Although David Robertson has been in Australia now for many years, he is still very active in Christian speaking and writing. Of all his many publications, the one I personally appreciated the most was “ASK”, his youth book published in 2019, which we reviewed here.
His new book SEEK follows a similar format to ASK. Each of the 52 chapters of the book is based on a question sent in by a teenager from a wide assortment of countries around the world. The agenda is therefore set by the teenagers and the struggles they have, and issues they face. David’s short chapter-length responses to all these questions contain a Bible text, a simple apologetic for an answer to the question from a biblical worldview, questions for reflection and some suggested further reading for anyone who needs a deeper dive. Inundated with questions, David selected and responded to the most popular ones which were raised, from across cultures.
As anyone familiar with David Robertson would expect, the answers he provides are orthodox, well thought-through, compassionate towards the questioner and combative in style. It’s vintage Robertson in other words! David’s answers not only reveal his saturation in scripture, but also his extensive reading in both Reformed and Puritan writings, and contemporary debates. I’m not sure of any other youth book that will reference BLM activists, Puritan John Flavel and Reformer John Calvin!
The questions in the first volume (ASK) contained some surprises as well as some more common questions. The same is true with the questions that have been thrown David’s way this time. In SEEK he grapples with everything from interpreting the Bible (666, Job, Heaven, the 2nd Coming of Christ) to ethics (Abortion, Euthanasia, Trans, The State, Pacificism) and onto other contemporary topics (Factory farming, Education, Other faiths, Nightclubs, Swearing, Maths, Music and Art). And that is only a small sample of what is covered! As each chapter is short and pithy, this makes the book an engaging and fast-paced read.
In the introduction David wrote:
“When you are younger you tend to ask a lot of questions. That is a good thing. Sometimes as people get older, they become more cynical and doubt that there are any real answers. I don’t have all the answers – and some of the questions are complex – but I do know the One who does. Each of the answers in this book is meant to help you in your search and encourage you to think for yourself and find out answers. You don’t have to wait until the day you die to get answers. As Jesus said, ‘seek and you will find’.
SEEK fulfils this noble ambition rather well, and would make a very worthwhile gift for any teenager wiling to read and engage. Youth leaders might find it a handy resource to keep within reach too, because when difficult questions arise, David’s research, quotes and arguments can be really helpful. For example, in the chapter ‘Can Christians Join the Army?’ his little summary of pacifism/just war theory is a terrific little intro to the main ideas – all in one place. The same is true for many other chapters.
When I asked David why he had written this follow-up, he replied, “Because I got so many questions from teenagers from all over the world….and could only do 52 in the first. The first volume sold really well and was reprinted a couple of times. It continues to sell. The responses were excellent. We were surprised at how many adults as well as teenagers were reading it. I suspect because most adults liked the format and that the answer to each of the questions was 700 words not 7,000!
Then I asked him what he would say to a secular teenager who might find some of the biblical answers in the book shocking, or perhaps even outrageous. He responded, “Excellent. I’m glad you find it outrageous and shocking – because so was the teaching of Jesus to the culture of his day. It turned the world upside down. Teenagers especially need to think and challenge the current zeitgeist. It’s time for us to become biblically ‘woke’ – that is woken out of our stupor and brought out of the darkness of secular ideology into the light of Christ!
Another striking front cover from Christian Focus Publications is a great asset for the book, the green luminous brain image looks great, especially when lined-up alongside the first volume with it’s pink and blue handprint. The luminous green, over black in the chapter headings aren’t easy to read though – and that is a minor production blemish. Nevertheless, this is a stirring, thought-provoking, wide-ranging and sometimes controversial book that will create great debates, serious biblical reflection and many helpful conversations about living for Christ in today’s world.
David wrote: “My hope and prayer is that “SEEK” will encourage teenagers and older people to think biblically about our culture. To learn to read the culture through the Bible, rather than the Bible through the culture. What especially encouraged me was the number of fathers who told me that they were reading a chapter a week with their children…..and praying with them. I couldn’t ask for any better reaction!”
SEEK is published by Christian Focus Publications (July 2023) and is a hardback priced £12.99 and available here:
The third volume in this series, which will be entitled “KNOCK” is currently being planned. If you are aged 10-19, and would like to submit a question for consideration, David would love to hear from you at email@example.com .