Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Necessary Christian Reading

The following is a bibliography of recommended reading for all Christians, regardless of denomination. I have included enough books in the list to sufficiently challenge something for everybody. We should not look at challenges to where we are as evil things but as opportunities to expand our knowledge of God, "Christianity," and the Church.

Why do I provide a list of reading? Because as Christians we are charged with the defense of the faith (1 Pet. 3:15). We are all involved in a spiritual war, all caught in a struggle between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of Satan (Matt. 12:30). We are soldiers in this war (1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:4), and given spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:12-18). Our orders are to conduct search-and-destroy missions against every resistance to the Gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). And even the very gates of hell will break against the power of Christ through His people, the Church (Matt. 16:18). This condition will continue until Christ has made His enemies his footstool (Acts 2:34-35; Rev. 3:21) through us, the Church (Rom. 16:20). Then comes the end of the world (1 Cor. 15:20-28) and the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22).

Of course, our charge to defend the faith does not mean that everyone has to be a complete expert in every field of knowledge. Lord help us if it were so! But we should have answers to people's questions, even if they aren't technically detailed. Thus, most of the following books are general overviews or outlines, though some focus on specific areas being fought today. We should always keep in mind this statement by the great Martin Luther:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.’ (Luther’s Works, Weimar Edition, Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f.)

* means highly recommended. In other words, start here!

Basic Christianity

75 Questions Your Instructors Pray You Won't Ask, Gary North

Basic Christianity, John Stott

Basic Training: Plain Talk on the Key Truths of the Faith, R.C. Sproul

Christian Basics, John Stott

*Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul

*Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity, Integrity & Faithfulness, John Stott

Judeo Christian Tradition: A Guide for the Perplexed, Gary North

Scripture Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine, R.C. Sproul

*Truth in All It's Glory: Commending the Reformed Faith, William Edgar

*Unconditional Surrender: God's Program for Victory, Gary North


New and Old Testament Studies
By Oath Consigned, Meredith Kline
Eschatology in the Old Testament, Geerhardus Vos
*Kingdom Prologue, Meredith Kline
Paul: An Outline of His Theology, Herman Ridderbos
Pauline Eschatology, Geerhardus Vos
*The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, Vern S. Poythress

Hermeneutics and Preaching
Between Two Worlds, John R.W. Stott
*Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, John Piper
Called to the Ministry, Edmund Clowney
Christ-Centered Preaching, Bryan Chapel
*God-Centered Biblical Interpretation, Vern S. Poythress
Has the Church Misread the Bible?: The History of Interpretation in Light of Current Issues, Moises Silva
Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Walter Kaiser and Moises Silva
Science and Hermeneutics: Implications of Scientific Method for Biblical Interpretation, Vern S. Poythress
*Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology, Vern S. Poythress
*The Supremacy of God in Preaching, John Piper
The New Hermeneutic, Cornelius Van Til

Typology
A Rebirth of Images, Austin Farrar
*Images of the Spirit, Meredith Kline
*Old Testament History, Homer Hoeksema
Promise and Deliverance, S.G. de Graaf
*Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles of Preaching Historical Texts, Sidney Greidanus
Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World, James B. Jordan

Covenant Theology
*Christ of the Covenants, O Palmer Robertson
*Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two?, David Holwerda
*That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant, Ray Sutton

Systematic Theology
*A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Robert Reymond
Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin
*Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof
Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge
Systematic Theology, R.L. Dabney
*Systematic Theology, Rousas John Rushdoony
*Introduction to Systematic Theology, Cornelius Van Til

Biblical Theology
*Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos
Doctrine of God, Herman Bavinck
*Doctrine of God, John Frame
*Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, John Frame
Outlines of Theology, A.A. Hodge
Theology in Dialogue, John H. Gerstner

Historical Theology
Historical Theology, William Cunningham
*History of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof

End Times/Eschatology
*An Eschatology of Victory, J. Marcellus Kik
Back to the Future: A Study in the Book of Revelation, Ralph E. Bass, Jr.
*Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
*Church and Kingdom, Raymond O. Zorn
*He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
*Israel and the New Covenant, Roderick Campbell
Israel in Bible Prophesy, John L. Bray
Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World, Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi
*Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, David Chilton
*Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, Keith A. Mathison
*The Beast of Revelation, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
*The Church, Edmund P. Clowney
The Coming of the Kingdom, Herman Ridderbos
*The Days of Vengence: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, David Chilton
*The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
*The Great Tribulation, David Chilton
**The Kingdom and the Power: Rediscovering the Centrality of the Church, Peter J. Leithart
The Message from Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation, David S. Clark
*The Millennium, Loraine Boettner
Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, Rousas John Rushdoony

The Rapture
Armageddon NOW!, Dwight Wilson
*Last Days Madness, Gary DeMar
Millennialism and Social Theory, Gary North
Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession, Robert Fuller
*The Day and the Hour, Francis X. Gumerlock
*Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism Is Paralyzed, Gary North

