Friday, February 14, 2020

Mission Statements: Two Books about What God's People Have to Offer the World

The Human Right:
To Know Jesus and to Make Him Known
by Rice Broocks
293 pages / 2018

What Is the Mission of the Church?
Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom,
and the Great Commission
by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
283 pages / 2011


Is focusing on rights wrong? These two books explore whether the task of the church is to right wrongs, and secure rights; or whether instead, we must first of all witness to the right understanding of our need for Christ's righeousness before the face of God.

Rice Broocks's The Human Right contends that the most important human right is "the right to know Jesus Christ and to make Him known." There is a great deal of wisdom and inspiration in his affirmation of the necessity and power of the gospel to anchor and promote human rights. Vishal Mangalwadi's The Book That Made Your World covers similar territory by showing that the Bible changed Western civilization by showing the value of every human being as created in the image of God.

The problem with Broock's approach is not the foundation of his argument, but its direction. He moves from the desire for social justice in our world to the fact that such justice is best satisfied by the revelation God gives us in the Bible, to our own need for reconciliation with God in Christ through His satisfaction of the requirements of God's justice. Along the way, Broocks covers some compelling territory – the gospel as public truth, the reality of spiritual life, the authority of Scripture, the exclusivity of Christ, and the necessity to speak the gospel (not just "live" it) – but he ends, rather than begins, with the ministry of reconciliation and its fruit in the lives of believers.

DeYoung and Gilbert's book makes more clear the Biblical, rather than pragmatic, foundation for a missional approach to the gospel that begins with proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. They carry this out by:
  • defining the word mission in relation to the church;
  • outlining the Biblical narrative of God's work in redeeming his lost people;
  • clarifying the relationship of Christ's redemptive rule, social justice, and the Biblical concept of shalom to the task of the church;
  • describing the right motivations for doing good works, both as individuals and as churches; and
  • affirming the necessity of the gospel of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
DeYoung and Gilbert end with advice for the young, motivated, and missional that demonstrates how passionate pastors should approach their congregations.

All in all, What Is the Mission of the Church points the way toward a Christian passion for, first, the saving work of Christ, and, as a result, the love of the world over which Christ has established His reign.

If you want to explore Rice Broocks' contention that the human right is to know Jesus and to make him known, you can find his book here in the US, and here in Canada. If you want to know how to make sense of social justice, shalom, and the Great Commission, you can find the book by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert here in the US, and here in Canada.

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