What Good is God?: On the Road with Stories of Grace


The only group He attacked relentlessly was graceless religious leaders. So we should not be surprised when we get to the end of the Gospels and discover that the people who crucified Him were those who claimed to know God but knew little of grace. In doing so, they confirmed everything He said about them. As we are about to discover, grace is not a New Testament idea.

But it was certainly personified by Him. Not the balance between, but the embodiment of. In Jesus there was no conflict between grace and truth. It is that artificial conflict that throws so much of Christianity into disarray. Grace acknowledges the full implication of sin and yet does not condemn. Grace is understood best within the context of relationship. After all, it is only within the mystery and complexity of relationships that grace is experienced. It is a story that begins in the beginning. It is a story that traces its way through every book of the Old and New Testaments.

The story of grace includes a broad range of characters — rich, poor, powerful, and powerless. In some ways these stories are our stories. For like the individuals who populate the pages of Scripture, we, too, need grace. Hardcover , pages. Published October 19th by FaithWords first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about What Good Is God? Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jun 22, Cheryl Gatling added it.

My husband read this book for a reading group at church. When he brought it home, I asked him, "So? What good is God? Yancey doesn't actually answer that question. A more accurate title might have been "Travels With Yancey. He has been literally around the world, often meeting with people in extreme circumstan My husband read this book for a reading group at church. He has been literally around the world, often meeting with people in extreme circumstances: In many cases Yancey doesn't have to answer the question, "What good is God?

It may not be God's goodness that is in question, so much as our faith. Yancey is always ready to correct the imbalances of Christianity. Christians are too judgmental, too legalistic. American Christians are too distracted by consumerism and celebrity culture. Christians need to be reaching out to the marginalized, as Jesus did. Christians need to be caring for the poor, as Jesus did.

Christians need to return to the primary message of love and acceptance. If we can do that, we can make a difference in the world, even when few in number. If we can do that, we can show others the goodness of God, like the lamp on the cover, shining over a dark city. Oct 01, Jessi rated it really liked it. In this book, Philip Yancey presents his ideas about spirituality in an extremely realistic and practical way. He examines the concept of God's goodness and the value of faith in the troubled times we live in and does not mince words or give pithy pat answers. He honestly looks at some disturbing issues with a view to discovering if God is actually good in that specific situation.

He is comfortable enough with ambiguity to avoid generalizing and giving advice not based on truth. As a committed C In this book, Philip Yancey presents his ideas about spirituality in an extremely realistic and practical way. As a committed Christian, there are doubts and concerns that are ever-present in my mind that a simple, "Christian" answer doesn't quite satisfy, and this book does address some of them. I love that Yancey challenges the way Christians think about the world without discounting the value of faith.

The format of the book follows some tough places that Yancey has been asked to give a talk. As he goes along, Yancey paints a picture of the place or event the difficulties it might present for someone looking for evidences of the goodness of God. He then includes the actual speech given at each place. It's powerful to think about Yancey having to address the various groups of people in each location - for example addressing students at Virginia Tech shortly after the shooting, a group of sex workers in various stages of getting out of the business, recovering alcoholics, and groups offering aid to the destitute in Africa to name a few issues.

This book is a must-read for Christians looking for insight, spiritual seekers, or even individuals who are curious about the the tenets of the Christian faith. Yancey's style makes everything very understandable without being condescending or trite. Thanks to the Hachette Book Group for providing this book for a fair review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Oct 21, Holly Weiss rated it it was amazing Shelves: The idea for the book came to him while on an airplane. After his book tour in India was bumped because of the terror in Mumbai in , Yancey instead spoke to a small group in an Indian church. How do we find comfort in the midst of disaster and suffering? During his quest, Yancey, the journalist observed with a practiced eye while Yancey, the believer, probed his soul for answers. His sojourns through the dark places of our planet and its broken people are metaphors for his own spiritual journey.

Effective illustrations precede each chapter. The poignant cover shows a small lantern perched high above an unnamed modern city. Compassion may have been the only gift Phillip Yancey felt he could give to the broken and injured he met on his travels. The message of What Good is God, however, is clear. Good exists in this flawed planet because God is here.

By encouraging believers to allow the light of Christ to illuminate the darkest places of our experiences, we are reassured that our vigilant God is present, no matter what tragedy we stumble upon. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont Nov 24, Ken rated it liked it Shelves: Yancey is my favorite Arminian writer. Thought provoking, genuine and original, Yancey never fails to send my thoughts in new directions.

