G.K. Chesterton once said, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” I try to avoid taking things for granted and in this particular case, my academic journey terminating with this dissertation would not have been realized were not for the help and encouragements from so many individuals. I would like to thank my mother, Anna Laura Edwards and my grandmother, Leonila Ison for grounding me in the knowledge and fear of our Lord, for allowing me space to question faith matters, and encouragement to find answers to deep questions. When it comes to making Scripture come alive, memorable, and awe-inspiring for me growing up in San Juan, Philippines, I tip my hat to my aunt, Dulce Johnston (Tita Dul). My elementary and high school years at Christian Academy of Manila weren’t particularly exciting, but as principal, Tita Fe (another aunt) made sure I completed my homework on time and instilled in me the importance of education. She was doggedly after the truth in all subjects and did not hesitate to admonish the teachers under her care who didn’t share the same scholastic tenacity.
The professors at Biola University were influential in fostering a theological inquisitiveness that has become part of my DNA. I am eternally grateful for each of them. Richard Leyda introduced me to the field of leadership studies, JP Moreland convinced me Christians are the smartest people in the world, Rob Bowman stoked my love of Jesus, Scott Smith assured me I can know that, and Kevin Lewis did not think I was a crank for pointing out the weaknesses of Molinism.
As iron sharpens iron, so have my friends at Apologetics.com sharpened my thinking in theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Richard Park is a true friend and I have spent an inordinate amount of time with him thinking of ways to change the world for Christ. Sam Welbaum, with his sprightly wit, took charge of our radio program for a time during a time when I couldn’t. Christopher Neiswonger and John Snyder put us on the podcasting map when podcasting was not even a thing. They were the dynamic duo of cultural apologetics that is unmatched even today. Andy Steiger legitimized our apologetics activities, making us an international entity by hosting us in Canada. Lindsay Brooks is the consummate discussion partner in all things relevant and important in culture today, a case study in winsome persuasion. These friends not only make me look smarter just by being around them, they carry on with grace, humility, and confidence that make Christianity attractive.
To my current ministry partners Jon Noyes and Jason Gallagher, you have made hosting our weekly radio program a joy and a blast. It’s an honor and a privilege sharing the hosting chair, defending the truth claims of Christianity on the airwaves of Los Angeles. Then there’s the inner circle of the fourth Friday (technically it’s Saturday) of each month: Lenny Esposito, a faithful ministry partner, always willing and able to cover my hosting duties when I’m indisposed, and Jacob Daniel who wondered why I didn’t start my doctoral aspirations sooner.
I do not have a mentor, at least in a traditional sense. But Os Guinness has assumed a good surrogate for me, especially during a time when I was intensely searching for the links between beliefs and behaviors. Through his books, talks, both public and private, I have appreciated and come to understand some of the genealogy of ideas, how relevant sociology is to theology, and what it means to behave as a model of civility in our time. Getting to know him personally emboldened me to pursue my doctorate.
The staff and faculty at Portland Seminary are partly responsible for the final outcome of this dissertation. Sarita Edwards, Jason Clark, and Clifford Berger, my esteemed dissertation advisors, made sure this project was fit for publication along with its attendant academic conventions. They deserve praise for helping me craft this rough written work into something laudable and useful for the church. Any errors are mine.
To my boys, Chase and Jonathan, for their ceaseless prayers to see their “Papa” complete this dissertation with excellence. To my dear and lovely wife, Minerva, for her invigorating support and staunch championing over the years, buoying me up until the day I finally cross the finish line of my doctoral journey. I could not have done it without family. Finally, to our Lord and Savior Jesus, the sine qua non of all that is true, good, and beautiful, and in whose presence I long to be.