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Related Articles:
Muddle in the Middle: The "C" in TCU | C is for Choice | C is for Church Affiliation | C is for Community | C is for Christian Beliefs | C is for Critical Thinking

C is for challenging perceptions

By Gregg Franzwa
Professor of Philosophy

The "C" in TCU is an anachronism. It reflects the school's original 19th century mission, but not its present one. And as such, it is often, I fear, misleading to those outside the university.

Not long ago a student in our introductory philosophy class asked me if our department was forbidden to teach anything about the Skeptics, an ancient school of thought. She told me her boyfriend had assured her that we were not permitted to teach anything that questioned religion. But after hearing professor Galvin's lecture that day she began to suspect her boyfriend was wrong.

I think many in the faculty and administration would vote to change the name if it were possible. There are several good reasons to do that. The most important, from my perspective, is the fact that we no doubt lose a number of bright potential students every year who do not even consider coming here because of their false perception of us as a Bible college.

Perhaps my deepest reservation is in regard to the very notion of a Christian university. The fundamental mission of a university is to seek truth in all things. But the objective search for truth is not consistent with the promulgation of religious dogma, anymore than it is consistent with the teaching of particular political ideologies. Thus I think we must be especially careful to make it clear that we are not in the dogma business, since there are many, including some of our own students, who think that we are or that we should be.

I think TCU generally does quite well at maintaining the distinction between preaching and teaching. I know, for example, that in the religion department this distinction is scrupulously observed. Quite to the dismay of some of their first-year students, the members of that department maintain an admirable level of scholarly objectivity in their classes. And I am certain that the same is true of the vast majority of the TCU faculty.

As with so many things in life, the problem is not with the reality but rather with the perception. TCU has changed over the years, and changed for the better, I think. The faculty and staff do not have a religious bias. We just have to make sure that the rest of the world knows it.