Welcome to the Great Hall @ Scholé Academy
~ by Joelle Hodge ~
Our Scholé Academy community (to include St. Raphael School and our new Canterbury House of Studies) has become a patchwork of individuals, stitched together by the common threads of classical education. It reflects what we see across the broader renewal of classical Christian education, which certainly serves a variety of Christian traditions. While we knew that the reclaiming of the classical education tradition was an endeavor and a hope shared by many Christians, crossing theological boundaries; we didn’t foresee exactly how our path would unfold!
In our school community, we have striven to be intentional about how we work with each of the Christian traditions, acknowledging the areas where we share commonality, and also the areas where we differ. This is most evident when we take a good look at the patchwork of communities represented at Scholé Academy (again, to include SRS and CHoS).
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes that Christianity is like “a hall out of which doors open into several rooms.” The hall, writes Lewis, ” is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live.” He goes on to explain that it is “in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.”
We (perhaps generously) view Scholé Academy as our community’s Great Hall – a place where we can find common ground in the study of courses like Latin, logic, science, mathematics, grammar, writing, etc. And with St. Raphael School and the new Canterbury House of Studies, we are intentionally providing “rooms” from which each student (with the guidance of his family and his church) can seek a deeper knowledge and understanding of God.
We should also note that Lewis’s “Great Hall” analogy makes two critical points. First, all Christian traditions that assent to the basic truths summarized in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed share important ground and have some kind of extended family relationship, particularly in relation to the rest of our secular culture. Second, we cannot live in the Great Hall but must choose a “room” or specific tradition with each of its real and important differences.
Particularly when it comes to the theological instruction of your children, we know it is not our place to develop or promote our own recommendations, beliefs, or practices; nor do we think that our vision is complete or the last word on how to best serve particular Christian traditions. We always keep in view that this is primarily the responsibility of churches and families.
It is only because we have become a valued classical education resource for Christians from each of these communities that Scholé Academy seeks to care for each one in a way that honors their real differences and distinctives. We believe that as we take the time to work with church leaders, learn more about the rich traditions representing our communities, and provide more resources for each community, we will avoid the unintended consequences experienced by avoiding the tough questions, pretending we’re all the same.
Already, Scholé Academy welcomes educators, families and students representing Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants alike (like Lewis, we have listed these alphabetically). And, all the educators of both Scholé Academy, Saint Raphael School and the Canterbury House of Studies are asked to adhere to these elements of the common tradition, which include (but are not limited to):
- The centrality of the Bible as Holy Scripture
- The ecumenical councils as expressions of a common creed
- The liturgy as a manifestation of common worship (i.e. Sunday worship, the Eucharist)
- The role of spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting/feasting, giving, etc.…) as formative in the Christian life
- The witness of the church fathers as guardians of the faith (through councils, homilies, commentaries, poetry, and hymns)
- The faithful Christians, martyrs, theologians and pastors throughout the centuries as role models to the truth
- The value of religious art (music, architecture, iconography, paintings)
But our fuller vision will take time to develop. Our goal is to continue to meet the common needs of the whole, while not diluting, glossing over, or tearing away the distinctive natures of each community in their respective teachings, culture, and traditions.
As many will note, in 2018 Classical Academic Press acquired St. Raphael School, an online, classical school in the Orthodox tradition. St. Raphael School now operates as a “school within a school”, as a part of Scholé Academy. And we continue to refine and work diligently with the Orthodox community to preserve that which makes St. Raphael School distinctively Orthodox. It’s a tension and a balance struck by good communication, trust, and (frankly) learning from mistakes.
We also have plans to (in time, with care, and with collaboration with members of other church leaders) to continue to build out our Anglican Canterbury House of Studies as well as other small “schools” representing the theological traditions represented in the Catholic and Reformed church communities. Already, we have begun this work, and will continue to take measured and intentional steps towards the creation of these additional areas of study.
We invite you to explore our Great Hall at Scholé Academy – finding the courses which can help cultivate good character and virtue, meeting your academic needs with scholé and delight, and in relationship with a community of Christian instructors and students. And we also invite you to explore our St. Raphael School and the Canterbury House of Studies. Our admin team and instructors are eager to answer your questions and assist you in finding the right resources and places to help your student understand the uniqueness of God’s nature throughout the ages and within each course of study.