A Liberal Education

We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.

  • 2 Corinthians 8:20

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Liberal education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g., science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest.

  • aacu.org (Association of American Colleges and Universities)

[The Liberal Arts are] academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences as distinct from professional and technical subjects.

or historical

the medieval trivium and quadrivium.

  • Google Dictionary

Maybe there is confusion about the word ‘Liberal’ these days.  The only usage of ‘liberal’ in the NIV is the first Scripture referenced above, liberal gifts could have easily been translated, and are in many other translations, as generous gifts.  The Old Testament uses variations of the word in three locations, liberally and liberality, with the same definition in mind.

A liberal education is one that is broad-based, so that the student learns more than the assigned subject of a specific discipline.  Instead, the student learns how to deal with the complexities and diversity in the world.  But a liberal arts degree, whether at a narrow and focused college or a college that provides liberal education is one that covers a broad range of general topics excluding those topics that prepare for a professional or technical career.  For an example, my undergraduate degree is from the University of Mississippi, a traditional conservative university that provides a liberal education, yet my degree was not in the liberal arts, but in chemical engineering.  I received a BS (Bachelor of Sciences), not a BA (Bachelor of Liberal Arts) degree.

For those who enjoy the occasional crude joke, “Oh, you have a BA degree?  I am sure that you learned a phrase that you’ll need now that your schooling is complete.  ‘Do you want fries with that?’”  The Liberal Arts degrees prepare many to teach the subject of their major, but as the definition implies, the education does not specifically prepare you for a scientific or technical career.  Then again, advanced degrees in Liberal Arts can open many doors for some of the majors.  I had a PhD grammarian working for me at one time.  No textbook, produced for our industrial plants, was approved until she said the grammar was correct and I, and the department head for the text, said it was technically correct.  I learned a lot from her – but to be honest, I ignore some of it in my writing – just for fun.

Now that I have you completely confused, what about liberal versus conservative politically and liberal versus conservative regarding theology?

We will see who wins the 2020 presidential election once November rolls around, unless it becomes December due to protesting and challenging the count.  Which seems to be a common practice lately.  Franklin Graham, in a rally speech four years ago, equated liberal progressives with atheists, two terms for the same thing.  If you are upset by that, take it up with him, but much of the removal of “God” from our government, in speech, monuments, and in the printed word, for sake of “progressive agenda”? You wonder if anyone in DC is a Christian.

But there is also controversy with the theological difference in liberal versus conservative.  The late R. C. Sproul said in one of his Bible study series that the term liberal Christian was an oxymoron.  He felt that the concept was impossible.  Maybe Sproul was thinking of the second Scripture above.  The conservative Christian reads 2 Timothy 3:16 and applies it literally, and even liberally, throughout all Scripture, but the liberal person rebukes Scripture if that Scripture ruffles feathers. As if they are saying, “How dare you ruffle my feathers! I’ll say I believe in Jesus, but I will ignore half of what he says. I rebuke You!”

For me, when my feathers get ruffled, I learn one of the hard lessons that God wanted me to learn.  I gladly, yet painfully, receive the rebuke.

So, it is good to have a ‘liberal education’, but use Biblical, Christian discernment to gain wisdom regarding this complex, diverse, and fallen world.  And at this time, the falling seems to be continuing, a falling world into a death spiral.  Do not fall into or for the glittering, shiny mass flushing down the world’s toilet.

Look up and see God.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

6 Comments

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  1. Amen Mark—we might need to change the wording of Liberal Education to
    something like wide and well rounded…but then our colleges have turned into bastions
    of liberalism…so I guess it all just goes hand in hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I received a BA from a liberal arts college, and I don’t regret in the least the four years I spent there. Not only did I get to take classes from a variety of departments, but I was also involved in the student newspaper, the student radio station, and the student government. Oh, and I made some good friends and learned a lot from them as well as from our professors. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I met a lot of good friends in college, too, from all over the world. I also do not regret taking non-engineering classes to broaden my education. In many of those classes, I got to meet people that I might not have ever had to chance to meet. I even sat next to a basketball star and got my picture in Sports Illustrated as a result. I was trying to explain the terms. The benefits are obvious, but then again, I met some people that might not have been a good influence.

      Liked by 1 person

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