Dispensationalism
*An Examination of Dispensationalism, William E. Cox
*Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?, Stephen Sizer
Darby, Dualism, and the Decline of Dispensationalism, Ronald M. Henzel
*Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?, Keith A. Mathison
*Doomsday Delusions: What's Wrong with Predictions About the End of the World, C. Marcin Pate and Calvin B. Haines
Gospel of the Kingdom: An Examination of Dispensationalism, Philip Mauro
*House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology, Greg Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
Prophesy and the Church, Oswald T. Allis
The Great Rapture Hoax, Dave MacPherson
*The Incredible Cover-Up: Exposing the Origins of Rapture Theories, Dave MacPherson
The Three R's: Rapture, Revision, Robbery: Pretribulation Rapturism from 1830 to Hal Lindsey, Dave MacPherson
*The Rapture Plot, Dave MacPherson
Why I Left Scofieldism, William E. Cox
*Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, John H. Gerstner

Law and Grace
*By This Standard: The Authority of God's Law Today, Greg Bahnsen
*God's Law in the Modern World: The Continuing Relevence of Old Testament Law, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
*No Other Standard: Theonomy and its Critics, Greg Bahnsen
The Institutes of Biblical Law (3 vols.), Rousas John Rushdoony
*Theonomy: An Informed Response, Gary North (editor)
*Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Greg Bahnsen
Westminster's Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til's Legacy, Gary North

Society and Politics

*Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action, George Grant

Christian and Politics, Robert Thoburn

Christianity and the State, Rousas John Rushdoony

*Healer of the Nations: Biblical Principles for International Relations, Gary North

Millennialism and Social Theory, Gary North

*Political Polytheism: The Myth of Neutrality, Gary North

*Ruler of the Nations: Biblical Principles for Government, Gary DeMar

*Second Chance: Biblical Principles for Divorce and Remarriage, Ray Sutton

When Justice is Aborted: Biblical Standards for Non-Violent Resistance, Gary North


Education and Discipleship

*Making Kingdom Disciples: A New Framework, Charles H. Dunahoo

Teaching for a Change: A Transformational Approach to Education, Norman De Jong

The Children Trap: Biblical Principles for Education, Robert Thoburn

*The Harsh Truth About the Public Schools, Bruce N. Shortt


General Apologetics
A Christian Theory of Knowledge, Cornelius Van Til
*Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen
*Apologetics to the Glory of God, John Frame
*A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking, Douglas Wilson
A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Cornelius Van Til
By What Standard?: An Analysis of the Philosophy of Cornelius Van Til, Rousas John Rushdoony
*Christian Apologetics, Cornelius Van Til
*Christian-Theistic Evidences, Cornelius Van TIl
Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, John Frame
*Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til
*Reasons of the Heart: Recovering Christian Persuasion, William Edgar
Van Til's Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, Greg Bahnsen

Specific Apologetics

Creation and Science

Astronomy and the Bible, Don DeYoung
*Astronomy and Creation, Don DeYoung
*Biblical Creationism, Henry Morris
Creation and the Modern Christian, Henry Morris
*Did God Create in Six Days?, Joseph A. Pipa, Jr, and David W. Hall
*Dinosaurs and the Bible, Don DeYoung
*Genesis for Today, Andy McIntosh

*Is the World Running Down?: Crisis in the Christian Worldview, Gary North
Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God, Vern S. Poythress
Science and the Bible, Henry Morris
Starlight and Time, D. Russell Humphreys
The Beginning of the World, Henry Morris
The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Henry Morris
The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications, Henry Morris and John Whitcomb
The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, Henry Morris
*The Genesis Solution, Ken Ham and Paul Taylor
*The Young Earth, John Morris
Universe By Design, Danny Faulkner

Evolution
An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood, Michael Oard
Bones of Contention, Revised and Updated, Martin Lubenow
*Buried Alive: The Startling Truth About Neanderthal Man, Jack Cuozzo
*Creation and Change, Douglas Wilson
*Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book By Hugh Ross, Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor
*Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics, Duane Gish
Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe
Darwin's Enigma, Luther Sunderland
*Did God Use Evolution?, Werner Gitt
*Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton
*Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!, Duane Gish
Frozen in Time: The Woolly Mammoth, The Ice Age, and the Bible, Michael Oard
*Noah's Ark: A Feasability Study, John Woodmorappe
Plate Tectonics: A Different View, John K. Reed (editor)
*Refuting Compromise, Jonathan Sarfati
*Refuting Evolution, Jonathan Sarfati
*Refuting Evolution 2, Jonathan Sarfati
*The (Updated and Revised) Answers Book, Ken Ham et al.
The Biotic Message, Walter ReMine
*The Lie: Evolution, Ken Ham
*Unformed and Unfilled, Weston W. Fields
When Christians Roamed the Earth, Ken Ham et al.

