Category Archives: Off the Shelf

Off the Shelf: David Robertson on writing The Dawkins Letters

Off the Shelf Feature

The Dawkins Letters was not a deliberate book.  Towards the end of 2006 I had just finished reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion.  I felt somewhat frustrated that a book, which was being lauded as the best anti-God book, was so weak in its arguments and ignorant in its history, philosophy and theology.  So I wrote an open letter to Dawkins on the Free Church website, commenting on his first chapter.  A few days later I started getting messages from atheists commenting on my open letter.  I was very impressed that they actually read the Free Church website (many Free Church people don’t bother!).  And then I got a letter from an atheist apologizing for all the things I was being called.  Somewhat surprised I wrote back and asked him what he was talking about.  He directed me to the Dawkins website where my article had been posted on the front page, and by the time I got to it, had almost 700 responses.

What amazed me about these responses was that one third of them were just vitriolic.  It was my first experience of the New Atheism motto ‘there is no God, and I hate him!”   Well I am Scottish and I am, in a good Scots word, ‘thrawn’.   So I decided to reply to some of them.  And I kept going.  Despite being banned more than five times (one of the pseudonyms I came back under was The Wee Flea – because Dawkins had called me a flea that was seeking to make a living off his back – he clearly has no knowledge of the limitations of Christian publishing!), I kept going.  And I decided that the best thing to do was write one chapter in answer to each chapter of The God Delusion.  Christian Focus Publications phoned and asked me if I would be willing to make a book of it and so The Dawkins Letters was born.   Because of the time sensitive nature of the subject I was given very little time – indeed I wrote the whole book in one month.

It was not easy.  Despite the fact I was drawing on over 20 years experience of debating, discussing, reading atheist and other secular material, it was difficult to get the tone of what I wanted.   I did not see The God Delusion as a threat to Christianity at all (indeed if my teenage daughter had not been able to answer it, I would have been disappointed!).  Instead I saw it as a great opportunity to present the good news of Jesus Christ.  Millions of people would read TGD – a book about God, Jesus, the Bible, humanity, truth, love etc.  It is a deeply flawed book, giving all the wrong answers in a sustained illogical rant, but it allowed me to present the opposite case.    I did not write the book for the Christian market, or to reassure Christians.  I wrote it for my non-Christian friends.   That’s why the sub-title of the book is ‘Challenging Atheist Myths’ – because in order to be able to present Christ to many people we first of all have to deconstruct and remove some of the ‘defeater beliefs’ that prevent them even considering Christ.

I found the month of writing (whilst I was still pastoring a growing congregation over the busy Christmas period) difficult and intense.  Spiritually there were times when I struggled and I soon became aware I was in a spiritual battle.  One night I woke up in a cold sweat with an acute sense of evil and darkness.  I went downstairs, prayed and read in my bible Ps 91 and some other psalms and received an assurance from the Lord that he would tell me what to say.  I am NOT claiming that The Dawkins Letters was divinely inspired, as thought the First Letter to Dawkins should be added to the canon!  But I do believe that the Lord assisted and aided me.

The letters are very personal and in my own style.  I was concerned that the humour, irony, passion and style would not be appreciated so I sent the manuscript out to 30 different people to assess – scientists, theologians, students, non-Christians, Europeans, Americans etc.  What amused me was that the atheists loved it, and some of the Christians (especially the Americans) were a bit more wary about the passion, humour and irony.  They were concerned that it would not come across as ‘nice’.   I was delighted with that!

The book was published in early 2007 and much to my surprise (and I think CFP’s) it became a best seller (at least in Christian terms).  I was (am) a nobody.  I am not a famous author/pastor/media personality and I did not want to be.  I just wanted to write something for my non-Christian friends that would help introduce them to Christ.    The Lord has blessed and used it in ways that are to me almost miraculous.   Eight years later it is still in print and (because I foolishly put my e-mail in the book) I am still getting e-mails asking about the contents and seeking to find out more.

Once I got the taste for it I thought I would like to try and take on two of the other New Atheists, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.   I have since written a response to Hitchens God is not Great’ which is entitled Magnificent Obsession (2013).   How Magnificent Obsession came to be written is another story that is for another time.  I am currently working on a response to Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, entitled Letter to a Post-Christian Nation.   Prayer is appreciated.  Unlike Dawkins accusation, I don’t write to make money or to be famous.  I just simply want to use the opportunity to present the Gospel in contemporary form to the people in the societies in which we live.  May the Lord continue to use this wee book for his own Glory.

