My name is Katie Foster

My name is Katie Foster

I majored in Political Science, class of 2011, and was involved with Women of Vision and the Advancement Department (shout out to the Cedarville Fund; get ready for the designated gifts to Philosophy). Now I work for the Community Alliance for the Homeless in Memphis, TN.
I strongly encourage the Board to reject the recommendation to remove the Philosophy department at Cedarville. Because of courses offered in the Philosophy program I was forced to truly think for myself. This component of education is the most valuable, and the loss of the philosophy program at Cedarville would be severely detrimental to the university’s ability to properly educate students. Instead of merely teaching what the Bible says at Cedarville, you are taught to analyze it. In the same way instead of being told what to think at Cedarville, the philosophy program teaches you how to think.
This is the most healthy skill taught to young Christians and without it all you have is unthinking students who are about to be sent out into the world, grounded in nothing.

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My name is Eric DeLange

My name is Eric DeLange

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.

My name is Chad McIntosh

My name is Chad McIntosh

I believe that the anti-intellectualism of contemporary Evangelical Christianity is due in no small part to the absence of a strong philosophy presence in our universities, seminaries, and churches. This is well documented by Christian scholars like Mark Noll (The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind), J. P. Moreland (Love Your God with All Your Mind), George Marsden (The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship), William Lane Craig and Paul Gould, eds. (The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar), and others.

A common element to nearly all the great minds that have shaped Christian thought throughout the centuries, to which we all are indebted, is philosophical acumen. Our best theologians have always been our best and brightest philosophers. This is why, no doubt, a heavy dose of philosophy used to be a prerequisite to studying theology. Oh, times have changed!

Removing the philosophy department cuts Cedarville off from this great tradition, depriving its students from a discipline essential to their spiritual maturation and growth. Indeed, removing the philosophy department will mark the decisive moment at which Cedarville joins hands with the shallow spirit of the age.

My name is Katie Wormald

My name is Katie Wormald

Cedarville’s philosophy department would be the worst concentration to remove from the life of this university. It has taught me not what to learn, but how to learn, and thus, has allowed me to enjoy discovery in my classes and in my life. Truely, my philosophy classes have made me a better person, and have contributed to my life more than any other of my classes at Cedarville. Additionally, Dr. Mills specifically has been a role model that has deepened my understanding, infused me with courage, and grown my faith. Once again, I implore you to keep the philosophy department at Cedarville, and thereby save this rich educational experience for more students to come.
Thank you for your time.

Class: Freshman, class of 2016
Affiliation: Honors Student

My name is KC Pugh

My name is KC Pugh

I am currently a freshman psychology major at Cedarville University. I desire to attend graduate school and become a licensed counselor. I am in the Honors Program and have strong academic standings in terms of GPA and scholarships I have received. However, I strive to be known not for my intellect or my accomplishments, but by the love and compassion I have for others that I can only attribute to Christ. There are so many reasons why Cedarville should keep the philosophy program, such as retaining a reputation as a true liberal arts college. More significantly to me though is that philosophy has taught me so many important lessons about Christian faith and living. Paul tells us in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The philosophy course in the Honors program has taught me how to really evaluate the life I live; something so crucial in following Christ. Learning about the world I live in and how God has designed us helps me to love others more passionately and genuinely. As a university that defines itself by Christ, and Christ alone, cutting a program that so profoundly influences Christian thought should not even be considered.
I think Cedarville University’s philosophy program and its professors are outstanding and have been extremely valuable in my own spiritual, as well as academic, growth. It would be a very disheartening thing to me and many others to see this program go.

My name is Bayer Watson

My name is Bayer Watson

I am currently a junior Philosophy major at Cedarville.

I believe that a philosophy program is extremely important for a university like Cedarville, since it aims to prepare graduates that glorify God, think broadly and deeply, communicate effectively, develop academically and professionally, and engage for Christ (https://www.cedarville.edu/About/Mission.aspx). Philosophy trains students to be willing to engage in careful and sustained thought about a wide range of topics and issues. This involves perseverance in reflecting on questions of faith and a life well lived. Hidden assumptions are brought to light and examined. Attention is given to multiple perspectives and both sides of an argument are heard. Of course, philosophy is also known to teach students to write well and communicate clearly. Not only is all of this valuable in itself, but it also helps prepare students to succeed in a variety of academic and professional settings. More importantly, the type of good, hard thinking that philosophy promotes is crucial for understanding what it is we believe and why we believe it. It enables us to better glorify God with our minds and engage the world thoughtfully for Christ. Thus, the philosophy major effectively and specifically contributes to Cedarville’s mission.

