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Building the Christian Academy [Paperback]

By Arthur Frank Holmes (Author)
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Item description for Building the Christian Academy by Arthur Frank Holmes...

Until Relatively Recently, the history of higher education in the West was the story of a Christian academic tradition that played a major role in both intellectual history and the history of the church. Over the last one hundred years, however, we have witnessed the progressive secularization of higher education. George Marsden goes so far as to suggest that the American university has lost its soul. But what was that putatively Christian soul? Precisely what in the Christian tradition has now been lost? And what should we know about that tradition as a condition of practical wisdom for the present? Seeking to answer these questions, Arthur Holmes here explores the Christian tradition of learning, focusing on seven formative episodes in history that pertain to building and maintaining a strong Christian academy today. Holmes's fascinating treatment is set within the history of ideas -- the early church in a pagan culture, Augustine's formative influence on monastery and cathedral schools, the rise and decline of scholasticism, Renaissance humanism's contribution to the Protestant Reformation, the utilitarian view of education that accompanied the scientific revolution, and struggles with Enlightenment secularization -- and incorporates the educational thought of Plato and Isocrates, Clement and Origen, Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, Aquinas and Bonaventure, Erasmus and the Reformers, Francis Bacon and John Milton, and John Henry Newman.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pages   122
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.99" Width: 6.11" Height: 0.34"
Weight:   0.47 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2001
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802847447  
ISBN13  9780802847447  

Availability  127 units.
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More About Arthur Frank Holmes

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Holmes is professor of philosophy emeritus at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Arthur Frank Holmes currently resides in the state of Illinois. Arthur Frank Holmes was born in 1924.

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1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > College & University > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > College & University
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Education > By Level > College
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education

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Reviews - What do customers think about Building the Christian Academy?

A Book in Search of an Identity  May 4, 2003
Thinkers like George Marsden have suggested that American higher education is without heart, its soul has been lost. While many universities once proudly sported a Christian identity, this distinctiveness has been lost in a sea of relativism and scientism. In Building the Christian Academy Holmes seeks to relocate the university's soul by tracing a set of themes consistently present throughout the history of Christian education. With his historically grounded argument, he shows that liberal learning can exist within a confessional context. His vision is for cross-disciplinary integration saturated in mentoring relationships. Holmes states his case strongest when he sagely observes,
?The unity of knowledge is at best an ideal, and integration an unending task, but it is nonetheless implicit in the theological conviction that truth is one coherent whole in the omniscient mind of God? (115).

The author finds four recurring emphasis that form the core of Christian education (2). These are:
1. The usefulness of liberal arts as preparation for service both to church and society.
2. The unity of truth.
3. Contemplative (or doxological) learning.
4. The care of the soul (what we call moral and spiritual formation).
In the contributions of the Alexandrian school, Augustine, Monastery and Cathedral schools, the Scholastic university, the Reformation, Francis Bacon, and Cardinal John Henry Newman the author finds precedence for these foci.

While this aim sounds compelling, Holmes? book is nevertheless in search of an identity. Building the Christian Academy dabbles in history and philosophy, especially church history and educational philosophy, and yet one particular focus in never established. The author spends most of his time rehashing the ideas other thinkers have had, rarely drawing his own conclusions or making an explicit case for the four themes he sees as central to higher education. To Holmes' credit he informs readers of the themes from the outset, however as one continues to read the proposed argument fails to find systematic treatment. This sporadic coverage is most unfortunate as the themes he suggests appear promising. Holmes seems more intent on referencing each theme than in the careful development of one. He seems impatient and hurried, leaving the reader to miss the import of what are possibly quite significant ideas. In addition, the paucity of primary sources and historical consciousness leaves us hungry for more refined scholarship. If anything the feeble heart of the book implicitly makes the case for specialization in academia (as opposed to eager generalists who are a jack of all trades).

