The New Classical Approach to Christian Colleges

The 150 students of New St. Andrews are one such Christian college that has spawned a new route for Christian education, going back to the supposed classical routes of Christianity.  As a result, the students of this Idaho college pore over Latin textbooks and Greek flashcards during their weekly disputatio, an assembly for all the students of this college held in a local movie theater because the college does not have enough room for all the students. 

The pastor who began this movement, Doug Wilson, maintains that this Christian college is much more than Latin rhetoric and philosophical principles, but is about “saving civilization”.  Taking a far leap away from the more traditional Christian colleges, Wilson has sparked interest in a new movement set to revive old principles of early Christianity.  The Classical Christian Education movement began a few decades ago with the students who entered Christian college after years of homeschooling, only to be disappointed by the lack of emphasis on literature and history.  While New St. Andrews is only one out of 200, it is the most recent to cause a stir in the community, as students attempt to “reinvent conservative Protestant education….essentially becoming medieval Protestants”. 

Students at these schools seem akin to early Puritan efforts at a regimented schedule, even starting classes at 7:30 AM (earlier than most college classes in general).  These schools and students additionally scorn Christian colleges like Liberty University and maintain that they are not interested in political ambitions, but are rather focused on Classical studies like philosophy, geometry, and literature.  New St. Andrews represents far more than a seemingly conservative Christian college, but represents a step back from modern society and back toward historical precedents.  Wilson himself contends that he is more right-wing than the rest of the town, opting instead for the ghost of Jefferson than any modern conservative candidate.

While this new type of Christian college is not meant for every student, it demonstrates the wide array of possibilities for students who want a different approach to Christianity.  Many Christian colleges have lost their sole status as a Christian institution in recent years and do not teach classes that cater to religious ideals at all, in an effort to appeal to a wide variety of students.  However, schools like New St. Andrews have opened up a new forum for the most idealistic of Christian students, who believe that both Classical Greek beliefs and Christianity can be molded together to become one entity.  However, the school is based on beliefs from the Christ Church and Trinity Reformed Church, forbidding students to follow any “doctrinal errors” from earlier centuries, including feminism or arianism.  They must withdraw after conforming to similar ideals.

Classical Christian college is a new face within the Christian college world and helps students find a foothold in life that would normally not fit in, in any college.  New St. Andrews does a good job of shielding its students from modern outside interests while exposing them to Classical ideals at the same time.  It has yet to be proven that this method of teaching yields a new class of graduates, but thus far, this school has isolated many in the community amidst the classical curriculum but still instilled many useful classical values onto their students.