Changing the Academic Culture for Christ

Dr. Richard Davis

Dr. Richard Davis

Originally on track to become a marine biologist, Dr. Richard Davis, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, came to Christ during his undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta. During that time, he witnessed a Christian apologist defend the faith in a debate with an atheist, which sparked in Dr. Davis a desire to do the same. After completing his BSc, he continued his studies at the University of Toronto and earned his MA and PhD in Philosophy.

Dr. Davis joined Tyndale in 1998 when it was known as Tyndale College & Seminary. At the time, philosophy courses were only electives. But in 2003, Tyndale received university college status accreditation from the Government of Ontario and was renamed Tyndale University College & Seminary. This enabled Tyndale to offer a recognized Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. Dr. Paul Franks, Associate Professor of Philosophy, joined the department in 2008. Together they redesigned the program with the goal of mentoring 50 students to achieve MA, PhD or Law degrees by 2018. “Dr. Franks and I believe the Christian faith can be rationally defended, which is essential to the evangelistic enterprise,” shares Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis and Dr. Franks recently achieved their goal with 51 students accepted to postgraduate studies at such institutions as Oxford University, Yale University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. Of this number, 15 have gone on to doctoral programs; some are now professors. Their new goal is to raise this number to 100 students. “Tyndale has enabled us to carry out this vision and dream to become one of the leading Christcentred departments of philosophy in North America,” he adds.

“If our students can go out into the academic world and become professors at universities, we’ll actually change the academic culture for Christ by having Christian professors teaching undergraduate students in philosophy,” shares Dr. Davis. He notes how philosophy can be one of the most hostile disciplines to the Christian faith and believes they can make a significant difference by encouraging students to pursue postgraduate studies. “Who else can represent Christ in these programs? Your average pastor can’t go into a graduate seminar in philosophy at a university and be an ambassador for Christ because they don’t travel in those circles. But our students can and do. It’s like being a missionary in an academic context,” he says.