Here’s a rough draft of the Biblical and Theological Foundations section of my D. Min. Project Proposal. This chapter will be foundational as I work through key scripture passages and follow the redemptive-historical flow of Scripture as I trace the imago dei. I have a bit of reading to do!
In order to provide a biblical-theological foundation for applying covenantal apologetics to the crisis of identity in the urban context we must trace five specific themes throughout Scripture. First, we must address passages that focus on creation. Philip E. Hughes argues that “no effective apologetic is possible” until we set forth and understand the biblical doctrine of creation. Specifically, we will focus on the imago dei. What does it mean, for humanity to be created in the image of God? What are the implications of being created in God’s image? Second, we need to understand humanity’s fall into sin. Given the height from which we have fallen, how far have we truly plunged? In essence, the fall is willful, intentional rebellion against God. What are the implications of the fall to the imago dei?
Third, the result of the fall leads all of us to be “in Adam.” He is our federal head, our representative. What are the results of our fallen state, of being “in Adam”? Fourth, from the First Adam, Scripture points us forward to the Second Adam, toward Christ. He brings redemption which not only saves us from our sins, but re-creates us in his image. What are the implications of being a new creation in Christ? How does being in Christ shape us with a new identity? Last, this new identity creates within us dignity and dignity ferments hope. Being united to Christ offers hope to the believer. Expanding upon this, being “in Christ” offers hope to the hood. We will trace the theme of hope arising up out of our new identity in Christ and ultimately culminating in the blessed hope of being united to Christ forever.
We will exegete the following thirteen passages in detail in order to trace out the above five themes:
Genesis 1-2 for establishing the foundation of imago dei. A proper understanding of creation is foundational for a covenantal apologetic. With our focus on identity we need to grasp the weight and significance of being created in the image of God. What are the apologetic implications of the imago dei, specifically for the urban context?
Genesis 3 for establishing the foundation of the fall. The fall and its curses have continued to infect the world since Adam and Eve first doubted God’s good Word. What are the implications of the fall for the imago dei? How has the fall continued to shape our identities as broken image bearers? How does the fall impact and create and contribute to the brokenness and hopelessness of the inner city?
Psalm 1 for explaining how Scripture argues that there are only two types of people in this world: the righteous (in Christ) or the wicked (in Adam). We will also compare Psalm 1 with John 3:16-21. Those who believe in Christ are saved. Those who reject him already stand condemned and judged. John 3:16-21 is the culmination of Psalm 1.
Romans 1 for understanding how humanity knows but suppresses the truth of God. All who are in Adam suppress the truth and knowledge of God. Not only does this have noetic effects, but also societal implications.
Romans 5:12-21 for understanding the covenantal nature of either being in Adam or in Christ. Christ’s identification with us changes everything.
Romans 6:1-23 for understanding and fleshing out the implications of our new identity in Christ.
Romans 8:1-39 for understanding and fleshing out the implication of our new hope in Christ. This hope in Christ is founded upon our union with Christ. Our new identity grants us new hope.
1 Cor. 1:18-2:14 for understanding the relationship of God’s wisdom to the world’s wisdom. This passage is necessary in order to understand the plight of fallen humanity, those who remain “in Adam.”
2 Cor. 4:1-18 for understanding how the proclamation of the gospel is received or rejected. This passage addresses the underlining spiritual realities the Christian apologist/evangelist faces in everyday interaction with those who remain “in Adam.” The gospel is veiled. The light of the gospel must break through.
2 Cor. 5:11-21 for understanding how we are new creations in Christ. This is our new identity in Christ. This identity is foundational for any sense of hope we may have.
Ephesians 2:1-10 for understand the movement of the gospel. Our union with Christ united us in his death. We once were dead. With Christ’s resurrection we rise. We are now alive for a purpose. We are God’s workmanship, created to do good works.
1 Pet. 3:8-17. In the midst of the hopelessness in the hood, believers in Christ have a hope. It is being in Christ and all the benefits that flow out of being united to him. We must be ready to give a reason for the hope within us as we live in the midst of hopelessness.
21:1-8. Here is our ultimate hope if we are in Christ. This is the hope of being in Christ promised to all his people. Only the hope of Christ is able to counter the hopelessness of the hood. Being in Christ gives us a new identity with a new telos. This telos ends in the everlasting hope.
Redemptive Historical Connections
Covenantal apologetics, as it will be applied to the urban identity, is best understood when traced redemptive-historically throughout Scripture. We will continue to work with the above five themes (creation, fall, “in Adam”, “in Christ”, and hope), but we will step back to trace them within the redemptive-historical context of Scripture. How do these five themes unfold in Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation? By focusing on our identity of being “in Adam” and then “in Christ” we will trace the imago dei unfolding throughout redemptive history.
Identity is one of the greatest issues in the urban context and the urban apologist must present the compelling beauty of how are first created in God’s image and then how, after the fall, the gospel of Christ reframes and recasts our identity. It is only once Christ has reshaped the very fabric of our identity whereby we will be able to recover a biblical perspective on the value, purpose, and meaning of our lives. In other words, the imago dei and our being “in Christ” gives our lives, our very beings, meaning and purpose. And once we have recovered this sense of identity and purpose of being in Christ, then we will be able to offer an emphatic apology for the hope that is within us even in the midst of the hopelessness of the hood.
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