UFOs and Aliens
*Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, Gary Bates
UFOs in the New Age: Extraterrestrial Messages & the Truth of Scripture, William M. Alnor

The New Age and Occultism
*Unholy Spirits: Occultism and New Age Humanism, Gary North
*The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: An Old Heresy for the New Age, Peter Jones
*Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America, Peter Jones
*The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition, James A. Herrick
The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age, Ron Rhodes

Mathematics
Truth and the Transcendent:The Origin, Nature, & Purpose of Mathematics, Larry L. Zimmerman
*Mathematics: Is God Silent?, James Nickel

Economics and Business
*An Introduction to Christian Economics, Gary North
*Doing Business God's Way: What Every Christian Called to the Marketplace Should Understand About God's Laws of Prosperity, Dennis Peacock
*Economics: Principles and Policy From a Christian Perspective, Tom Rose
Economics: The American Economy From a Christian Perspective, Tom Rose
Inherit the Earth: Biblical Principles for Economics, Gary North
*Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators: A Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider, David Chilton

[Note: The following books are all part of Dr. North's Economic Commentary on the Bible. He plans to complete the set by 2012, when he will write another volume on Biblical economics based upon the information in these books. --ATR]
The Dominion Covenant: Genesis, Gary North
Moses and Pharaoh: Dominion Religion vs. Power Religion, Gary North
The Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments, Gary North
Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, Gary North
Boundaries and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Leviticus (4 vols.), Gary North
Leviticus: An Economic Commentary, Gary North
Sanctions and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Numbers, Gary North
Inheritance and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy (3 vols.), Gary North
Priorities and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Matthew, Gary North
Treasure and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Luke, Gary North
Sacrifice and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Acts, Gary North
Cooperation and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Romans, Gary North
Judgement and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on 1 Corinthians, Gary North
Hierarchy and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on 1 Timothy, Gary North

Condition of the Church
*Absolute Confusion: How Our Moral and Spiritual Foundations Are Eroding in This Age of Change, George Barna

The Next American Spirituality: Finding God in the Twenty-First Century, George Gallup and Timothy Jones

*The People's Religion: American Faith in the 90s, George Gallup and Jim Castelli

*The Second Coming of the Church, George Barna

Virtual America: What Every Church Leader Needs to Know About Ministering in an Age of Spiritual and Technological Revolution, George Barna

Vital Signs: Emerging Social Trends and the Future of American Christianity, George Barna


Eventually I will complete the list by adding sections on worship and liturgy, God, and various other books. For now, I just want to get the list posted.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Kingdom of God

Recently I have been working on a book manuscript of mine on the Kingdom of God. It was my intention to use this book to develop several themes that I see throughout the Bible on the Kingdom of God which are for the most part ignored by most mainstream evangelical Christian scholars and writers. The book began as nothing more than an eschatological[1] exegesis of Scriptural texts.

Then I read four books that changed my understanding of the Kingdom of God permenantly. They were Charles H, Dunahoo's Making Kingdom Disciples, Peter J. Leithart's The Kingdom and the Power, and John Piper's Desiring God and Let the Nations be Glad! [2]

The Kingdom in the Great Commission

I will briefly comment on what aspects of these books affected my view of the Kingdom. Dunahoo's book was written to develop a Biblical method of Christian discipleship and informal education (which he does superbly). He is convinced, and I was convicted, that biblical discipleship is a vital aspect of the Kingdom of God that evangelical Christians have been failing to fulfill for decades (centuries perhaps.) He points to the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the Age." (Matt. 28:18-20) [3]
Of this passage, Dunahoo writes that the "importance of these words cannot be overstated. They express God's revealed will for his church until he returns at the consummation of all things. The church's mission is to make disciples by evangelizing and educating the believers. In turn, the believers are to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, demonstrated by a life of Christlike service within the Kingdom of God."[4] Note that vital word "educating" in Dunahoo's comment, and it's parallel in the Great Commission itself (Matt. 28:20). Also note the word "transformed." Dunahoo continues: "The Kingdom approach, which more fully lends itself to what I call the God-centered framework, not only incorporates these three [other, program-based, individual, and small-group discipleship] models, but places them in the context of the Kingdom of God. It is informational, formational, and transformational! Not until we reach the transformational stage will we be discipled in the biblical sense of being transformed into a new person by changing the way we think, bringing every thought in captivity of obeying Christ, as Paul wrote in Romans 12 and 2 Corinthians 10, and not just copying the behavior and customs of the world. This refers not just to our devotional or church life, but all of life. . . .This kingdom model produces Christians with a self-conscious understanding of an all-pervasive philosophy of life. . . .the kingdom model does not seperate faith and life (as though such were possible). It focuses on integrating God's truth into all areas of life, and because of that, it is not merely an academic, informational, or intellectual concept. The kingdom model applies to, serves, and ministers to all areas."[5]

The Bible, as God's holy and inspired word to man, is universal in application. In other words, "there is not a square inch within the domain of our human life of which the Christ, who is the sovereign over all, does not say, 'mine.' "[6]

Hence, discipleship is a vital, necessary aspect of the Kingdom of God. Discipling others in progressive sanctification to become more Christlike in every area of life is a necessity. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

The Kingdom is Not (Entirely) the Church

A further point, this one specifically addressing the Kingdom of God, by Dunahoo is that the Kingdom is not the church. The church is only one in three institutions, or spheres, of influence in the world. The three are the family, the church, and the state[7]. All three must have Christ as their central and highest authority. Each of the three have specific authority granted by God, and none of them are biblically permitted to either take authority that does not belong to them or fail to administer an authority which they were given.[8]

The Kingdom is beyond the church and while the church is a very large part of the kingdom, the kingdom is not the church. It is not social action, "social justice," social theory, political agendas, marketplace principles, picketing, protesting, creating a christian culture, racial reconciliation, racial equalization, or any other physical, human activity. Certainlly, these things are important, they are necessary, and they will eventually happen (insofar as each of them are Biblical to the best of our understanding, of course). But they are all secondary. They are not the Kingdom.

