(CNSNews.com) -- Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson and his eldest son Alan Robertson, both of whom are Christian ministers, released The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible today, which is a New King James Version of the Bible complete with testimonials, selected indexes on Jesus’s life, weekly readings, and devotional commentary from both men throughout the book.
While noting the joys of duck hunting, family, and Miss Kay’s cooking in the study Bible’s introduction, Phil and Al Robertson say that “what really gets us fired up – what’s the foundation of our daily lives and all that we do – is our relationship with the Almighty. There’s nothing we’d rather do than to dig into the pages of this book you are holding – God’s Word, the Bible. Everything we need to live life to the fullest is contained inside of these sixty-six books” of the Old and New Testament.
Phil and Al Robertson are the executive editors of the study Bible.
In an exclusive interview with CNSNews.com, Al Robertson explained why he and his father decided to publish the Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible; cited examples of how the Robertson’s Christian faith and the ending-prayer in each episode of Duck Dynasty have helped people; and discussed how Phil Robertson is like John the Baptist, pointing people “to Christ” in an often anti-Christian culture.
“[Dad] just proclaims the Bible and what he feels God is putting in him to say, and it’s not always well-received and sometimes it hasn’t been for him,” said Al Robertson. “And I do think here in the 21st century that we’re in a place where people that God raises up to point people to Christ. He’s going to use that. He’s always throughout history used someone like that.”
“So, in our current culture, in the 21st century, as much as anybody you see out there on a spiritual platform, Dad’s probably recognized more than anybody,” said Al Robertson. “Of course, he’s gotten a ton of criticism from people who don’t like that or don’t like him or don’t like what that represents. But, then again, what person hasn’t [been criticized] that God has raised up to be that guy? That kind of goes with the territory.”
“John the Baptist lost his head over his being so straight-forward to the current leadership of his day and time,” said Al Robertson. “We expect there’s going to be criticism, and people having a hard time accepting the Biblical message – and they are. But we can’t really make it palatable to people that don’t want to accept it. You can’t really do that and be true to it.”
With the Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible, “I really want to get it into people’s hands, that maybe this will be the first Bible they’ve ever owned, which would be exciting,” he said. “That would mean it was worthwhile.”
Al Robertson served in ministerial capacities for 22 years -- 12 of them as pastor -- at the White’s Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, La., which is where the Robertson clan regularly attends church and Bible study. He joined Duck Dynasty in 2012 and is now an elder at the church.
Phil Robertson is also an elder at White’s Ferry Road Church and he often preaches there, and he and Alan also preach in other venues across the nation.
As for The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible, published by Thomas Nelson (Harper Collins), “The guys from Harper Collins actually approached us with this concept, this idea of doing a Study Bible,” Al Robertson told CNSNews.com. “It intrigued me for sure and then when I talked to Dad, him as well, simply because the Bible is the enduring, everlasting Word of God. It’s been the number one best seller for as long as it’s been printed.”
“That’s the power of the Word of God, and what it can do,” said the younger Robertson. “To be able to do a project where your words are right there alongside those guys that God had carried along through all those years, is exciting. It’s something that we jumped at.”
In addition to the complete books of the Old and New Testament (NKJV) the Duck Commander Bible includes 52 Days With Phil and 52 Days With Al, which are selected readings for each week of the year on topics specific to faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness and freedom, what the editors call the “five core values of the Robertsons.”
Then there are the “Lifechangers,” 30 testimonials written by Phil and Al about people they know whose lives were transformed by God. The "Lifechangers" are truly that, life-changing, and include powerful testimonies about people who turned away from alcohol, drugs, suicide, adultery/sexual immorality, divorce, crime, violence, abuse and mental illness, among other difficulties, through the power of Jesus Christ as witnessed by the Robertsons.
In one Lifechanger, “The Long Haul,” Al Robertson talks about a cameraman who worked in the Duck Commander production studio who had a serious drug problem. Phil Robertson used to describe the cameraman as “other than being a manic-depressed paranoid schizophrenic who is ADD and a user of crystal meth, he’s a pretty good dude.”
