Who are Anglo-Catholics?

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Who are Anglo-Catholics?
Part I
Sermon Preached at the Anglican Church of the Transfiguration
Phoenixville, PA.
by
Timothy K. Lent, Ph.D.
7 June 2016

 The Meaning of “Anglican”

In the Prayer Book, there are references to the word “Catholic.” For instance, in the Apostles’ Creed, Anglo-Anglicans confess their belief in “The Holy Catholic Church.”1 Another example is the Bidding Prayer, which refers to “Christ’s holy Catholic Church.”2 Still another example is the prayer for God’s “holy Catholic Church.”3 The Prayer Book, then, teaches Anglo-Catholics that they are members of the Catholic Church.

Who are Anglo-Catholics? They are Anglicans. The word “Anglican” means “English.” Thus, Anglo-Catholics are Christians who have an English liturgical and theological heritage. They can trace their beliefs back to the Church of England. Anglicans may or may not be Episcopalians, for although Episcopalians are Anglicans, not all Anglicans are Episcopalians.

The Meaning of “Protestant”

The Anglican Church is “Protestant,” but only in the legal, historical sense of its meaning from Maryland in 1780, when the title was proposed and adopted by the Episcopal Church to distinguish it from the Roman Catholic Church. But the word “Protestant” itself is often too simplistic in attempting to describe Anglicans. E. J. Bicknell, an Anglican scholar, explains why:

“The popular antithesis of Catholic and Protestant is often misconceived. All true protest against error is based on a knowledge and love of truth. A Catholic love of truth is bound to protest against all error that limits or denies the truth.”4

The First Meaning of “Catholic”

When the Eastern and Western bishops met together at the Second Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Constantinople (381 A. D.) to write the second part of the Nicene Creed, they used the word “Catholic” to describe the Church, saying, “And [we believe] on one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”5 In church history, the first meaning of “Catholic” referred to the Undivided Church of the East and West, which was united in a common faith.

Typically, Anglicans, especially Anglo-Catholics, accept the teachings of the Undivided Church, the Church of the first millennium of church history. From the Day of Pentecost, when the Church of Christ was born, to the Great Schism in 1054 A. D., the Church was truly Catholic: one in faith and doctrine, even though there were liturgical differences between the Eastern and Western Christians.

The Second Meaning of “Catholic”

Must Anglicans be under the authority of the pope to be Catholic? Not necessarily! Although all Roman Catholics are Catholics, not all Catholics are Roman Catholics.  For example, millions of Christians in the Orthodox Church are not under the authority of the pope. But that does not mean they are not Catholics. In fact, Orthodox Christians are Catholics. But they would not regard themselves as Roman Catholics. Similarly, Anglicans are Catholics but they are not Roman Catholics.

The English Rite of the Church

There are several Rites in the Church. For example, Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea (circa 256 A. D.), writes,

“[C]oncerning the celebration of Easter, and concerning many other sacraments of divine matters, … there are some diversities among them, and … all things are not observed among them alike, which are observed at Jerusalem, just as in very many other provinces also many things are varied because of the difference of the places and names. And yet on this account there is no departure at all from the peace and unity of the Catholic Church.”6

A Rite, then, refers to a form or worship (liturgy) of a group of people who belongs to a certain ethnic or geographical location. Anglicans are a Western Rite, namely, an American, English Rite, deriving their liturgy from the Church of England. Liturgies from different Rites in the Church can be translated into the English language. But the Anglican Liturgy is truly English, because it comes from English-speaking people in England and America.

The Catholicity of the English Reformers

In the 16th century, there was a Reformation in the Church of England. However, the intent of the English Reformers was not to start a new Church but to return to the faith of the primitive Church, the Undivided Church. Anglican liturgical scholar Stephen A. Hurlbut, referring to the English Reformers, wrote, “Their appeal in matters of liturgy as well as theology was to that which was Catholic as opposed to Roman, and to the early Fathers as opposed to medieval scholasticism.”7 In other words, the basic thrust of the English Reformers was to be Catholic, but not necessarily Roman Catholic.8

In at least two respects, Anglo-Catholics are Reformed Catholics, following the tradition of the English Reformers, not the Continental Reformers, such as John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli. First, Anglo-Catholics “deliberately retained the title ‘priest.’”9 In other words, they retained a sacerdotal ministry, accepting the Catholic teaching on Holy Orders, particularly, an ordained priesthood and apostolic succession.

