Thoughts on a Christian College
In today’s extremely competitive, job-scarce economy, having a college degree is now a steadfast requirement when applying to even entry-level professional jobs. Choosing a college has always been a challenging task for high school seniors, but it is now fraught with stress and anxiety for nearly every adult who seeks to further their education. Questions abound: what school offers the exact program I desire? What school is in the best location, or has the best campus? What school feels ‘right’?
Many people turn to a Christian college to fulfill their ‘checklist’ of a perfect college. However, a Christian liberal arts education is often misunderstood or underrated. What is the benefit of a school that offers this type of education? Why attend a Christian liberal-arts college? Why does a Christian college even exist? In Arthur F. Holmes’ book, “The Idea of a Christian College”, these questions – and more – are examined and answered. The four main themes I took from Holmes’ book are as follows: there is a distinct niche and purpose for a Christian liberal arts education; faith and learning are integrated and is thus a unique aspect to a Christian college; academic freedom is an integral part of a Christian education; and, the purpose of an education is more than to simply become trained or knowledgeable in one specific subject.
So, why does a Christian liberal arts college exist? Well, let us start with simply the purpose of a liberal arts education. The broad goal of a liberal arts education includes empowering individuals to deal with complexity, diversity, and change, and to enable them to be citizens of the world with a sense of social responsibility. Essentially, a liberal arts education aims to provide students with intellectual and practical skills (such as the ability to communicate, analyze, and problem-solve) that are transferable and can be used in real-world situations. These sound like logical and effective goals for any college – which still leaves us with a question of “Why a Christian college?” Holmes states that Christian colleges provide an integration of faith and learning and are thus distinct and necessary, for they combine “the creative and active integration of faith and learning, of faith and culture” (Holmes, 1987).Whereas most colleges do not seek to bring these two concepts together, the Christian college fosters the combination of faith and learning to create a sense of community that encourages growth. Traditional colleges can churn out "Christians who are also scholars”; a Christian college produces “Christian scholars” and “not Christianity alongside education but Christian education” (Holmes, 1987).Additionally, a Christian college can uniquely provide an education that "retains a unifying Christian worldview." Holmes states that Christianity "can generate a worldview large enough to give meaning to all the disciplines and delights of life and to the whole of a liberal education” (Holmes, 1987). A Christian college teaches all subjects as part of the total truth of God. Students can focus on the mind as the doorway of learning – reading, writing, studying, understanding current events, traveling, solving complex mathematical equations, etc. – but can also focus on transforming and augmenting their hearts and souls. A Christian liberal arts education exists because it provides unique approach to learning – a “big” education that focuses on all truth as God’s truth.
The second theme in Holmes’ book centers on the aforementioned integration of faith and learning. This aspect makes a Christian college truly exceptional. Christian colleges do not exist to “combine good education with a protective atmosphere”, nor does it exist “only to offer biblical and theological studies” – rather, a Christian college is distinctive in that “the Christian faith can touch the entire range of life and learning to which a liberal...