In this book, Holmes puts across the mission of a Christian college. His book has several chapters that seek to explain this distinct mission. The chapters include: Why a Christian College? , Theological Foundations, the Liberal Arts: What and Why?, Liberal Arts as Career Preparation, Integrating Faith and Learning, Academic Freedom, College as Community, Experience is not Enough and The Marks of an Educated Person. All these chapters seek to elaborate the importance of a Christian in higher education which many people cannot grasp.
Holmes writes his book primarily because there a lot of students who attend universities and colleges (Christian colleges) without a clear reason why they are doing so. Ordinarily they attend these institutions with secondary motives that are not sufficient to take them through the activities at the institutions. The repercussion of this is frustration on the part of the student.
According to Holmes a Christian college does more than just protecting its students from sin and the wrong practices witnessed in other institutions. It does more than give bible studies to the students, preparing students for vocational careers or just administering extracurricular social activities. The idea of a Christian college is for education a liberal Christian art education as a college is for education and a liberal college for a liberal art education.
Integrating faith and learning
Holmes contends that the learning process is supposed to interact with faith at a Christian college. It is therefore, the primary role of a Christian college to establish a program that helps the integration of education and faith at these institutions. The ideal situation is where Christian doctrines and Christian principles are integrated at every point and branch of the learning process. This has to do with the Christian theological interpretation of the topic being studied.
Christian colleges are not similar to other activities in education. In such associations, Holmes states that professors, Christian students and other players just witness the conjunction of students’ learning with Christian faith. At Christian colleges whoever, the Christian faith is integrated thoroughly with the learning process. Bible colleges/bible institutes too do not match Christian colleges. These institutions emphasizes on theological knowledge and the interpretation of the bible and the biblical knowledge. A Christian’s college parameters should clearly surpass this. In the same light, an institution that offers biblical studies and ministries for its student does not become a Christian college by merely accomplishing it. A theological seminary has its focus on preparing its students for the church ministry and is too not a Christian college.
The Christian college has a fundamental role of integrating faith and learning in various disciplines. This is especially in the liberal arts, and the Christian liberal arts college has to achieve this goal. Today some Christian colleges are engrossed in the production of professionals. This encompasses qualities installed in their way of life and thought. Christian liberal arts deal with what an individual is, what they do and is way bigger than vocations, professions or ministries.
This can be supported by dissertations and discussions by John Stuart mill about this book the idea of a Christian college by Arthur F. Holmes. He argues that one is a “man” before he is a professional lawyer, manufacturer or any other profession. This means that primarily an individual’s personality should be cultivated before they are given a profession. In other words, personality supersedes professions. Students therefore, should acquire the knowledge from their universities and colleges on how they will use their professions appropriately rather than just getting the profession. For instance, lawyers should not just cram laws they should apprehend principles. The latter is the single most important ingredient of making them philosophical lawyers.
The value of Christian colleges
The secular counterparts of the Christian college either cast a blind eye on religion or put it at the periphery during the education process. They ignore religion’s connection to education, and for this reason the education in these institutions become rootless. Education becomes rooted into vocationalism and pragmatism. There is lack of connection to students’ lives and the reality. The Christian college however remains alive to the connection between education and religion and does away with multiversity and ultimately unifies students and gives education a base. Medieval institutions were based on religion and were grounded by it. Today most evangelical and protestant universities/institutions have turned into secularism. People are questioning the education and financial viability of Christian colleges. The real problem is that, Christian colleges have not articulated their importance to the society when they have so much to give.
It should not be dismissed that religion and faith consolidates culture. Thought should also be given to the importance of liberal education over professional education. Having these two aspects in mind, is crucial that Christian colleges find ways of articulating their role to their professors, the students, the parents of and guardians of these students and the society at large. It is only in this way that the mission of Christian colleges will be realized. The idea of these institutions has not been put into practice with the exception of very few institutions.
The marks of a learned person
Holmes argues that today the world ignores God and religion. Instead, they result in thinking and convincing them that religion is a human creation. In so doing they downplay the human capability of discovering the purpose of life as put by God. Christian colleges will not do that and will give information to students about their heritage. They will equip students with creative skills of dealing with situations out of “novel contexts”. Most secular education does not do that. Students are at a loss as they will not always be around their teachers. Holmes says that students ought to be equipped with eternal values.
Holmes (1987). argues that Christian colleges are also vested with the responsibility of equipping students with the knowledge and skills that employers will require from them. On top of this, they should instill in them important values such as ethics, ability to communicate lucidly and think in an elaborate manner. He says that students should be encouraged to think and learn on their own by Christian colleges. Other than that the colleges should point out to student areas where they are gifted in which can market them. Christian scholars according to Holmes should be put into a position to approach life and careers as reformers.
Christian colleges are supposed to set students free to seek information and the truth on their own. They should not create a situation where the teacher constantly points the way for them. In America today for instance it has become almost impossible to discuss some areas in class as they are termed offensive and illegal to the public. Christian colleges however, are encouraged to avoid falling into such brackets. They should instead create a situation where such matters affecting the society are discussed in healthy discussions. It is important to train students to disagree in a mature manner in class amongst themselves and with teachers about issues concerning the society and theology.
The mark of an educated person
Being learned/educated is way more than just being academically accomplished. It is an ongoing process and one would be wrong to say they are learned. Christian colleges help students to be Christian scholars. What is needed is not "Christians who are also scholars but Christian scholars, not Christianity alongside education but Christian education (Holmes,).
Experience and theory interpretation
Experience alone does not make a scholar complete. A scholar should be in a position to give interpretation to various experiences and phenomenon. They should be equipped with the theory that will help them interpret their life experiences. Writing is a combination of factual presentation, interpretation, belief, inductive leaps, conclusions based on sometimes overt and sometimes hidden assumptions, and even sometimes baseless claims (Holmes,). It is up to Christian colleges to help students to tell when statements are just claims. It will make it possible for students to read provocative articles and get the facts and the fallacies from it.
College as a community
The Christian college bases its education on faith which unites the community. This can only be best achieved at a Christian college. The Christian college should give the students subjects to reflect on that gives them a touch of communal unity.
After reading this book, you will realize that the role of Christian colleges cannot be overlooked. The world today needs the liberal education and the virtues that can be obtained best in these Christian colleges. I therefore, applaud Holmes for this book and at the same time recommend it to institutions, professors, student and all concerned players. The author touches on issues such as uniting the community, liberalizing education, interpretation of experiences, and helping institutions connect religion with education to give it a base. Is this not a great book?