My own experience with Cedarville’s philosophy program and its professors has been outstanding. I cannot imagine studying any other subject. My classes are both enjoyable and challenging. And they have not been mere academic exercises. I am constantly challenged to examine my own life and my Christian faith in light of what I am learning—and I believe that both have been enriched greatly because of it.

As I think over my time at Cedarville up to this point I realized how fortunate I am to have such wonderful professors teaching me at this university. Dr. Graves and Dr. Mills are both incredible examples—through their words and their actions, in and out of class—of men that are committed to both the Christian faith and careful, consistent thinking. They continue to show me that the two are not incompatible. Their example, their love, and their faith bring me hope and have been a great encouragement to me. They inspire me to persevere in my faith.

I believe that the Philosophy program is exceptionally valuable in light of Cedarville’s mission and I hope that future students might have the opportunity to benefit from the program and its professors as I have. Therefore, I protest the removal of the Philosophy program and its professors.

My name is Nathan Reed

My name is Nathan Reed

I’m deeply saddened that Cedarville would consider cutting its philosophy program. I resonate with the many others who have posted about the intellectual and spiritual stimulation they received from the community surrounding the philosophy department and Honors program (not to mention the crises of faith handled).

Much is made at the ‘Ville of the “Bubble” and what will happen to students when they enter the “real world” and interact with constituencies composed of more than conservative Baptists. As a graduate of the Honors program with a minor in philosophy, I spent my time at Cedarville thinking outside my own set of particularities and those of the Christian subculture in which I studied.
I critically engaged philosophically-significant texts with my classmates and professors. They deconstructed my assumptions about the world and, in the process, I learned that others with whom I might disagree were equally as passionate and conviction-driven as I. Most importantly, I watched Dr. Mills and my other professors model Christlikeness in their words, modes of dialogue, and incarnational lifestyles. These experiences prepared me for my current vocation in public education in a way that no professional education could.

Since graduating, I have begun a career addressing the problem of educational inequity in the United States as a classroom teacher. My work has allowed me to interact with stakeholders of all kinds: politicians and parents, district superintendents and community leaders, teachers and students. I engage these stakeholders with an understanding of their intellectual framework and ability to discuss issues clearly and self-reflectively because of my education in philosophy.

I worry about Cedarville’s future. I worry first that future students will not have access to the professors and program that turned me from an arrogant, self-certain freshman into a college graduate capable of reflecting upon his own assumptions and beliefs in a critical manner. Moreover, I worry that this administrative decision symbolizes the death of the life of the mind outside the “Bubble” at Cedarville.

My name is Olivia Floren

My name is Olivia Floren

I studied Philosophy for three years at Cedarville University. During that time, I participated in the honors program, and served two years as an officer in Tau Delta Kappa and one year as an RA. I was also a CU Ambassador and a CU Scholar. I oppose vehemently the removal of the Philosophy program at Cedarville, and voice strongly my support for the professors leading it.

My three years studying Philosophy at Cedarville were absolutely critical for the refining and strengthening of my faith. Drs. Mills and Graves demonstrated the purest forms of Christlike patience, humility, and submission to the Lord that I have witnessed. The classes they taught not only equipped me to understand better the world around me, but also brought to my attention my shortcomings, the ways that my pride and intellectual arrogance could undermine any sort of gospel message I might try to deliver to others.

The Philosophy department, then, served not only to provide me with academic credentials and skills to engage analytically the ideas around me, but also opened my eyes to my own transgressions. But I wasn’t left with a hopeless sense of depravity – I had role models willing to guide me to understand how Christ could transform my spirit.

I am saddened to hear that there is a recommendation which would prevent those future students with philosopher’s hearts from receiving the teaching and guidance I did. I believe sincerely that a Christian student wishing to study Philosophy will not find a superior undergraduate program, both in terms of academic rigor, and assuredly in terms of establishing the redemptive, humble, God-honoring outlook taught by our Cedarville professors.

