veracity of Christianity. Other universities can turn out fine engineers, doctors, accountants, etc. But to express the truth and value of Christianity, one must enter philosophy and do the hard work of thinking. Philosophy done well allows us to understand more clearly the world as it actually is.

It is unconscionable that we do not start teaching logic in grade school, and unthinkable that a university would expect to operate without a philosophy department. For a Christian university to plan to scrap their philosophy department is a move away from sound foundations.

In the past, we have been vocal supporters of Cedarville to other families with college-bound students. When I visited my kids at school, I would bring potential Cedarville students to tour the campus. I also have two more sons who will attend college somewhere. Cedarville barely won out the first time we reviewed you. Without a robust philosophy department to underpin the honors program, our sights will move elsewhere.

Mr. David Hawkins
Father of Cedarville students Katy and Matthew Hawkins

My name is Liz Zeron Compton

My name is Liz Zeron Compton

I graduated from Cedarville in 2003 with a BA in Philosophy and minors in Bible, Greek, Music, and Honors. I went on to earn a Masters of Liberal Arts at the Great Books program at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and in 2012 I defended my dissertation to complete my PhD in philosophy at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). I currently teach philosophy and Christian thought classes in Saint Paul, MN, serve in my church,and am in my eighth year of marriage and the proud mother of a 3-year-old-daughter and twin 7-month-old boys. As well as being my vocation, my study of philosophy has helped prepare me to serve in my local church, mentor students, understand and respond to non-Christian worldviews as I share my faith with others, and offer the clearest explanations of my faith I can to my three-year-old daughter, who is already asking some pretty hard questions.

I support the philosophy program at Cedarville not only because it has changed my life and thought processes in a profound way, but also because of the way Christian philosophy enables us to be salt and light in the world. I believe we need informed Christian voices in academic and public dialogue on topics from the nature of belief and truth to what it means to be human and find fulfillment in life. Abdicating this sphere of thought to secular thinkers diminishes Christianity’s credibility, enabling skeptics to dismiss our faith as a harmless delusion. The Christian community needs Christian philosophers goading us to think more deeply, as well. To leave our minds under-developed is to have an impoverished faith, to be vulnerable in spiritual struggles and the war of ideas, and to fail to love and honor our God with our whole beings.

I believe that an institution like Cedarville has a unique opportunity to create space for civil discourse on divisive issues, encouraging its students to understand and critically evaluate alternative positions in order to make informed judgments about what they should believe and why. True, there is some risk in exposing ourselves to ideas that some might consider dangerous, but I hold that it is better to do so in a safe environment as a sort of inoculation, rather than leaving young people to flounder through them later on when they don’t have professors and mentors to guide them as closely. There is a reason that philosophy has traditionally been considered a “handmaiden” to theology, and I long to see Cedarville’s philosophy program given the resources it needs to thrive so that future students will benefit even more than I have.

My name is Bethany Gilmour Williamson

My name is Bethany Gilmour Williamson

I graduated from Cedarville in 2007 with a B.A. in English and minors in Music, Bible, and the Honors Program. After graduating, I went on to work as an editorial assistant at a major publishing company for two years. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Contrary to my initial expectations, Cedarville proved to be a difficult environment for a student like myself who had a penchant for challenging the status quo and asking probing questions about why we do and think and believe the things we do. I look back with deep gratitude and respect for the handful of professors in the Bible and English departments who not only welcomed my questions but joyfully embraced them as part of the process of intellectual and spiritual growth to which they had committed themselves as academics and as believers. These were also the professors who took a genuine interest in my well-being as a person and who invited me, in my skepticism and doubt, to see in their own lives and practical ethics the fruit of their faith: love, grace, kindness, patience, humility. Dr. Mills is one of these professors. I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching both in the first-year MOMM (honors) courses and later in his upper-level course on Philosophy and Literature. I still have all of my lecture notes from those classes, not only because Dr. Mills has the rare ability to brilliantly distill what seemed like impossibly complicated ideas to profound and provocative nuggets that were manageable for an undergraduate mind, but also because his pedagogy, along with that of a few other CU professors, continues to inspire me as I teach university students myself.

