NOTE: The following was published March 1980) in the Warner Pacific College News; its title is "The liberating arts: A Christian view."
THE LIBERATING ARTS—A CHRISTIAN VIEW
DR. MILO CHAPMAN, PRESIDENT
The phrase “liberal arts” is not a theological term. It is not a matter of putting “liberalism” over against “conservatism” or “fundamentalism.” Rather it is a term which refers to that body of knowledge which helps the individual understand him [or her] self, his [or her] world, and his [or her] relationships. In a real sense then, “liberal arts” are to be viewed as liberating the individual from ignorance and superstition.
On occasion a further distinction is affirmed or implied. The Bible college curriculum is placed in contradiction to the liberal arts curriculum. Of course, a Bible college may say that the only worthwhile subject to be studied is that which relates directly to the Bible. Such an extreme position is rarely taken. Rather, it is agreed that the Christian needs to know him [or her] self and his [or her] world. [All need] to be liberated from ignorance and superstition. At this point the Bible College and the Christian liberal arts college which maintains a strong emphasis upon biblical and theological studies are very similar.
Warner Pacific has historically maintained a liberal arts program that offers a full program in biblical studies as well as the “liberal arts.” The fact is, we refuse to admit that such a distinction is valid. To be properly education a person must know scripture, [and] a college that leaves out religion is offering a grossly imbalanced program.
We at Warner wish to go a step further. We also wish to put into daily practice what is being learned. Consequently our students are involved, as required by various majors, in off-campus activities such as internship, field experiences, practicum, student teaching assignments, field observation, week-long counseling positions with Outdoor Schools, and long term relationships with both public and private agencies and churches. This gives the student an opportunity to experience real work situations as well as to come to grips with his or her Christian witness in a world gone seriously wrong.
Thus we affirm that human beings are whole, not parts, and that we seek the truth of God wherever it may be found. God’s truth is found in the most profound of [human] attempts to understand him [or her] self, his [or her] world,his [or her] relationships and his [or her] God. We wish to be a community actively in pursuit of such truth, even as we know God’s love preserves us.
Several years back, the college choir had as its theme song a great choral work expressing the role of the Christian liberal arts college:
"God’s Son has made me free
From Satan’s tyranny
From fear of death, and bonds of sin
From all that plagues my soul within.
God’s Son has made me free."
The faculty and staff of Warner see themselves as agents in that continuous liberation through the open and honest exploration of the many sources of [human] knowledge, including that of revelation from God. With the human must come the divine. In Christ and with Christ, in the context of Christian education, the humanizing arts become what they are meant to be: not just liberal arts, but the liberating arts.
The Truth shall make you free.