Despite the cameraman’s ongoing drug use for two years, the Robertsons did not fire him. Finally, the man showed up at Phil’s house one night saying he needed to make a change in his life. Phil Robertson was patient and spoke to the man about Jesus Christ, and he soon repented. That cameraman has been “grounded in the Bible for five years,” said Al Robertson. “He works with addicts and alcoholics in the Celebrate Recovery program at our church. If we had been impatient and booted him off the set the first time he showed up high, he might never have come to Jesus.”
“God is ‘longsuffering toward us’ because He doesn’t want anyone to perish,” says Al Robertson in that Lifechanger story. “That’s why you just can’t write people off. You have to be patient while the Almighty goes to work on ‘em.”
The Duck Commander Bible also includes 125 commentaries/articles by Phil and Al Robertson entitled “Set Your Sights,” which touch on myriad topics throughout the Bible, including things such as affluence, children, gossip, Heaven, Hell, prayer, sin, suffering and worry.
Some of the indexes, with scriptural references, include the Parables of Jesus, the Miracles of Jesus, and the Miracles of The Apostles. There also is an ABCs of Salvation section and a 30 Days With Jesus index, which includes a theme and scripture passage for each day of the month.
“Hey, as you know from watching Duck Dynasty, a little duct tape and some redneck engineering works for most things,” say Phil and Al Robertson in the “Welcome” section of the study Bible. “But when it comes to laying down a foundation to build your life and your family on, there isn’t anything better or more reliable than the words of the Almighty. Trust us on this.”
“It is a well-known fact that before we met Jesus we dabbled in just about everything on Planet Earth – the sex, the drugs, the drinking, the runnin’ and gunnin’ with a pack of crazy rascals and whatnot,” say the Duck Dynasty father and son. “We’ve learned the hard way that none of that stuff can make us truly happy, happy, happy for the long haul. … Look, without Jesus we’d all be lost – every last one of us. But because we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, we now have the promise of eternal life with Him when the time comes to stick our bodies six feet in the ground.”
Phil Robertson, as he has discussed publicly many times, lived a “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” lifestyle until age 28, when he was born again, turned his life around and started the Duck Commander duck-call business, which has grown into a multi-million-dollar company, which preceded the launch of the highly popular reality-TV show Duck Dynasty.
Al Robertson also has discussed publicly his life-in-the-fast-lane lifestyle before his return to the faith in his early 20s.
“Our prayer is that the Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible will help you and your family drink deeply of God’s Word and fall in love with Jesus – either for the first time, or more completely if you’ve been running with Him over the eyars,” say Phil and Al Robertson. “As our family has learned, if you allow the Almighty to guide your steps in the days ahead, you’ll always be good to go!”
The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible is available in hardbound, imitation leather, and on Kindle.
Duck Dynasty, which completed its fourth season on A&E in mid-August, had an average audience of 6.51 million viewers for each Wednesday night episode. That’s down from an average of 9.1 million viewers in 2013.
Despite that ratings decline, Duck Dynasty is still considered the highest-rated reality-TV program in cable history. In the summer 2014 season, the show came in No. 1 every week, beating all other cable-TV shows in its time-slot. See TV by the Numbers here.
The show has been renewed for another season, and the 5th season premiere show will air on Nov. 19.
The transcript of CNSNews.com’s interview with Al Robertson is posted below:
CNSNews.com: You and your father have put a book together, The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible, and I believe it’s coming out at the end of October. Why did you and your father decide to publish this devotional Bible?
Al Robertson: Well, we obviously had written a lot of books about our family – all these different things we’ve done up to now. The guys from Harper Collins actually approached us with this concept, this idea of doing a Study Bible. It intrigued me for sure and then when I talked to Dad [Phil Robertson], him as well, simply because the Bible is the enduring, everlasting Word of God. It’s been the number one best seller for as long as it’s been printed. To do something that’s going to be printed alongside the sacred words of God Himself over history was very appealing in its ability to have a long-lasting impact, more than anything else.