True, it is a small major – but the number of students graduating with a Philosophy degree sure didn’t match up with the number of students in each Philosophy class, or those interested in involvement in the Philosophy organisation, Alpha Sigma. And in terms of contribution to the well-being of their students, Drs. Mills and Graves are unparalleled. Never have I met a pair of professors so deeply aware and caring of their students’ well-being as these two. Their guidance and the classes they teach are responsible for the betterment of countless students, and the thought that Cedarville would deem it morally appropriate to deny future students from such a blessing is truly distressing.

My name is Michelle (Cohoon) Abernathy

My name is Michelle (Cohoon) Abernathy

I was graduated from Cedarville University in 2008 with a BA in Studio Art. Immediately after graduating I became a full-time live-in nanny until getting married in 2009. I am now a full-time child development expert-in-training (aka: a mom). In the final semester of my CU experience had the honor of taking Intro to Philosophy with Shawn Graves. I protest the removal of the Philosophy department because of the lessons I gleaned from that short experience in philosophy.

That spring semester was one of massive turmoil for me. I was facing spiritual abuse from the outside as well as spiritual transition internally. To say the least, it was a very confusing time for me. For the first time in my life I was being forced to articulate not just WHAT I believed, but WHY I believed what I believed. Philosophy helped me do just that. I was taught how to reason. I was taught how to effectively argue a stance and hold true to that. In fact, I left that class angry that it was not a requirement for every single freshman student. I wished I could have had 4 years of pondering and asking those questions in the safety of the Cedarville environment.

In that class we hashed out hard topics such as “Why does a good God allow evil?”, “Inclusivism”, and many other topics. While we learned, most all students in the class actively participated in discussion. Hard questions were able to be asked. Hard concepts were able to be picked at and broken apart and then put back together.

This was one of two life changing classes for me (the other being Christian Integration with Tim Gombis). Nearly 5 years later I still find myself pondering the arguments and topics discussed in Intro to Philosophy and Integration. The concepts discussed come back over and over again. To be able to look back and say, that of all my time at Cedarville, there were only TWO classes that have truly impacted me continuously is a shame. Not that I didn’t learn many fascinating things in other classes. But only those two continue to affect how I approach ideas and how I look at the world, life, hardship, marriage, parenting…LIVING.

That Cedarville University would even consider disbanding an entire school of thought – Philosophy – that has been prized academia throughout all ages is unthinkable. Paul was able to stand up and reason with the best of them in Greece. Scripture calls us to come and reason together. Students can’t just be told what they should be believing, that’s how most of them were raised to be begin with. They need to have space to understand what they believe, to ask WHY they believe what they believe, and freedom to hash through those hard questions.

My name is Laura Davis Werezak

My name is Laura Davis Werezak

I graduated from Cedarville in 2005 with a double major in English and Spanish. After graduation I taught middle school Spanish through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and earned an M.A. in Secondary Spanish Education (Lehman College, City University of New York). I continued my education at Regent College, Vancouver, BC, receiving a Master of Christian Studies in Christianity and the Arts. I currently work as a creative writer, an assistant youth minister, a wife and a mother.

I stand in full support of the Cedarville University Philosophy Department and its professors. I am proud of the education that I received at Cedarville, including the Honors Program. It prepared me professionally for study abroad at Oxford University and the University of Seville as well as for graduate education. It prepared me personally for work in the inner-city and for Christian ministry. It formed me into the Christ-follower that I am today. Through the study of Philosophy, Dr. Mills helped me to see how the Word of God answered the questions that would have ended my faith—questions of identity, theology, and ethics. I am confident that if I faced those questions in another environment under professors less committed to Christ, I would have lost my way.

One special gift of the Honors Program was to introduce me to great Christian thinkers throughout the ages, and I am grateful for the witness of the fallible, fallen, redeemed human beings I met. Their example gives me the courage to shine Christ’s light into the dark places of the world today.

I plead with the Board of Trustees to support and celebrate the Philosophy Department. To remove it would permanently destroy the reputation of Cedarville University as a place where students can meet Christ and thoughtfully engage with the issues that face this broken world.

