Philosophy Instructor Accepts Position at Moody Bible Institute

June 12, 2012 / by / 1 Comment

By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau 

GCU, a finalist to win the gift of a Massachusetts campus founded by D.L. Moody, is losing an instructor to the Chicago Bible college begun by the renowned 19th-century evangelist.

Sanjay Merchant, 37, a philosophy teacher at GCU for the past two years, has accepted a position on the faculty of Moody Bible Institute and will leave at the end of June. He is currently finishing work on his doctoral dissertation with Claremont Graduate University in California. 

Sanjay Merchant

Merchant, who was the guest speaker for Monday evening’s Christian ministry seminar series on campus, said he hopes to spend the rest of his academic career at Moody, which was founded in 1886 on Chicago’s Near North Side. 

“It’s a great school, and it has been a flagship for evangelical thought for more than 100 years,” Merchant said. “I’ll teach some courses similar to what I’ve taught at GCU, and some that are different. Moody also will allow me to teach a course of my own choosing.” 

At GCU, Merchant has taught “Introduction to Philosophy and Ethics” and “Ethical Thinking in the Liberal Arts.” Although the University no longer offers a philosophy major, he has written curriculum for traditional and online courses. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for him, in a place where he can thrive as a thinker in the Christian world,” said Anna Faith Smith, assistant dean of the College of Theology. “I’m so proud of him, but we will miss him terribly.” 

Merchant, who attended the University of Southern California as an undergraduate and Biola University (Calif.) for graduate studies, said GCU has helped develop him as a teacher. 

“The diversity of the student body keeps you on your toes,” he said. “GCU has given opportunity to (students from) different walks of life. The students here don’t think uniformly, and I mean that in a good way. 

“As a philosopher, that’s rewarding. I can start the conversation and get them to talk to one another.” 

Merchant said philosophy is “always relevant” and has applications across a host of disciplines. 

“Companies aren’t looking to hire philosophers,” he acknowledged, “but they are concerned with questions of ethics. Philosophy is great for critical thinking skills.”

At Monday’s seminar, Merchant spoke to local ministers and Christian studies alumni about “Ethics in Ministry,” making the point through thought-provoking examples that “morality goes deeper than preferences.” 

The series will resume on Aug. 8 at Howerton lecture hall in the College of Nursing with a roundtable discussion on urban ministry led by Jonathan Sharpe and Dr. Tim Larkin. Subsequent installments will feature Dean Steve Gerali on ministering to at-risk teenagers (Oct. 1) and a panel discussion on pastoral skills (Nov. 26). 

Refreshments are served at 5 p.m., with the lecture starting at 5:45. To RSVP, go to www.gcu.edu/CCSseminar12

The family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain of retail stores is expected to decide in the next few weeks about the recipient of the 217-acre campus in Northfield, Mass. The other contender is the missions and evangelism arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The campus was founded by Moody in 1879 as a seminary for young women. It has been unoccupied since 2005.

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or doug.carroll@gcu.edu.


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  1. Jude Hartman

    Prof. Sanjay – Our prayers and best wishes go with you. Thank you for being a great teacher getting us to think about some of life’s more difficult and challenging issues. We will miss you.

    Jun.23.2012 at 1:14 am
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