1,000 days. I often talk about the vision for Cedarville University in terms of 1,000 days. We want to be strategic and intentional in everything we do as we educate our students with academic excellence and Gospel purpose. This means chapel, classroom content, assigned readings, hallway conversations, sports, student life events, and everything in between. If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here:
Flowing from the 1,000 days is how our academic division views transforming minds in a fallen world. There is a vast difference between reading Jane Austen and Fifty Shades of Grey. Choosing wisely makes all the difference. We are a true Christian university that stands for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ in all we do.
Recently, Dr. Tom Mach, Assistant Vice President for Academics and Professor of History, wrote a piece about Cedarville’s distinctive approach to higher education. He articulated our commitments and priorities clearly and compellingly: “A Cedarville education is grounded in biblical truth, engaged in Christian thought, discerning in curriculum, and exemplary with regard to outcomes.” It’s so good that I’ve reprinted the article here in its entirety.
TRANSFORMING MINDS IN A FALLEN WORLD
Cedarville University is committed to providing an education that is grounded in biblical truth. That means we begin with the assumption that God exists and that He has communicated to us through the Bible. The Bible is His inspired and inerrant Word, which provides direction for us in matters of faith and life.
This commitment impacts every field of study on campus. Science is taught from a creationist perspective. History is taught realizing that human beings matter because they were created in the image of God with the ability to choose and to reap the consequences of those choices. Psychology is taught recognizing that sin affects our mental health. Art is taught from the perspective that mankind reflects the Father by creating art, but not everything that is called art is edifying.
None of this negatively impacts the quality of what is taught. Science majors must learn the theory of evolution because they need to understand it to enter into the career paths they are called to pursue. While our students learn about the theory, they also learn to critique it. Professors provide the biblical basis for belief in creation as well as the scientific evidence that corroborates such belief.
History students learn about deterministic schools of thought within the field such as Marxism, because they need to know the historiography to go on to graduate school. But they are also taught why those approaches are inconsistent with the attributes of man as revealed in Scripture.
Psychology majors learn the various theories of Freud, Jung, and Skinner because so much of the field is influenced by them. They are also taught to recognize that as fallen human beings, theories that assume that mental illness is the product of misplaced repression or fail to see the destructive impact of sin do not address significant issues of humans in need of a Savior.
Finally, while art students learn various movements within art, they recognize that the Creator God had a standard for His work and so should man in his creative efforts.
Romans 12:2 encourages us to be distinctive, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” When our professors must grapple with assumptions and ideologies that run counter to biblical truth, they seek to provide a classroom where students’ minds can be transformed by biblical truth.
At Cedarville, this commitment is the product of a strategic and genuine effort to produce biblically consistent, Christian thought. Students have to learn much that is contrary to Scripture. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul suggests that we need to know these belief systems in order to defeat them. Yet, what about areas of sin? What do students need to be exposed to? In fields like history, literature, and art, the fallenness of this world can be graphically displayed.
At Cedarville, we commit to judiciously balance the need to teach students how to grapple with this type of material while recognizing that our minds need to be transformed. We do not want to send students out into the workforce or to graduate school unprepared to interact with and respond to this type of material. If we shield them completely from it, we prevent them from being ready to study, work, and live in a fallen world.
At the same time, we commit to not exposing them to overtly prurient, explicit, and graphic portrayals in course materials. We recognize that what one reads, watches, and studies impacts one’s mind, and Scripture is clear that we should focus on that which is good. We also know that some of our students will deal with temptations that may be heightened by exposure to these types of materials. We do not want our curriculum to be a stumbling block. We can address serious issues related to various types of human activities (often sin), without explicitly or graphically displaying it. That is our goal.
Some may argue that we are cutting our educational offerings short because we are not engaging this type of material. The reality is that only a very small percentage of the material encountered on campus even comes close to that which is addressed by this standard. Our students live in the real world. They are not oblivious to what is going on in that world. We can address these issues as needed, without falling into our culture’s pattern of glorifying them.
For others, our standards may not seem stringent enough. We recognize that there will be varying opinions among students and their families about what is appropriate. We are committed, however, to doing our best to think through these issues, and before God and His Word, keep our curriculum consistent to His truth.
I shared Cedarville’s distinctive approach to providing an education consistent with biblical truth during a presentation at a recent professional conference, and was confronted by a skeptical professor afterwards: “Do your students get jobs?” Absolutely! Cedarville students are winning international engineering competitions, achieving professional certification scores much higher than national benchmarks, and presenting cutting-edge research at national conferences. For the past three years, on average, 97 percent of our graduating class was employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. Fortune 500 companies, top government agencies, and educational institutions recruit our graduates because of their career preparation, high-level integrity, and incredible work ethic.
Without reservation, I can say that Cedarville’s commitment to transforming minds for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ is equipping our graduates for both vocational success and bold impact for Jesus Christ.
Thomas Mach ’88 is Assistant Vice President for Academics and Professor of History at Cedarville University. He has been at the University since 2000. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Akron.