The beardless brother of "Duck Dynasty" fame and former senior pastor of White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana, is adding his mark to the family's collection of authored books with the release of The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible — a 1,216-page New King James version Bible that includes personal stories and testimonies from Alan and Phil.
Based on five key components the Robertson family is known for — faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness and freedom — Alan and Phil delve into topics on love, brokenness and healing, guilt, and sin and temptation as they share what the Bible teaches followers to do in response to life's challenging circumstances.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with Alan Robertson:
CP: Let's talk about your study Bible and why writing a supplement to go with the Scriptures is something you wanted to do?
Alan: You know, I spent 22 years in full-time ministry, so a lot of people ask me: "What Bible can I get?"
One of the things that I felt like we had to bring into this [supplement] that's a little bit different is we've always had the ability to relate to people at a level that doesn't seem like we're being too preachy or too "holy," from their perspective. We wanted to write something practical — something life-changing that keeps it simple.
The Bible is a very complex thing in that it's spread out over thousands of years and has all these tremendous truths in it; but at the same time, it was written and passed along by the Holy Spirit to be spoken to people at any level of where they are.
Sometimes I think we get out there too far in all the eschatology of this and the Greek and Hebrew background of that.
As a pastor, I studied all of that; and for me, personally, I love diving into that. But for the average Joe and Jane out there, the question is: "How is this going to help me live tomorrow, and how can this help me change my life, because it's a mess right now?"
CP: What was it like working on this project with your father? Did you each take sections of the Bible, or collaborate and decide who was going to take on certain topics?
Alan: We kind-of just collaborated together. Dad is one of those kinds of people — once you get him locked in it he's going to go.
We sat down with three guys from Harper Collins, which they combined with Zondervan and Thomas Nelson and Bob Dumas, and we just had a good old fashioned Bible study for a couple weeks. We sat down every day and just went through the Word, and it was a lot of fun to do that.
And so, we would work through some new content, but we were also pulling in some of the stuff that dad and I had taught and preached in the past.
I'm usually a pretty good note keeper; dad, not so much. If it's written down at all, it's on a yellow notepad somewhere. I have pretty good records of my stuff, so we interject a lot of that into the stream because those are things we'd worked on in the past [that relate to] those five prisms, the five Fs —faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness and freedom — that really allow the Word to speak to somebody.
Take the topic of grace, when you're able to look at it from different perspectives, it really brings the Bible out in a new way. That's why I love studying the Word. You change over the course of your life, you have all these different seasons, but the Word is consistent. It (the Bible) changes you because you see it from a different way.
When I was a 20-year-old brand new Christian, I viewed things differently than I do now, as a 49-year-old grandpa and dad. And so, what happens is some of those same passages that impacted me before, when I was younger, still impact me now, but in a different way because I've changed, I've matured. I'm a different person than I was 29 years ago. That's the blessing of what the Bible can do.
CP: Your father has shared stories about how members of your church would drive 90 minutes away from West Monroe every week to minister to people who didn't have a church to go to. Can you talk more about that outreach?
Alan: Well, and even now we continue that outreach. Because of the show, people drive in. There was a family that came in this past Sunday that drove all the way down from Indiana — 12 hours straight the little kid told me when they got here, just to meet with us on Sunday and to worship with us at our church. And then they were going to stay over and go to our store where we sell stuff from the family — I was just amazed. And that happens every Sunday and every Wednesday that we meet.
People come in from California, Canada, and we've had some who traveled to Louisiana from Australia. They say, "You know what, you guys have impacted us spiritually, and we just want to worship with you."
Sometimes they come in and want to ask for prayer, which of course, whoever's here will spend time doing that. And some will come in and say, "You know what, I've made a commitment to Christ, would somebody here baptize me, I want to make that profession of baptism, would somebody here do that?" We're like,"Sure, we'd love to, that's what we do — we spend our whole lives doing things like this."
Now, it's kind of strange that people just come and turn themselves in to the Lord right here (reminding us of Ephesians 3:14). It's been amazing — that's like one of the best highlights of the show, and so I think that's what's led to this Bible project. We realize that this thing is bigger than we could've ever imagined.
CP: One topic you mention in the book is about shame, and then learning to forgive yourself — knowing that you have grace, and grace is sufficient and God forgives us. But isn't forgiving oneself something that most people struggle with?
Alan: I feel like that's one of Satan's best tools. It really goes back to the garden. He's been using shame from the very beginning — the first man, the first woman who happen to be the first husband, the first wife. When they realized what they had done, they had blown it. God said: "Don't do this," and they had done it.
Whether it's one simple thing, like don't eat from that tree, or something more complex about these entanglements we get ourselves into, it really comes down to that. And that first reaction was fear, remember, because [the Bible says] they said they were afraid of God, and then there was shame, they hid themselves. Then they realized their own nakedness, which they never had before. So that shame had set in there early.
I just really believe it's been around since the very first sin, and it still goes to this day, and it's one of Satan's best tools to keep us from reaching our potential in Christ.
Even though we are forgiven saints who have embraced His grace, who live under that grace, we still become so ashamed of something we've done, something somebody's done to us, so sometimes it's not being able to forgive other people.
But I really believe that starts with not being able to allow God to embrace you in that forgiveness and realize that, you know, I've been cleansed from that. So, that was an awful terrible thing I did, or maybe that was an awful period of my life, but I'm not going to be that guy anymore.
One thing I appreciate are ministries, such as recovery ministries for addictions, I appreciate those ministries saying: We're not going to say, "Hey, my name's Alan, and I'm an alcoholic." We're going to say, you know what, I've struggled with alcohol in the past, but I'm a believer in Jesus Christ who's been freed from the addiction of alcohol. I don't want to be that person anymore.