Second, the center of worship for Anglo-Catholics is the altar, not the pulpit; the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ by the priest, not the sermon.10 Of course, reading and preaching the word of God are important to Anglo-Catholic worship. However, the most important aspect is receiving the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. As Jesus himself says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54, NIV).

The Third Meaning of “Catholic”

Anglo-Catholics are constantly reminded that Christ has founded the Catholic Church and that they belong to her when they confess, in the words of the Nicene Creed, “We believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Thus, Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church, because she is “from ever tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, NIV). The Gospel is to be preached “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Matthew 28:19). The mission and ministry of the Church are universal in scope and, therefore, the Church is Catholic.

Endnotes

1The Book of Common Prayer, 1928 American ed. (New York, N.Y.: The Church Hymnal Corporation/ The Church Pension Fund, n.d.), p. 15.

2Ibid., p. 47.

3Ibid., p. 37.

4E. J. Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, 3rd. rev. ed. (New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co. Inc., 1955, 1961), p. 247.

5“The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed,” in The Second Ecumenical Council: The First Council of Constantinople (381 A. D.). 2016. Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Buffalo, N.Y.: Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1900). Revised and edited by Kevin Knight. New Advent. [Web:] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3808.htm [Date of access: 6 June 2016].

6Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian of Carthage. 2016. Epistle 74, 6. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, N.Y.: Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1886). Revised and edited by Kevin Knight. New Advent. [Web:] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050674.htm  [Date of access: 6 June 2016].

7Stephen A. Hurlbut, The Liturgy of the Church of England Before and After the Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1941), pp. 1-2.

8Edward Lambe Parsons and Bayard Hale Jones, The American Prayer Book: Its Origins and Principles (New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937), p. 29.

9E. J. Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, op. cit., p. 336.  The reason the New Testament did not use the Greek word for priest (hiereis) to describe Christian priests was “… to avoid confusion with the Jewish and pagan priesthood” (ibid., p. 335). Cf. Claude Beaufort Moss, The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology (New York, N.Y.: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1943, reprinted 1949), p. 287:  “The Continental Reformation rejected or dropped the principle of apostolic succession (except in Sweden),” that is, bishops, by virtue of their consecrations, are successors of the apostles, tracing a straight link back to them throughout history.  But the English Reformation retained apostolic succession.

10Claude Beaufort Moss, The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, op. cit., p. 290.

The Meaning of Human Equality, Part II: Susan B. Anthony’s Understanding of Equality

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Susan B. Anthony

Introduction: Unequal Treatment of Women under the Law

In the 18th and 19th centuries in America, women were excluded, for all practical purposes, from the meaning of the phrase “all men are created equal.” For instance, only men could vote. Only men owned property. Men, not women, had control of the money they earned. Men, not women, could be educated in college. Women were treated as the property of men. For such reasons, the Women’s Suffrage Movement began in the 1850’s, with Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) as one of its most prominent leaders. She argued that women are not inferior to men and should be included in the meaning of the phrase “all men are created equal.”

On November 5, 1872, Anthony’s belief in equality was tested in Rochester, New York, when she voted in the presidential election. A couple of weeks later, on November 18, she was arrested for voting illegally. At her trial on June 19, 1873 (the third day of her trial), she was found guilty of breaking the law. Before her trial, she would travel, speaking to audiences in Monroe and Ontario counties, arguing for women’s rights, particularly, their right to vote, quoting the Declaration of Independence,

“‘All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’”

Anthony’s Explanation of the Meaning of “All Men are Created Equal”

Anthony explains the meaning of “all men are created equal,” saying,

“Here is no shadow of government authority over rights, nor exclusion of any from their full and equal enjoyment. Here is pronounced the right of all men, and ‘consequently,’ as the Quaker preacher said, ‘of all women,’ to a voice in the government. And here, in this very first paragraph of the declaration, is the assertion of the natural right of all to the ballot; for, how can ‘the consent of the governed’ be given, if the right to vote be denied.”

By the words of the Declaration of Independence, says Anthony, “kings, priests, popes, aristocrats, were all alike dethroned, and placed on a common level politically, with the lowliest born subject or serf.” Thus, the Declaration affirms the equal rights of all human beings. Women, argues Anthony, are human beings and should be placed with men on “the proud platform of equality.”

