Monday, August 10, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 3 (6)


Arthur Holmes’ History of Christian Academies

Arthur Holmes’ Building the Christian Academy is a very approachable history of church philosophies and methods of education. Each chapter summarizes a different time period and the leaders, concerns, and methods of the time and how they impacted the next generation’s thoughts on learning.

Holmes opens with the soul of a university. Christian academies initially imparted wisdom in the tradition of Moses, Solomon, Jesus, and Paul. The school in third-century Alexandria began to formalize the academic processes or skills of grammar (recitation and memorization), dialectic (discussions with the purpose to discern truth), and rhetoric (the ability to take the grammar understood and teach it to others).

A single teacher would take a handful of youths and spend the time needed to develop a deep relationship. They would continue the discipleship their parents had begun. Early students wrote about loving their instructors.

Augustine helped establish the foundation of education in the fourth century as “finding God, the Truth, and the wisdom that comes from him.”(1)

The cathedral schools of Charlemagne’s time and later emphasized order and a desire to make Christian education more universal. In the twelfth century, some teachers began to establish universities apart from the church, but they still emphasized character, Christian culture, and the need to seek truth.

Then came the reformation, where man could learn apart from his priest and pursue God as an individual in a personal relationship. Luther, Erasmus, and Calvin were influential teachers of doctrine whose ideas were universally debated.

Francis Bacon and the Age of Enlightenment contributed to the idea of studying apart from God. The teachers of this era did pursue God, but they began to separate faith from science.

The era of secularization began to encourage a more specialized and utilitarian philosophy of education, endorsing job training outside of apprenticeship and mentoring. In the twentieth century, “mainline Protestantism settled for a dualistic approach rather than attempting to integrate faith and learning.”(2)

And so, we have come to the end of true education and have replaced it with man’s interpretation of truth. The early Americans wanted more for their families.

(1) Arthur F. Holmes, Building the Christian Academy (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2001), 25.
(2) Holmes, Building the Christian Academy, 104.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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