Review: Urban Apologetics

Brooks, C. (2014). Urban Apologetics Why the Gospel is Good News for the City (p. 176). Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.

I can hear the sounds of the city sometimes when I close my eyes. They are beautiful and intoxicating, but what makes the city so contagious? Is it the people? The array of delicious foods to choose from? The number of options so available at ones fingertips? I’m not sure why I would rather live in the heart of Los Angeles than anywhere else. It could that I grew up there and am familiar with the in’s and out’s of inner city living or it could be that God has placed an insatiable desire to see the urban centers of the United States reached with the Gospel of Christ. In this new release, Urban Apologetics Why the Gospel is Good News for the City, Christopher Brooks shows us how we can begin to bring Christ to places most would shy away from.

Another book about the city?

Brooks makes it clear from the beginning that this isn’t just another book about the city. He acknowledges that there is no shortage of books about the city. By masterfully speaking to dual audiences, this volume speaks to, on one hand, those who have helped to pave the way for apologetics to have an entrance to the city and, on the other hand, speaks in such a way as to connect with those who are living out the issues raised in this book. He is careful to not be too lofty and miss an opportunity to connect to people on a more personal level. “One of the goals of this book is to bring about a greater connection between urban Christians and those who do the work of apologetics and theology.” (15)

This is not a book about the nuances of the apologetic method used by evangelists and missionaries. It’s not a “how to” manual for the best practices of urban ministry. It’s so much more! Brooks drives us to a point where we can operate in such a manner as to not overlook the real issues people are facing while living an authentic life. He marries Orthopraxy (right living) and Orthodoxy (right belief) in a winsome way and leaves the reader wanting to dive in deeper.

How do we get there?

As we begin with this road map to the city, we can see that ethics plays a large part in shaping the ethos of today’s urban centers. Much of this volume is made up of issues like Morality, Abortion, Sexuality, and Religious Pluralism. It is in these sections where the Christian worldview comes into play and is masterfully shown by Brooks as the only true worldview that exists out there. “In the Christian worldview, we look to God as the only visible option for understanding ethics correctly because He is a higher moral agent than we are and therefore possesses the ability to arbitrate between our competing views of good and bad.” (59)

Brooks turns from the morality of our worldview to the value and dignity which each of us possess. He makes a note of the image of God and the role an apologist must play in that image. “The apologist’s defense of creation, the moral law of the Ten Commandments, and the crucifixion are inextricably intertwined with our proclamation of the imago dei, the belief that all persons are created in the image of God and therefore are worthy of value and dignity.” (65)

So why does it matter?

I think the following sums up the entire content of the book beautifully; “Apologists should have callouses on their brains from thinking, on their hands from serving, and on their knees from praying.” (150) Chris Brooks does an amazing job of keeping the Christian between the lines of theology and ethics. Right thinking is worked out in right living according to Brooks. This volume engaged me on more than a heart level. It caused me to think more about the issues I see in my city and the steps being taken, by myself and others, to make sure that God’s will is being done in this city. This volume matters because people matter, and God want’s those people to see the beauty of His gospel.

A final note from Brooks draws the whole together and leaves the reader wanting to go out and win the cities for the Lord. “Urban, suburban, and rural communities all desperately need the same grace of the gospel. But the uniqueness of urban beauty and brokenness is found in its intensity, diversity, and fluidity. Urban communities carry with them a significant amount of potential for influencing the world for Christ if they are liberated by the gospel.” (152)

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