A couple posts ago, I illustrated the absurdity of the claim that we make when we say that Jesus is Lord. This is perhaps why I have such a disdain for traditional apologetics. Its whole pursuit so often seems to pull a Schleiermacher in seeking to make a deeply scandalous religion acceptable to its cultured despisers rather than leaving it at Christ crucified, the original heart of the Acts gospel message. In The Logic of Evangelism, William J. Abraham identifies three basic assumptions that we do in fact make when we make the astonishing claim that the reign of the God of the universe in history has been begun in the person of a particular first century Jewish male, Jesus of Nazareth:
"First, we assume that God is a transcendent agent who has created the world for certain intentions and purposes. Without this assumption it will make no sense whatsoever to speak of God making promises and then fulfilling them, of God entertaining certain plans for creation, and of God acting both in history and at the end of all history to bring those plans into being. In fact, to speak of the rule of God or the reign of God or the kingdom of God is fundamentally to speak of the action of God in history - and it is difficult to begin to get purchase on this discourse without trading on the idea of God as an agent analogous to the personal agents we know in experience and through which we learn the logic of language about agency.
Second, we assume that God has acted in the life of the people of Israel, making himself known through events in history and through his word to the prophets. This is not a formal claim about the concept of God assumed in talk about the reign of God but a material claim about what God has in fact done to pave the way for the coming of the kingdom in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In this case talk about the rule of God makes little or no sense outside the traditions of Israel that, taken as a whole, provide the particular conceptual cradle and the more precise content of the specific claims about God's action that are at the heart of the Christian gospel.
Third, we assume that eschatological claims about the kingdom of God involve irreducibly a futuristic dimension that defies adequate depiction. Expressed negatively, the coming of the kingdom of God and all the activity of God associated with this cannot be exhausted by a description of events that are on the plane of history either in the present or in the future. Expressed positively, the coming of the rule of God is consummated by the end of history as we know it; it incorporates a mysterious taking up of the earth and of history into a radically transformed plane of existence that is presently beyond our capacity to imagine or describe satisfactorily."