My name is James Leunk

My name is James Leunk

I live in Rochester, N.Y. Since my undergraduate education in philosophy, I have had a long career as a newspaper editor.

Cedarville University’s proposal to eliminate its philosophy department is short-sighted. It is the mark of a institution in retreat; it is an indication that the university lacks the courage to engage every aspect of our culture.

A Christian university of 3,400 students should be embarrassed to have only two faculty members now devoted to teaching philosophy, and a proposal to eliminate the teaching of philosophy altogether should prompt far greater embarrassment. If the trustees agree to this proposal, Cedarville will no longer be able to claim honestly that it has comprehensive educational offerings and is committed to developing the whole person.

My undergraduate degree in philosophy is from Calvin College, a Christian college in Michigan. When I studied there, it was under some of the most gifted philosophers in America. Calvin’s academic reputation and tradition of philosophical education remain strong today: Its current enrollment is just a bit below 4,000, and its philosophy faculty has 14 people. Cedarville should aspire to something similar, instead of aspiring to have a philosophy department of zero.

My name is Brock Bahler

My name is Brock Bahler

I am a graduate of Cedarville University (’03) with a degree in Bible Comprehensive and minors in Philosophy and Church Music. I am currently a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the last ten years, I have worked at College Park Church in Indianapolis for 3.5 years, am an elder at the Open Door Church, and am an editor for Duquesne University Press, which publishes academic texts in philosophy, religion, psychology, and literature.
I strongly oppose the dissolution of the Cedarville University Philosophy department for academic, theological, and personal reasons.
First, what is known as the modern university system has its foundations in the study of philosophy. To remove philosophy on the university level is to remove over 2,000 years of a historical basis and theory for nearly all of the social sciences—religion, politics, law, ethics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, linguistics, and rhetoric to name a few—but also many of the hard sciences such as studies of nature, the human mind, and even nursing. An impoverished philosophy program results in an impoverished academic experience in its entirety.
Second, philosophy has had an important and intricate influence on Christian theology since the very beginning of the history of the church. Indeed, my senior seminar at Cedarville involved a study of St. Paul’s knowledge of Greek thinkers, whom he quotes explicitly in Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, and Titus 1:12. Then, from Augustine to Pseudo-Dionysius to Thomas Aquinas to John Calvin to Jonathan Edwards to Karl Barth to C. S. Lewis, one simply cannot understand the trajectory of Christian theology without a grasp of various strains of philosophical thought. Indeed, some of the most influential thinkers in Evangelicalism over the past 25 years have been philosophy professors, including Dallas Willard, Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Nancey Murphy, J. P. Moreland, Merold Westphal, and James K. A. Smith.
Third and finally, my philosophy courses at Cedarville had an indelible impact on my own life. Not only were the philosophy courses I took—particularly those with Dave Mills—some of the most rigorous but were also some of the most intellectually thought-provoking and spiritually fruitful. My background in philosophy was extremely helpful when I was asked to teach various courses on worldview and engaging culture at College Park Church, and it has motivated me to pursue the study of philosophy as a means of providing an important contribution to God’s Kingdom.
One of the key components of my education at Cedarville—whether in classes, chapel, or extra-curricular activities—was the stress of developing a worldview and a passion for learning. Cedarville simply cannot continue to stress these things if an education in philosophy is absent.

My Name is Christine (Newhard) Bartkowski

My Name is Christine (Newhard) Bartkowski

I graduated from Cedarville in 2004 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and minors in Bible, Church Music, Philosophy and Honors. After graduation I attended graduate school at Wright State University in Dayton, OH with a concentration in Humanities, particularly Political Science and Religion. From there I moved to Pennsylvania to attend Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, where I graduated in May 2011. During law school, I interned for MidPenn Legal Services for two years, where I worked with attorneys to provide free legal counseling and representation to low income clients. I passed the Pennsylvania Bar Examination on my first attempt and became an attorney in March 2012. I currently stay at home to raise my 9-month-old daughter.

