Book Notice: “The Liberal Arts: A Student’s Guide” by Gene Fant

If you’re interested in Christ-centered learning, you’ll want to click here and make a purchase. Recently we posted about the new series Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition (Crossway) edited by David Dockery, President of Union University. One of the first installments in that series is Gene Fant’s, The Liberal Arts: A Student’s Guide. Fant is a professor of literature and vice president for academic administration at Union University. With earned degrees in Renaissance literature, biblical studies, English, anthropology, and education, Fant serves as an expert guide for college students into the art and science of liberal arts.

Fant believes that “Christ-centered learning as viewed through the Scriptures . . . is able to teach, to reprove, to correct, and to train in righteousness” (p. 21; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16–17). Thus The Liberal Arts explicates this truth, surveying the history of liberal arts education and cogently and compellingly arguing for Christ-centered learning in seven chapters:

Chapter 1: The Beginning of Wisdom

Chapter 2: Christian Responses to the Rise of Liberal Learning

Chapter 3: What’s So Liberal about Liberal Learning?

Chapter 4: Wisdom and Liberal Learning

Chapter 5: General Revelation and Liberal Learning

Chapter 6: Liberal Learning and the Core Curriculum

Chapter 7: Current Opportunities for (and Challenges to) Liberal Learning

Fant wonderfully balances the relationship between the arts and sciences in the liberal arts, always connecting the two to God’s word and God’s Son. For instance, chapter 5: General Revelation and Liberal Learning, examines the nature of stories (narrative) and science and the relation of each to objective truth. Fant thus states, “Truth is discovered and described, but it is independent from human affirmation, existing apart from our understanding and unchanged by discovery” (p. 62). This point undergirds scientific inquiry and literature, for “Christians . . . understand that Christ seeks to reconcile all things, including our stories” (p. 76). Hence, chapter 5 in particular is an example of what kind of presuppositions and motivations govern “Christ-centered” education.

While The Liberal Arts is intended as a student’s guide, in keeping with the series, this book will benefit all those interested in learning more about learning, especially from a Christian worldview. Indeed, college students of liberal arts colleges and universities especially will benefit from learning about the history and intention of the liberal arts.


Book Notice: The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student’s Guide

Now here is a book (and an entire series) worth reading for pleasure, requiring for your children/students, and purchasing for the library. David Dockery and Timothy George’s The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student’s Guide (Crossway, 2012) is the first book in the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series (edited by Dockery). The Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series is designed to provide an overview of the distinctive way the church has read the Bible, formulated doctrine, provided education, and engaged the culture. Especially designed for college students, these books will show how the Christian intellectual tradition shapes our understanding of the various academic sub-disciplines and aspects of created reality.

To that end, The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking kicks off the series by surveying the history of Christian thinkers and the distinctive ways they have the Bible, formulated doctrine, provided education, and engaged the culture.

There are presently three other books in the series forthcoming in 2012: Political Thought: A Student’s Guide by Hunter Baker (Union University); Philosophy: A Student’s Guide by David K. Naugle (Dallas Baptist University); Literature: A Student’s Guide by Louis Markos (Houston Baptist University).

This series promises to be a valuable tool in the hands of educators and students seeking to grow in and expand the Christian intellectual tradition. BtT gladly welcomes this series and recommends it for all who seek to know and love Christ and his good creation.

David Dockery’s “Faith and Learning” and “Christian Leadership Essentials”

Over the past couple of decades, David Dockery has been one of the most potent antidotes to American educational mediocrity, where there sometimes is not enough brainpower to operate the tilt-a-whirl at the local carnival. In addition to taking the presidency at Union University, he has managed to put forth a steady stream of books on Christian higher education and related issues.

His most recent contribution is Faith and Learning: A Handbook for Christian Higher Education (B&H, 2012), a 548-page edited volume with 24 essays. The book’s thesis is, “Learning to think Christianly, or, to express it differently, to be a thoughtful Christian, will shape the way we think about schools, businesses, health care agencies, governments, social structures, recreation and, yes, our homes and churches, too. To love God with our minds means that we think differently about the way we live and love, the way we worship and serve, the way we work to earn our livelihood, the way we learn and teach.” (p. 4)

Toward this end, Faith and Learning sets forth the biblical foundations and disciplines that ought to shape the educational theory and practice for Christian colleges and universities. The chapters are organized under three categories: Foundational Commitments (pp. 3–124), Christian Faith and the Disciplines (pp. 125–474), and Concluding Applications (475–538). The contributors include both junior and senior scholars.

In Part One, Dockery (ch. 1) sets for the foundational commitments for Christian higher education. Stated at the most basic level these commitments are to hew and hold together faith and learning in all the Christian college or university does. Thus, Dockery in his essay establishes the historical, cultural, personal, and theological rationale for Christian higher education. Other essays are written by Gene Fant, Kenneth Magnuson, Harry Poe, and Klaus Issler. In Part Two, an array of scholars address Christian faith among the various academic disciplines. Two of the best chapters are by Greg Thornbury (Biblical and Theological Studies in the Christian University) and Hunter Baker (The Study of Political Philosophy at the Christian University). Among the thirteen other contributors are notables such as Jimmy Davis. Part Three provides a robust conclusion, including notable chapters by Kimberly Thornbury (Student Life: Thinking Biblically about Vocatio and Community) and Ben Mitchell (Engaging the Culture and the Academy).

Each chapter of the book concludes with questions for further reflection. This feature makes the book practical for classroom or conference use. Faith and Learning is a welcome and needed contribution to an ever-increasing field in educational theory and practice.

Also noteworthy is Dockery’s recent Christian Leadership Essentials: A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations (B&H, 2011), an edited volume in which Dockery and a team of 18 contributors address the major issues involved in leading Christian organizations and institutions. Among the notable essays are Robert Sloan’s “A Biblical Model of Leadership,” Carl Zylstra’s “Leadership, Organizations, and External Relations,” and Kimberly Thornbury’s “Crisis Management.”angry racer game online