Liberal Arts for the Christian Life



About Liberal Arts for the Christian Life

For over forty years, Leland Ryken has championed and modeled a Christian liberal arts education. His scholarship and commitment to integrating faith with learning in the classroom have influenced thousands of students who have sat under his winsome teaching. Published in honor of Professor Ryken and presented on the occasion of his retirement from Wheaton College, this compilation carries on his legacy of applying a Christian liberal arts education to all areas of life.

Five sections explore the background of a Christian liberal arts education, its theological basis, habits and virtues, differing approaches, and ultimate aims. Contributors including Philip Ryken, Jeffry Davis, Duane Litfin, John Walford, Alan Jacobs, and Jim Wilhoit analyze liberal arts as they relate to the disciplines, the Christian faith, and the world. Also included are a transcript of a well-known 1984 chapel talk delivered by Leland Ryken on the student’s calling and practical chapters on how to read, write, and speak well.

Comprehensive in scope, this substantial volume will be a helpful guide to anyone involved in higher education, as well as to students, pastors, and leaders looking for resources on the importance of faith in learning.


JEFFRY C. DAVIS (PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago) is associate professor of English at Wheaton College. He is also the director of Wheaton’s Writing Center and Interdisciplinary Studies program.

Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. Formerly, he served as senior minister of Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written or edited more than 40 books, including the popular title Loving the Way Jesus Loves, and has lectured and preached at universities and seminaries worldwide.


“A fitting tribute both to Leland Ryken as a superb teacher, and to the importance of the liberal arts in the life of the Christian mind and soul. Few will fail to benefit from its expanded and enriched vision of the life of faith.”
Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford

“This fine volume honors a marvelously gifted evangelical scholar-teacher. But it is itself a significant contribution to the cause that Leland Ryken has served so well, offering much wisdom on what it takes to sustain and nurture a life of the mind that will promote the goals of Christ’s kingdom.”
Richard J. Mouw, President, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, written as a collection of reflections on the liberal arts by colleagues of Leland Ryken, certainly captures clearly the range, the richness, and the complexity of the connections between a liberal arts education and the Christian life. Even more compelling is the way the book represents the incarnational nature of a liberal arts education—a single professor embodying a vision of learning that entices thousands of students over several generations to follow in his footsteps, not by becoming more like him but by becoming more fully the unique individuals that God created them to be. This book is a ‘must read’ for Christian liberal arts educators and their students!”
Shirley A. Mullen, President, Houghton College 

“Clement of Alexandria, one of the earliest proponents of Christian liberal arts education, observed that excellence in such educational attainment was widely regarded in the second century as evidence that a person was a Christian. The authors of this volume likewise affirm that liberal learning centered in Christ ought to be the trademark of Christians in any walk of life today. In a fitting tribute to the life work of Leland Ryken, they have created a lively and accessible introduction to the advantages of such an education for a young Christian who wishes to grow in maturity and wisdom.”
David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University

“All who love the life of the mind, who care about the education of our youth, or who are devoted to the intellectual and spiritual vibrancy of our churches will relish this diverse collection of essays by premier Christian scholars and academic leaders. Liberal Arts for the Christian Life is both a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Christian college professor and a most welcome collection of thoughtful excursions into the enduring purposes of the liberal arts in the Christian college curriculum.”
Darryl Tippens, Provost, Pepperdine University

“This volume provides a rich collection of wisdom concerning Christian liberal arts education. Students will find in it valuable guidelines for reflecting on how to get the most out of their education. It is an apt tribute to a scholar who has dedicated his career to imparting such wisdom, and this book should be provided to help carry on such work into the future.”
George M. Marsden, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame; author, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

“The beneficial impact of Leland Ryken’s contributions to God’s kingdom extends far beyond the campus of Wheaton College. The scholarly work of faculty from across Christian higher education has been influenced in professional development workshops led by Dr. Ryken including ‘The Bible as Literature,’ ‘The Bible in Literature,’ and other topics related to his own research and writing. With dignity, warmth, and great dedication, Dr. Ryken has invested himself in the intellectual and spiritual development of others. This festschrift represents a collective and heartfelt ‘thank you’ from the authors and on behalf of so many others!“
Karen A. Longman, Professor and Program Director, Department of Doctoral Higher Education, Azuza Pacific University

“This celebration of the liberal arts through the eyes of Christian faith pays a fitting tribute to Dr. Leland Ryken’s many contributions to this great conversation. May students and future colleagues reap the blessings of the seeds sown in this text for many more generations.”
Michael Le Roy, President-elect, Calvin College

“Higher education is undergoing an awakening, and in Liberal Arts for the Christian Life we have a clarion call to the liberal arts through dedicated Christian learning. Leland Ryken—a teacher of English and a scholar of Milton—has spent his life asking students to think about the purpose of education, careers, and lives; in this volume he is celebrated by his colleagues who, in turn, are asking these questions of their own students. Whether Christian or not, educators will want to read this book, asking students to read in it, too—that is, if they want them to consider what the liberal arts are for.”
J. Scott Lee, Executive Director, Association for Core Texts and Courses, Liberal Arts Institute at Saint Mary's College of California

Table of Contents

1. The Countercultural Quest of Christian Liberal Arts by Jeffry C. Davis
2. Liberal Education and Book Learning by Lisa Richmond
3. Evangelicals, Colleges, and American Nation Building by Edith Blumhofer

4. Liberal Arts Education and the Doctrine of Humanity by Roger Lundin
5. Faithful Christian Learning by Jeffrey P. Greenman
6. Liberal Arts as a Redemptive Enterprise by Wayne Martindale
7. Loving God as the Key to a Christian Liberal Arts Education by Duane Litfin

8. The Lost Tools of Learning and the Habits of a Scholarly Mind by Marjorie Lamp Mead
9. How to Read a Book by Alan Jacobs
10. Writing for Life by Sharon Coolidge
11. Listening, Speaking, and the Art of Living by Kenneth R. Chase
12. Educating for Intellectual Character by Jay Wood
13. Beyond Building a Résumé by Stephen B. Ivester

14. A World of Discovery through the Natural Sciences by Dorothy F. Chappell
15. Exploring a Universe of Relationships through the Social Sciences by Henry Allen
16. The Humanities as Indulgence or Necessity? by Jill Peláez Baumgaertner
17. Singing God’s Praise by Michael Wilder
18. Learning to Perceive through Visual Art by E. John Walford
19. Theater as an Imperfect Mirror 231
Mark Lewis


Category: Academic
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 320
ISBN-10: 1-4335-2394-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-2394-6
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 13.7 ounces
Published: April 30, 2012

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