Aside from my own story (and the role Dr. Mills and the Philosophy program played in that story), I am disheartened by the recent proposal to eliminate or downsize Cedarville’s Philosophy program. I do not see how Cedarville can continue to market itself as a “university,” let alone one that is committed to “Inspiring Greatness,” without prioritizing and valuing—not only rhetorically, but also financially—academic departments like Philosophy (and English) that are devoted to cultivating both critical academic thinking and the ability to discern what is true in the midst of myriad attractively packaged falsehoods. Unlike many of the majors Cedarville offers, Philosophy is far more than a body of content one must master; it is a skill set that involves the ability to develop and articulate a cohesive worldview. As a discipline, then, the study of Philosophy provides students with thinking and communicating abilities that are highly marketable and increasingly rare among college students & graduates; moreover, it is the very lifeblood of what Cedarville claims it is all about. It is one of the few disciplines Cedarville offers whose chief aim is to guide students in the tradition, practice, challenges, and joy of pursuing the truth it professes to be at the heart of a biblical worldview. Despite some financial cost (if that is the motivation behind this proposal), to cut the Philosophy program, or to continue it without the capable leadership of Dr. Mills and his colleagues, would be to cripple Cedarville’s faculty and students and jeopardize the school’s reputation at a time when Cedarville has an opportunity and responsibility to engage, rather than turn away from, the world outside the bubble.

For the sake of intellectual inquiry and students like me, yes, but also for the sake of those students who do not yet know what it looks like to seek truth with their hearts, souls, and minds, as well as for the sake of the generations of faithful men and women who have built Cedarville into what it is, I urge you to reconsider what I believe is a short-sighted proposal to cut the Philosophy department. I hope Cedarville’s administrators and trustees will recognize and affirm the gift they possess in their current Philosophy professors and seek to expose more CU students to their teaching. Thank you for your time and consideration.

My name is Jeffrey Martin

My name is Jeffrey Martin

I graduated Cedarville in 1996 with a major in philosophy; since that time I have been working with my father in the business he founded. There is a part of my being which continues to grieve over graduate studies not pursued, probably in political theory, but oftentimes, in this life, family responsibilities assume precedence.

In the fall of 1993, at a time of personal crisis, inclusive of questions about my Christian faith and its relationship to the (post)modern world, I withdrew from the Bible college I had been attending. My coursework at that college neither challenged me nor answered the questions which perturbed me. In point of fact, it couldn’t answer them, because it never even acknowledged them. Not knowing what I would do during the next academic term, and not knowing how soon I could be admitted to another college, I confided in an old friend, a guidance counselor at the private, Christian high school I had attended. He recommended that I consider Cedarville, an institution he held in high regard; knowing my interests, he recommended that I apply to the honors program, which he believed would provide me with the tools to begin addressing my questions. I accepted his advice and applied to Cedarville, and transferred for the spring 1994 semester, originally enrolled as a political science/history major.

Within days of the opening of classes that spring, I realized that the courses in the honors program, particularly the Making of the Modern Mind sequence, were precisely what I required. I was not being inculcated in the Answers, as though they were self-evident, requiring only the application of memory; rather, I was being taught how to apprehend and analyze complex intellectual and social environments, in which the answers were not always obvious – indeed, where some matters might be fundamentally undecidable – but where Christian witness was nonetheless required. What is more, I also began to learn the virtues of humility and charity, especially as these apply to intellectual disciplines. Intellectual arrogance, in my case and in most (all?) others, is born of intellectual and spiritual insecurity, of a gnawing dread that something in one’s formation and commitments is somehow untenable, or at least difficult to articulate and defend, and a fear that once that thing goes down, along with it will go an entire intricate latticework of commitments, defenses, and self-understandings. It is a state of brittleness and frailty, masquerading as strength and fidelity. I was also prone to this tendency as I learned more with each passing week. Fortunately, in form and substance, the coursework in the honors program militated against this vice. In learning not only what intellectuals and philosophers, great and not-so-great, had thought through the ages, but why they thought what they thought, how they arrived at their conclusions; in learning to afford even an intellectual opponent his strongest argument, I learned how to live the Gospel in academic life: to treat another, even when arguing with him or her through a text, across the ages, as I would wish to be treated. I learned that I didn’t have all the answers, and could not, as a mortal. To learn this lesson, especially in private conversations with the director of the honors program, was painful, but intellectually and spiritually necessary; I still, all these years later, recollect those experiences and lessons when I find myself veering off course.

Dr. Mills assumed responsibility for the honors program, and for most of the philosophy courses, after Dr. Percesepe departed Cedarville; those of us who were there in 1995 probably remember a bit of turbulence and uncertainty. I had switched my major to philosophy in mid-spring 1994, on Dr. Percesepe’s advice, and I was concerned about the commitment of Cedarville to philosophy after his departure. Dr. Mills allayed my fears by the entirety of his conduct as professor of philosophy and faculty adviser to philosophy majors. When I had questions or interests that went beyond the coursework, he did not hesitate to recommend additional sources and lines of inquiry, and to encourage me to pursue them. When a formulation in a paper was wanting for accuracy or clarity, or perhaps just infelicitous, he pushed me to become more precise. Whenever I tossed off some piece of opinion which either lacked substantiation or misrepresented a philosopher, he demanded either substantiation or correction. He required that we strive to understand any philosopher in his own words, on his own terms – charity and humility, again – and in accordance with the best scholarship. And he pushed us academically, beyond what we thought we could endure, through which I learned not only that I could endure, but that this rigor was precisely what I had lacked at Bible college, and in high school; above all, Dr. Mills provided me with the training and impetus to integrate philosophical and cultural pursuits with my Christian faith, whether we were discussing Kant or aesthetics.

