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Liberal arts a path to service, Fant writes in new book

"The Liberal Arts: A Student's Guide" by Gene C. Fant Jr. is now available.

JACKSON, Tenn.June 6, 2012 – A liberal arts education can prepare students to become spiritually and intellectually empathetic people who are passionate about serving God, the church and the world, according to Gene C. Fant Jr. in his new book, “The Liberal Arts: A Student’s Guide.”

Fant, executive vice president for academic administration at Union University, says that the meaning of “liberal arts” in modern language has moved away from its original intent.

“The original understanding of liberal arts was that we become liberated from ourselves, where now liberal arts tends to be used to mean liberated from authority,” Fant said. “So, it’s how to make yourself into a thinker who gets to decide what’s right and wrong.

“That’s not what the classical view of liberal arts was,” he continued. “The classical view is that we’re liberated from the tyranny of the self. In the Christian context, it’s liberated from the self so that we can serve God.”

The 120-page book is part of the “Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition” series edited by Union University President David S. Dockery. It is designed mainly for students and those who are curious about the liberal arts.

“Liberal learning in a Christian context is not, then, learning for the sake of learning but for the sake of glorifying God and the equipping of his people for good works,” Fant writes in the book’s introduction. “It is not merely a training ground for jobs and careers but also a proving ground for the skills that will one day be brought to bear on the unique calling and service that each Christ follower has in store for his or her life.”

In addition to providing a historical overview, the purposes and benefits of a liberal arts education, Fant also looks at the subject from a global context. A liberal arts education is the best education for a global culture, he said, because it prepares students to live in other cultures and build relationships with those cultures.

In that sense, the book is not just a backward-looking project that explores the history of liberal arts – it’s a forward-looking book that shows the importance for a liberal arts education in the world today and in the future, Fant said.

Published by Crossway, “The Liberal Arts: A Student’s Guide” is now available for purchase at such retailers as LifeWay Christian Stores and amazon.com.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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