New Saint Andrews College is a Christian college teaching the liberal arts that have grown out of the classical and Christian traditions. This is the education of the free man, taught by free men, useful in our mission to lead all of creation to worship the triune God in spirit and in truth.
In the classical age, the liberal arts education began with a preparatory training organized around a curriculum such as the Trivium (grammar, logic/dialectic, and rhetoric). The education then moved on to advanced studies, as represented by curricula such as the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy).
Yet as Christendom has advanced, and our thinking has been taken captive by Christ, our understanding of the liberal arts has grown as well. The Hellenistic desire to experience a platonic ascent into the world of numbers has been corrected with a love for God’s incarnate work in creation. Literature, history, and the natural sciences have stepped into the ranks alongside philosophy, music, mathematics, and theology as we choose from the subjects that best offer a broad vista on the rest of creation.
The liberal arts are tools to teach critical thinking – the rigorous process of making distinctions, recognizing logical fallacies, and careful argumentation. They demand integration, the ability to move from part to whole and back again to part; to move back and forth between both breadth and depth. They require skillfulness with words, arguments, and stories – not merely the ability to communicate clearly, but the ability to be persuasive, humorous, offensive, and innocuous – to teach and delight with the word and to be taught and delighted by the same. The liberal arts combine the best of the contemplative life with the life of the active creator, emphasizing doing and making as much as thinking and receiving, as they cultivate truth, goodness, and beauty.
But even more important than any one list of subjects is the way in which the liberal arts are taught. They are liberal arts because, as is fitting for the training of the children of the King, the liberal arts inculcate the traits of the free man as opposed to the slave, the traits of the son as opposed to the servant. Rather than training students in the methods and procedures of a solitary field of study or of specialized areas through an elective system, the liberal arts education uses a selection of humanizing disciplines to teach the skills, habits, and disciplines which equip the free man to live all of life as prophets, priests, and kings to the glory of God. Therefore, we expect students who have been trained by the New Saint Andrews liberal arts education to be more than just consumers of culture, but to be shapers, creators, and leaders in culture making.
Heirs of the King
To whom much is given, much is required. Finally, since the purpose of the liberal arts is to form an integrated understanding of creation, there can be no true liberal arts education without Christ, in whom all things consist. To say “Christian liberal arts” is, in a sense, tautological, since no man and no mind and no education can be truly free outside of Christ. The liberal arts education is, therefore, living life to the fullest as a son or daughter of our King.