Commitment Killed a Part of Me

I miss the deep and edifying conversations about our faith with friends. Life has taken over. Reading Philip Yancey's WHAT GOOD IS GOD? has evoked. For each of his ten destinations, WHAT GOOD IS GOD? shares Philip's inspiring words of encouragement and reveals the compelling story.

I am about half way through this one and it is formated into chapter pairs with the first one describing an extrodinary or unusual circumstance where Yancey has been asked to speak and the second giving the speach itself. He has covered so far speaking at the Virginia Tech Masacare, the Chinese underground church, a conference for recovering prostitutes, remem Yancey is my favorite Arminian writer. He has covered so far speaking at the Virginia Tech Masacare, the Chinese underground church, a conference for recovering prostitutes, remembering CS Lewis at Oxford - pretty powerful.

I'm really in between "liked" and "really liked. This book is full of powerful, superbly-written stories that make you think or cry or imagine. Very few can so powerfully mix intellectual questioning with such powerful pathos. One is definately moved and stretched to think differently or more deeply about God and how his mysterious plans are worked out in the world. The real question Yancey is asking as he reveals his travels throughout the world is - Does God make a difference in difficult situations faced by believers around the globe?

And if so what is that difference and how is it manifested? There is no doubt that Yancy excels at asking this question and painting the picture of suffereing and pain with a realistic and heart-wrenching pen. There is equally no doubt that Yancey comes down firmly on the side that God is good though unfathomable and suffering often results in displays of grace that would never be seen without the agony. So why the mixed review? I think what strikes as off is that Yancey is mushy.

I don't mean sentimental I mean unclear doctrinally. While I do appreciate that doctrine has to be worked out on the road of life and doctrine alone alone can lead to pat, prideful answers - it still seems important to work on the basis of concrete truth - and Yancey seems fuzzy in more areas than I would like.

All in all though this is another great Yancy work - that will challenge and encourgae you in your pursuit of God.

How Our Suffering Glorifies the Greatness of the Grace of God

Mar 01, Florinda rated it liked it. Im not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I don't think it was what I found, at least in terms of its structure. What Good Is God?

See a Problem?

In Search of a Faith That Matters is a collection of talks that Philip Yancey has given in various places around the world, each prefaced with a chapter reflecting on the circumstances under which they were given. In some instances, Yancey addressed communities in the wake of traumatic events; in others, he spoke to groups who were marginalized and persecuted. He spoke in Memphis, Tennessee - a place I know pretty well, and one where nearly every issue is quite literally black or white - on the day after the presidential election, discussing the healing influence that the Church Health Center has had on this city with a notorious civil-rights history.

He spoke at a Cambridge University conference about C. Lewis, and that chapter may have been the one I least expected; it actually made me want to read C. Yancey was brought up in a narrow-minded, fundamentalist church, but has arrived at a more expansive worldview - and God-view, which is what he communicates to his listeners.

He comes across as evangelical in some ways, but with a rather non-sectarian approach, and the more time I spent with the book, the more appealing I found that. In contrast, he seeks to convey what Christianity is by going back to its roots, the teachings of Jesus and writings of his early followers. Jan 29, Michael rated it really liked it. There are some wonderful stories that I hope to remember and share with others. The book is set up in a series of sections made up of two chapters: In the first chapter of the section, Yancey provides background on the situation, circumstances, invitation, etc.

Then in the second chapter, Yancey gives an edited version of his talk. Lewis fans, and more. In search of a faith that matters, Yancey finds such a faith in these different groups. Besides the definition of a monk, it could also be a definition of a church.

Oct 22, Emily rated it it was amazing Shelves: Got an advance copy of this from the bookstore where I work. Philip Yancey is one of my favorite Christian writers, and he had an interesting and effective format for this book. It was divided into 10 sections, each one about a place he had traveled where he had been struck by the faith of the people he met and the difference God had made in their lives.

From Mumbai, shortly after the terrorist attacks in , to Virginia Tech after a student went on a murderous rampage, to a convention of wome Got an advance copy of this from the bookstore where I work. From Mumbai, shortly after the terrorist attacks in , to Virginia Tech after a student went on a murderous rampage, to a convention of women who had found their way out of prostitution, Yancey writes about the people he meets with anecdotes of incredible faith and struggles to not only survive the world, but to make it a better place.