What Then is the Kingdom?

The Kingdom is the glory of God made manifest on earth (Matt. 6:10). On earth as it is in heaven. Heaven is, hard as it is to believe, coming to earth. And you had better believe that God's glory is manifest in heaven! God's intention for bringing the Kingdom to the earth is his own glory, something which everything he does makes apparent.[9] Piper writes that "if the pursuit of God's glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man's good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be well served, and God will not be duly honored."[10] He continues:
Zeal for the glory of God and a servent heart of mercy for the nations are one. This is plain from the wording of verse 9:Christ came "in order that the Gentiles might glorify God." Yes! That was the passion of Christ, and it should be our passion--that the nations might love the glory of God and praise the glory of God.[11]
The Great Commission states that we are to disciple the nations all that Christ taught us. I don't really think I need to defend the idea that one of Christ's many important themes is passion for and love of God and one another, and a heart for retrieving the lost nations.

The Kingdom and Christian Victory

However, contrary to liberal christians, love is neither the most important nor the only teaching Jesus gave us. If it were it would result in an emasculated Christianity, and that is something Christianity is not! "Life is war." [12] Christ is also the Supreme Commander, waging a war against satan and all evil. Peter Leithart writes that
Jesus' life and ministry can be seen as a military campaign. He spent His life on earth waging a holy war. . . Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). But Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd. He is also the One who comes from Edom with His garments stained red with the blood of His enemies (Isa. 63:1-6). Jesus is the conquering Warrior, the Captain of the hosts of the Lord, who rides a white horse at the head of a vast army (Rev. 19:11-16). Like Samson and Saul, Jesus was endowed with the Spirit of power to wage war against the oppressors of His people (Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sam. 11:6-11; Matt. 3:13-4:11). [ref] Jesus was the "Nazirite," consecrated for holy war (Matt. 2:23). [ref] He Himself characterized His inauguaration of the kingdom as a violent campaign opposed by violent men (Matt. 11:12). [ref] . . . Jesus appears in the Gospels not as an Oriental guru--a proto-Gandhian proclaiming love and nonviolence--but as a princely Lover, passionately willing to suffer all things to rescue His Bride from her captor. [13]
Further, Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, rather than showing us how to deal with temptation or a manifestation of His inner struggles, shows us in a dramatic event how he engaged Satan in "hand-to-hand" combat for the fate of His people.[14] In other words, "like Prince Phillip, Jesus stormed the dragon's fortress and emerged triumphant"! [15] Praise be to God!

The Kingdom as Christ

What is the Kingdom? The Kingdom is nothing other than Christ Himself.[16] Leithart again writes that "the kingdom of God is thoroughly Christ-centered. Theologians since the time of Origen (early third century) have recognized that Jesus is revealed in the Gospels to be the incarnation and personification of the kingdom. Where Christ is present, there is the kingdom. . . The kingdom is in heaven because Christ is seated there at His Father's right hand; the kingdom is in the sanctuary because there Christ makes Himself present in Word and sacrament; the kingdom is in the church because Christ has promised to be present wherever two or three are gathered in His name. The kingdom is where the body of Christ is found. . ."[17]

"Already and Not Yet"

We should hasten to point out that there are two aspects of the Kingdom, a present reality and a future reality.[18] Many theologians call this the "already and not yet" distinction. While the kingdom's advent began with Christ's first coming and was fully enabled through His victory on the Cross, opening us to the heavenlies and delivering the death-stroke to Satan's head (Gen. 3:15), and is present wherever Christ is present, there is a sense in which the Kingdom is also not yet completely present. Leithart describes it this way: ". . . the Kingdom of God has already come, though it has not yet been fully revealed, established, and manifested."[19]

The question thus logically becomes: What elements of the Kingdom are to come? What can we expect it to be, or look like? Before we can really answer that, we must set the tone. Establish some background.

The Victory of the Kingdom

First, something had changed in Jesus after the resurrection. No longer does He say "I can do nothing for myself" (John 5:19, etc.) and "concerning that day and hour no one knows, not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (Matt. 24:36). Jesus' ministry had been transformed by the resurrection. He was given the full power and authority, in heaven and on earth, of the Father upon His resurrection (Matt. 28:18). Satan's power was broken and he was vanquished (Matt. 12:26-29; John 12:31; 1 John 3:8; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; Luke 10:18); the fatal head-wound (Gen. 3:15) delivered. Christ had overcome the world (Eph. 1:21-22; John 16:33; Rev. 1:5,6). He was soon, upon his ascension, to be "declared the Son of God with power" (Rom. 1:3, 4).

Second, upon His ascension, Christ was brought near to God the Father, "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him" (Den. 7:13). This is clearly a vision of Christ's ascension into heaven, since it clearly states that the Son of Man "came to" the Ancient of Days. Christ coming before the Father after the ascension. He was seated at the right hand of God and "crowned with glory" (Heb. 2:9) and began His rule and Kingship (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 1:3; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 3:21).