I really think those guys are starting to get it — you don't want to be identified by your sin. You want to be identified as one who has allowed Christ to forgive that sin.
CP: A lot of Christians want to share the Gospel but they're either not comfortable with doing that or they don't know how to go about reaching out to other people — whether they're non-believers, neighbors, or someone who adheres to a different faith. How will Christians be able to use your book as a resource to engage the people they meet?
Alan: I think — and I helped do this without realizing it for years when I was early in my ministry — we kind-of make the Gospel of Christ and the Good News of being changed sort-of like a formula.
In other words, you gotta be able to say the right things and you've got to be able to attach it to the right verses. And we almost made it like a sales pitch. And it was really born out of a good heart — wanting to go, whether it was door knocking or neighborhood canvassing, or things like that. But we made it sort-of like a sales pitch, and then if you didn't really know the pitch or know how to do it well, then you weren't effective.
I think that was the wrong approach, even though I was one of those guys who helped perpetuate that way of going about evangelism.
Evangelism should be much more organic, and I think this Bible is a good example of that. It's best to just talk about how God has impacted you.
Each person has their own individual story and no two people are the same. The beauty of it is that we all have an individual way that we came to Christ. Some of that may have been this amazing, almost miraculous story of conversion, and for somebody else it might have been — I grew up, I knew what was right, I still struggled, I still sinned, I'm not perfect, but at the same time, I never left that — I've stayed a part of that my whole life. Well, that's a story, maybe that's your story — that's how God worked on you.
I think people don't realize that their story is powerful, and it always impacts someone else if we're willing to talk about it.
I tell people, it's not about knowing or memorizing the right things or having the right texts in your mind, it's just being willing to talk about how something has impacted you.
I know that every single person in the world, whether it's a work environment or a school environment or whatever season of life you're in, you have a way to tell your story. And you're going to be around people who say, "My life stinks. I'm having a terrible situation with my wife; I can't get along with my kids."
Whatever the situation is, if you're willing to jump in there and say, "I totally get that. Here's what happened to me and my life," and you tell that story, you just offered hope to somebody and you just offered them something better. If they're a non-believer, then now they have an opportunity to know where the real source of peace comes from in a family or in a relationship.
That's why in The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible we included the life changers index of stories. And that's the reason we did that. Everybody has the capacity to live for Christ and we wanted people to know that before they even got into the actual Word of God. And so, we share 30 or 31 stories of people we've witnessed to through our 40 years of ministering that shows people have the ability to change. That's how we want people approaching the Word of God when they ask: "How is this going to help me be the person I need to be?"
CP: The Bible is an old book, and people might ask: "What relevance does it have in my life?" Can you explain why the Bible isn't just an old text that doesn't have any relevance to people's lives today?
Alan: The No. 1 reason is because the Bible says that about itself, by those that have written it over the course of thousands of years, that it is a living and breathing document. You see that in Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
The text might be ancient, the text may be about a lot of cultures through time, but the Holy Spirit, who's the ultimate author that worked through people to write down those words that we now know as the Word of God — He's the same, and He's relevant in any culture.
In other words, if God is who He says He is, and He created everything He said, and His Holy Spirit is part of Him, then it's always going to be relevant. Whether He's speaking to some Bedouin shepherds 2,000 years ago or someone 4,000 years before that or He's speaking today, He's the same — today, yesterday and tomorrow.
And so, that's the beauty of the Bible — it pulls it together. So even though the last of the texts that we read about are from 2,000 years ago, the same Holy Spirit wrote it. And the Bible's just a great guide. Nobody faces things that can't be answered by the Holy Spirit. That's the beauty of it. I think that's the consistency that's happened across time. And that's what makes it relevant.
When you go back and read some of those old passages — you read in Psalms, or maybe you read some stuff on Job — Job has some of the greatest pictures where God's having this conversation with Job about things that are very relevant to us today — the Bible still speaks to all those things.
There are a lot of guys out there smarter than me who are also believers who are always digging into the Bible.
When I read stuff like Hugh Ross who's a great guy out in California, or somebody else that reveals that truth that's been right there for thousands of years in the ancient Scriptures — I'm just amazed that God has put that in the Bible all along for people to grab.
In terms of our culture, we're still facing the same old problems. Sin hasn't changed for mankind from Adam and Eve in the garden to today. It's still the same old things: it's pride, selfishness, it's wanting to do things my way; it's getting involved in bad situations; immorality and lying.
Humanity, at its whole, is really dealing with a lot of the same issues that the Bible speaks to, such as how to have peace in my relationship with my family.
People have been asking those questions for thousands of years — the answer's in the text. If you treat them well, if you forgive, if you treat them with kindness, if you don't speak ill of them — if you do those types of things you're going to be better. So that's what the scriptures lead us to.
I'm one of those who firmly believes you will always have an impact and that spirit-filled men and women will always be able to impact the culture no matter what happens.
We're never going to get too advanced for the Word of God.
CP: As Christians, how can we use current events as an opportunity to witness? And what should we be doing during these times when much of the world is combatting terrorism and the Obama administration is planning to send additional troops to Afghanistan in 2015, and maybe even increase the number of soldiers who are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria?
Alan: Every civilization, every culture, has faced impending doom. Throughout history that's the way it's worked. We've seen the great ones rise up and it looked like their way of life would go on forever, and then something would cause it a collapse. This is nothing new.
Again, we think in an advanced culture and society that somehow we can get rid of hatred, violence and murder, and all of those things, but you can't. As long as there's evil, as long as the devil is out there doing what he does, you're going to face those things. And right now, in this current age, that's what we face.