International Institute for Religious Freedom

Human Rights – A Primer for Christians

Thomas K. Johnson. Human Rights – A Primer for Christians. Revised edition. The WEA Global Issues Series. Vol. 1. Culture and Science Publishing: Bonn, 2016. 159 pp. ISBN 978-3-86269-123-4.


“This is the best study on the subject that I have yet read and I highly recommend it, especially to university or college students.” In a review of the  rst edition by Glenn M. Penner (1962–2010), then Chief Executive Of cer of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada, International Journal for Religious Freedom 2:1, 2009, p. 152.

Thomas K. Johnson was called to become a moral philosopher by means of a shocking confrontation with evil while visiting a concentration camp as a teenager. Initially written after 36 years of study and re ection (and updated eight years later), this book is his mature but brief claim that we need the biblical message to understand human dignity and human fallenness. He is convinced the biblical worldview provides signi cant wisdom and guidance to understand human rights and their protection, surpassing other religions and philosophies that address these questions. The book includes biblical studies and philosophical analysis, along with practical steps all should take. This new edition includes questions for study and discussion and an expanded explanation of Prof. Johnson’s proposed hermeneutic for understanding and applying the different generations and types of human rights.

Dr. Johnson’s most important early personal effort to protect human rights was to serve as a visiting professor of philosophy for a dissident, anti-communist university (the European Humanities University) in Minsk, Belarus, which was then sliding back into totalitarianism. Later he became part of the group that formed the International Institute for Religious Freedom of the World Evangelical Alliance. He has served as pastor of three evangelical churches and has taught philosophy or theology in eleven universities and theological schools in nine countries.

Johnson is presently Vice President for Research, Martin Bucer European School of Theology and Research Institutes; serves on the Academic Council, International Institute for Religious Freedom (WEA); Professor of Philosophy, Global Scholars; Senior Advisor to the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance; board president of the Comenius Institute (Prague); and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. In March 2016, he was appointed Religious Freedom Ambassador to the Vatican, representing the World Evangelical Alliance and its 600 million members.