Author, Apologist Speaks to Full Crowd at Founders

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

John Dickson 2014Dr. John Dickson, in Grand Rapids to promote his new book “A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics,” spoke to a full house at Founder’s Brewing Company last week.

His talk in the Centennial Room of the downtown brewery and restaurant drew about 60 people who heard him address Goodness, Evil and Pity, three key stumbling blocks to skeptics in their search for God. He also took questions from the audience.

In an interview before the event, Dickson, who is from Australia, talked about a wide range of topics.

“The main questions skeptics ask are ‘Why bother? What is the relevance of the God thing to life? What will God add?’” said Dickson. “There is also the perception that Christianity has been tried and found wanting.”

Dickson is happy to address such questions, and ask a few questions of his own. He likes to ask about finding meaning in life, and where values are grounded.

“Many have pushed aside their feelings about if what they do matters, but it doesn’t take long to unbury them,” he said. “It’s also easy to discover that lots of the intuitions and values skeptics have are Christian at the base.”

He describes the message of Jesus as a beautiful tune that’s been played well at times throughout history, and at times played badly. “I encourage people to try to find a way not to blame the composition for how it’s been played,” he said.

He leads a small group back in Australia that draws skeptics who are asking questions and looking for answers. He leads them through the Gospel of Luke where “the find themselves in the narrative and see the tenderness of Jesus,” said Dickson. “Again, I get them to not blame the composition for the performance of Christianity they’ve seen.”

Dickson is co-director for the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, Australia, and often interacts with skeptics, atheists, and Christians via social media. He writes articles, appears on television, and is interviewed on radio.

“I’ve very conscious that people on the fence are watching, so I’m careful about what is said and how it’s said. If it’s defensive and shrill and angry, they don’t want anything to do with Christianity. But if I’m generous and open and able to concede that there are difficulties with Christianity—such as evil in the world—then they are open,” he said. “We always find the truth in every criticism.”

Dickson visited New York, Pennsylvania, Dallas, Waco, Atlanta and Grand Rapids, home to his publisher Zondervan, while in the U.S. He’s home now and working on his next books. He recently finished “The Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments: How, for Better or Worse, Our Ideas about the Good Life come from Moses and Jesus.” The next is about the history of the church. It’s currently subtitled, “How the Church is Better and Worse than You Ever Imagined.”

Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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