Arguing from the equality of all human beings in the Declaration, she confirms its truth by quoting the Preamble to the Constitution of the United State, which, in part, says,

“’We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and established this constitution for the United States.’”

In other words, Anthony maintains that the same theme of human equality in the Declaration is affirmed in the Constitution. However, instead of phrase “all men are created equal,” the wording of the Constitution is “We the people of the United States.” As Anthony writes,

“It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed this Union.”

According to Anthony, for the United States of America, a democratic-republic, to deny women the right to vote is to change the very nature of the government itself, making it “an oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household.” Such a government, Anthony asserts, makes “all men sovereigns, [and] all women subjects.”

Anthony’s Reply to the Male Pronouns Argument

Next, Anthony replies to the argument that because of the wording of the Constitution and State constitutions in America, only male citizens can vote. She introduces and answers the argument as follows:

“But [if it] is urged, the use of the masculine pronouns he, his and him, in all the constitutions and laws, is proof that only men were meant to be included in their provisions. If you insist on this version of the letter of the law, we shall insist that you be consistent, and accept the other horn of the dilemma, which would compel you to exempt women from taxation for the support of the government, and from penalties for the violation of laws.”

Her reply is a reductio ad absurdum argument, making it evident that the government would certainly not allow women to be exempt from paying taxes and breaking its laws. For Anthony, “he” includes “she” and “his” includes “hers.” Her point, then, is that constitutional documents apply to men and women. Thus, women are persons, citizens of the United States, equal to men under the law and, therefore, have a right to vote.

Justice Hunt’s Verdict at Anthony’s Trial

At Anthony’s trial, Justice Hunt, without a word from the all-male jury, pronounced her guilty of breaking the law. He then gave her an opportunity to speak before the court. She replied, in defiance of the verdict,

“Yes, your honor, … you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.

….

“Your denial of my citizen’s right to vote, is the denial of my right of consent as one of the governed, the denial of my right of representation as one of the taxed, the denial of my right to a trial by a jury of my peers as an offender against law, therefore, the denial of my sacred rights….”

After repeatedly attempting to silence Anthony, Justice hunt imposed on her a fine of $100.00, plus “the costs of the prosecution.” But she refused to pay it, calling it “unjust.” She condemned the government’s “man-made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, that tax, fine, imprison, and hang women, while they deny them the right of representation in the government.” Then, in defiance of Hunt’s ruling, she said,

“I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, that ‘Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.’”

The “Fight” for Women’s Rights to Equal Treatment under the Law

For Anthony, it is one thing for a government to make splendidly abstract statements, such as “We the people of the United States” and “all men are created equal,” but it is quite another for that same government to recognize and apply the inclusive and universal meanings of such statements to all its citizens, including black and white men and women. Women’s rights, of course, are human rights. However, the advancement of human rights often involves much struggle. By her own experience, Anthony recognized that and, therefore, concluded her speech to the citizens of Monroe and Ontario counties, saying,

“[W]e propose to fight our battle for the ballot — all peaceably, but nevertheless persistently through to complete triumph, when all United States citizens shall be recognized as equals before the law.”

Roughly 47 years later, and several years after her death in 1906, Susan Anthony and Women’s Suffrage Movement finally prevailed on August 18, 1920, with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, in part,

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

In honor of Anthony’s long, arduous efforts to advance the right of women to vote, the United States Senate calls the Nineteenth Amendment “the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” Unfortunately, the ratification of the Nineteenth and Fifteenth Amendments did not, once-for-all, settle the issue of all American citizens being able to vote, because in some States, many African-American women and men were still denied the right to vote. That leads me to stress still another point, which is that the advancement of human rights is an ever-evolving struggle to be recognized and treated as human beings. Hence, on August 4, 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and on August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed it into law, so that citizens of any color, in any State, have the right to vote.

Indeed, all men and women are “created equal,” but they certainly are not treated equally. That is why the struggle for human rights, which is the struggle to be treated as human beings, will continue as long as humankind inhabits the earth.

The Meaning of Human Equality, Part I: Abraham Lincoln’s Interpretation of the Phrase “All Men are Created Equal”

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Abraham Lincoln

What the Phrase Means

On 26 June 1857, in Springfield, IL., Abraham Lincoln explained the meaning of the phrase “all men are created equal,” after listening to a speech by Senator Stephen Douglas in which he excluded Blacks from its meaning. But according to Lincoln, “the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men.” For Lincoln, then, all humans, regardless of their color or gender, have equally the same nature, namely, a human nature. In other words, they are equal in being humans. In short, Lincoln’s interpretation of the phrase is inclusive, while Douglas’ is exclusive.

