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A Day to Reflect on the Christian Liberal Arts

October 17th, 2008

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Dr. Graham Walker, PHC President

In a culture and time that has proudly severed intellect from belief, Patrick Henry College has made a special effort every semester to reintegrate the two. Once each semester since October 2005, classes halt for a day as the entire Patrick Henry College community comes together to discuss some element of the interaction between faith and reason. The series is designed to prompt campus-wide reflection and discussion on the relationship between faith and reason in the context of Christian liberal arts education.

On September 19, 2008, College President Dr. Graham Walker detailed what happens when human beings lend too much credence to reason, or the intellect, at the expense of faith. In his lecture, entitled “The Pathology of the Intellect,” he noted that “the central struggle of the mind is ultimately a competition of love: love for God versus love of the deified self.” Those who fall into intellectual self-love tend to worship mental constructs of their own making, rather than submitting to the totality of truth, grounded in God’s Word, which forms the basis of reality. The result: reason itself suffers from a disease, a pathology.

Nonetheless Dr. Walker, who has always been a proponent of “fearless learning,” took care in his lecture to insist that Christians can and should engage in healthy intellectual activity, “grounded in all your capacity for love, preserved by all the righteousness God musters in you, drawn to perfection by all the fullness of the Holy Spirit in you.”

After the lecture, students participated in dialogue and reflection in Christian Study Groups led by faculty members. The day ended with a question and answer session in which members of the College community weighed in on how best to pursue knowledge in a way pleasing to God.

In his study group, for example, junior Jensen Near argued that one must recognize God as the ultimate source of all knowledge.

“If we seek truth, we are seeking Christ,” Near said, asserting that the intellectual framework of Christianity contains a paradox – that once knowledge is attained, one must offer it back to God. “The more one learns,” he added, “the more one has to give.”

Throughout the Christian Study Groups and in the concluding panel discussion, lively debate ensued as to how best to pursue knowledge in depth, unashamedly, and without fear.

Offered Dr. Steven McCollum, Associate Professor and Director of Music: “You have to wear holes in your knees.”

Read full text of lecture.