Archive for Tuesday, September 21, 1993


September 21, 1993


Would Jesus flunk the Western Civilization course at Kansas University?

That's the question posed by an evangelical Christian student group critical of a textbook used in a course required of most KU liberal arts students.

"The question is completely irrelevant," said James Woelfel, director of KU's Western Civilization program.

Ward Nitz, a Lee's Summit, Mo., senior at KU, said KCBT Student Ministries, affiliated with KC Baptist Temple, placed a full-page ad in KU's student newspaper Monday to challenge conclusions espoused in the course and the textbook.

The book was primarily written and edited by KU faculty.

"We find it's written in a biased way, because it doesn't represent other arguments on controversial subjects. It undercuts the validity of the Bible," Nitz said.

KCBT Student Ministries will sponsor a forum 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union to talk about the course.

"We're not looking to raise a bunch of trouble," Nitz said. "We want to present points overlooked in the book."

Woelfel, professor of philosophy, co-edited the 1991 book that fueled the ruckus. KU graduate Sara Chapell Trulove was the other editor of "Patterns In Western Civilization."

Woelfel said he wasn't surprised by the student group's view of the course. They had challenged him to a debate last year, but he declined.

People concerned about the course's content should realize that unexamined life -- unexamined faith, in this case -- is not worth living, he said.

"That's one of the dangers of higher education. You may find some long-held beliefs challenged. I thought that we all thought that was a good thing," he said.

The Rev. Alan Shelby, college and career pastor at KC Baptist Temple in Raytown, Mo., will lecture at the forum. He said KU students and faculty who are church members had complained about the course.

"The course seems to be slanted in a way that would tear down the Bible and maybe religion in general," Shelby said.

Woelfel said there's no evidence the course was based on radically liberal views of the Bible or religion. The authors are mainstream scholars, he said.

"Everyone is entitled to your own opinion," said Nitz, who is taking the course. "What they present is an interpretation of the Scriptures from the liberal perspective."

Western Civilization is a two-semester course that focuses on the primary sources of Western tradition. The Bible offers important insights into that tradition, Woelfel said.

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