Then Lincoln goes on to say, according to a reading of the context of the Declaration of Independence itself, that it

“defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal — equal in ‘certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ This they said, and this meant.”

 In fact, a little over a year later, in his Seventh Debate with Stephen Douglas on 15 October 1858, Lincoln reaffirmed that the phrase “all men are created equal” refers to all human beings, not just Whites.

What the Phrase Does Not Mean

On 26 June 1857, Lincoln proceeds to explain what “created equal” does not mean, saying,

“they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity.”

For example, in a foot-race, the person who is faster than I is superior to me as a runner. However, he or she is not superior to me as a human being. Similarly, a person who is smarter than I is superior to me in intelligence. However, that person is not more human than I.

Also, as Lincoln observes, equality does not mean that human beings must be the same in all respects. Although my neighbor and I are equally human beings, his or her color may not be the same as mine. That, however, does not make him or her inferior to me as a person. Rather, it only means that he or she is different from me.

Lincoln realized that the abstract or general meaning of “all men are created equal” is different from its concrete, particular, historical meaning, which a government often fails to live up to its treatment of its citizens. Thus, Lincoln says that the authors of the Declaration

“did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.”

The phrase “all men are created equal,” then, applies, as Lincoln says, “to people of all colors everywhere.” Unfortunately, not a few Founders of the United States failed to live up to the Declaration’s words. Thomas Jefferson himself, for example, who was primarily responsible for writing the Declaration, owned slaves. But the failure of the Founders does not mean that the words “all men are created equal” are not true. Rather, it means that its words, through a political process, must be enacted and enforced by the government.

In other words, while the meaning of “all men are created equal” does not change, it must be applied, as Lincoln asserts, to new historical circumstances, such as the one in which he found himself in 1857, namely, slavery. Hence, he says,

“The assertion that ‘all men are created equal’ was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use.”

For example, after the American Civil War, Congress adopted the Thirteenth (1865), Fourteenth (1868) and Fifteenth (1870) Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. The Thirteenth, adopted before President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, abolished slavery in the United States; the Fourteenth recognized that Blacks or former slaves, being born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens; and the Fifteenth recognized they have the right to vote. Those three amendments are the political, legal and practical application of the truth that “all men are created equal.”

Comments on Jeffrey M. Schwartz’s Book “Brain Lock”​

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Jeffrey M. Schwartz

Required Reading for Fall Semester, 2019

Philosophy 2000: Encountering Ethics

Timothy Lent

As a theologian, I have been intrigued by the teachings of Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a research psychiatrist at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). In particular, I have read his book Brain Lock several times. With each reading, I have perceived a certain spirituality emerging from it, but not in the sense of a spirituality from a traditional or organized religion. Of course, in his book, Schwartz was writing about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), not spirituality.

The Difference between the Mind and the Brain

Nevertheless, I detect at least three spiritual or, perhaps, philosophical intimations from the book Brain Lock. First, Schwartz presupposes that a person’s mind is not the same as his or her brain. In other words, the mind is more than a person’s brain. For example, Schwartz teaches that an obsession (an unwanted, disturbing thought) comes from a person’s brain. However, his or her mind did not choose to have the obsession.1 For Schwartz, mindful awareness is the “I” or mind within a person that becomes aware of the brain’s unwanted thought.2

The Difference between the Will and the Brain

Second, Schwartz presupposes that the will, a person’s power of choice, is not the same as his or her brain. Schwartz teaches that a person’s will has more power than the unwanted thoughts from his or her brain. As Schwartz says, “Obsessions don’t take over your will,”3 forcing you to act against your choice.4

For Schwartz, then, there is a difference, as he says, “between your will – your wholly internal spirit – and your unwanted, intrusive [thought].”5 The will chooses (a spiritual or immaterial act) not to act on the obsession or unwanted thought, saying, “I will not do this.”6 Therefore, for Schwartz, the obsession “is not your will, not you, … and it won’t take over your spirit.”7