If the book were expanded significantly beyond its cursory 122 pages, or perhaps even extended into a four-volume series, a significant contribution would have been made to the history of Christian education. As it stands however, the book seems to be something of an afterthought, the result of an editor's deadlines and a professor's desire to publish, rather than the culmination of thoughtful reflection and careful historical contemplation. The choppy, erratic writing is unfortunate as the four themes he identifies appear to have promise in revitalizing Christian higher education. Building the Christian Academy starts with high aims but quickly settles for surface-level thought making it an unworthy read for those serious about the history of Christian education.

Dr. F. R. Bosch an apologist, researcher, and lecturer who integrates [Biblical] faith and knowledge, is a full-time university professor in Southern California, U.S.A.

Prof. Arthur F. Holmes is to be commended for undertaking this immense project, and being able to narrow it down to nine chapters, and one-hundred and nineteen pages. That is a feat in itself. Considering the breadth of the subject, this is a good abridged and succinct overview of the unfolding historical, philosophical and environmental events of the western Christian Academies. The book focuses on the earlier historical evolution of higher education, while briefly addressing contemporary discussions, practices, and the state of present Christian Academies (colleges/universities).

Holmes' book stimulates interactive reading. It perhaps generates more questions than there are answers. This being the case, some may think that the book fails to discuss the pertinent areas fully. Others, may believe that the subject is dealt with from a too narrow perspective, or perhaps the topic could have been addressed from several Christian traditions, allowing the reader to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.

In the next to last page, Prof. Holmes advises that Christian Academies "must return to the liberal arts" in an effort to educate and prepare the whole person. To accomplish this "Christian scholarship must be cultivated, and we must focus on the theological foundations of learning." This sounds good. However, if the "right combination" of what is being proposed could have been found and applied in the earlier Christian Academies, we would have the near-perfect combination today or its derivation. Instead, today's Christian Academies (colleges/universities) are trying to figure out the right combination.

It seems that Christian Academies need to reevaluate and revisit their original reason for being. That is, their commission statements, their vision statements, and their mission statements. There may be a need to find understanding of what it means to be in the world, yet not being worldly. It would also seem prudent to consider what it means that our thoughts are not God's, thus our ways are not His. As an ancient wise man said - We can prove all things, but is the Lord convinced?

The connotation of "building" in the title of the book conveys the thought that there is a [lasting] foundation that weathers the ideological and theological storms of time. The proposal of the Liberal Arts being the means to offer a "rounded" preparation - an education that ultimately leads students to become God-cognizant and make God-connections seems idealistic. Liberal Arts education alone is not going to cause students to make a God-connection. The history of Christian and non-Christian liberal arts colleges and universities have sufficiently demonstrated this.

It seems more prudent and realistic to advocate that a Liberal Arts education that takes place in the Christian context, where the foundational Biblical absolutes are taught is more likely to stimulate God-connections. However, the history of Christian institutions of higher learning seems to confirm that in their attempt to "adjust" to the times, they have compromised, and, sometimes, even rescinded their principal reason for being. Advocating what worked in the past and simply updating through accommodation will fall short of being successful.

It may be the "high-noon" for Christianity to recapture the Spirit of early-Christianity that led the Church and its early-academies. It caused them to rise not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of revelation and use the tools of the times to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ. Twenty-first century Christianity must express the Biblical Absolutes in contemporary terms. It must rediscover how to communicate and apply its absolutes - Truth, while divorcing itself from the outdated tools of the past. If this is not possible, then it must cease to promote its Biblical teachings as infinite and absolute. This may sound brash, albeit, it is the stark reality. Either God is true and His Word is absolute or not. Christian Academies need to equip themselves to communicate a message that has not changed from a God that changes not, or they are fooling themselves.

Perhaps Christian Academies also need gifted "prophets" to proclaim God's pertinent words of how Christian Academies can make a paradigm shift to relate to the twenty-first century while retaining and embracing the distinctive absolutes of the Christian faith without watering them down, compromising, or allowing them to be regarded as outdated and no longer relevant to post-modernism, or what some are beginning to call post-Christian.


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