Oxford grad joins Briercrest's philosophy faculty

Posted: August 24, 2010

By John Ottens


hat made an Oxford graduate want to teach at a small college in the middle of the Canadian prairies?

The desire to join a thriving Christian learning community. James Muir, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University, took up his new post as associate professor of philosophy at Briercrest College and Seminary August 1.

“Dr. Muir comes to Briercrest with an impressive teaching and publishing record, but not because of it; instead, he comes because of our mission,” Dr. Wes Olmstead, the VP Academic at Briercrest College and Seminary, said. “He comes to join us in inviting our students to be formed spiritually and intellectually for lives of service.”

Muir is passionate about the importance of Christian education. “Christianity has an enormous intellectual tradition behind it, and it’s a very powerful tradition. Not only do non-believers not know that tradition, though, but very few believers know that tradition,” he said. “It’s a big mistake that Christianity has made in the past century, to neglect our intellectual heritage. The church needs to recover and confidently reassert Christianity’s intellectual tradition. We can prove that belief in God is a reasonable belief.”

His new position at Briercrest is not prompted by a sudden change of heart. In fact, said Muir, this was the plan from the very beginning. “I graduated with my doctorate in 1995, and I started looking for work at a Christian institution right away. There were just very few positions, especially in Canada, so I took my first couple jobs at secular universities.”

A few years ago, he felt a renewed call to look for employment in Christian higher education, and Briercrest was one of the schools that made his wish list. Muir said he supports shaping an academic environment that exposes students to history, literature, and philosophy. Muir was a professor at the University of Winnipeg for 12 years. In 2001, he was awarded the university’s Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. More recently, one of his students in Winnipeg even created an unofficial website dedicated to Dr. Muir.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Muir to our faculty,” Olmstead said.