Spirit’s Power to Change Matter or the Brain

Third, Schwartz presupposes that the human will, that is, the spiritual or immaterial faculty of choice, has the power to change the brain itself. How? For Schwartz, when an unwanted message from a person’s brain occurs, he or she should choose not to listen to it. Instead, he or she must refocus, that is, get active, doing something worthwhile, useful or enjoyable. Schwartz calls a person’s choice to refocus “behavior therapy.” According to Schwartz, a person, by changing his or her thinking and choosing to behave contrary to an obsession, will, eventually, change the physical structure of his or her brain.8

Clarification of Possible Misunderstandings

Please note: I am neither trying to make Jeffrey Schwartz into a Christian nor a member of any organized religion. In fact, I don’t even know if he subscribes to any particular religion. I am, however, pointing out that for Schwartz, a person is more than his or her body and brain.9 There is, for Schwartz, a spirit within a person’s body, that is, an immaterial dimension, consisting of the mind and will. Schwartz is, in philosophical terms, a “substance dualist” or “dualist-interactionist.” He even goes so far as to declare his belief in some kind of Spirit, Higher Power or Supreme Being, saying, “God wired the human system.”10 Schwartz, then, wittingly or unwittingly, enters into the age-old debate: Is there a human mind that is separable from the brain?

Endnotes

1. Jeffrey M. Schwartz with Beverly Beyette, Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (New York, N.Y.: First Regan Books/ Harper Perennial, 1996, 1st paperback ed. 1997), p. xxxv.

2. Ibid., p. 11.

3. Ibid., p. 14.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., p. 42.

6. Ibid., p. 43.

7. Ibid., p. 42.

8. Ibid., pp. 70, 71, 74, 75.

9. Cf. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, You are Not Your Brain (New York, N.Y.: The Penguin Group, 2011).

10. Jeffrey M. Schwartz with Beverly Beyette, Brain Lock, p. 76.

Beatitudes for Moral Virtue

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The Moral Development of the Human Person as the Imago Dei

Blessed are those

who pursue worthwhile goals,

for they shall find purpose in life.

Blessed are those

who love someone,

for they shall discover the deepest meaning of life.

Blessed are those

who endure hardship for believing in a righteous cause,

for they shall develop moral character.

Blessed are those

who refuse to degrade another human being,

for they shall ennoble themselves.

Blessed are those

who care about the needs of the poor and underprivileged,

for they shall be spiritually rich.

Blessed are those

who feel all alone in standing for justice,

for they shall be sustained by an Invisible Power.

Blessed are those

who are not controlled by money, possessions and pleasure,

for they shall remain in control of themselves.

Blessed are those

who are passionately concerned about a worthwhile issue,

for they shall overcome the indifference of others.

Blessed are those

who are passionate about living for something meaningful,

for they shall make a meaningful difference in the world.

Blessed are those

who will not compromise their values,

for they shall maintain their integrity.

Blessed are those

who don’t give up on themselves, even when everyone else does,

for they shall be vindicated.

Blessed are those

who are more concerned about upholding moral principle than gaining wealth and privilege,

for they shall remain true to themselves.

Blessed are those

who will not allow another person to “walk all over” them,

for they shall develop moral boundaries.

Blessed are those

who do not tolerate every kind of behavior,

for they shall be morally strong.

Blessed are those

who follow the dictates of their conscience rather than the demands of the crowd,

for they shall encourage others to be themselves.

Blessed are those

who speak truth to power,

for they shall change the world for the better.

Christianity, the Liberal Arts and the Humanities

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The Liberal Arts

In ancient Greece and Rome, a liberal arts education was for men who were not slaves. It taught free men to be good citizens, that is, to live freely and responsibly, so that they could remain free all of their lives.1 The premise of the liberal arts is that education will aid human being in living good lives, both for themselves and the common good, the good of society.2 The two-fold purpose of the liberal arts, then, is to “seek knowledge for its own sake,” for truth is good in itself, and the application of knowledge to enrich one’s own life, as well as the lives of others.3

Originating from the Human Mind

The liberal arts are different from the material arts, which are formed out of matter and, thus, from human hands.4 Liberal arts are free from matter, that is, they are formed from the human mind. For example, a speech is made or composed by the human mind, even if it is written on paper. Other examples are literature, music and logic, all of which originate, first, from the mind and may later be written on material data.5