His pouring out of the Spirit at Pentacost was a demonstration of His complete authority (Acts 2:34:36). Gentry writes that this outpouring was "a celebration of His coronation in distributing gifts to His subjects, in the manner of a warrior-king returning triumphantly to his capital city upon his victory over the enemy (Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12). It promises His divinely royal assistance to His people (Rom. 8:34)."[20]

Further, in Christ's enthroning at the right hand of the Father in glory and power, so are all true believers enthroned as kings and priests (Rev. 1:5), the heirs of Christ. [21] With his sacrifice, resurrection and ascention, Christ opened up the heavenlies to all Christians.[22] He destroyed the veil in the Temple, a symbol of his spiritual destruction of the division in the relationship between God and man.

God has, in several places (Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; 22:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:42-43; 22:69; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12), said to Jesus, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool" (Acts. 2:34-35). The phrase, "sitting at the right hand" of the Father is "a semantic equivalent to sitting on God's throne,"[23] as is stated: "I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His Throne" (Rev. 3:21).

Thus, the two thrones are one, hence there is a sense in which God the Father will make Christ's enemies His footstool, and there is a sense in which it is Jesus Himself who will make His enemies His own footstool.

What is the Future of the Kingdom?

We must ask this question: How will Jesus make his enemies his footstool? Paul answers that question for us: "The God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Rom. 16:20). Whose feet? Our feet! The feet of Christ's church will trample Satan, who is still living yet fatally wounded, and all of his evil minions into the dust. This is a very clear verse teaching the theology of Christian victory in all of the Bible. Christ has seen fit to crush Satan through His church. We are the Kingdom because Christ is the Kingdom and Christ reigns spiritually through us.

Let us look now at one of the strongest passages in the whole Bible teaching progressive Kingdom victory (contrary to the popular idea of progressive Christian defeat at the hands of Satan):
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put into subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God might be all in all (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
Christ is the firstfruits, the promise of our own resurrection.[24] Further, there is a specific order to this resurrection. Gentry writes, "we are now in the era awaiting the end-time coming of Christ, when all believers will be resurrected in glory. When Christ comes this will be "the end"![ref] There will be no millennial age to follow."[25] But when is the end? "Then comes the end, when[ever] he delivers the kingdom to God the Father." Whenever Christ delivers the Kingdom to the Father, then comes the end. And Christ will not deliver the Kingdom until "after destroying every rule and authority and power," and "has put all his enemies under his feet."

Thus, we can see from this passage that the requirement for delivering the Kingdom to the Father is the abolishment of all opposition to Christ's reign, and when He delivers the Kingdom the end has come. What follows is the bodily return of Christ and the resurrection of the quick and the dead. We should note here that Christ began His reign at His ascension and still reigns presently.[26] We have seen above that Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father. This does not indicate a passive sitting on the throne, but an active rule and reign, exercising the authority given him, in order to make his enemies his footstool, and has "made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever," (Rev. 1:5). Further, "His reign from heaven extends to the end of history. Earlier, it was awaited the definitive abolition of all rival rule, authority and power (Matt. 28:18). His bodily return is delayed until progressively 'He has put all His enemies under His feet." This repitition of His sure conquest before the end is significant. . . The progressive subduing of His other enemies in history occurs before this final resurrection."[27]

As we Christians begin to develop a more complete "world-and-life" view and bring more thoughts into captivity unto Christ, as we disciple others and help them to also become disciples of Christ and they begin living for Christ in every area of life, the Kingdom will finally and completely come. As the Great Commission rumbles forward, slowly but surely running roughshod over all opposition, we will see an incredible and increasing outpouring of the Holy Spirit, enabling more people to convert to Christ and become disciples and followers, who in turn convert more people. This will cause a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which enables more to be saved, discipled and sanctified, which further allows more to be saved. What started with a spiritual trickle of the Holy Spirit will widen into a brook, then a stream, and beyond that to a roaring river, and on to a thunderous torrent of the Holy Spirit outpoured on those of the Kingdom, until the power of the kingdom of Satan is broken. The glorious Kingdom will be built and it cannot be stopped, for even "the gates of hell shall not prevail over it" (Matt. 16:18). This is the incredible future of the Kingdom, the incredible future that awaits the universal body of Christ.

Conclusion

I have developed some of the significant ideas and themes in the Bible about the Kingdom of God in the preceding. I did this for several reasons. 1) I am working on a book talking about the Kingdom of God, so I wanted to get some of the themes straight in my own mind, 2) I have the topic in the foreground of my mind, so writing an article on is less difficult than it would otherwise be, 3) it will be benefitial to you readers to read about the Kingdom since evangelicals appear obsessed with talking about it but astonishingly reluctant to define it based upon Scripture.

I have done my best to cover the largest and broadest themes of the Kingdom in this article, however, since space requirements are so limited I have naturally been unable to fit everything in that was required to make a water-tight case for Kingdom victory. Such is the nature of things. However, I have provided extensive references below. Anything that was undeveloped and has caused confusion (though I hope and pray that none of it will) can be straightened out by reading some of the books listed below.

