Liberal Arts? Are You Kidding?

No . . . we’re not kidding! At John Witherspoon College, we treasure the classic “liberal arts.” And we’re in good company. The core of the liberal arts goes all the way back to the Greek philosophers. And for almost all of Western history, until the late 19th century, what we call “classics-based” college was simply . . . well . . . college!But these days, the classic liberal arts seem a lot like yesterday’s news. For some, they’re just the hoops you jump through to get to your major—that milk-toast smorgasbord of “intro” courses known as “general education.” For others, the liberal arts are an option—and a not-too-attractive option, mind you—for those who are interested in that sort of thing. For yet others, the liberal arts are just a waste—time and tuition spent on stuff that has no relevance to real life (or a real job!). So why do we insist on the classic liberal arts? And why should you want (or need) to study them? And why study the liberal arts at John Witherspoon College?

For starters, because . . . the “liberal arts” are “liberating.” The Latin phrase artes liberales denotes the art and science of living as a liber—a free citizen as opposed to a slave. The liberating arts at JWC break the chains of mindless conformity by equipping you to think, and act, and lead with the mind of Christ. “You will know the truth,” Jesus said, “and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 ESV).

The Classic “Liberating Arts”

Samuel Johnson, the famed English writer, once said that every book should outlive its own century “as the test of literary merit.” The classic liberal arts have outlived many centuries and stood the test of time. In an age when “new” equals “better,” JWC believes that the wisdom of the past—the unapologetically Christian study of the liberating arts—is the radically traditional hope of the future. For at JWC, the study of the liberal arts means that you will . . .

Build a foundation. In place of course fragments you build knowledge systematically on a solid foundation;

Learn in depth. Studies show that students learn more and better when they can study in depth rather than in broad surveys;

Deal with ideas. Ideas matter, but not all ideas are created equal. Christ-centered liberal arts help you think clearly about truth and falsehood, good and evil, right and wrong, eternal and temporal;

See God’s truth. Augustine (d. A.D. 430) said: “Let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.” All truth is God’s truth, and the liberating arts teach you to see how all truth—from arithmetic to zoology—declares the glory of God;

Always stay current. The irony of the “Information Age” is that no one can keep up with the flood of information! The liberating arts equip you to deal with information overload by seeking real wisdom over mere knowledge, the worthwhile over the waste of time—“whatever is true . . . honorable . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).