Al Robertson: I have a lot of books that I’ve read through the years. Some of them I’ve held onto, a lot of them I’ve given away or put back on eBay, but all my Bibles I’ve ever had, I still have. I have two shelves full of them here in my library. That’s the power of the Word of God, and what it can do. To be able to do a project where your words are right there alongside those guys that God had carried along through all those years, is exciting. It’s something that we jumped at.
CNSNews.com: I read the book is going to contain some testimonials? Who are those testimonials [called Lifechangers] going to be from and could you maybe give me an example of one of them?
Al Robertson: Sure. They really are stories of people we have personally witnessed to and helped lead to Christ throughout our 40 years of Christian walk. We chose some of the more dramatic ones – there’s some amazing ones in there – but one that comes to mind that’s in there is one of the sound guys who worked on one of our television shows. Duck Dynasty is what we’re on now but we had a show before that, that was on the Outdoor Channel, and we did duck hunting videos before that. So, we’ve had a lot of impact on different production crews through the years.
Al Robertson: There was one sound guy who worked on one of the earlier shows. He came to Dad and he said --. A sound man knows everything, and they do. We say that’s why most sound guys are a little weird because they hear voices. They’re hearing all the voices of everyone on the set. He was listening to everybody and he says, I’m really curious because in my walk, in my life, in all the production crews I’ve been on, all the actors and hunters and all the different things he’s done -- because he had worked in the business a long time – everybody I know uses profanity at some point. It comes out, even if they’re on camera they don’t, off-camera here we go.
Al Robertson: But I know something about you and your family: I’m not hearing any profanity. I’m curious because I know you do it, but I’m just wondering when you do it. This guy’s not a Christian, doesn’t know anything about that. He’s just curious because he’s not hearing something that he expected to hear. Dad said, well, I’m glad you asked me that. When we get finished doing our filming here, if you want to hear more about it, I’ll tell you why. First of all, we don’t use profanity and I’ll tell you why we don’t.
Al Robertson: So the guy was intrigued and said, sure, I’d love to hear that. And, of course, he [Dad] shared with him about how our lives had been changed and how he used to be that way, and yet he changed. Because of Christ he decided he wasn’t going to use language that tore down and didn’t build others up, you know, was profane. So this guy winds up becoming a Christian, and ironically it’s because, initially, what he didn’t hear even over what he ultimately heard. So that’s just one example of some of the stories and some of the way people have been impacted and different ways they’ve been impacted just by our association with them.
CNSNews.com: One of the “Set Your Sights” pages talks about prayer and teaching your children how to pray and setting an example, or showing your children that the family can pray together. And I know that Duck Dynasty always ends with the family praying together. Is it your hope that people who watch the show will see that prayer and, in turn, start praying regularly themselves with their families? And do you recommend that American families pray together every day, especially with their children?
Al Robertson: Absolutely. I absolutely encourage people to do that and I hope the show relays that. And I know that it has in many cases because of e-mails and letters that I’ve received personally since I’ve been associated with the show. People have told me, we never prayed together, we didn’t even eat our meals together, what apparently a lot of typical American families do, where everybody eats on their own timetable, the come and go, they don’t really have that time together. And they said, we just decided, we saw you guys, we love the show, and that seemed to be such an important moment for you guys that we tried it and it hugely impacted our family in a positive way. Just sitting down and talking together, and also talking to God as a part of that process too. So, not only do I encourage it but I also know from actual real stories that people have tried it, some for the first time, and it’s impacted their family in a huge, tremendous way.
CNSNews.com: Without naming any names, can you give an example of how it helped or how they said it helped?
Al Robertson: Well, they said for the first time we feel like we know what’s going on in our kid’s life. One guy told me, I didn’t really know what was going on in my kid’s life. They always had their iPads or their phones and they were all over the place, and I’d hear things here and there. But since we’ve gotten together now and sit down and talk – and in their case the rule was no electronics at the table, we just talked to one another – and he said it was tremendous because for the first time, really in my children’s lives, since they were very small, I felt like I know what’s going on. I’m with them every day. And just that conversation, and the prayer pulls us together.