This is why, in the final analysis, Cedarville needs the philosophy program. Christianity and philosophy are inseparable. It was only the existence of Greek philosophical concepts, and the terminology associated with those concepts, that enabled the Christian Church to articulate its own fundamental doctrinal affirmations: that God is a Trinity, but One; that Christ is God and man, fully each yet without mixture or confusion. Absent philosophy, the entire theological history of Christianity is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, without a key. Absent philosophy, Christians would be left without the means of comprehending the world in which they live, in all its proliferating variety, in all its manifold tendencies. Absent philosophy, Christians would be deprived of an understanding of how the world of the twenty-first century came to be, of how it came to be the way it is, since so much of the history of Western thought has been steeped in Christianity, formed and molded by Christianity, and Christian concepts, even secularized ones, all of it inseparable from philosophy. Absent philosophy, Christianity would be nothing but that intricate, brittle latticework, if even that much. This is more than a metaphor for the labors of the mind; it is also a metaphor of spiritual peril, for Christians incapable of articulating their faith and relating it to the cultures of which they are parts, or worse, unwilling to undertake that labor, will become brittle, fearful, and hubristic – and will fail to image Christ in the world. Many will also lose their faith, as I might well have, but for the model of Christian philosophical inquiry I experienced at Cedarville under Dr. Mills’ instruction. One cannot affix a price to that; the strict balance-sheet approach cannot encompass it; the callous cash-nexus cannot assign a valuation. I protest vigorously the proposed dissolution of the philosophy program.

My Name Is David W. Swick III

My Name Is David W. Swick III

I am a candidate for my Juris Doctorate at Capital University’s Law School in Columbus, Ohio. I graduated from Cedarville in the Spring of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy as well as minors in Bible and Criminal Justice. During my time at Cedarville, Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves were the most important faculty there. And not only because they were the only two philosophy professors. While at Cedarville, I experienced a crisis of faith, as many have. No one was capable of answering my questions. The answers from everywhere else were just the importance of belief and some even claimed that we just don’t ask those questions. One person even gave me a clear contradiction and believed that it was right, despite me pointing out the contradiction. Only Mills and Graves were able to help me. Not by giving me the answers that I sought, though that happened on several occasions, but by helping me to learn how to find answers my self. No courses challenged me to the degree that the philosophy courses did. Almost all of the other courses simply required the regurgitation of the facts that we were taught. Even the Bible Apologetics class required mostly learning outdated arguments and the counters to arguments the world barely uses. The Bible classes were only marginally helpful in preparing me for the world after graduation. But philosophy was able to do what no other class had bother to do: show me how to think. We all are just taught facts from the earliest of ages. But no one ever teaches us how to learn or think critically. Some have it naturally. Many don’t. But this program is important for fostering critical thinking in everyone. Without the philosophy program, I wouldn’t be in law school on a presidential scholarship. Without Dr. Mills and Dr. Graves, I may very well have lost my faith. I strongly oppose the termination of the philosophy program at Cedarville University.

My name is Rebekah Hereth

My name is Rebekah Hereth

Philosophy creates a space for questioning and truth-seeking. Christian Philosophy helps me think through my doubts of faith and about the Bible. It’s a space to struggle with evil, pain, and suffering. Philosophy has transformed my thinking and understanding of myself and others, revealing my close-mindedness and opening me up to be wrong and vulnerable, yet strengthening my resolve to seek truth. Philosophy taught me how to see through polite, meaningless words, and into the hearts and minds of those around me. I owe my marriage to the philosophy department at Cedarville University. My husband and I struggled with many doubts about Christianity and faith, and it was through the space that philosophy created to ask difficult questions and to explore truth that taught us how to come to agreement, how to engage in areas of disagreement, and when issues should not divide us. Dr. Graves uses philosophical arguments, fostering the skills necessary to think critically about Christianity, helping students develop substantive answers to complicated questions. My personal journey includes many philosophical issues, and I attended Cedarville University in hopes of gaining more knowledge in an environment that encourages faith but also develops sharp critical thinking. It is those critical thinking skills which have propelled me into graduate school. I love Cedarville and I am grateful for all that I have learned there. But the dissolution of the philosophy department is not what I learned from them. That action is not truth-seeking, is not seeking to live in harmony with brothers and sisters in the faith, and does not build up a community of those seeking the Kingdom of God.