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Why Christian College? The Academic Perspective

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Why Christian College? The Academic Perspective

April 13, 2012

This blog post was contributed by Dr. Tom Cornman, Academic Vice President at Cedarville University.

As the next step in a student's growth, higher education plays a profound role in forming the faith and identity of a young adult. And as we all know, this formation isn't always positive. That's why a Christ-centered education — with faculty who teach from a biblical worldview — is so important.

On behalf of the faculty who invest in students at Cedarville University, we believe this is the best context for a student's spiritual, social, and professional transformation. We're intentional about building on the strong foundation they've received at home as we propel students toward adulthood and responsible life in church and society.

When students graduate from Cedarville, they take with them the skills, perspectives, and convictions that prepare them for a lifetime of leadership and service.

They are biblically and theologically literate.

As evidenced by daily chapel, the required Bible minor, and mentoring relationships with faculty and staff, we're committed to the spiritual growth of these young men and women. While knowing the Bible and understanding theological ideas does not automatically result in spiritual maturity, growth is not possible without a firm grasp of the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Although this generation of students is characterized by great passion for their faith, this passion must be grounded in the authoritative teaching of Scripture. The Christ-centered university is not just an extended youth group. Rather, it is a place for thoughtful examination of truth, where students grapple with their faith and make it their own. We see it as our responsibility to lead students toward a deep and personal love of God — knowing God not just knowing about Him.

They think Christianly within the context of the contemporary world.

Out of this biblical and theological foundation should come the ability to integrate that knowledge into daily life. Central to this effort are our faculty and staff, who model Christlike values and behaviors. We engage our students as they recognize the difference Christianity makes in their daily lives. What exactly does this look like in the real world? Our students celebrate diversity and work across ethnic and cultural divides. They engage the global community and bring a Christian ethic and practice to global engagement. At home and abroad, they live as responsible citizens, whose understanding of political and social realities leads to community involvement. Through a service-oriented perspective, they carry out the Great Commission by meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people.

They think critically.

By the time they graduate, students will have honed the skills of analytical and creative thinking as well as problem-solving techniques. This includes skill in quantitative reasoning so that they can process life in our statistics-laden world. Employers rightly require college graduates to speak, write, and think with clarity. At Cedarville, students develop the ability to express ideas clearly, logically, creatively, and persuasively, through aesthetics as well as oral and written forms.

They consistently apply biblical principles to their everyday lives.

Since students know who they are in Christ, their faith is not an isolated element of their identity: it's integrated into every facet of their lives — at home, church, workplace, or ministry. Cedarville provides numerous opportunities for service, with the goal of helping students see that ministry is a way of life. In their workplaces, they are people of integrity, trusted by their employees and coworkers alike.

They possess intellectual and professional competence.

Although this goal can and does happen outside the Christian university, our unique commitment to intellectual and professional competence stems directly from our theology of vocation. Our God-given calling can be anything that brings Him glory. We have an obligation to excel in all pursuits to which God has called us, whether engineering, theatre, journalism, or business. Our students achieve intellectual and professional competence not just because they benefit from a great education but because they work in order to please God in everything they do.

At the heart of a Christ-centered university is its firm commitment to engaging the intellectual imagination of its students. To all those who invest in a Cedarville education, we promise to do everything in our power to help students live a purposeful life, one driven by their commitment to Christ. As we inspire students to accomplish great things, we're confident God will use them to influence their fellow image-bearers and impact His Kingdom.

Dr. Thomas Cornman serves as academic vice president at Cedarville University. He and his wife Sue have two grown children, David and Laura, and reside in Springfield, Ohio. This article is not simply an academic essay, but reflects the author's deep beliefs and personal choices. Both of the Cornmans' children graduated from Christ-centered institutions of higher education, and they have seen the profound benefit of that investment.

Posted in Why Christ Centered Higher Education? Academics Spiritual Growth