Al Robertson: They were Christians but they just were disconnected. So, he said the prayer helps them to feel connected, not just to God but also to one another. And that’s really what prayer does. That’s why I always encourage husbands and wives to pray together. Lisa and I do a lot of marriage talk and marriage ministry stuff, and I’m amazed at how many married couples don’t pray together. What happens is, you get a spiritual insight into your spouse when you hear them uttering those words to God in your presence. That’s what prayer can do. I always say it’s like a window into a person’s soul to see that. And not just programmed, professional prayer that people do at church or Sunday School but just talking to God, just every day language, you know, thank you for this, or this is where I need Your help, those sorts of things.
CNSNews.com: You spoke at the Watchmen on the Wall event this past spring, up here in D.C., and you talked about how your father Phil Robertson is sort of like John the Baptist. Were you saying that because he’s proclaiming the coming of Jesus Christ or his belief in Jesus Christ or was there something more specific you had in mind about what your father is doing?
Al Robertson: Well, first of all, what I said there and when I go out [to speak], just sort of the – obviously we don’t have a picture of John the Baptist – just the description of John the Baptist and Dad, the way he looks, the way he is in terms of outdoors is kind of similar. It’s what drew me into this analogy to begin with, the kind of wild looking guy that doesn’t really fit in with the normal cultural morays is there. And he is proclaiming Christ and he is proclaiming it boldly in a way that gets people’s attention.
Al Robertson: Those two things, kind of the way he looks and also the way he presents his message, very bold and very much not concerned about whether it’s received well by everybody. I spent a long time in ministry and preaching, and most preachers, including me, I admit it, most pastors they want to preach truth but they want to be well received, they want people to enjoy it, they want people to come back next week. That’s their mindset and approach.
Al Robertson: Dad is not like that. He’s never been locked into one particular for his job or his place. So, he just proclaims the Bible and what he feels God is putting in him to say. And it’s not always well-received, and sometimes it hasn’t been for him. Even here in Ashland, [Louisiana], in our current place. That’s my comparison to him. He seems to be in that vein or that cloth. I know there’s been criticism – there were different things put out there about me saying that, oh these people are crazy, they’re this or that – but anybody who will read the Scriptures and read about it and read [about John], of course, they’ll see some similarities. That’s what I was trying to do. I think there are some similarities.
Al Robertson: And I do think here in the 21st century that we’re in a place where people that God raises up to point people to Christ. He’s going to use that. He’s always throughout history used someone like that. So, in our current culture, in the 21stcentury as much as anybody you see out there on a spiritual platform, Dad’s probably recognized more than anybody. Of course, he’s gotten a ton of criticism from people who don’t like that or don’t like him or don’t like what that represents. But then again, what person hasn’t [been criticized] that God has raised up to be that guy? That kind of goes with the territory.
Al Robertson: John the Baptist lost his head over his being so straight-forward to the current leadership of his day and time. We expect there’s going to be criticism, and people having a hard time accepting the Biblical message – and they are. But we can’t really make it palatable to people that don’t want to accept it. You can’t really do that and be true to it. There is a certain expectation that that is going to happen.
CNSNews.com: The book, Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible is coming out in late October. Is there going to be a book tour?
Al Robertson: I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to do that, since it’s Dad and I both co-authoring it. Dad’s schedule is worse than mine, and mine’s pretty bad. We haven’t decided exactly how we’re going to do it. I’m going to do as much as possible to get out and promote and hopefully to do some signings and things like that. Dad will do what he can. We’ll be doing some media with that as well. You’ll just have to look for that. I hope to have some opportunities to not only talk about it to folks – because I really see it as a potential, not just for believers to get and to be blessed by it and to grow but I really want to get it into people’s hands, that maybe this will be the first Bible they’ve ever owned, which would be exciting. That would mean it was worthwhile. So I’m going to do everything I can to promote it and be out there and hopefully do some signings and things like that, as I can.
Video Editor Craig Millward contributed to this report.