The freshman honors course, Making of the Modern Mind (MOMM), was foundational to my Cedarville education. Not only did the course introduce me to a close circle of friends, it provided the framework for the rest of my education. Dr. Mills’ philosophy lessons were a particular challenge, as I had to learn to address ideas that were not my own, and put words to the reasons I held to my worldview and faith. These skills were crucial for my post-Cedarville education. At Wright State my professors often chose to challenge my views in front of the class, knowing that as a Cedarville graduate I would not only have opposing views to what they taught, but I had proven my ability to explain my views and the reasons behind them, which was a skill those professors hoped to teach the rest of my classmates. In law school it was required that I be able to reason my way through a set of facts and legal principles, as well as break down logical reasoning of written court opinions. While many of my classmates struggled through their first year to learn these critical thinking skills, I sailed through readily, having gained such skills in MoMM and my philosophy minor under the tutelage of Dr. David Mills and other philosophy professors. My success in law school and the legal profession as a whole can be directly traced to my philosophy classes at Cedarville.

Cedarville’s philosophy department provided a solid groundwork for my future vocation as an attorney. Law school admission departments preferred students with a background in either philosophy or the hard sciences, rather than the “pre-law” major so many students took in undergrad. Their rationale was that students who could succeed in philosophy and hard science majors were those students to knew how to think and reason, and those were the same skills that would make successful law students, and eventually successful attorneys.

Even today I still remember certain lessons and key phrases taught by Dr. Mills in MoMM, and those ideas inform my political and social opinions. One such phrase that is never far from my mind is “We should work to make abortion unthinkable, not illegal.” While many in Christian circles prefer the latter option as the easier route to protect unborn children, it doesn’t work. Not only is it an uphill battle legally, based on Supreme Court jurisprudence, making something illegal does not stop others from engaging in the activity – it just drives it underground. But making the idea unthinkable, taking it out of people’s minds as a rational option, would achieve the end of abortion, without needing to worry about a court’s interpretation of individual civil liberties. As a lawyer, I am limited by how the courts rule on social issues, but as a thinking Christian, I can work to reach out to individuals and help them understand the ramifications of their choices, thereby making some choices on social issues unthinkable. Only when society sees abortion as an “unthinkable” option will it truly end.

Ultimately, I would not be the person I am today were it not for Cedarville’s philosophy program. It taught me how to critically address positions, evaluate ideas, and “test everything,” as admonished by Paul in 1 Thessalonians. Such skills are priceless in a profession that not only deals with hot-topic political and social issues, but also advises people when they are at their most vulnerable. These abilities are also prized as a Christian figuring out how to live and move in a highly secularized profession and society. Without critical thinking skills, I would not easily be able to determine how to respond to others who are looking for answers in everyday life, especially when tragedy is so often in the headlines, and contrary opinions are rampant in the news. Without the foundation laid by Dr. Mills in teaching me how to challenge the ideas expressed by society in daily life, I have no idea how I would teach my daughter to also challenge the ideas she will be faced with all too soon once she starts school. In a post-modern culture, where truth is seen as relative and most do not understand what they believe, let alone why, Cedarville’s philosophy program equipped me to raise my family to be different, to take a stand for Christ with full understanding and vetting of our faith, and to rationally answer those who challenge such beliefs. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend Cedarville, and to study under Dr. Mills and so many other knowledgeable and compassionate professors. It is my hope that future generations of Cedarville students will have the same opportunity.

My name is Daniel Stevens

My name is Daniel Stevens

I am a film production designer in Los Angeles. I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Electronic Media-Video Production. I strongly object to any measures terminating or reducing the philosophy department or personnel.

I learned a lot about philosophy and the history of thought in the honor’s program and such classes as Postmodernism taught by Dr. Mills’. Learning philosophy was foundational to my education, the work I am engaged in now, and my upcoming graduate education. Living in Los Angeles and working in Hollywood I come across many different worldviews. My ability to effectively engage them is greatly augmented by an understanding of philosophy. The philosophy department at Cedarville rounded out everything else I was learning about worldviews in other classes.

I’ve discovered it takes a lot to create a voice in the film industry. When I have a turn to say something as an artists I want to communicate clearly, effectively, and meaningfully. Without an awareness of what has been said before, where we have been and where we are going, I cannot be a relevant artists. I believe understanding philosophy is a foundational element for anyone entering artistic fields. Whatever our medium, what we communicate is part of a greater philosophical and cultural conversation. Without an understanding of philosophy, artist become the blind leading the blind.

