bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to the university and the world.
The Whole Campus - the Whole World
Although they represent less than 1% of the total US population, the faculty on our universities wield more influence on the future than any other group.
Population of US--310 Million
Students in U.S.--19 Million
Faculty in the U.S.-1.3 Million
Dr. Walter Bradley never planned to be a professor, much less a Christian professor. His goal was to use his degrees in mechanical engineering and materials science in private industry.
But God had other plans for Dr. Bradley and his wife Ann. Now at the end of a long career in academia, they have led to Christ and mentored many students and professors. The ripple effect of their impact for Christ in the most influential institution in our culture—our universities—is vast and continues to expand.
“Universities are one of the key institutions of influence in our culture, and professors are the gatekeepers who dispense that influence, for better or worse,” notes Dr. Bradley. “God called Ann and me to be ‘missionaries’ to one of the most strategic and spiritually needy corners of the United States: the public university campus.”
Over a career that spans 42 years and three universities, Dr. Bradley has partnered with Faculty Commons to reach out to students and colleagues with the good news of Jesus. He has also mentored many younger Christian professors, teaching them how to have an impact for Christ in secular universities.
Dr. George Davis is one of them. Early in his career, at Texas A&M University, Dr. Davis encountered Dr. Bradley. “He made an impact on me in many ways,” says Dr. Davis.
He vividly remembers watching Dr. Bradley stay for an hour answering questions from students after a lecture on science and faith issues. Now a professor at Virginia Tech, Dr. Davis emulates his mentor and is actively involved in ministering to students through Cru.
Dr. Bradley teaches and models for younger professors how he shares his faith in Christ with colleagues and students. He also models how to use your expertise to serve the poor of the world.
During his last academic stop at Baylor University, Dr. Bradley says, “God brought to my attention the plight of 11 million poor coconut farmers around the world that make $2/day. But how could a materials scientist help coconut farmers?”
He discovered that the agricultural waste—the coconut husks and shells, which used to be simply thrown away—could be used to manufacture car parts and other products. “We were able to create about 100 jobs in Indonesia for several years but the operations for this production are now in the Philippines where a larger number of villagers are being blessed spiritually and economically through the work of a triple bottom line company called Dignity.”
Another mentee of Dr. Bradley’s, Dr. Marc Compere of Embry-Riddle University, also uses his mechanical engineering expertise to serve the world’s poor. Each summer, Dr. Compere takes his students on a trip to design and install water purification systems in third world nations.
This spring, Faculty Commons is leveraging Dr. Bradley’s influence by hosting him at four regional conferences: in Orlando, Birmingham, Dallas, and at Penn State. We are thrilled to give him the opportunity to influence a new generation of Christian professors!
We in Faculty Commons are men and women who love the academy, who find the person and works of Jesus of Nazareth to be satisfying and true, and who look to Him as the beautiful hope for the world.
We dream of the day when movements of Christian professors willingly wrestle with the ever-challenging question,
“As Christ-followers, what should we do in the academy?”
Rick Hove On the Role of Professors
ResourcesCheck out these ideas submitted by Christ-following faculty.
Friday Night at the Movies
What We Don’t Say in The Classroom Event
A Newspaper Ad sponsored by Christian Faculty
- Pray for the strategic outreach of faculty on your campus.
- Challenge those profs to put an ad in the school newspaper.
- Good times to do an ad: start of semester, Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas, Valentine’s day, and Easter. The ad will usually have a theme to it.
- Samples of ads. Go to our resources page. Usually an ad will include name and department of professor. Include a link to everystudent.com or other similar links.
- Call the school newspaper for details about ads. You want the ad to be the biggest ad on the page, but it doesn’t have to cover the entire page. Normally, a student organization can get a greatly reduced price. Have the local CRU movement help set it up. Find out the price. Find out when you need to have the ad submitted by for publication.
- Challenge the professors to pay for the ad. Or use other means of funding the ad.
- Have the local CRU movement be praying for the release of the ad.
- Help prepare the professors to know how to respond when they get comments about the ad.
