Letters to the Exiles: A New Approach to Cultural Engagement

Letters to the Exiles: A New Approach to Cultural Engagement August 14, 2014

By Joseph Sunde

“What is our salvation actually for?”

It’s a question that Christians neglect to ask or seriously consider, and even for those of us who do, we tend toward answers far too focused on ourselves — our personal well-being, our piety, or some perceived pathway to heaven.

But what if salvation isn’t just about us? What if it’s about something deeper, wider, and richer?

This is the question at the center of For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, a newly released 7-part series from the Acton Institute that seeks to examine the bigger picture of Christianity’s role in culture, society, and the world. Guided by storyteller Evan Koons, the documentary includes Acton researchers Stephen Grabill and Anthony Bradley, as well as other powerful thinkers and doers such as Amy Sherman, Tim Royer, John Perkins, and Makoto Fujimura.

“We are strangers in a strange land,” explains Stephen Grabill, yet “we are meant to make something of the world.” Our salvation is not about holding God’s gifts for ourselves, but rather, about being gift-givers to all and for all. Salvation is for the life of the world.

Upon grasping such purpose, then, how are we to respond in our families, cultures, societies, and governments? How are we to be in the world but not of the world?

Focusing on the concept of oikonomia as “God’s economy of all things,” the series explores the answer across six key areas, including the economies of love, creative service, order, wisdom, and wonder, and, finally, through the church herself.

Watch the trailer below:

As Koons explains in Episode 7:

We are called to abide in God, and say, “Let it be to his plan and our part in his divine and wondrous mystery.” We can be assured that God’s desire for our work here is intimately related to his plan for all things.

And God will sustain us, for our work is a mighty collaboration, not only with our Creator, but the entire world. In this broken world, we have a responsibility to bring healing and harmony to our most immediate surroundings and work outward. By these actions we, too, are healed. As our calling is great, may we not be enamored by our abilities or fall in love with the fruit of our labor. We must seek God’s grace and seek to orient our work toward community with him.

You can purchase the series here.

(Originally posted at the Acton Institute PowerBlog)


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