Is Liberty University the Protestant Notre Dame? Not even close.
When Liberty University starts to invest its money in a world-class faculty, gives them the time and the opportunity to do world-class research, and develops Ph.D programs taught by those world-class faculty, it might be on the way to this distinction. But I just don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. The doctrinal requirements for those who teach at Liberty are just too narrow. The campus and its administration are just too driven by one political persuasion. Jerry Falwell’s legacy plays well among young conservative evangelicals whose parents were part of the Moral Majority in the 1980s, but it does not play well among all evangelicals. Many evangelical scholars who want to maintain academic respectability in their guilds may shy away from a teaching post at Liberty because of its connection to the Christian Right. Liberty may be growing, and it may have tens of thousands of online students, but world class universities are not measured in terms of numbers.
Chris Gerhz, aka The Pietist Schoolman, has addressed this question in a much more thoughtful way than I have done above. Here is a taste of his post “Is Liberty University “The Protestant Notre Dame?“