Nielson Award Winner
Dr. Buff Furman is a recent recipient of the Nielson Award from Faculty Commons as an outstanding Christian professor. Here is what Dr. John Walkup, National Field Representative for FC said about Buff in presenting the award: “I met Buff Furman in 2000, shortly after Pat and I arrived back in northern California to direct Faculty Commons’ ministries at the San Francisco Bay Area campuses. I was immediately impressed with his commitment to being a blessing to the faculty, staff and students on the San Jose State campus. “Buff and his wife Wanda demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ for others. He has a strong testimony for our Lord’s love and grace to all those around him. Moreover, Buff has the leadership skills to which his faculty colleagues have responded during his seven years leading the faculty/staff ministry at SJSU. “Whenever I attend one of their weekly meetings, I am impressed with the obvious respect that both the faculty and staff show for his leadership. This carries over to his family life; watching them, together with their young daughter, Joy, one sees a genuine picture of Christian marriage and family life. “Buff and Wanda have participated in seven of our national conferences. Because of their participation and urging, other San Jose State professors have also attended various Faculty Commons conferences. He has organized and led the use at SJSU of the PBS “Question of God” series comparing the lives and philosophies of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. “Buff is one of the most consistently Spirit-led Christian professors we have known. He consistently demonstrates his faith in Christ through his upbeat, encouraging demeanor, the gracious way in which he reaches out to other faculty, to university staff and to his students.”
Looking for your next read? One that will sharpen your thinking about tough questions and also deepen your understanding of your relationship to God? Then consider reading Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. Two things stood out to me as I read through it.
First, Keller’s approach to many of the topics is fresh and real. He uses dialogue with skeptics in his church to help readers see the practical need to deal with each subject. As you read the chapters, you find yourself thinking again and again, “Hmm, I never quite thought of it in those terms.”
Second, Keller’s tone struck me as perfect for our present culture. People have been traumatized by the unloving rhetoric of some Christians, and many have their defenses up. Keller looks at all sides of the issue and gently encourages the reader to weigh what he has to say and come to their own conclusions. This helps a person relax and be more open to the insights and truths he shares.
Not only has the book stimulated my thinking and growth, but it has been easy to suggest to skeptics and seekers.
The following quote from Keller captures his motivation in writing the book.
“Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, … such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.”
The topics he deals with in the first half of the book are ones people are wondering about like: “You Can’t Take the Bible Literally, Can You?”, “There Can’t Be Just One True Religion” and “Science Has Disproved Christianity.”
As I have led discussion groups with professors using The Reason for God, I have heard comments like, “He didn’t answer the question the way I was expecting him to,” or “I thought I would hate this book but he really won me over with his open approach and solid reasoning.”
Topics in the second half of the book build upon the reduced defensiveness the first half has produced. Topics like “The Clues of God,” “The Problem of Sin” and “The (True) Story of the Cross” bring readers to deeper understanding of God and what He offers us in a relationship with Jesus.
The Reason for God is a “must have” for every Christian’s library and a great tool to lend to and discuss with a friend. It’s easy to see how Keller’s approach attracted enough believers, skeptics and seekers to make it a New York Times bestseller.–Dave Johnson, FC Staff
I did, about five years ago. Most who know me would say that I am a humble guy. I don’t seek to make a name for myself. I tend to defer to and include others. I shy away from attention and praise. By God’s grace, that is not just an act.
It’s part of who God has shaped me to be because of the work of His Spirit in my life.
However, five years ago I stared down the reality that pride had a much stronger grip on my heart than I cared to acknowledge, much less admit to others. At times I felt superior to others. While on the outside I still projected a humble exterior, on the inside I was prone to find my secret feelings of superiority too satisfying. Other times I felt deeply inferior to others. The feelings of inferiority paralyzed me and kept me from sharing my opinions and ideas and from taking steps of faith that I knew God was calling me to take.
Thankfully, my best friend (who is also my wife) helped me to see that both feelings of superiority and inferiority were rooted in an inordinate amount of focus on myself.