Disciplines within the Liberal Arts

Today, the liberal arts include a broad range of disciplines, such as the study of rhetoric (public speaking), writing, literature, mathematics, history, political science, education, philosophy, theology, religion, science, psychology, sociology, culture, anthropology, the arts, theater, music and physical education. The purpose of such studies is to give students a well-rounded education, allowing them to become generalists in knowledge, while at the same time, focusing on a specific discipline for their degree, allowing them to become specialists in knowledge.6

Not a Vocational Education

The liberal arts should not be confused with vocational education, which prepares a person for an occupation, such as becoming a carpenter, plumber or an electrician. The primary focus of vocational education is “What can I do with my training?” However, the main focus of a liberal arts education is the shaping of “a person’s understanding and values.”7

The question about studying the liberal arts is not “What can I do with it?” That reduces knowledge to an instrumental value or a useful art. Rather, the right question about the liberal arts is “What can it do to me?” That supposes the intrinsic or innate value of knowledge. In other words, it is good in itself, needing no practical justification.8

The Humanities

Situated in the liberal arts, and virtually equivalent to them, is the studia humanitatis, “studies of humanity” or the humanities. They represent the human person’s concern with human beings and their human world.9 The humanities, then, are the products of human creativity.10 In short, they are from humans and for them. The humanities teach about human beings – morally, economically, artistically, politically, religiously and in countless other ways – at their best and worst.

For Christians, the humanities are due to the imago Dei, the “image of God” in the human person. God is the Creator, and thus, the author of creativity. Because human persons are made in his image, they reflect, in a finite way, the creativity of their Creator.11 They can create, because they are made in the image of their Creator.

The humanities have a special meaning for Christians. As philosopher Arthur Holmes says, “We are to image [reflect] God in all our creaturely activities, our cultural existence and every phase of our humanity. To image God in the fulness of our humanity is our highest calling.”12 In short, Christianity rejects nothing that is genuinely human. Sin, however, is not genuinely human. Rather, it is a distortion of the human will, a human aberration or abnormality.

The Fragmentation of Knowledge

Today, colleges and universities suffer from the fragmentation of truth. They are producing specialists. In the words of Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer,

“In our modern forms of specialized education there is a tendency to lose the whole in the parts, and in this sense we can say that our generation produces few truly educated people. True education means thinking by associating across the various disciplines, and not just being highly qualified in one field, as a technician might be.”13

Knowledge is interrelated. But it is up to the student to integrate or see the connection between different areas of study. Schaeffer continues,

“Today we have a weakness in our educational process in failing to understand the natural associations between the disciplines. We tend to study all our disciplines in unrelated parallel lines. This tends to be true in both Christian and secular education. … We have studied our exegesis as exegesis, our theology as theology, our philosophy as philosophy; we study something about art as art; we study music as music, without understanding that these are things of man, and the things of man are never unrelated parallel lines.”14

Today’s Multiversity

Unlike the Christian concept of a medieval university, today’s university is really a multiversity. It has no unifying world view or point of integration.15 It is literally disintegrated, with fragmented departments of knowledge. According to theologian R. C. Sproul,

“The students’ schedules are filled with liberal arts courses which expose them to wide variety of academic disciplines. But these disciplines have no apparent cohesion with each other. Students move from lecture to lecture, absorbing differing and often mutually exclusive views. The information they glean about their own humanity incites … confusion. In psychology, one view; in biology, another; in philosophy … [still another].”16

In short, in many modern universities, there is incoherence, diversity without a source of unity.

University: Diversity within Unity

A Christian university is patterned after the concept of the medieval university. Like a universe, a university, in Sproul’s words,

“[was] a place where the many (diversity) come together into the unified whole (unity). The working assumption was that all diverse particulars of knowledge discovered and analyzed in the specialized academic disciplines, found their coherence in God. It was the unifying power of theology that elevated her to the queen of sciences, being assisted by her metaphysical handmaiden philosophy.”17

A Christian university, then, consists of diversity in unity and is structured “on the premise that all knowledge is ultimately coherent and unified.”18 Such a university “retains a unifying Christian world-view and brings it to bear in understanding and participating in the various arts and sciences, as well as in non-academic aspects of campus life.”19 For a Christian university or college, the source of integration is the Christian concept of God.

God the Creator is the author of sacred (spiritual) and secular (natural or pertaining to the world and human beings) truth, whether already discovered or yet to be discovered by humans. That is to say, all truth is God’s truth, no matter where or by whom it may be found.20 The humanities, then, Christianly understood, discover the truth of God’s world, especially the truth about human beings.

