Friday Book Recommendation: Building the Christian Academy

I have decided that as I’m able to, Friday will be my “Recommendations” day – good books, good films, things I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I have.

Today’s recommendation is for a book I enjoyed this summer (and for APU faculty thinking about Faith Integration – it’s a great one to add to your reading list!) Building the Christian Academy by Arthur F. Holmes. The book provides a very short overview (119 pages!) of specific time periods in the history of higher education with  a reflection on the influence and role of Christianity in each chapter.

Art Holmes was a long-time professor of philosophy at Wheaton College (Wheaton,IL) and you might be more familiar with his book The Idea of a Christian College, which we studied on campus a few years ago. I had the wonderful privilege of taking a class with him when he served as a summer guest professor at Fuller Seminary, something I enjoyed very much.

Holmes finds four recurring emphases that he considers to be the “heart and soul of the Christian academy”:
1. The usefulness of the liberal arts as preparation for service to both church and society.
2. The unity of truth.
3. Contemplative (or doxological) learning.
4. The care of the soul (moral and spiritual formation).
(taken from the introduction on p.2)

The book looks at the development of  higher education and considers these four emphases throughout history. He begins with scripture, considers 3rd century Alexandria,
looks to Augustine for foundational understandings in education, and to monasteries and cathedral schools for moral formation. He comments on the liberal arts in light of their roles in the scholastic university and in the Reformation. He considers the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century and Francis Bacon, and John Henry Newman’s educational ideas that he presents in The Idea of a University. He concludes with a chapter on the Christian academy in the twentieth century.

Considering the breadth of what Holmes attempts to cover – and the brevity of the book, it provides a very good introduction to ideas that you might find compelling to continue reading and researching and perhaps to find ways in which to apply them within your discipline.

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