Finally, Holmes.

Arthur Holmes died over the weekend. While I was a student at Wheaton College, I didn’t have him for class. I thought briefly about majoring in philosophy, but I went the easy way, communication. I did meet him in the late eighties when I was teaching at a small college and he came to a faculty retreat.

But It wasn’t talking with him that shaped me. It was what he said in The Idea of a Christian College:

The question to ask of an education is not, “What can I do with it?” but rather, “What is it doing to me as a person?”

An education is about the making persons. A Christian education is about the making of Christian persons.

I checked the quote as I wrote this post, but I had all but two words right. From memory. From 25 years ago.

When I taught an “Intro to College” course, I looked often at his book. Though I was teaching at a college that prepared pastors and teachers and missionaries and counselors, with my liberal arts roots, I was sure that we needed to consider how we were being shaped, that we needed to choose wisely the process, the values. I was committed to helping them learn how to think more than merely what to do.

I still am.

I’ve been realizing that Holmes’ idea of education has shaped my idea of following Jesus and teaching about that. I’m less concerned with helping us find lists than with helping us learn how to live differently, to be aware that following changes us. Not just what we do, but us.

That’s concern with formation, with becoming, is hard. Lists are easy. Rules are easy. Steps are easy. But Jesus invited people to following, not checking lists.

So did Dr. Holmes.

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