The bottom line and fundemental theme of the Bible's various passages on the Kingdom of God is progressive and increasing Christian victory in every area of life, claiming every field and aspect of life for Jesus Christ. The methodical movement of the Christian body to total victory and the return of Christ is unstoppable. It may be slowed or sidetracked for a time in different periods of history, but the church always returns to the Bible in the end.

Many people doubt the idea of Christian victory in the world because of the horrible things that have happened in the recent past. World War I, World War II, nationalism, nazism, darwinism, social darwinism, eugenics, etc. To that, I agree with Keith A. Mathison, when he writes that "God has promised the church that the gates of hell will not prevail against her, that all the ends of the earth will turn to the Lord, and that all the families of the nations will worship before Him. Shall we, like Sarah, laugh at the apparently unrealistic nature of the promise? Or shall we, like Abraham, believe the promise of God? Throughout Biblical history, God has promised the seemingly impossible. In response, some have placed their trust in what their eyes could see. 'We have to be realistic,' they have said. But others, despite the seeming impossibility of fulfillment, have believed the promises of God."[28]

I also side with Jesus Christ Himself, who has challenged us: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26; also see Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37; 18:27).

Even so, come Lord Jesus![29]

References:

[1] Eschatology is the theological term. It means "the study of 'last things.' "

[2] Charles H. Dunahoo, Making Kingdom Disciples: A New Framework (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2005); Peter J. Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power: Rediscovering the Centrality of the Church (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1993); John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1986 [2003]); John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Grand Rapids, MN: Baker Books, 1993 [2003])

[3] The Great Commission is far larger in scope than many think. For an excellent study on the full scope of the Commission, see Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990). This book is absolutely required reading for every Christian who wants to know what the Christian responsibility in the world is.

[4] Dunahoo, Kingdom Disciples, p. 3. Emphasis mine.

[5] Ibid., 11-12

[6] Abraham Kuyper, Souvereiniteit in Eigen Kring. Rede ter Inwijding van de Vrije Universiteit (Kampen: Kok, 1930, p. 32, as cited in Ibid., p. 11.

[7] When I use the term "state" I refer to that institution of civil government. I do not refer to the designation of "states" as in the "united states."

[8] For more information regarding the three institutions of family, church, and state, see Gary North, Unconditional Surrender: God's Program for Victory (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), ch. 5-7, pp. 177-258.

[9] See Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, ch. 1. Also see the following scriptures: Eph. 1:4-6; Isa. 43:6-7; Ps. 106:7-8; Ex. 14:4, 18; 1 Sam. 12:22; 2 Kings 19:34; John 7:18; John 14: 13; Rom. 15:7; John 16:14; 1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 1:11; Acts 12:23; Hab. 2:14; Rev. 21:23. These passages could literally be multiplied on end.

[10] Ibid., 18.

[11] Ibid., 34.

[12] Ibid., 45

[13] Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power, 34-35.

[14] Ibid., 35-40.

[15] Ibid., 36.

[16] Ibid., 20.

[17] Ibid., 20-21.

[18] See Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi, Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), pp. 49-69; Leithart, Kingdom and the Power, 17-18.

[19] Leithart, Kingdom and the Power, 18.

[20] Kenneth L. Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992 [1997]), p. 229.

[21] See Ibid., 231, 263, 347, 426, 430, 473, 498, etc.; Leithart, Kingdom and the Power, 111-114, 145-155

[22] See Leithart, Kingdom and the Power, 65-139.

[23] Ibid., 229.

[24] I am endebted to Ken Gentry's discussion of this passage in He Shall Have Dominion, 253-256.

[25] Ibid., 253-254.

[26] See Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, ch. 11.

[27] Ibid., 255-256. For more on the progressive element of the establishment of the Kingdom, see pp. 257-261; Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), pp. 221-222.

[28] Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1999), pp. xi-xii.

[29] For more information on the Kingdom of God from and expositional and Biblical perspective, see Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion; Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power; Bahnsen and Gentry, House Divided, pt. II; Mathison, Postmillennialism; Dunahoo, Making Kingdom Disciples, ch. 3; John Jefferson Davis, Christ's Victorious Kingdom: Postmillennialism Reconsidered (Grand Rapids, MN: Baker Books, 1986); John Jefferson Davis, The Victory of Christ's Kingdom: An Introduction to Postmillennialism (Moscow, IO: Canon Press, 1996); David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1985); David Chilton, The Days of Vengence: An Exposition of The Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987); Gary North, Unconditional Surrender; Gary North, Dominion and Common Grace: The Biblical Basis of Progress (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987); Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1958 [1984]); Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1954 [1981]); David S. Clark, The Message from Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MN: Baker Books, 1989); Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1988); Rousas John Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970).

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Report on the Place of Writing in Christianity

Christianity is a religion of writing. The Written Word is our standard and guide. In fact, we are told not to go beyond the bounds of what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). Writing is an art, yet it is an art form that nearly everyone is capable of learning. It is not an esoteric, mysterious, mystical ability that some possess and others do not. Good writing is mostly a learned, practiced discipline. Of course, to some this art comes more naturally than to others (and I can personally think of quite a few who are far better at it than I).

