Review: For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles

Oikonomia-For-the-Life-of-the-World-Letters-to-the-Exiles-Episode-1

This fall I will be attending The King’s College in New York City and studying their major for Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Earlier last July they offered a new scholarship opportunity entitled The Oikonomia Scholarship. The prompt was to “pick one of the majors at The King’s College and explain how it can prepare a student to contribute to the world in light of what is presented in the video series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles.” Although I wasn’t a recipient of the scholarship, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Not only was it invigorating to have a new writing project, it was an excellent learning opportunity.

As a result of my auspicious experience, I wanted to share my essay along with highly recommending purchase of the video series. It can be acquired either in virtual or physical format.

Living in the 21st century pressures Christians with urgency. However, the most common response to “change the world” (John 17:16, Romans 12:2) is flawed. Evan Koons is one of the writers and actors in For The Life of The World, Letters to the Exiles. In his film series, Koons wrestles with the dilemma of being “in the world but not of it.” He does this by exploring the questions and answers about some of life’s mysteries such as salvation, wisdom, and wonder. Koons begins by establishing the unfamiliar Greek term oikonomia, which means stewardship. In the final episode of the series, Koons brings two more words to light, anamnesis (a lived memory) and prolepsis (the note yet now). In doing so Koons educates people about the flourishing life, shalom and how God intended things to be in The Garden. The King’s College degree for Politics, Philosophy, and Economics prepares students by seeking this life, which enables students to contribute to the world by pursuing that design now.

Knowledge and wisdom, though often used interchangeably, are not one and the same. A person may have knowledge, but it does not guarantee wisdom. Wisdom is engagement. Likewise, The King’s College does not merely aspire to intellect but action. Based on King’s commitment “to prepare students… to shape… and lead” culture and Koons conclusions to “seek God’s grace toward communion with Him,” The King’s College undoubtedly prepares students to live the flourishing life.

For The Life of The World establishes five principles about knowledge. First, knowledge is power, but something more. It is “Not just to see, but to see into,” as Koon’s peer Dr. Stephen Grabill says. It is vital to understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Take language, for example. One may have the ability to comprehend a language, but only wisdom applies that knowledge. Knowledge equips one to know how to accelerate the car, but only wisdom takes action to stop.

This is how Koons can correctly denote that, “The economy of wisdom breeds abundance.” This is where stewardship comes into play. Instead of only knowing about the world, the wise man makes something of it, and applies what he knows, by contributing to the world. According to Koons findings about the economy of work, “we exercise our own creativity in order to collaborate.” And though one man aspires to bake bread, while another to write novels, neither is exempt from the responsibility to nurture wisdom. Furthermore does this contribution reveal that “the fruit of labor is relationships.”

Second, knowledge sees beyond scarcity and reveals abundance. Koons comes to the conclusion that knowledge, when shared, is not lost from the individual or object that shares it, but only grows. Not only does The King’s College accumulate knowledge by studying the classics to understand what wisdom is and how to live by that Truth, they also teach based on the understanding that each student is a unique individual. And this is where Koon’s third point comes into play.

Third, knowledge unleashes human potential. Dr. Timothy G. Royer discusses the mechanical education that most students’ receive by treating humans as if they are no more than brains. Thus, knowledge passes along like programming is to software. That is systematically. But The King’s College does not just want their students to know. They want them to thrive.

Fourth, knowledge helps us love better. Episode two discusses the economy of love. Amy Sherman advises to “start with the trinity.” This is necessary as it is the nature of God, the epitome of love. It is the patent for relationships. And love demands more than knowledge. It demands applied knowledge. This is wisdom. Knowing God helps us to love others better because God is love (1 John 4:8, ESV).

Finally, knowledge becomes wisdom when it recognizes the Creator. In episode six on the economy of wonder, Dr. Grabill advises that, “We need to develop a pallet for what is good.” We need to seek God’s will and God’s design for mankind. This is the stewardship that the Christian life requires. Furthermore is “wonder to wisdom what flavor is to cooking.” For “if we loose the sense of God’s goodness and wonder at what He’s made we risk looking a fundamental aspect of our mission in the world” (Dr. Grabill).

When it comes to living the Christian life and effectively engaging culture so as to shape and create it for the glory of God, it is necessary that we ask questions. But it’s also vital to resist the distraction to become hyper-focused on the knowledge. In Garrett J. DeWeese’s work, Doing Philosophy as a Christian he analyzes how wisdom has changed throughout history by saying,

Christian philosophers must be philosophers and sages, those who can discuss the fine points of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, but who also learn how to live skillfully. And if we have to master only one of the pair, let it be life, not logic.

Philosophy, in the truest and purest sense of the word, is about exploring and living the flourishing life. Both for the mind and the heart. It’s not an either/or, it’s both/and. The aim of The King’s College’s degree for Politics, Philosophy, and Economics is to equip students to understand the purpose and place of knowledge in the private and public sectors of government, thought, and business. To explore the purpose of the flourishing life, based on the underlying assumption that it is a biblical pursuit for all mankind to seek and practice together.

Thus, a thorough study of the subjects to pursue this holy calling is a suitable and ideal course of study to equip students to fruitfully contribute to mankind. As the body of Christ we have the obligation to fulfill God’s purpose, for the life of the world. And the major for Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at The King’s College will equip students with knowledge, wisdom, and insight in order to live the flourishing life.

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