Each section is divided in two- Yancey setting the stage for the speaking engagement in each place and then the actual speech he gave. I was moved by this book and may need to read it again for the inspiration it gave. I recommend it to Christians and non-Christians alike as a book that presents stunning examples of Christianity as it should be. Jan 19, Patty rated it liked it Shelves: Nothing earth shattering for me at least, but Yancey always has interesting things to say about faith and religion.

In this book he visits 10 places where faith has been tested. Yancey gives the reader information about why he picks this place, why he visits these people and what he had to say to them. I will give Philip Yancey credit - I am not sure that all evangelicals would choose to visit the places Yancey does. And I don't think all conservative Christians would be open to t This was fine. And I don't think all conservative Christians would be open to the spirit moving among these people. This was a good, quick read. Through this book I got to see some of the places in the world where being Christian is not as easy as here.

I just feel like this book is not Philip Yancey's best writing. This was not nearly as good as Yancey's book on grace. I may have to go back and read that one so I can remember what a good writer Yancey can be. Jul 25, Ann rated it really liked it. I really like Phillip Yancey's books. He doesn't beat around the bush - bad stuff happens whether you are a Christian or not. The difference for Christians is that we have a companion on the journey and we can experience hope and grace despite out circumstances.

May 25, Buddy Draper rated it really liked it Shelves: This book covers difficult places and issues and how God speaks and ministers to and through His people. Apr 18, Francis Gahren rated it really liked it Shelves: I was immediately interested in his story of how he dealt with his car accident on a slick Colorado road.

With a broken neck, strapped to a board because the doctors were afraid a bone fragment would puncture an artery, he was given a cell phone and told to contact his family because they were not sure how long he had to live. The description of the South African mother who forgave the policeman who killed both her son and husband affected me greatly — if she can forgive like that, who am I to hold petty grievances? I plan on buying this book and reading it several more times — there is much to learn here. Table of Contents 1 Virginia Tech: Philip Yancey The idea for the book came to me in late November as the plane I was traveling in took off from the Mumbai, India, airport.

I had been scheduled to speak on a book tour downtown the very night terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Hotel and ten different sites, killing people. The city went under lockdown and we had to cancel the scheduled event. Instead I spoke at an impromptu service at a small church in the suburbs in an atmosphere clouded with fear and grief.

How to Love God When You Don’t Feel It

It was eerily reminiscent of what we Americans had experienced on September 11, , when my own church spontaneously filled with people looking for comfort—only this time I was the speaker on the spot. I started making a list of them on my airline ticket stub. Visiting Virginia Tech the week after a campus massacre. Addressing a convention of alcoholics in Chicago.

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Interviewing a roomful of prostitutes about their life stories. As each of these events unfolded, at some point I had to stand up and try to find words of encouragement and hope. By the end of that long plane ride home, this book had taken shape: What does religious faith offer peasants undergoing persecution, or students recovering from a campus massacre, or women who have spent years of virtual slavery in the sex trade? What good is God in situations like these?

Does It Make Any Difference? Most of my books—like this one—have a question as a title because, frankly, my own faith starts with questions. In this book I tackle perhaps the most basic faith question of all: Although the book addresses issues of faith, it does so in real-world settings, not abstractly. In my travels I have found a deep longing in almost everyone: Dare we entertain such a hope?

This book is my attempt to answer the question. First, as a journalist, I search for a faith that matters. And now you, the readers, join that audience. For the journeys here recounted are those of an extraordinary pilgrim. Readers thus join the author in marveling at how faith can sustain believers grieving the violent deaths of loved ones in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Mumbai, India; can empower prostitutes trying to escape from the sex trade in Perth, Australia, and buoy alcoholics fighting their addiction in Chicago; and can even enable black Christians in South Africa to extend miraculous forgiveness to their former oppressors under apartheid.

Still, Yancey refuses to reduce his message to simply a call for improving this world. Drawing on the work of C. Lewis, he affirms his ultimate allegiance to a God whose eternal dominion transcends all things earthly. A bracing witness, challenging both religious complacency and secular skepticism. Does faith really matter? I particularly enjoyed the format of the book. The author pulled off the extraordinary task of drawing the reader into ten earlier and amazingly unique experiences and propelled them from his past and into our present. He draws us in to the places he visited — as if we are standing directly in the midst of the chaos erupting in Mumbai, India in or experiencing firsthand the tragedy and the pain that embodied those involved in the massacre at Virginia Tech in — and gives us, the reader, a chance to hear exactly what he said to the people he met during these difficult times.