About The Author:

David RobertsonDavid Robertson is pastor of St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland and current Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. David is a trustee of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and works to fulfil the Centre’s mission to engage culture with the message of Christ.

Ebook Sale:

The Dawkins Letters, along with Magnificent Obsession and Why I Am Not An Atheist will be available on ebook special offer until December 9, 2015.

Magnificent Obsession Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99

 

The Dawkins Letters by David Robertson Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99

 

Why I Am Not An Atheist Sale Price: $2.99/£1.99

 

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Off the Shelf: Don’t they make a Lovely Couple? by John and Ann Benton

Off the Shelf Feature

Only half of today’s marriages stick – why is that? Why is it that an institution that forms the basis of society is in crisis? And what can we do to improve things?

Looking to the Bible as our guide, John and Ann Benton with many years of experience in developing and running marriage orienting and enrichment seminars, provide a resource that will benefit all couples.

9781845500467Here are the 6 questions to ask yourselves if you are preparing for, or are already part of, a marriage.

1. WHAT? – The nature of your marriage

2. WHO? – The partners in your marriage

3. WHY? – The reasons for your marriage

4. HOW? – The practicalities of your marriage

5. WHEN? – The timing of your marriage

6. WHERE? – The purpose of your marriage

This book won’t make you feel guilty and suggest impossible solutions (we’ve all read THOSE sort of books before!). It’ll make you realise what you can do and suggest a plan to implement it.

Is your marriage important? – Show that it is! There are also 2 helpful appendices:

1. Pre-marriage Studies

2. Why not? – Sexual temptation in the workplace


About John and Ann Benton

John and Ann Benton have developed and run practical Marriage orienting and enrichment seminars to the benefit of numerous couples (and couples to be). John is a church minister, author and magazine editor, Ann is also the author of the best-selling Aren’t they lovely when they are Asleep? – an introductory book on parenting.


Where to Buy:
Don’t they make a Lovely Couple? is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

9781845500467 Buy Now:

 

 


Related Titles

Held in Honor

97818455012429781857924503

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Off the Shelf: The Lamb Wins by Richard Bewes

Off the Shelf Feature

From the introduction by Richard Bewes 

‘If only I knew what to do with Revelation!’ So declared Karl Barth, perhaps the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. No wonder you and I may feel a little timid about plunging into this last – and somewhat bewildering – book in the Bible.

But let us try! Granted there have been some controversial interpretations of this fascinating prophecy, we need not feel browbeaten into making heavy weather of it. It is the message of Christ to every generation of his followers.

The Lamb Wins. The simple three-line slogan was all that featured on the sign erected by the small Methodist church in Prague. It was November 27th, 1989 – the day that Communist domination came to an end in Czechoslovakia. Until then the harassed Christian community had been permitted no publicity at all; even the displayed title Church was forbidden on the outside of the building. Now the message was movingly evident to the passers-by: ‘The Lamb Wins.’ It was not that victory had at last arrived. The theology of the little poster was exactly right. Christ is always the winner. He was winning, even when the church seemed to lie crushed under the apparatus of totalitarian rule. Now at least it could be proclaimed!

5971-The Lamb Wins [Converted].aiI love the book of Revelation. I first attempted sharing my discoveries from it at two conferences arranged in East Africa some years ago. Now I hope that these pages will encourage Christian friends to explore the Revelation at whatever level seems desirable.

This is not a commentary, and it has not been written primarily for the theologian – though I shall be glad if fellow- preachers find anything useful here by way of outline or illustration. You may wish to use this book as bedtime reading, or as something to take away on holiday. There is another use, however.

There are thousands upon thousands of small Bible study groups coming into being all over the world. Perhaps you are a member of one; you may even lead one. A church or student body could well decide to hold a series of six studies at the group level, and tackle Revelation. If so, you may find that the six-part arrangement of this book will assist you. Suggested questions are given, every three chapters, to stimulate group discussion.

And may God inspire and equip us as we hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church of Jesus Christ.


“Richard Bewes has captured the central theme of John’s Revelation…Written in graceful prose, this little book will make Revelation’s central lines of thought leap to life and relevance. It deserves wide circulation.”

