Talking with Dr. Stan Oakes, President of The King’s College: Part 2
TOS: In an article for Vision magazine, you wrote, “After all, a liberal arts college traffics in the ideas that move the world.”Please explain this statement in depth.
Dr. Oakes: There are only a few issues that are truly important in this world. They are the issues of truth and error, war and peace, wealth and poverty, God and religions, and liberty and equality. All of the great debates of the day are over these issues. And the best programs in which to study these crucial issues are politics, philosophy, and economics—the liberal arts—supported by literature, history, and the arts. I would include theology but not as a separate field because each of these issues is shaped by one’s theological views. Some people call this a classical education, but you can have a classical education and never address these seminal topics.
The reason that these issues are the most important is really quite easy to see if you think about it. If you do not understand politics, you could end up in a stalag or a gulag, or tortured and gassed, or killed outright if you dissent. Or you might have to sent your sons to fight on a battlefield where they have every chance of being killed. Think about Iraq here. There will be no marriage for your son, no grandchildren, no legacy, all snuffed out because a tyrant demanded hegemony.
If you are not willing to discuss economics, then you may think that wealth is the natural condition of mankind, so you should not be surprised if the government confiscates more and more of what you have. But if poverty is the natural condition, and you have to work hard and long for what you earn, then you are increasingly aware of the power that government has to take what it wants from you without your consent.
Of course, if you do not want to talk about faith, then you probably believe that all religions are the same. But you must understand that your eternal destiny hangs in the balance on questions of truth and religion. And when we believe in Jesus Christ, we quite literally avoid eternal capital punishment.
TOS: What recommendations do you have for homeschooling parents as they teach their children about worldviews?
Dr. Oakes: The question of worldviews is complex. We should, of course, attend seminars like Summit Ministries and other offerings. You can write papers using www.leaderu.com and other websites. Take and discuss the Weekly Standard, World, and National Review magazines. Read the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. All of the most important debates are there.
Do all of this, but also do the following: teach the Bible’s ideas (not just the stories) to your children and then teach them to dissent from the crowd.
TOS: Why would a homeschool student want to come to The King’s College?
Dr. Oakes: If a student wants to study engineering or the applied sciences, he or she should not come to King’s.
If a student wants to come to a school that is protected from the influences of the world, we cannot provide that. But if a young man or woman wants to learn to lead and to influence the world, then this is it. Building warriors cannot be done in a holy huddle.
Our vision comes out of what it takes to compete with elite secular universities and what it takes to thrive in a secular society. Based upon my decades of experience on secular campuses, it is clear that secularism is an ideology that is fundamentally anti-Christian, meaning that the intellectuals who espouse it are constructing a secular worldview to replace Christianity. But even people without faith should understand that universities have developed compelling arguments that are anti-business, anti-marriage, anti-male, anti-motherhood, anti-Republican, anti-conservative, anti-Bush, anti-truth, and anti-heterosexual. I could go on and on.
So when a homeschool parent sends a child to a secular school, that child may make it through the secular gauntlet, but they will never be taught a comprehensive biblical worldview. That is what we do.
Moreover, if a student wants to learn to lead one of America’s strategic national institutions—the media, the courts, business, the arts, the schools, or the church—then this is also what we do. We don’t have a lot of majors nor do we need them. We have business and education, and we will soon announce our core major, what we call the Oxford program: politics, philosophy, and economics. The Oxford sequence will be our pre-law program. It will also prepare students for careers in the media, the courts, ministry, the schools, and even the arts. Artists should have this kind of education and then study with someone in the visual or performance area of choice.
In sum, we specialized in those areas that shape culture.
TOS: What makes The King’s College unique among college, especially Christian ones?
Dr. Oakes: Since Christian colleges educate less than two percent of all of the students in America, I don’t criticize what they are doing. We need more of them, each with their own, unique vision.
Our vision is simple:
- New York City
- America’s strategic national institutions
- Classical and Christian ideas from the great books
- Multiethnic students
- Writing well, speaking persuasively
- Understanding money and markets
- A biblical worldview and vital Christian living
- A lot of fun
- The Oxford core
- A sense of mission
This is what we do, and nothing else. What else matters?
I was extremely excited to visit The King’s College in New York City last year. I have wonderful memories of that trip and I’ll share some of the highlights here.
On Thursday, our first afternoon and night in New York City, all 200-plus students (and some parents) settled into their hotels and had dinner at Planet Hollywood. Then we saw either Aida or 42nd Street on Broadway and split up for sightseeing according to our groups (most went to Times Square). Throughout the trip, students from King’s accompanied our groups to help us find our way around the city and get the most our of our time there. My group’s guide was Zuri, a student from Jamaica. (King’s has a very diverse student body.) I knew some of my group’s members before the trip, but the constant traveling together helped us all get acquainted before very long.
On Friday we toured the city and visited the King’s campus in the Empire State Building. (Before getting there the first time, I kept looking up for its spire—I must have asked, “Is that it?”about 20 times.) After the campus and office tour and some talks from President Oakes and Vice President of Enrollment Management Brian Bell, we visited the very pleasant apartments (located five minutes from King’s) that King’s has reserved for some of its students. Friday night we went to a Youth Explosion rally at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, which God powerfully infused with His presence.
Saturday morning we took the subway to the South Bronx to do outreach. Some members of my group, including me, went door to door in an apartment building handing out church information and tracts. Zuri encouraged us to be bold in our efforts, and several people we told about the church services seemed to be interested. That afternoon we went to Central Park, Ground Zero, and Canal Street before going on a twilight Harbor Lights cruise featuring the Statue of Liberty and the beautiful New York skyline. Later that night we had dessert at St. Bartholomew’s Church and said goodbye to all the staff and students we’d come to know. Even later that night, some of my group marched down to Times Square in the freezing rain! (It was freezing for a Florida girl, anyway.)
On Sunday, everybody caught flights home. Orlando’s balmy weather and my first full night of sleep since leaving were a wonderful welcome home, but I was still a little sad about the end of such an incredible weekend!
When I think about college decisions and my time at The King’s College, I realize that it’s the rare college recruiting trip that is filled with people who have an almost intimidating level of energy to further God’s truths in culture and change lives in the process. I’m not the only one who is awed at God’s work through King’s; I could tell that other students on the trip had the same reaction. God has blessed The King’s College, and He has blessed me through it. If you are ever in NYC, traipse the sidewalks over to King’s (you can’t miss the building) and prepare to be amazed by God!