In the final analysis, however, we can all learn to be accomplished writers. Many authors write something every day, even if it isn't very good or they erase it immediately after writing it. But they write. Every day. I know that I do not live up to this standard. I would encourage any and all Christians to develop writing skills. Christianity needs committed, serious scholars to continue developing a Christian worldview.

Which gives me something of a segue (albeit weak) into the actual topic of this post, which is the state of current Christian scholarship.

In 1976, Dr. Gary North wrote that

. . . in the twentieth century, they [Christians] have abandoned the world of scholarship to the secularists. They confine their writing to simple tracts, sentimental biographies, pietistic devotional literature, and, at best, to antiquarian theological studies. With the exception of the Wycliff translators--significantly, a labor of language--Christians have made little impact on the world of ideas and scholarship.[1]
This trend that Dr. North describs above can be traced back (at the very least) to the Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s when "fundementalist" Christianity lost disasterously (in terms of respectability) to the secular evolutionists and sceptics. After that time, Christianity largely attempted to retreat from the overlying culture, scared to put itself under the scathing ridicule of the sceptics and secularists, who eagerly stepped into the intellectual void. This trend was still dominant in 1976 when North wrote those words. I do not necessarily believe that they are entirely accurate of the current intellectual climate.

Today, evangelical and fundementalist Christians are putting themselves out there again, determined to reclaim what was lost, intellectually and socially, from the secularist intruders. Even major, neo-evangelical organizations like InterVarsity are publishing highly intellectual books,[2] and all recognizing a Biblical worldview and how the evidence fits in a Christian worldview. This is happenning slowly, perhaps more slowly in the "mainstream" than some (such as myself) would like, but it is occuring nevertheless.

However, most of the advanced Christian scholarship being done today are from two sources, 1) the creation science movement,[3] and 2) the Reformed position,[4] both of which are growing rapidly.[5]

Thanks to the work of Cornelius Van Til[6] and his followers[7], the concept of Presuppositionalism (or worldview) has spread throughout Christian thinking. So much so that it is common place for normal, average Christians (and even the wider culture) to talk about "worldviews," "interpretations," "bias," "presuppositions," "ultimate committments," and the like.

Ideas tend to float around a culture. Those who do not read as a habit merely absorb the culture's ideas. This is what Christianity has been doing. Similarly, a movement or belief which does not produce books and literature does not introduce ideas into a culture. I believe that Christianity to be slowing reasserting itself as a leading idea-producer. That's what Christians should be doing. They should be setting the terms of the discussions by leading the culture by example. What I am describing will not be easy or simple. There will be incredible resistance to evangelical Christians reasserting themselves into the culture and taking the lead. I mean, what non-Christian says to himself, "you know what we need? We need some consistant, strong, confident, evangelical Christians leading this culture"?! But ultimately, our worldview is the only worldview that does not result in a complete death of meaning and understanding.[8] So let us continue to reassert ourselves into this culture, and let us continue to develop our Christian worldview for every field of knowledge, science, history, political science, economics, etc.

References:
[1] Gary North (ed.), Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective (Valecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1976), p. 332

[2] See James W. Sire, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000); James W. Sire, Discipleship of the Mind: Learning to Love God in the Ways We Think (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990); James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 4th Ed., 2004); Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenge of Postmodernism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000); Chawkat Moucarry, The Prophet and the Messiah: An Arab Christian's Perspective on Islam & Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002); Franscis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 30th Ed., 1998); James A. Herrick, The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), as well as numerous others.

[3] See such tomes as John Woodmorappe, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1996); John Woodmorappe, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1999); John Woodmorappe, Studies in Flood Geology (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1993); Gary Bates, Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004); Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004); Michael Oard, An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1990); Larry Vardiman et al. (ed.), Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 2000); just to name a few.

[4] See Keith A. Mathison, When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2004); Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillenial Eschatology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992); Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World (Tyler, TX: Instititute for Christian Economics, 1994); Greg Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., House Divided: The Breakup of Dispensational Theology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989); Robert A. Peterson, Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishign, 1995); Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: An Old Heresy for the New Age (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992); Harry Reeder with David Swavely, From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church (Phiilipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004); Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation: An Exegetical and Historical Argument for a Pre-A.D. 70 Composition (San Francisco, CA: Christian Universities Press, 1997); and many, many others.

[5] I find this statement from the 2005 InterVarsity Press catalog interesting. In regards to Calvinism's impact in evangelical circles, they describe Calvinism as a "dominant perspective within evangelical theology."

[6] See Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976); Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1978 [2003]); and his other numerous works.

[7] Van Til's followers include Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Gary North, Rousas John Rushdoony, George Grant, Gary DeMar, Ray Sutton, Francis A. Schaeffer, and others.

[8] Rousas John Rushdoony, The Death of Meaning (Valecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002); Rousas John Rushdoony, The Word of Flux: Modern Man and the Problem of Knowledge (Valecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1998).

Monday, May 09, 2005

Announcing TheologicalTruths

Welcome to the blog!

This past week I have been moved and convicted by God to start an new blog for the website on more general themes than creation and evolution. So this is it. My blog on wider and broader theological issues. It will continue in the same theme as my creation/evolution blog by featuring book reviews (positive, negative, etc) and articles of my own.

Should We Fear Theology?