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois


About Richard Bewes

Richard Bewes is the author of several beloved books of faith including Talking About Prayer, 150 Pocket Thoughts, and The Goodnight Book. Bewes was the rector of All Souls Church in the centre of London from 1983 until his retirement in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the Church of England

Where to Buy:
The Lamb Wins is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

5971-The Lamb Wins [Converted].ai Buy Now:

 

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Off the Shelf: 150 Pocket Thoughts by Richard Bewes

Off the Shelf Feature

 

The following extract is taken from 150 Pocket Thoughts by Richard Bewes.  The former Rector of All Souls church, in London, has been called on to minister to people at the heights of their joy and the depths of their despair. From this accumulated wisdom come thoughts that will encourage you in your daily life. Whether used as a daily devotion, or for answers to specific events using the subject index, you will find a insight that increases your understanding of the God of Creation, and your relationship to him.

Encouragement

Joseph….whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)…. (Acts 4: 36, 37).

 Here is one of the key figures in the growth of the early Christian Church. And they nick-named him ‘Mr Encourager’. How so?

  1. His encouragement of a new Christian convert – none other than Paul. Everyone was scared of this former persecutor – but Barnabas mentored him (Acts 9:26-31). And the church grew.…
  1. His encouragement of a new expansion. Gentiles were pouring into the church – how alarming! But Barnabas was sent. Result: the new converts were affirmed (Acts 11: 22, 23). And the church grew more….
  1. His encouragement in the face of new problems. Should new Gentile believers undergo the traditional Jewish initiation procedures? Barnabas was sent, with Peter, to sort it out. ‘No’, came the answer (Acts 15). It was a vital crossroads. Result: the church went on growing….
  1. His encouragement of a new leader for the church (Acts 15:36-40). There was disagreement over whether to drop John Mark for a mission; he was a past failure. But Barnabas took him on. Result: Mark ends up ‘useful’ to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). And Mark eventually writes one of our four Gospels!

Do you inspire your fellow-believers? Or do you exhaust them? Be an encourager – and watch the church grow!


About Richard Bewes

Richard BewesRichard Bewes is the author of several beloved books of faith including Talking About Prayer, 150 Pocket Thoughts, and The Goodnight Book. Bewes was the rector of All Souls Church in the centre of London from 1983 until his retirement in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the Church of England


Where to Buy:

150 Pocket Thoughts is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

 9781857929911 Buy Now:

 

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Off the Shelf: Stress by Gaius Davies

Off the Shelf Feature

Over the coming months we’re going to be featuring a number of excellent books from Christian Focus Publications you may never of heard about! We begin today with a much needed book on stress by Dr Gaius Davies, one of Britain’s leading psychiatrists.

9781845500283

Using examples from his experience in clinical practice, Dr Davies investigates the causes of breakdown and the many sources of stress that exist today: bereavement, guilt, personality problems, sexual tensions and the perennial problem of anxiety. He examines the ways and means by which we can cope with different kinds of stress, and even learn to utilize stress well, demonstrating the value of modern medical knowledge, while recognising that some afflictions can only be healed spiritually. What Dr Davies seeks to do above all else, is to help restore the Christian mind to its proper place in our lives, to achieve a healthy balance by which we can overcome life’s many stresses. This is a book to encourage those suffering from breakdown or stress, prevent others from succumbing to it, and provide invaluable help to counsellors, and friends.

Reviews on Stress by Gaius Davies


“Davies treatment of stress and what the care of those under stress involves has about it a down-to-earth circumspection that may seem low-key but will be found very salutary. Overheated super-spirituality, fouling up the conscience by treating all psycho-physical strain as a symptom of sin, unbelief or demon possession, still, alas, runs loose among us; this book, please God, will put salt on its tail – and none too soon. May these Christianly and professionally shrewd chapters find the ministry they merit.”

-J.I. Packer, Well known Author & Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

“The church has been waiting for a book like this for years.”

-R.T. Kendall, Previous minister of Westminster Chapel, London


About Gaius Davies

Dr. Gaius Davies, FRCPsych, M Phil, DPM, was a Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital, London. He is a well-respected author.

Where to Buy:
Stress is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

9781845500283 Buy Now:

 

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