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.


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.


Historical Precedent

Anderson, James N. What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

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.

Biehl, Craig. God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith. Franklin, TN: Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.

Boa, Kenneth D. and Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach to Defending Christianity, An Apologetics Handbook. Colorado Springs, CO: Nav Press, 2001.

Bosserman, B. A. The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox: An Interpretation and Refinement of the Theological Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til. Eugene, OR: PickWick, 2014.

Cowan, Steven B. ed. Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Frame, John M. Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief. Edited by Joseph E. Torres. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015.

________. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1994.

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

Geehan, E. R. ed. Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1971.

Muether, John R. Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008.

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.

________. The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2009.

________. Between the World and Me. Waterville, ME: Thorndike Press, 2016.

Crouch, Andy. Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2013.

Douglas, Kelly Brown. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015.

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

Dyson, Michael Eric. Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

________. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America. New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books, 2008.

________. 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.

Ellis, Jr., Carl F. Free at Last?: The Gospel in the African-American Experience. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

Emerson, Michael O. and Christian Smith. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Evans, Tony. Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2011.

________. 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:, 2011.

________. From Hip Hop to Hollywood: The Art of Christianity. Philadelphia, PA:, 2013.

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

Hooks, Bell. We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York, NY: Routledge, 2004.

Hutchinson, Earl Ofari. The Assassination of the Black Male Image. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Kennedy, Randall. Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. New York, NY: Panethon Books, 2002.

Langberg, Diane. Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2015.

Lincoln, C. Eric. Race, Religion, and the Continuing American Dilemma. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1984.

Lincoln, C. Eric., and Lawrence H. Mamiya. The Black Church in the African American Experience. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990.

Lipsitz, George. How Racism Takes Place. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2011.

McWhorter, John H. Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority. New York, NY: Gotham Books, 2003.

Meynell, Mark. A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting Again in a Cynical World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.

Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G., Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.

Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk About Race. New York, NY: Seal Press, 2018.

Parks, Gregory and Matthew W. Hughey. 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today. New York, NY: New Press, 2010.

Perkins, John M. One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2018.

________. Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2018.

________. Let Justice Roll Down. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012.

Perkins, John M. ed. Restoring at Risk Communities: Doing it Together & Doing it Right. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995.

Poythress, Vern Sheridan. Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011.

Prentiss, Craig R. ed. Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2003.

Ransaw, Theodore. The Art of Being Cool: The Pursuit of Black Masculinity. African American Images, 2013.

Scott, Daryl Michael. Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black  Pysche: 1880-1996. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Serven, Doug. Eds. Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church. Oklahoma City, OK: White Blackbird Books, 2016.

Shin, Sarah. Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2017.

Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. New York, NY: Spiegal & Grau, 2014.

Tada, Joni Eareckson. A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2015.

Trotter, Joe W., and Earl Lewis, and Tera W. Hunter. Eds. African American Urban Experience: Perspectives from the Colonial Period to the Present. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004.

Ward, Jesmyn. Ed. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race. New York, NY: Scribner, 2017.

Watkins, Ralph Basui. Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Rhythm and the Rhyme. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

West, Cornel. Race Matters. 25th Anniversary edition. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2017.

Wills, Richard W. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Image of God. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Witte, John and Frank S. Alexander. Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Womack, Ytasha. Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books, 2010.

Wytsma, Ken, and David Jacobsen. Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2014.


[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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