His new book was just released today. It’s call The Human Right: To Know Jesus and Make Him Known.
Brooks is a pastor, writer, and professor. He serves with me as one of our Billy Graham Center Fellows. Below is what I found especially helpful in an advance copy of his book.
1. Cynics point to the humanitarian problems around the world and then tell us that there is no God who cares. To answer the cynics who say that pain points to a God who doesn’t care, consider that the World Health Organization says that we could feed the entire world with food and clean water for thirty billion dollars per year. Yet we spend One trillion dollars on military worldwide. The cynics can’t honestly answer the question about human depravity. They fail because they point their rage at God rather than fellow humans who could solve hunger with 3% of their military budgets.
2. Our own silence in the world is the greatest threat to the church today. We need to boldly and lovingly speak up in the public arena. Our salvation is not a private possession that we store up in our churches.
3. The gospel is public truth. Jesus died publicly. Showed himself alive publicly. And his Word is a public document. When we treat the gospel as public truth, our priorities transform to a position where we not only see the proclamation of Christ’s truth as imperative, but we also see the demonstration of His justice as significant. The reason why human injustice is not talked about much by many churches is that the gospel is not talked about by many churches.
4. To grasp justice, you must first recognize moral authority in the universe. All injustice is not equal. Just like all punishments for crime are related to the act that was perpetrated, so a single Divine authority is our best hope for justice.
5. Leslie Newbigen says, “A society which has no accepted public doctrine about the purpose for which all things and all persons exist [has] no basis for adjudicating between wants and needs.”
6. Justice is at the heart of the gospel, because the gospel is a demonstration of justice where God met our sin with his payment.
7. Atheist Christopher Hitchens likened the view that God is sovereign over creation like that of believing in a heavenly North Korea. He failed to understand that if Heaven was dictatorial like North Korea, he could never have publicly…or even in his heart…imagined anything that might be offensive to God.
8. A test for eye-witness truth is coherence, consistency, and relevance. Some exclude Christianity from the truth-test because it can’t be put on the science shelf and proven to be true in a physical sense. But eye-witness truth can’t be put to the physical test. Suppose that somebody executed the perfect jewel heist so that not a trace of physical evidence could be found. But five people actually witnessed the crime taking place. Would you discount the stories of those who saw the thief break-in, steal, and go away? No! We know it happened because people saw it happen. Christianity has coherence, empirical consistency, and experiential relevance. These are the keys to eye-witness truth.
9. Truth is not abstract or distant. Truth is a person, Jesus Christ. Truth is not simply a set of logical propositions. It is personal, concrete, and historical.
10. Freedom of speech on campuses nationwide is being replaced by freedom from every speech that might be perceived to hurt someone.
11. My problem with Islam is not with the many thousands of followers who live peacefully. My problem is that wrong statements are made about Christ in their holy book, the Quran.
12. It is possible to respectfully talk to someone who has a different worldview as long as you realize that the person is not the enemy. In the case of the Quran, it is wrong about his Christ’s death, resurrection, family story, and the purpose of his return. It claims to speak highly of Jesus. But it does not tell the truth about Jesus.
13. Aristotle proposed a metaphysical outlook grounded in causality. Things consist of a material cause (what it is made of; for instance, a rubber ball consists of matter); a formal cause (the form it takes that makes it a ball, i.e., roundness); an efficient cause (the agent that brought it into existence); and a final cause (the purpose of the object).
14. Consciousness is the experience of being you.
15. Neural Plasticity is based on the fact that your mind can change your brain. Your mind and your brain are not the same. Your mind is greater than your brain. CS Lewis said it is much more logical to say that mind produced matter than to say that matter produced mind.
16. Evidence for your soul: The self is aware of its existence; the consciousness has similar awareness; the mind is distinct from the brain; we think about thinking (metacognition); some have near death experiences; we have neuroplasticity; we have free will; and Scripture tells us we have a soul.
17. The Bible has built an entire civilization that has changed the world. We must see that the greatest steps toward justice have been taken by those following the cross. Vishal Mangalwadi says, “I call the Bible the soul of Western Civilization because it propelled the development of everything good in the West: its notion of human dignity, human rights, human equality, justice, optimism, rationality, family, education, universities, technology, science, culture of compassion, great literature, heroism, economic progress, political freedom.”
18. We are called to a purity of faith—expressed in a love for all ethnicities.
19. Like cholesterol, there are two kinds of fear: the good kind and the bad kind. When we understand that the presence of God brings a healthy fear so that we give account of our lives, we are blessed. Fear is a blessing. Fearing the Lord strengthens our spiritual immune system.
20. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.