Recipient of the Timothy R. Phillips Memorial Fellowship
Pastor for Equiping and Theology
Reality LA, Los Angeles, CA
In my dissertation, Crown of Thorns: Interweaving Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology, published by Zondervan, I define the biblical and theological relationship between the coming of the kingdom of God and the atoning death of Christ on the cross. While many Christians either champion the kingdom or cling to the cross, Scripture presents a mutually enriching relationship between the two that draws significantly from the story of Israel and culminates in the crucifixion of Christ the king. In short, the kingdom and the cross are held together by the Christ—Israel’s messiah—who brings God’s reign on earth through his atoning death on the cross. The kingdom is the ultimate goal of the cross, and the cross is the means by which the kingdom comes. Jesus’s death is not the failure of his messianic ministry, nor simply the prelude to his royal glory, but is the apex of his kingdom mission; the cross is the throne from which he rules and establishes his kingdom. The shocking paradox of God’s reign through Christ crucified certainly appears foolish to fallen human logic, but perceived through faith it is the very power and wisdom of God. My dissertation demonstrates not only that the kingdom and the cross are inseparable, but how they are integrated in Scripture and theology. Part I focuses on the kingdom and the cross in the story of redemption, discovering that from the bruised heel of Genesis (3:15) to the reigning lamb of Revelation (22:1), the Bible is a redemptive story of a crucified messiah who establishes God’s kingdom on earth through his atoning death on the cross. Part II turns to the logic of redemption, discussing the kingship of Christ on the cross, royal victory through substitutionary atonement, and the cruciform kingdom of God.
I thank God for Wheaton College and its doctoral program, which provided me the opportunity to develop as a scholar and mature as a follower of Jesus. The PhD faculty were amazing in forming my thinking, and my advisor (Kevin Vanhoozer) and second reader (Doug Moo) were especially helpful throughout the process of writing a dissertation. The greatest joy of the program was the collaborative community and the many life-long friendships that emerged from it. I am also appreciative of the integrative nature of the program, allowing me—as a systematic theologian—to interact regularly with biblical and historical scholars. I am a better theologian for it. Finally, I'm grateful for the way that Wheaton College is committed to academic excellence while at the same time fostering a love for the church. Ultimately, the PhD program at Wheaton College was for me a launching pad for a lifetime of service for Christ and his kingdom.