I believe you will, as I did, walk away with a clearer understanding of how faith in action works and how grace, when displayed on large and small scales alike, can be presented beautifully, as Mr. He closes the last section of this book with this exhortation: May the church be known as a place where grace flows on tap: An excerpt from What Good is God? As it happened, that was the horrifying night when terrorists attacked tourist sites with grenades and guns, killing people. Instead I spoke at an impromptu service at a small church in the suburbs on a night shrouded in fear and grief.

Later, as we prepared to leave India, shooting erupted in the airport and guards with machine guns searched us and our luggage five separate times before we boarded one of the few international flights still operating. During the long plane ride home, still rattled by our narrow escape, I thought back to other intense times from my travels.

Shuttling interview subjects into dingy hotel rooms in China in order to avoid detection by the secret police. Listening to accounts from the dazed students at Virginia Tech barely a week after their tragedy as I was still recovering from my own life-threatening accident.

God Is Good

Interviewing a roomful of prostitutes about their grim life stories. As I get involved in such extreme situations one question looms above all: If I can find an answer, or even a clue, to the question of what good is God in situations like these, it will help me with the hard questions of faith that confound all of us at times. Bellow, you are a writer and we are writers. As a novelist, I am concerned with news of eternity. My journalistic adventures have become for me a way to test the truth of what I write.

Will the scars from racism ever heal in the American South, let alone South Africa? Can a Christian minority have any leavening effect in a sometimes hostile environment such as China or the Middle East? I ask such questions each time I take on a challenging assignment. I should mention that on personality tests I score off the charts as an introvert. Writing is a lonely act, and I am quite content to hole up in a mountain cabin with a stack of books for a week at a time, speaking to no one but the grocery store clerk.

Nevertheless, I keep leaving home in quest of what happens when the faith I write about in a mountain cabin confronts the real world. Every few years a renowned atheist or agnostic comes out with a new book questioning the worth of religion in general and Christianity in particular. Although some of these books resemble the rants of adolescents, others raise important issues. Their number has nearly doubled since , and in Europe the percentage is far higher.

Strangely, two-thirds of the respondents who claim no religion still believe that God exists. Some of them judge organized religion as hypocritical or irrelevant and others simply question what God is good for. Now our most prominent enemies are religious extremists.

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Little wonder more and more people have doubts about the value of religious faith. Defenders of the Christian faith rise up with point by point rebuttals of the skeptics. As a journalist I approach such questions differently. I prefer to go out into the field and examine how faith works itself out, especially under extreme conditions. But will the shiny new product survive actual use by consumers in the real world? What happens if it gets pushed off a table accidentally or dropped on a sidewalk? Will the device still work? I look for similar tests in the realm of faith.

This book relates stories from places like China, where the church grows spectacularly despite an atheistic government; and the Middle East, where a once-thriving church in the heartland now barely hangs on; and South Africa, where a multicolored church picks through the pieces of its racist past.

In the United States I have visited not only Virginia Tech and a convention of prostitutes, but also a group of alcoholics in Chicago and two enclaves in the Bible Belt South. When I spend time among such people my own faith undergoes a tabletop test. Do I mean what I write about from my home in Colorado? I must admit, my own faith would be much more perilous if I knew only the U. Almost always I return from my travels encouraged, my faith buoyed.

As a writer I want to bring that good news to the jaded West, for such stories rarely make the headlines on CNN. In all honesty I must mention one last reason why I accept such assignments: Writers need the reminder that what we do in isolation may indeed touch people, and so the highlight of all such trips takes place when I meet the readers of my books. Filipinos have even more exotic names: I know nothing about you. In the process, I learned how intimate a bond may develop between readers and a writer they have never met.

If Jonah were repentant, he would have turned around; he would have changed his heart and his actions, as the word repentance implies. This means that he would have immediately headed for Nineveh, where God had previously commanded him to go. Instead, chapter 3 begins with a repetition of this command. He is not going to Nineveh until God demands it, again. And so he reluctantly goes to Nineveh, where he proclaims the message God gave to him. If you want to see genuine repentance, do not look at Jonah; look at the Ninevites.