My name is Justin Duff

My name is Justin Duff

I am a second-year M.Div student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and a first-year Assistant Resident Director at Cornerstone University.

As any neophyte Greek-geek will tell you, the word philosophy means “love of wisdom.”

These three words are what I wrote down on the back of an index card when Dr. Mills asked us to define philosophy in an Introduction to Philosophy class. And for the rest of the semester, Dr. Mills made me a wiser man.

He taught the class with authority, yet encouraged questions and dialogue. He never left us out to dry on life’s toughest questions and always lead us back to Christ as the source of wisdom.

Wisdom is not a subject often privileged today in universities. Wisdom, in its many shades of meaning, denotes skill in navigating life, fearing the Lord, and making just choices on behalf of others. The study of philosophy (and its sister subjects) remains one of the few public curriculums where questions of wisdom and right living are truly ventured.

If Cedarville votes to discontinue the philosophy program, Cedarville will cut off a hand that other public universities still flex, a hand that provides contact with the rest of academia. With the right professors at the helm (and Mills and Graves are both the right professors) a Christian philosophy program equips students to dialogue with the world.

I understand that universities often cut programs for financial reasons. But if the decision is purely financial, why is it that the programs and professors who teach lifelong, God-honoring skills are the first to be let go at Cedarville? Why aren’t other programs discontinued, smaller programs that will not severely inhibit the spiritual and academic life of a university?

If Cedarville refuses to continue the philosophy program, a program manned by two professors who have taught me (and so many others!) to live a wise and compassionate life, Cedarville will seem less concerned with shaping Christ-centered students and more concerned with quelling the misplaced fears and insecurities of key leaders. As an alum who cares deeply about the school, I hope that Cedarville will not succumb to fears or harmful dogmatism, but will continue to lead the world charge in fostering academically sound dialogue with Christ at the center.

My name is Lemuel Yutzy

My name is Lemuel Yutzy

I am a licensed and practicing Psychotherapist in Norristown, PA while simultaneously a PhD student of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. I graduated from Cedarville in 2009 and strongly oppose the dissolution of the Philosophy department.
Throughout my time at Cedarville I found an academic home among Philosophy majors and/or honor students. I assure you this was not due to my academic prowess but to their learned ability to engage in productive discourse, something that was strikingly absent my other classmates. At Cedarville the Philosophy department, both faculty and students, are responsible for the development and on-going pursuit of critical thought and thoughtful criticism. The ability to engage with those around us in meaningful dialogue (both spoken and otherwise), regardless of who they are, is the precursor to any form of actively living out our faith. To cease to teach this skill is to directly diverge from Cedarville’s stated mission and without it “lifelong service” becomes utterly impossible at best and self-serving at worst.
I respectfully ask that the ramifications of the termination of the Philosophy department be reconsidered. The loss of the program would sacrifice the ability to teach vital skills to the next generation that would in turn have a lasting negative impact on the school, the students, the Church, and society as a whole.

My name is Emily Gneiser

My name is Emily Gneiser

I am a December 2012 graduate of the Organizational Communications program at Cedarville University.

When news of the removal of the Philosophy program reached me, I was quite shocked and disappointed. I believe the study of Philosophy is essential for not only any well-rounded university, but for any individual. Philosophy is the study and the pursuit of wisdom and truth. This pursuit should be central to each and everyone of our lives.

The professors of the program are well-educated, brilliant individuals. I had the privilege of listening in on several of Dr. Mills’ lectures on the study abroad trip to France this past May. His knowledge of vast subjects and deep topics was remarkable. I only wish I had taken all of his classes. The loss of Dr. Mills and the other Philosophy professors would be detrimental to the University.

I truly believe the termination of the Philosophy program would be the loss of the teaching of critical thinking skills and the loss of the importance of the pursuit of truth.

My name is Faith Beauchemin

My name is Faith Beauchemin

I graduated from Cedarville University in 2011, with a double major in history and communications and a minor in philosophy. I’m working in real estate research right now, and working on several writing projects on the side which I hope someday may turn into a real career.

