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 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
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. 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.” 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.”
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.
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.” 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?” 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.
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 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.
 Ibid., 29.
 Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, ed. William Edgar, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003), 62-63.
 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.
 Ibid., 154.