Christian Humanism

However, Christian universities do not teach that human beings possess the highest value of all that exists. That is reserved for God, the Supreme Being, the only One who is worthy of worship (from the Old English words worth ship). In other words, humans do not have ultimate value, because only an Ultimate Being, God, does. However, out of all the creatures of the world, the cosmos, God gives humans the highest intrinsic value, making them highest in being.21 That is why they are worth studying, understanding and loving.

Endnotes

1Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College (Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975), p. 35.

2Anon. 2019. Liberal Arts: What is Liberal Education? Christendom College. [Web:] https://www.christendom.edu/academics/liberal-arts/ [Date of access: 7 September 2012].

3Peter Kreeft, The Best Things in Life (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 1984), p. 31.

4Mortimer J. Adler, The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization, ed. Max Weismann (Chicago and La Salle, IL.: Open Court Publishing Company, 2000, 5th printing 2002), pp. 242-243, 245.

5Ibid. 246. In antiquity, the liberal arts were divided into two parts, namely, the trivium and quadrivium, consisting of seven areas of study. The trivium consisted of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.

6Anon. 2003-2012. What is the Difference between Liberal Arts and Liberal Sciences? Learn.org. [Web:] http://degreedirectory.org/articles/What_is_the_Difference_Between_Liberal_Arts_and_Liberal_Sciences.html [Date of access: 17 September 2019].

7Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College, op. cit., p. 36.

8Ibid., p. 37.

9Mortimer J. Adler. 2008-2009. The Mortimer J. Adler Archive: Aristotle’s Ethics — The Theory of Happiness, Part I. The Radical Academy. [Web:] http://radicalacademy.org/adleraristotleethics1.html [Date of access: 17 September 2019].

10Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Worldview, Vol. 5: A Christian View of the West, 2nd ed. (Westchester, IL.: Crossway Books,1982), p. 427.

11Ibid.

12Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College, p. 35.

13Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Worldview, Vol. 1: A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture, 2nd ed. (Westchester, IL.: Crossway Books,1982), p. 12.

14Ibid., p. 211.

15Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College, p. 19.

16R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner and Art Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI.: Academie Books/Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), p. 10.

17Ibid., pp. 9-10.

18Ibid., p. 9.

19Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College, p. 19.

20Ibid., pp. 24-25.

21Norman L. Geisler, Is Man the Measure?  An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), p. 123.

The Difference between Knowing about and Knowing a Person

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Inter-Subjectivity

Indirect Knowing

There is a vast difference between knowing about and actually knowing a human being. The first kind of knowledge is indirect, that is, factual, objective, detached and dispassionate. Such knowledge does not require any real personal involvement in someone’s life. It is, using the language of the personalist philosopher Martin Buber, an “I-It” relationship.

Direct Knowing

The second kind of knowledge is direct, that is, experiencing another human being in his or her uniqueness as a person. Such a relationship involves self-transcendence, which is a “moving out,” a choice to move away from oneself, one’s own “world,” and move into another person’s “world.” In doing so, one person discovers another person’s emotional “highs” and “lows,” likes and dislikes. In other words, a human being enters, by virtue of direct experience, into another person’s intellectual, spiritual and emotional “world.”

Existential Encounter

The personal relationship that I am describing, which is the greatest or most enriching of all human relationships, is, in the terminology of existentialism, “an encounter.” Strictly speaking, a human being does not encounter things, such as rock, trees, boats, houses, and objects in outer space. Rather, he or she can only encounter persons. An encounter, then, is, in the words of Viktor Frankl,

“[A] relationship between an I and a Thou – a relationship which, by its very nature, can be established only on the human and personal level.”

It is, indeed, a human tragedy, a form of psychological and social alienation, for a human being to throughout his or her life, knowing all kinds about others but never really knowing someone as a person.

Indirect Leading to Direct Knowing

Of course, knowing about another human being may lead to knowing him or her as a person. However, for personal knowledge to occur, there must be a movement from the factual to the experiential; from the abstract to the concrete and from the general to the specific knowing of a here-and-now person.

There is, then, nothing wrong with knowing many things about others and, in general, the world of objects. But the knowledge of things, as important as it may be, is not nearly as important as the knowledge of persons, for persons are always and infinitely more important than things.

Endnote

Viktor E. Frankl, The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism, rev. ed. (New York, N.Y.: Washington Square Press, 1978 and 1985), p. 73.