I didn’t shy away from taking challenging classes during my time at Cedarville, but the most consistently intellectually challenging classes I took were the classes for my philosophy minor. The critical thought and logic that I learned from Dr. Graves was probably one of the greatest factors in my academic success at Cedarville. Even after I graduated, I find that the ability to reason in a more rigorous fashion has been one of my most valuable take-aways from Cedarville.

That’s one of the reasons this proposed dissolution of the philosophy program saddens me. My time at Cedarville was much more interesting, challenging, and engaging than it otherwise would have been because of the philosophy professors, students, and classes. It isn’t only me; many of my friends had the same benefits from the philosophy program and from the related Honors program. I don’t want the experience of future Cedarville students to be impoverished because of political maneuvering. A Christian University is a place where the most rigorous critical thinking can be coupled with the most passionate faith, to the benefit of both. That’s a powerful combination, especially to young Christian students trying to find their voice in this world. And that combination is exactly what is present in the Cedarville University philosophy program and its inspiring professors, Dr. Graves and Dr. Mills.

Please don’t dissolve the philosophy program, Cedarville. Rather, continue to feed it and allow it to expand if possible. It’s a vital part of the whole Cedarville body and if you cut it, you are only harming yourself.

My name is Josh Wallace

My name is Josh Wallace

I am a 2005 Cedarville graduate. Currently, I serve as senior pastor of Warman Mennonite Church, just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My previous ministry experience includes serving inner-city teens in Chicago at Living Water Community Church, helping plant a young adult congregation with First Presbyterian Church of DuPage in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and working as a missionary among Roma, Macedonian, and Albanian peoples for seven months in Skopje, Macedonia, with SEND International.

After finishing my BA in Pre-Seminary Bible (minors in Literature and Honors) at Cedarville University, I went on to complete (with distinction) an MA in Theological Studies at Loyola University Chicago in 2008. Then in 2011, I graduated summa cum laude with an MDiv (Cross-Cultural emphasis) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

I don’t enjoy reciting my list of degrees, achievements, and service. But I do so here to emphasize the excellent way in which Cedarville’s philosophy department forms students. I credit, in large part, the philosophy department–the courses I took there and its professors who contributed to the Honors sequence (especially Dr. Dave Mills)–for enabling me to discern the path on which God has led me and for equipping me to be able to journey along it.

The possibility that the University may cut its philosophy program sickens my heart. It calls into question the University’s commitment to the very good things for which I treasure it.

The globalizing society of 2013 is equally or more complex, spiritually tortuous, and ethically ambiguous as the world was when I began university at Cedarville, days after September 11th, in Fall 2001. I came to Cedarville brash and reactionary, convinced that I knew instinctively precisely what the world needed. While my heart may have been in the right place, I needed the gentle hand of philosophy professors, like Dr. Mills, to encourage me to pause, pray, and think deeply both about our social and cultural realities and about Scripture.

Learning the history of critical thought, from Socrates to Rorty, schooled me in a practice of self-examination. Over and over again I read the exciting story of how this or that school of thought became stylish, only for it then to be purified, reformed, or toppled by new thinkers who asked questions their teachers had overlooked or ignored. I learned to ask what, if anything, my own motives or assumptions were based on. Surely my own enthusiasms weren’t innocent of neglecting uncomfortable perspectives. I learned a very particular kind of intellectual and spiritual patience, a confident humility.

(I later read philosopher-mystic Simone Weil’s words on this sort of intellectual habit. She said, “Humility is attentive patience.” This kind of humility, this waiting for God to make clear what is confused, reminds me of what I learned from the philosophy department.)

My experience with the philosophy department instilled in me a value of community: I need other people around me to discern truth. I took this value into my Bible courses with me, slowly realizing that I needed fellow believers–be they professors, students, or the church folk I saw each Sunday–if I was going to rightly discern what God says through the Bible.

The deep impression that Dr. Mills and others in the philosophy department (including not only professors but also students in the Philosophy major) left on my life shaped me, first of all, for the ministry I’ve led since then.

Young and freshly graduated, I signed on to serve as a missionary in Eastern Europe primarily because my philosophy courses had taught me that intellect and practice go together, that the sort of knowing that comes from education must be matched by the knowing that comes from service. Serving with SEND in Macedonia was a way to fill out, to embody the knowledge of God I had begun to learn at Cedarville.

