We turn our attention to the end result of a Christian liberal arts education—the graduate.
What distinguishes a Christian education from a secular one? What distinguishes the Christian graduate from the graduate with no spiritual moorings or direction? Should we expect more from the graduate of a Christian university than just “learning to think in Christian categories?” Is there more to learning than thinking; more to thinking than studying?
As Christians, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Duet. 6:4-6; Matthew 22:36-40). This full-orbed love for God requires devotion at every level of the person–emotionally, intellectually, volitionally and physically. The Christian student is not just called to ‘know’ something, but to ‘be’ something, and to ‘do’ something. We will then find that thinking with the mind of Christ will result in loving with the heart of Christ and acting as the hands of Christ. With a mind renewed, emotions purified, a conscience cleared, and a will surrendered, the Christian student is prepared to enter the world as a critical participant applying the Great Commandment to every facet of their daily life.
John Wesley provides the model for, though he was first and foremost a preacher, no sooner would he begin work in a community than he began to consider ways to help the disinherited and disenfranchised. He set up schools for children of the poor and shops where their mothers could card and spin cotton to sell in order to provide an income. He set up the first free medical dispensary in England. While teaching his flock to use their money wisely, in 1746 he established one of the first philanthropic loan funds in order to assist those in need of temporary assistance. His primary mission was to help everyone he could find their way to heaven. However, no man kept his feet more firmly planted upon the solid earth and showed greater wisdom in dealing with the everyday, practical problems of his contemporary society than did John Wesley.
Today, the need is no different. We need Christians who are competent professionals in their field. Yet we need more than that. We also need competent Christian professionals who know how to care for their neighbors (Luke 10:27) and contend for the truth. We need what business professional and author Bob Briner referred to as “roaring lambs.” Christians who do not “run from the culture but rush into it; believers who are not content to hang around the fringes of our culture, but rather work to be right smack dab in the middle of it.” Or, what H. Reinhold Niebuhr called a transformer of culture. One who is not antagonistically opposed to culture or passively conformed to it, but rather one who believes that redemption cannot be limited to individuals, but must extend to the totality of human culture.
For the Christian liberal arts graduate then, higher education is not merely the means to a higher paying job, a higher standard living, and a higher mortgage payment. It is a means by which to gain strategic entrance and involvement in the overall moral and cultural discourse of our nation.
The entire object of our mission – to serve the Church and society–is to develop Christian servant leaders who will penetrate every area of society with Christ’s command to be salt firmly in mind. It is our task to educate each successive generation of business, education, medical, media, scientific, and church leaders who not only do the right things, but enjoy doing them, who not only find a calling, but love being called and know the Caller; who are not merely learned, but love learning; who are not merely just, but who hunger and thirst after justice.