Statement of Christian Liberal Arts Philosophy
The Search for Wisdom
Its proper beginning and end, and the liberal arts as a particular means to practice that search in the university
A liberal arts education at Biola University is conformed to the biblical search for wisdom and knowledge of reality, both seen and unseen. The Scriptures tell us that the search for true wisdom and knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD, and that the end of that search is ultimately to know Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God through whom the world was made and in whom all things hold together. Because we believe that in Jesus Christ all things are reconciled to God, we practice the liberal arts confident that all created things — and therefore all disciplines and fields of knowledge — when understood for what they truly are, will lead us back to their Creator. When we discern and enjoy whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and admirable, we are led to see and glorify Him who is all-wise, altogether holy and good, and supremely worthy of our deepest love.
The Transformation by Wisdom
How the practice of the liberal arts transforms the person, and how following Christ transforms the practice of those arts
Those who seek wisdom by the path of the “liberal arts” have always recognized these arts to be aiming at a certain kind of personal transformation: freedom in and for the truth. For thousands of years, the liberal arts have served human flourishing and our call to wisdom by refining our thinking, expanding our perceptions, awakening our wonder, deepening our commitment to justice, and enriching our love for all that is good. We join this tradition with gratitude for God’s gracious provision in expanding human knowledge through these arts, but we are mindful both of the liberal arts’ achievements and their limits. We confess that when severed from the fear of the LORD, the world’s pursuit of wisdom is ultimately futile and its pursuit of power mere folly. Our call is to be shaped by the liberal arts not as those conformed to the world and its ways, but as disciples of Jesus being transformed by the renewing of our minds and conformed to the ways of God in every aspect of our lives. Taking every thought captive for Christ by the power of the Spirit, we can make right use of the liberal arts to grow in wisdom and the love of God precisely with the freedom of Christ.
The Work of Wisdom
What the Christian’s practice of the liberal arts does for the world
Our practice of the liberal arts as we pursue biblical wisdom helps us to endow our work in the world with fruitful habits of mind and virtuous attitudes of the heart. Reconciled to God and each other by the Gospel, we joyfully embrace the LORD’s call to be agents of reconciliation and seek to testify to Him in every arena of human activity. The tasks, projects, and professions we take on in this world are gifts from God to be used for His glory as we cooperate with Him in His Kingdom work, but they do not comprise our ultimate purpose. Our deepest calling is to enter God’s rest and enjoy him forever, and so we approach our work with the attitude of exiles and sojourners: we await the One who will renew all things while seeking the welfare of the cities in which we now dwell. This gives us a way of living in the world that is truly invested in its good with all that the liberal arts has equipped us to give. In fact, we are free to serve what is good and right for this world — even at the greatest of costs — because we know that the end of our work is not in the world and our only Master is the Most High God. For Him, we can work heartily in everything that the liberal arts have trained us to do, and so fulfill the command to love God and our neighbor.