After reluctantly attending Cedarville for one semester before dropping out, I was apprehensive about returning after a year away. When choosing a major and my purpose for going back to school, a few close friends recommended Intro to Philosophy with Dr. Mills, telling me it was the best course CU offered. Having been an unmotivated, mediocre student before dropping out, I was both excited by the prospect of working hard in a notoriously challenging course as well as nervous about what that actually entailed. It wasn’t long before I realized how rewarding the class was when my effort was driven by intellectual curiosity, a process thanks entirely to Dr. Mills’ enthusiasm for the topics and clarity when teaching them. Intro to Philosophy soon became my favorite course, as I eagerly anticipated another discussion of Augustine’s concept of time or the impossibility of a View from Nowhere. Returning to college on the verge of turning twenty, I was entering a transformative period of my life, one in which the Philosophy Department played a vital role.
Although I eventually chose English as a major (and completed an M.A. in English from Loyola University of Chicago in 2012), I earned a philosophy minor as well, learning the tremendous benefits of studying the two disciplines in tandem. My philosophy background was invaluable when pursuing graduate studies in English. Being exposed at CU to not only the content of philosophy as a discipline but gifted and generous professors who earnestly cared about their students provided for me an example of scholarly integrity and intellectual humility. Academia can be a very challenging space for Christians, oftentimes dismissive and at other times openly hostile. The most valuable lesson I learned from the Philosophy and English faculties was the viability of Christianity as a system of belief and especially as a way of life that informs every facet of lived experience. I didn’t learn this lesson in one or two courses, even though some were more beneficial than others, it took over four years and arose out of countless interactions with my professors and peers.
The time I spent in the Philosophy program at Cedarville prepared me to succeed academically but it is the way it shaped my view of the world and our place as Christians within it that means the most to me. Studying philosophy with other Christians earnestly seeking to usher Kingdom Life into our dark world helped anchor my faith while teaching me humility, patience, and graciousness towards those who do not believe as I do. The personal examples set by Drs. Mills and Graves were irreplaceable and cannot be separated from their vocation as Christian Philosophers. If Cedarville chooses to move forward with the dissolution of the Philosophy program and its upper level courses, it will lose an all-important piece of its intellectual and faith community, placing itself on a path to eventual irrelevance in a world that desperately needs Christians capable and willing to listen and speak to matters of faith, morality, aesthetics, and knowledge. It will also miss the opportunity to help students who have deep doubts about Christianity yet are not willing to let it go quite yet. Cedarville’s Philosophy program provides them the space and support they need to continue in the faith.