Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey


Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in WHAT GOOD IS GOD? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution. At each of the 10 places he visited, his preparation for the visit and exactly what he said to the people he met each provided evidence that faith really does work when what we believe is severely tested. WHAT GOOD IS GOD? tells the story of Philips journey--the background, the preparation, the presentations themselves. Here is a story of grace for armchair travelers, spiritual seekers, and those in desperate need of assurance that their faith really matters.

The Elliott Review:

In this book (out today), 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 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.

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