Also, thankfully, I discovered Andrew Murray’s book, Humility. Murray spent most of his life as a pastor and missionary in South Africa and wrote this classic in 1894. I knew almost immediately that Humility was exactly the book that I most needed to read—and most wanted to read. In fact, outside of the Bible I can think of few books that have had (and continue to have) as much real-life impact in my life as this gem.
At the outset, Murray posits that our struggle with embracing humility comes from an incorrect understanding of what true humility is. He defines humility as “the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.” He ties humility directly to dependence on God.
In Murray’s view, dependence on God (and thus humility) is not “Plan B” for sinners who proved they couldn’t live life without God. Instead, it is a restoration of the original dependent relationship that all individuals were created to experience and enjoy with God.
Over the next four chapters Murray grounds the supreme example and ultimate source of humility in Christ. He takes the remainder of the book to express how humility can and should work itself out in our lives practically.
If, like me, you are looking for a richer and more helpful understanding of humility in order to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” allow me to suggest Humility.
Or, if you are looking to lift your eyes to a more beautiful and satisfying Christ, again I suggest Humility. I know of no other book—outside of Scripture— that accomplishes both so abundantly.–Ashley Holleman, Faculty Commons Staff
There is one person I consider to be a hero; I was driving to Kentucky with him when he introduced me to another hero. Dr. Henry (Fritz) F. Schaefer III is the most outstanding Christian professor I know, not only for his status as one of the top theoretical chemists in the world and not only because he has shared the gospel with hundreds of thousands of college students and professors, but mainly because Fritz loves Jesus passionately and it shows.
As I tagged along with Fritz for his lecture, he said, “Bill, do you want to know the best book I have ever read, apart from the Bible?” Of course I did, but I figured it would likely be in the upper stratosphere where only the Mensa dare tread.
He surprised me by saying it was the biography of George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore. I was immediately interested because of my love of history and biographies. Then he said, “It’s in two volumes of about 600 pages each.”
Saddened, I envisioned page after page of laborious detail. My attention span would be spent after about 40 pages. But Fritz does not issue praise lightly so I listened to his pitch, quite sure that my eyes would never see Dallimore’s account of the life of George Whitefield.
The next week, Volume One showed up in the mail, a gift from Fritz. Now I had to read it! Like most biographies, the first chapter or so sets the historical background of Whitefield’s birth in 1714 and chronicles the vague information that’s known about his early years. Having dispensed with these preliminaries, Dallimore’s book reads like a prequel to the Indiana Jones series, with one adventure after another. There’s head-scratching drama with the Wesleys; physical, emotional, and spiritual opposition at every turn; and efforts to find a bride that were so ill-conceived that they are hilarious.
But at its core, the book is about a man who had a zeal for the gospel, who refused to speak ill of other Christian leaders even at the cost of his own reputation, who navigated the confusing doctrinal waters of the time with clarity that is astounding, and who the Holy Spirit used to bring new life to literally thousands of people every day. Thus ended volume one and the man was scarcely 25 years old. I couldn’t wait to read volume two and it was not a disappointment.
Whitefield was a “rock star” in England and especially in the colonies. But he was a rock star who started orphanages, mentored younger ministers, and woke up at 4am to pray and study the scriptures. Dallimore’s book quotes firsthand accounts of people following the trail of dust and thundering of horse hoofs to find where Whitefield was speaking.
A skeptical Benjamin Franklin measured the distance from which one could hear Whitefield’s voice and concluded that, indeed, 30,000 could hear him at each outdoor sermon.
Jonathan Edwards was moved to tears after Whitefield preached at his Northampton Church. Perhaps most vivid were accounts of people who were moved to repentance at the first sound of Whitefield’s voice. He preached 4-7 times a day until he literally wore out and died at age 55.
It’s said that the problem with Christianity is we’ve managed to make it boring.
My new hero, George Whitefield, proves that if one has a zeal for the gospel, one’s life will never lack for adventure. I only wish there had been a volume three.—Bill Hager, Faculty Commons Staff