Today's Christians seem to be afraid of theology. Or at least apathetic to it. They don't see it's importance for more than theologians locked in their ivory academic towers. I suppose part of the reason this is true is because many people are made nervous by large words - and theology has a bunch of them. But theology doesn't have to be scary or boring. In fact, it can be the most fulfilling reading for a Christian.

Theology is not an esoteric and cryptic script off limits for all but those possessing an M.Div. or higher. In fact, theology is merely the understanding and expression of what Christianity and the Bible teaches. It is knowing what we believe. So ultimately, every time we read the Bible, we are practicing theology. Every time we read a book (even a short book) on how to pray better or live better for Christ, we are (hopefully!) developing our theological outlook.

Theology For Everyone

There is no neutrality in the universe. Ultimately, we have a final committment to God or to man. We come to our decisions either through an interpretation of the world (worldview) which reflects a dependence on God's complete knowledge of the universe revealed to us through His word, the Bible, or an independence of His knowledge through a rebellion against His revealed word, the Bible.[1]

Theology does not exist in a vacuum. It is not simply a polemic and rhetorical exercise for academics and theologians. It is the baseline of what every individual believes. We all have a theology, just as we all have a philosophy of life, a moral code (even an amoral one), and a religion (even an atheistic one). People believe or accept ideas without even knowing they have adopted them. They simply absorbed the ideas through osmosis from the larger culture around them unconsciously. Thus, even a person who does not consciously know that they have a philosophy or a theology do indeed have them. Theology is simply knowing what you believe (though usually associated with religious or metaphysical beliefs and practices). Thus, when a person disagrees with another on a particular religious view, they are actually exercising theology, because they are emphasizing what they do not believe, generally in contrast to what they do believe about religious matters.

Theology in Context

I have already introduced theology as knowing what we believe. But theology does not exist by itself. The Christian God is a Triune God, a God in three parts, equal in existence but hierarchical in their roles. In other words, they are equal in value (meaning that any one part, or person, of the Trinity is more or less in value than the others) but arranged hierarchically in role (meaning that they each serve a different purpose and exercise authority in different areas).

In a similar way, theology is part of a Triune system that reflects God's Trinitarian nature. This system is "witnessing." By "witnessing" I mean exactly what most think it means. Sharing the Christian life through the Gospel to those who do not have a relationship with Christ. The three parts of witnessing are as follows:

1) Theology: Knowing what the Bible teaches about all things and therefore what Christians ought to believe.

2) Evangelism: Sharing this knowledge of Biblical teachings with others so that they may too have a relationship with God through Christ and the Universal Church, the worldwide body of believers.

3) Apologetics: Defending what we know and believe (our theology) from others unreceptive to our invitation for them to have a relationship with Christ (our evangelism).

These three aspects of witnessing are also hierarchical since we have to know what we believe (our theology) before we can take it to others (our evangelism) and defend it (our apologetics). This has heavy implications for modern evangelism of simply sharing the Good News with others and having them pray the Sinner's Prayer. There is no emphasis on the fact that new Christians are required just as much as long-time ones to believer certain things over others. Naturally, they will not instantly shake off the baggage of their humanist past, but it should be the beginning of a journey that should culminate in getting as close as possible, through progressive sanctification by the Holy Spirit in their lives. To evangelise in the modern sense of sharing the Gospel and having a personal conviction alone is, to use Jesus' parable, to plant seed in the shallow ground, which sprouts quickly and with great furvor, but soon withers away. Why? Because there was no discipleship. The newly converted Christian is left to their own devices. After all, they accepted Jesus, and what else is really needed? In the words of one evangelist (who shall remain nameless), our job is to "get conversions. If they backslide after that, it's their own problem." We get them to accept Jesus, but we leave them alone after that for the most part. Is it any wonder the Church in the western world needs revitalization?[2]

See, accepting Jesus as Savior is a very important step (in fact, they most important) but ultimately, without knowing what Christians (should) believe, the new convert, anchorless in a raging religious ocean, is soon adrift among the sharp rocks and circling sharks of heresy and false teaching.

Furthermore, we cannot really evangelise before we know what we believe (for example, could you imagine trying to explain what Jesus said before you know what He said?) Thus, to do the most effective evangelism as possible, we should know what we believe in contrast to what we don't. And apologetics is even more difficult without knowing what we believe (again, imagine trying to defend what Jesus said against heretical beliefs such as those espoused in The Gospel of Thomas without knowing firstly what Jesus actually said and secondly what He supposedly said).

No matter how we look at it, theology emerges as the foundation of Christian life and culture because it is based in Bibical study and examination. Let us together move forward by developing a fully Biblically consistant theology so that we may truly know what is truth. Because Truth is always God's truth and firmly anchored in the Bible, God's holy and glorious word.

References:
[1] I take the use of the "dependent" and "independent" distinction from Richard Pratt, Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of the Truth (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1979). This work was of great assistance to me in understanding a proper apologetics, written for the layman and aimed at high school and college students and lacking the heavy theological and philosophical terms (or explaining them clearly) usually associated with defending the faith. I cannot recommend it enough.

[2] See Harry Reeder and David Swavely, From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2004), ch. 1.