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Book Review

Does God believe in Atheists? by John Blanchard; published by Evangelical Press (EP). Available from John Ritchie Ltd; 719 pages. Price £9.99. (9780852347508)

Within the covers of the 719-page book with the strange title Does God believe in Atheists? there is a wealth of material, well researched and well organised. The Foreword describes it as "a one-volume encyclopaedia of information related to … the most basic question of all: Is there a God?" The book was first published in 2000 and has been revised and updated, perhaps in response to the Dawkins’ militant atheism. The 50 pages under the title "Dealing with Dawkins" are a robust response to many of Dawkins’ arguments.

The scope of Does God Believe in Atheists? takes the reader from Socrates and Plato to the present day opponents who give the Creator no place in His creation and even less respect to those who gladly own to being the Creator’s workmanship. Its scope should be not measured only in the 2,500 years that have seen the rise and fall of countless atheists, but also in the 1,000 names of individuals – writers, philosophers, scientists, theologians and others – who have contributed to the debate that still rages in some circles. Blanchard not only quotes from numerous sources, but he lists his sources in 56 pages of this book.

Today’s readership of Does God believe in Atheists? will be particularly interested in how Blanchard handles the virulence of Dawkins as well as his scientific "evidence". Dealing with the Lord’s birth at Bethlehem, Blanchard boldly exposes the shallowness of Dawkins’ understanding of the Bible that leads him (Dawkins) to cast doubt on where the Lord was born. Wisely, Blanchard does not become bogged down in detailed discussions of particular aspects of science, but addresses the big questions: Has science the answer to everything? Are there moral standards? Is religion the root of all evil? He draws from what Dawkins has said or written and provides a range of responses that should convince even the sceptic that Dawkins arguments do not go unanswered.

Does God Believe in Atheists? is not a book to be read in one evening; it is formidable work that merits careful consideration.


Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald; published by Thomas Nelson and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 2,460 pages; price £25.99. (9780840719720) (UPDATED)

The Publishers describe this large Commentary as "a complete Bible Commentary in one volume". Its intended readership is "the average christian reader". Certainly it offers considerable help, particularly in the New Testament. As well as 2,389 pages of commentary, this hardback provides an additional 71 pages of supplementary notes.

The inherent weakness of a single-volume commentary is related to how to use the pages. Clearly the editor has struggled hard with that difficulty. He has resolved to give almost 38 pages to the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes and 94 pages to Luke’s 24 chapters, which represents an equitable distribution. However Exodus is covered in 48 pages, Jeremiah in 39 pages, Revelation in 34 pages, while 1 Timothy occupies 32 pages.

William MacDonald deals decisively with passages related to our Lord’s deity and sonship. He is clear, too, on issues like a sister’s head-covering and her silence in the assembly: "Paul teaches…that women should be silent in the assembly (1 Cor 14.34), that they are not permitted to teach or to have authority over the man but to be in silence." His view on prophetic truth recognises the Rapture of the saints and thereafter the tribulation period which he sees as "the time of Jacob’s trouble". In describing the "indications of the last times" he stresses the formation of the State of Israel in 1948 and Israel’s return to the Land in unbelief alongside the ecumenical movement as well as "the drastic decline in moral standards". The list and its inclusion in the commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4 might cause some earnest reader to conclude that the Rapture should have not been expected before 1948!

For many readers Believer’s Bible Commentary offers access to unambiguous teaching. Even within the scope of 2,460 pages it is not possible to provide coverage of both Testaments to the depth that the student of the Word might crave. However there is a place for a sound work like Believer’s Bible Commentary.



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