JIS XIV 2002
RE – INVENTING
LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION
JIS XIV 2002: 1-24
RENEWING THE LIBERAL ARTS:
C. S. LEWIS’ ESSENTIAL CHRISTIANITY
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
This essay explores the conceptual foundations of C. S. Lewis’ pilgrimage to a Christian worldview and its implications for Christian scholarship in the Third Millennium. C. S. Lewis’ essential Christian worldview has three distinct yet complementary strands: The Tao, Natural Law, or the moral sense; the ecumenical inspiration of Mere Christianity; and the quest for truth and authentic values in the real world. These three strands converge in Lewis’ own pilgrimage and witness to the immediacy and relevance of religious experience. Curiously, the reality and truth of the Christian vision finds eloquent exposition in Lewis’ lucid prose. In the recounting of this consummate story-teller, the Christian worldview emerges as both real and transcendental or “numinous,” whose truth is found in historical evidences and lived experience. It is for this reason that Lewis is aptly called an apostle to the sceptics. Lewis’ literary imagination thus provides inspiration for a Christian humanist paideia as propaedeutic to renew both liberal arts education and the culture of liberalism.
JIS XIV 2002: 25-46
WILLIAM AND HENRY JAMES:
TOWARDS LITERARY LIBERALISATION
OF THE PROFESSIONS *
Catherine Therese Moloney
BPP Law School, London, England
This essay suggests that literary studies have a crucial role to play in the liberalisation of professional and vocational education and training. Prose and poetry contents of current literature syllabuses demand rigorous moral and ethical explication. Instructive in this regard was the societal interplay of professional texts in medicine with journalistic and fictional works, specifically in relation to spes phthisica, in the nineteenth century. Thus, the works of Willian and Henry James, with their synergies and antipathies, extended the discussion from medical to theological texts. The lectio divina in general and the Carmelite mystics in particular influenced the writings of both James brothers. These considerations highlight the relevance of liberal arts education in the twenty-first century.
* Oleg Zinam Award for Best Essay in JIS, 2002.
JIS XIV 2002: 47-67
THE LIBERAL ARTS, LANGUAGE
Gilbert R. Prost
Wycliffe Bible Translators
The traditional function of the Liberal Arts, in contrast to courses in science, was to help students learn how to live meaningful lives. This meant that theology and the study of the Bible as Revelation were a crucial part of the curriculum. Yet, since the Enlightenment, marked by the rejection of Revelation, the university has depended on reason alone for answering the question: How should I live? But this conceptual shift from Revelation and reason to positivistic reason had some serious consequences, especially a failure to address the innate semantic category of the transcendent-self or Thou. The existential questions still remain: (1) can man be reduced to a kind of animal; and (2) can the arts be reduced to science? Language, semantic primes, and the presence of dual organizational social structures all give supporting evidence that human existence has a superordinate- subordinate ordering, and that such reductionism is impossible. But philosophical Naturalism, in the name of science, has not only dethroned man from his place over nature, but also the liberal arts from their superordinate role over science. If the university is to become relevant in the lives of students again, then it is imperative that both the arts and man be restored to their rightful place. We can begin by restoring the “Bible as Revelation” to the curriculum.
JIS XIV 2002: 69-90
NATURALISM, THEISM AND
Trinity Western University, Canada
This essay proposes that various forms of relativism and naturalism are self-refuting. The rational defense of any worldview requires the prior acceptance of the existence of other rational minds, mental causation and free will, an objective language, and objective logical and rational standards. A worldview is self-refuting if its defense necessarily presumes entities that are explicitly denied by the worldview. In contrast, theism provides the epistemic and metaphysical basis to fully account for our diverse knowledge. Liberal arts education is in a crisis due to the fragmentation of knowledge and loss of purpose caused by the combined action of pragmatic deconstruction and scientific reductionism. Only by regaining a full appreciation of the depth and comprehension of the Christian worldview can we recapture the cohesive unity in diversity of a genuine liberal arts education.
JIS XIV 2002: 91-116
IN SEARCH OF AMERICA’S
Douglas K. Adie
This essay re-examines Robert W. Fogel’s thesis in The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism, which sees America’s religious revivals as pivotal in the transformation of culture through the political process, ultimately producing greater equality. Fogel’s work thus provides the context for examining the impact of evangelical Christianity on American culture. Curiously, Fogel’s approach brackets the underlying spiritual reality beneath the conversion experience, and assumes the primacy of social, economic, and political processes in U.S. history. Yet, the Puritan Awakening, the nature of overlapping historical cycles leading to greater equality, and the increasing secularization of American society–all beg the question of interpreting U.S. history, and leave open the prospect of spiritual renewal which would characterize America’s Fourth Great Awakening. Hence, the essay tries to regraft some of the spiritual roots onto Fogel’s secular interpretation of historical events and the dynamics of American culture.
JIS XIV 2002: 117-140
WISDOM LITERATURE AND
HIGHER EDUCATION *
Jesse J. Thomas
San Diego State University
The Biblical and Deuterocanonical Wisdom books have a great deal to contribute to contemporary higher education, which has been affected adversely by the secularization of the past centuries, most recently by postmodernism. This essay traces the development of the Wisdom literature from Proverbs to the Gospel of John and its implications for higher education in five areas: the integrative; ethical; personal; enjoyable; and transformational aspects of learning. Higher education rooted in the Wisdom literature is uniquely capable of addressing each of these issues in a way that education cut off from traditional values cannot. Practical suggestions address such concerns as general education courses, classroom cheating, and ethical and professional responsibilities of faculty. For example, some general education courses should be required of senior students in order to integrate courses that they have already completed. The conclusion follows that a balanced practice of the five areas can serve as an antidote to the ills of higher education without degenerating into the repressive educational environment feared by postmodernists.
* David Morsey Award for Best Biblical Exegesis, 2002.
JIS XIV 2002: 141-164
CHRISTIAN LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION
James S. Jeffers
Increasing specialization and the fragmentation of knowledge have become the hallmarks of contemporary higher education. The general education or core curriculum at American colleges and universities has gradually also lost its useful original purpose: to help each student become an educated person with a clear set of beliefs and values, a citizen capable of leading a moral, compassionate, and committed life. Christian higher education has followed this general trend, despite the fact that most Christian colleges and universities have a core identity which they want to pass on to their students. The Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University offers a way for Protestant Christian colleges to revitalize their liberal arts education. Its curriculum uses the Great Books of the West to combine the study of theology and the Bible with the study of the humanities and social sciences. Its pedagogy uses elements of active learning, as well as mentoring and technical innovations, to enhance the classroom experience.
JIS XIV 2002: 165-182
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY:
CHANCE, ENERGY AND FALLIBLE REASON
Thaddeus J. Trenn
University of Toronto, Canada
The Future of the Universe: Chance, Chaos, God? By Arnold O. Benz. New York: Continuum, 2000. Cloth. 176 p. $24.95.
The Enigma of Energy: Where Science and Religion Converge. By Vidette Todaro-Franceschi. New York: Crossroad, 1999. Paper. 178 p. $19.95.
Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason. By John Kadvany. Durham, NC:
Duke University Press, 2001. Paper. 378 p. $23.95.