Part 2 of My D.Min. Proposal

Here is the section of my D.Min. proposal that addresses the historical precedents and cultural conditions of the research question I am addressing. It is similar to the Literature Review for PhD dissertations.

Introduction

There is a crisis of identity within the urban context. Our concern is, how may we apologetically address this identity crisis? We believe that by focusing on the imago dei and applying covenantal apologetics[1] we may address the crisis of identity within the urban situation. In this way, we will be able to offer hope to the hood.

Building upon the foundation of Scripture and redemptive-history we will turn to address the historical precedents by narrowing our focus on the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til. Then we will turn our attention to the cultural conditions by detailing the crisis of identity and proposed solutions within the urban situation. Structurally, I plan to divide up the sections addressing historical precedents and cultural conditions into two separate chapters. Then I will offer an additional chapter tying them together arguing that covenantal apologetics is specifically tailored to offer hope to hopelessness of the urban context by focusing on the image of God.

Historical Precedents and Cultural Conditions

Historical Precedents

The chapter covering historical precedents will focus primarily on the presuppositional apologetic methodology of Cornelius Van Til. For sake of clarity and argument, we will adopt the language of “covenantal apologetics” as presented by K. Scott Oliphint.[2] Oliphint doesn’t provide a concise technical definition of covenant apologetics. Yet, he does define apologetics generally as “the application of biblical truth to unbelief.”[3] We will simply specify that “biblical truth”, in particular, is focused on our covenant relationship with God, being created in his image, and existing as either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” Therefore, we may offer a working definition of covenantal apologetics as the application of our covenantal relationship, including being created in God’s image, to unbelief.

Van Til makes, what I believe to be, a profound declaration for urban apologetics. Following Scripture, he argues that there are only two types of people: “There are those who worship and serve the creature, and there are those who worship and serve the Creator. There are covenant breakers and there are covenant keepers.” Because we are created in God’s image we exist in covenant relationship with him. This covenantal relationship is apologetically significant. Van Til concludes, “It is a part of the task of Christian apologetics to make men self-consciously either covenant keepers or covenant breakers.”[4]

This focus on making men and women “self-consciously either covenant keepers or covenant breakers” will form the foundation of our urban covenantal apologetic. As we will see below, one of the primary, if not the primary, challenges to the urban situation is one of identity. We will seek to apply Van Til’s methodology of covenant keeper and covenant breaker along with the importance of being created imago dei in order to show the worth, value, and dignity that comes together to offer a compelling case for true identity in Jesus Christ.

 Cultural Conditions

Under cultural conditions we will focus on the sociological description of the urban context. Why is the hood full of hopelessness? What factors, both individual and systemic, have led to create this oppressive hopelessness? How is the root of this hopelessness tied back to the imago dei and identity? We will narrow our focus to look specifically at the problem of African American identity within the urban situation. And we will seek to detail how this “shattered self” has led to the hopelessness of the hood.

We will examine key thinkers who are seeking to offer solutions to the crisis of identity and the hopelessness of the hood. We will examine them for their merit and critique them for the weaknesses. Most works do not go deep enough because they lack a Christ-focused perspective. The hope they attempt to offer is ultimately vacuous and empty if it is offered apart from Christ.

The issue of identity, specifically within the African American context, has grown increasingly paramount because Christianity is no longer the only option at the table. Today, a variety of different and opposing faiths offer their solutions to the identity crisis in black America. Christopher Brooks argues that there are five various ideologies that are “battling each other for possession of the black person’s soul.”[5] They are all seeking to answer questions of identity, questions African Americans are seeking answers for. Questions such as “Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? What is best for the black community? And How do we achieve what is best for our community?”[6] These are questions that Christianity has the answer for. Not only are these root questions Christ answers, but they dig deep into the very identity of what it means to be created in God’s image. These questions go on to consider what the ramifications of being created in that image truly are. We need to join the battle for “possession of the black person’s soul.” Christ alone has the answers to those questions. We need to hold out Christ without compromise.

