Seek – a book of answers that will make you think

Seek book

Seek, a new book, not the employment website, comes with a subhead that promises “Real world questions / Real world answers.” That’s exactly what the author David Robertson, a Scott currently serving in the Sydney Anglican diocese, provides – he does not shy away from giving answers grounded in reality. “more” because this is not Robertson’s first book of answers, but this one stands alone.

This observer finds that conservative evangelicals have a bit of a habit of being strong on Biblical exegesis but less good at application, relating it to real life.

However, Robertson has a history of engaging with the media, in his native Scotland, by giving good strong quotes. This book is equally fearless.

To take the still simmering issue of Covid rules, which still rankles some conservatively minded Christians. Robertson, who can fairly be placed in the conservative category of Christian, writes as part of an answer to “Should I obey the government?:” “I don’t like wearing facemasks – and if given a choice, I normally don’t wear one. But if the Government makes it the law of the land – even though I don’t agree with the law – I will obey it.” Robertston sports a beard, so you might see why he prefers not to wear a mask. But in an answer which traverses the normal territory of Romans 13, and examples of courageous Christians defying governments such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he helpfully places Facemasks in a different category.

This is a brave and contemporary book. Tackling the question “Do we live in a post-truth era ?” he puts the view that truth endures as against “those that argue that in this post-truth world truth depends on power. The people who decide what is true are the powerful. They are the oppressors.”

He adds: “There is a certain amount of truth in that – but it is not the whole truth.”

Robertson points to the Bible’s description of truth and cleverly uses the left-wing writer George Orwell’s 1984, contrasting the ruling Party in a dystopian future in the book’s idea of truth. “Orwell recognised that if you controlled education and the media, you could rewrite history ‘And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth.’ ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

“But he holds out the possibility of something different. ‘There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.'”

One big plus for this book is that Robertson provides book recommendations for each of his 52 questions and answers. For the post-truth chapter, he suggests reading 1984 and Rod Dreher’s Solzhenitsyn-like Live not by Lies.

The young person whom this book is chiefly aimed at will be extremely well-read if they follow up on his suggestions.

This also applies to the question and answer on “Is it the case that the more educated you arethe less likely you are to belleve.” Robertson confesses that when he was an atheist, he thought Christians were less educated but kept meeting intelligent believers. he cites Greg Sheridan as an intelligent Christian and his book Christians – the urgent case for Jesus in our world.

I have to be careful not to steal any more answers from Robertson, but here are some curly questions he answers:

• Is heaven boring?
• What is the point of Algebra?
• What does the Bible say about God and swearing?
• IS there such a thing as good or bad art?

As we saw in the “obey the government” answer, Robertson deftly avoids weaponising his answers. he is also aware that not everyone is going to agree with him. “The purpose of the book is not to give you a manual with all the right answers – but to think Biblically for yourself.” Amen to that.

SEEK More Real World Questions / More Real Word Answers David Robertson, Christian Focus, 2023
Available at The Wandering Bookseller, $20