When I returned to the States, that same epistemological insight guided me to an inner-city congregation in Chicago. While I worked hard each week to proclaim the gospel from the Bible, I spent an equal amount of time tossing around a football and cooking meals with at-risk teens.

It was the communal character of life in Christ, of knowing God (cf. John 1:18), that led me to begin a new congregation in cooperation with First Presbyterian Church of DuPage in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Philosophy courses taught me that I need the perspective of others to make sure that I am interpreting and applying Scripture correctly. This community, with weekly potluck meals and an open mic for sharing and response after each sermon, embodied this communal and Spirit-led epistemology.

Both these epistemological lessons shape my ministry now in Warman, Saskatchewan, with my congregation of Evangelical Mennonites. I don’t know if I would have ended up here had it not been for Cedarville’s philosophy department.

Second, the philosophy department also equipped me for my graduate coursework at Loyola University Chicago and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Here I could also credit the intellectual-spiritual habits and virtues instilled by Cedarville’s philosophy department. But I’d rather focus on the way studying the content of the history of philosophy prepared me to not only excel in both these institutions, but also to give consistent witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Loyola University Chicago is Jesuit school; its commitment to and understanding of the Christian tradition, even within its Theology department, is worlds removed from that of Cedarville. The instruction in historical theological, biblical criticism, and theological method at Loyola were excellent, but they pressed my own understandings of faith, spirituality, and the Bible to their limits. Again, I view the courses I took in Cedarville’s philosophy department as vitally responsible for giving me the skills, first, to hold onto my faith when it was tested, second, to locate the contextual world out of which these other theologies and approaches to Scripture grew and, finally, to respond from a stance of faith. If I hadn’t been taught the history of Enlightenment thought and its modern and postmodern critics, I would have had much more difficulty. My faith may have been shipwrecked. Because of my preparation, I was able both to excel and maintain my faith and witness.

Later in the explicitly Evangelical atmosphere of my seminary training at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the same lessons I learned at Cedarville through the philosophy department enabled me to engage at deeper level in my courses on theology, Scripture, ethics, and practical theology. As an example, my familiarity with the history of Western thought enabled me to think through the positive and negative aspects of missionary contextualization, religious pluralism, and the religious dimensions of recent political movements. While my biblical education (especially courses in Greek and Hebrew) at Cedarville readied me for excellence in my biblical and exegetical courses, it was Cedarville’s philosophy courses that prepared me to think through how to apply biblical truth.

For the benefit of students like me, please do not cut Cedarville’s philosophy program. If anything, the world we live in–as well as the sort of Christian discipleship to which God summons us within it–requires a stronger (better-resourced) philosophy program at Cedarville University.

My name is Kimberly Prijatel

My name is Kimberly Prijatel

I am a 9th-Grade English Language Arts teacher on the Laguna Indian Reservation in New Mexico through Teach for America. I graduated from Cedarville in 2012 with a double major in English and Philosophy and was President of Alpha Sigma (the Philosophy Org) for 2 years. I object strongly to the termination of the Philosophy department at Cedarville.

The critical framework I learned through Graves, Mills, James, and all my other Philosophy classes is something I will use for the rest of my life, not just in my career and not just in my academic pursuits—this critical framework is integral in the political, social and cultural decisions I make every single day. I believe what I believe not because I have strong feelings. I believe what I believe because this major has encouraged me to contemplate, examine, consider, and research until I can say confidently I have reasons for my beliefs. No other discipline/field can dedicate itself so purely to this pursuit and practice of critical thinking, logic and reason like Philosophy can.

Finally, one of the most significant, life-changing things my Philosophy major taught me was to see no divide between academia and ethics. The Philosophy major taught me that all knowledge and all philosophical thought has an ethical component and the best thing I can do with knowledge is use it to make the world a better place. Mills and Graves taught this not only through the bookwork: they showed me what this sort of life looks like. I saw them serve the disadvantaged, literally with the coats off their backs, invite everyone into their homes and give past a level of comfort. The world is a better place because these professors teach at Cedarville and I am ashamed that Cedarville would consider ridding itself of a program that has changed and will continue to change so many lives.