Tying it All Together

How does covenantal apologetics address the crisis of identity within the urban context? More specifically, what makes Van Til’s apologetic methodology uniquely relevant to the issues of identity in the African American context? Here we will bring covenantal apologetics to bear upon the hopelessness of the hood. Our thesis will argue that applying covenantal apologetics is the best way forward to provide hope to the hopelessness of the hood.

Bibliography

Historical Precedent

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Bahnsen, Greg L. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996.

________. Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1998.

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________. Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1995.

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Oliphint, K. Scott. Covenantal Apologetics: Principles & Practice in Defense of Our Faith. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

________. Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006.

Oliphint, K. Scott and Lane G. Tipton, eds. Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007.

Oliphint, K. Scott and Rod Mays. Unshakable: Standing Firm in a Shifting Culture. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2016.

Sproul, R. C., John Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley. Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.

Van Til, Cornelius. Christian Apologetics. Edited by William Edgar. 2nd ed. Phillispburg, NJ: P&R, 2003.

________. Christian Theistic Evidences. Edited by K. Scott Oliphint. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2016.

________. Common Grace and the Gospel. Edited by K. Scott Oliphint. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015.

________. The Defense of the Faith. Edited by K. Scott Oliphint. 4th ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008.

________. An Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of  Revelation, Scripture, and God. Edited by William Edgar. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007. Cultural Conditions

Anderson, David and Brent Zuercher. Letters Across the Divide: Two Friends Explore Racism, Friendship, and Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.

Anderson, Elijah. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 1999.

Anyabwile, Thabiti. Reviving the Black Church: A Call to Reclaim a Sacred Institution. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2015.

Blum, Edward J., and Paul Harvey. The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Bradley, Anthony B. Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.

Brooks, Christopher W. Urban Apologetics: Why the Gospel is Good News for the City. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2014.

Brown, Austin Channing. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. New York, NY: Convergent Books, 2018.

Cleveland, Christena. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. New York, NY: One World Ballantine, 2017.

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Duneier, Mitchell. Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016.

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________. Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.

________. Debating Race with Michael Eric Dyson. New York, NY: Basic Civtas, 2007.

________. Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip Hop. New York, NY: Basic Civitas, 2007.

________. Making Malcolm: The Myth and the Meaning of Malcolm X. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.

________. Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line. Audiobook. Blackstone Audio, 2017.

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________. We Can Do Better: Part 1, Healing the Racial Divide. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2013.

________. We Can Do Better: Part 2, Strategies for Racial Unity Through Community Restoration. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2013.

Gilbreath, Edward. Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013.

________. Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006.

Glaude, Jr., Eddie S. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2016.

Goodwin, Jr., Brady. The Death of Hip Hop, Marriage & Morals. Philadelphia, PA: Urbanremixproject.com, 2011.

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________. Navigating the ‘N’ Word: How Keeping “Niggas” Alive is Killing Black Folk. Philadelphia, PA: Urbanremixproject.com, 2016.

Gordon, Wayne and John M. Perkins. Do All Lives Matter?: The Issues We Can No Longer Ignore and the Solutions We All Long For. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017.

________. Marking Neighborhoods Whole: A Handbook for Christian Community Development. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013.

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_____________________________________________________

[1] K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles & Practices in Defense of Our Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013). Covenantal Apologetics is defined below.

[2] Ibid., 38-55. Approaching apologetics from a covenantal perspective will allow us to specifically address the issues of imago dei, identity (in Adam or in Christ), dignity, and our present and future hope.

[3] Ibid., 29.

[4] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, ed. William Edgar, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003), 62-63.

[5] Christopher W. Brooks, Urban Apologetics: Why the Gospel is Good News for the City (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2014), 155. The five “ideologies” Brooks addresses are: Moorish Science Temple of America, Nation of Islam, Nation of Gods and Earth, Black Hebrew Israelites, and Kemetic Egyptology.

[6] Ibid., 154.

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