The people of the city believed in God verse 5 and began to fast. The entire population repented and demonstrated this by fasting. Even the cattle were included in this fast. The king, likewise, repented and fasted, which he appears to do without personally hearing Jonah but having heard his message second hand see verse 6.

The king called the fast, and he led the nation in repentance with a certain sense of confidence that God was gracious and that He might relent their destruction if they did repent. This has good biblical basis:. And so God did relent of the evil He had threatened through Jonah, and the city was spared 3: This is where Jonah really gets steamed at God.

He should have been a tiny little pile of human ashes by now, and yet here he is, shaking his fist in the face of his God. He protests against God on the basis of His grace, compassion, lovingkindness, and turning from calamity verse 2. This is the only place in the Bible where a person protests against God rather than praises Him for these attributes.

Yet Jonah finds these attributes repulsive and disgusting, the basis for protest to God. As the story unfolds, we finally find Jonah happy. In spite of the fact that God has forgiven the Ninevites and called off the day of destruction, Jonah constructs a little booth outside the city, hoping God will still destroy it, and he will have the pleasure of watching it go up in smoke. In the intense heat which Jonah had no reason to suffer , God graciously gave Jonah a plant to provide him with shade.

And then God took the plant away, which made Jonah even more angry. God inquired of Jonah as to whether it was right for him to be angry regarding the plant. Jonah assured God he had every right.

Finally, I have come to see what I think is the underlying message of this book. He was angry that God showed grace to the Ninevites. He was happy that God showed grace to him in the shade plant, but he became furious when God took it away. Jonah did not deserve that plant, and he most certainly did not earn it.

And he was angry when God took these blessings away or gave them to others. He wanted the benefits and blessings of God, but as one who deserved them rather than as an unworthy sinner who did not deserve them. He had to admit this was grace, but he loathed grace. Grace indicates the unworthiness of the recipient. Jonah wanted to be blessed, but not on the grounds of grace. Self-righteous people do not want to confess their sins and beg God for grace. Jonah, like many then and now, loathed the grace of God.

But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. Did no one condemn you? We know that when our Lord came to this earth, He was the personification of grace and truth John 1: One incident in the life and ministry of our Lord tells us much about the grace which our Lord shows to men. Being self-righteous, these hypocrites were not worried about the wrath of God toward their own sin, because they looked upon others—such as this woman—as sinners.

Since Jesus showed such compassion on sinners and since He spent so much time with them, the scribes and Pharisees sought to put Jesus in an impossible situation.

The Story of Grace

They sought to make Him either look soft on sin or to take a hard line on sin and lose face with the people by putting this woman to death. They reminded Him that the Law required this woman to die. They were right, of course, but it also required the death of the man see Leviticus They then demanded that He give His opinion as to what should be done with this woman. Would Jesus dare challenge the Law of Moses? Jesus was more interested in the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees than in putting this woman to death. If sinners were to die for the wages of sin is death—the soul that sinneth shall die , then let the sinless one throw the first stone.

No one could quite work up the courage to claim sinlessness. No one dared claim to be righteous enough to pronounce judgment and begin the execution. Jesus then spoke to the woman, asking her where her accusers were. She responded there were none left to accuse her. Why then did our Lord not condemn her?

Instead, He told her He did not condemn her and that she was to go her way, but not to continue her life of sin. Why could the Lord Jesus do and say these things? The reason is simple and can be summed up in but one word: He came to seek and to save sinners. He could rightly refuse to cast a stone at this woman, not because the Law was wrong, but because His purpose in coming was to suffer the death sentence Himself.

He was not minimizing her sin, or its consequences, but rather He was anticipating that day when He would bear the punishment for sins on the cross of Calvary. Have you ever thought you were too sinful for God to save? Then grace is the good news that God has for you. Your salvation is not based upon how good you are, and your salvation is not prohibited by how sinful you have been. You will have to stand in line behind Paul and me if you wish to think of yourself as too sinful.

You are never too sinful to be saved, only too good, too self-righteous, too self-sufficient. Nowhere is grace more eloquent, more glorious, more precious, than when it stands in contrast to sin—our sin. Before we become too smug in our condemnation of men like Jonah, let me ask if you have ever been mad at God. I venture to say that you have, whether you recognize and admit it or not.

And why were you mad at God? Because you felt God did not give you what you deserved.