VIII. Liberal Education and the Christian Faith

Whether we consider liberal education as achieving freedom, or as satisfying wonder, we see that theology is its principal part. Contrary to what is often assumed, liberal education does not take place in spite of or even apart from the Christian faith. Rather, the Christian student, because of his faith, can be liberally educated in the most perfect and complete way. For the sciences which are the object of such an education form an ordered whole. By its own essential character, theology completes and perfects the intellectual life of a free man, for it has in a pre-eminent way that which is desired in all of them. Liberal education undertaken by Christians and ordered to theology turns out to be liberal education in its fullness. The religious college quite properly can claim to be the liberal educator par excellence, because through wisdom based on faith the student’s natural appetite for the truth can be perfectly satisfied. He might see “through a glass darkly,” those highest things which the non-believer will not see at all.

Liberal education, then, begins in wonder and aims at wisdom. It involves parts of greater and lesser worth and greater and lesser difficulty, united by their common order to wisdom. In keeping with the immeasurable value of its end, and the discouraging remoteness of that end, it does not disdain the study of those humbler disciplines which are the indispensable first steps on a long road. Thus it begins with the liberal arts, proceeds to the particular philosophical disciplines, and terminates in wisdom.

A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education

Click here for a full, printable version (PDF).

“Thomas Aquinas College is doing on the undergraduate level exactly what should be done. The College's alumni and alumnae prove that with this kind of education you can go on and do anything.”

– Dr. Ralph McInerny (†)

Scholar and Writer