​Adn Richard Condie, Rev Phillip Brown and 
Dr Peter Adam at the book launch

Disbelieving Disbelief: How the New Atheists make atheism unbelievable was the first of three books to be launched at St John’s West Brunswick on 29 November.

Edited by the Revd Phillip Brown, priest in charge of the parish, the book was launched by former Ridley Melbourne principal the Revd Canon Dr Peter Adam – who then had his two latest titles launched by Archdeacon Richard Condie.

“Whenever I see a new book, my question is, ‘Was it worth the trees?’ ” Dr Adam asked in launching Mr Brown’s book. “In this case, the answer is clearly ‘Yes’. The New Atheism is an important contemporary topic in our Western world, and an important contemporary topic for believers and for all who want to bring people to know and trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

“This book will rightly challenge those who are attracted to the New Atheism to think again: it will educate believers in Christ about this issue: and it will train and equip believers to be able to speak and commend the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.”

Dr Adam spoke about the Enlightenment in the 18th Century as being not the age of reason but the age of ridicule. But now, while people prided themselves as having the right to personal autonomy, “in fact we are a deeply conformist society, vulnerable to public opinion and so vulnerable to lightweight rhetoric”.

“In our age, emotion has replaced reason as the means of making decisions and ridicule has replaced reason as the means of debate,” he said. “This is true in family disputes, in the media, in politics and even sometimes in our academies.

“What this book does is to expose the bluster used by some New Atheists, for this powerful and popular new emperor has fewer clothes than first appears.”

The contributors to Mr Brown’s book include physician and ethicist Dr Justin Denholm, the Revd Chris Mulherin and the Revd Dr Gordon Preece.

Dr Adam said that as Christians responded to the world and the issues it raised, “then plausibility of believing in God must be high on our list of priorities”.

Mr Brown, whose book is published by Challenge Books (an imprint of Mosaic Resources), dedicated the book to his father Stephen, “My first teacher on solid Christian thinking”, who was at the launch.

“I found arguments with my dad on the validity of faith very hard to escape from,” Mr Brown said. “He would say, ‘It takes Socrates a whole dialogue of questions with someone to find out what actually they had in their hearts. Jesus, you notice in the Bible, knows what’s on people’s hearts straightaway. Who would you prefer to argue with?’ ”

Then it was Dr Adam’s turn to be “launched” – twice, for Gospel Trials in 1662: To stay or to go? and for The ‘Very Pure Word of God’: The Book of Common Prayer as a Model of Biblical Liturgy, both published by the Latimer Trust in the UK.

Archdeacon Condie – who is Dr Adam’s colleague at Vicar of St Jude’s Carlton, where Dr Adam is Vicar Emeritus – noted that globally, the Anglican Church was in turmoil, with many faithful Anglicans in the US and Canada leaving.

"The question that many Anglicans face today is to ‘Stay’ and try to reform the denomination, or ‘Go’ and shake the dust from their feet, and leave altogether, or realign with Anglicans with whom they have more in common,” Dr Condie said.

But in 1662’s “Great Ejection”, 1760 ministers – 20 per cent of Church of England clergy – left, he said.

“As an Anglican today of slightly puritan leaning, I sometimes wonder about the legitimacy of place for my kind of protestant reformed Christianity in the Anglican Church. Many would tell me that I am not really Anglican. How refreshing to read that that was not historically the case. Peter Adam draws our attention to the real character of those days post-Act of Uniformity, where many real card-carrying Anglicans were of this reformed and puritan character.”

Dr Condie said Dr Adam’s other book was “an unashamed appreciation of the BCP”.
“Peter’s basic contention is that the Book of Common Prayer is a Bible-infused, Bible-shaped and Bible-promoting attempt at Christian liturgy,” Dr Condie said.

“I like reading books by preachers because again this book, like a good Peter Adam sermon, has practical application at the end. He appeals to us to recover, if not the use of the BCP, the principles of it in our planning of public worship today. He paints a vision beyond the bland song-bible-sermon-song-prayer-song sandwich that is the diet of many a contemporary church to something much richer, much more biblical and much more in keeping with our theological roots.”

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