Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors because he tackles the questions most others are afraid to even talk about – and he does it in a raw and honest way. Yancey pulls no punches in his struggles and is not afraid to answer with “I don’t know” if that’s really the case. What Good is God? In Search of a Faith that Matters takes no detours from this style, and it does not disappoint. Yancey asks some big questions and offers some great answers.
The book chronicles 10 trips Yancey has taken over the years to address and interact with people going through terrible trials: victims of the Virgina Tech massacre, a trip to post-apartheid South Africa, and a trip to Mumbai, India during the terrorist attacks there in 2008. Most people look at tragedies such as these and ask, “Where is God in all of this?” Yancey asks the same question – and then answers it. He finds the good in what appears to be evil. Scripture tells us that “My ways are not your ways”, and that God is in control, yet at chaotic times in this world it is hard to believe. Yancey doesn’t try to explain away these evil events with simplistic answers – instead, he acknowledges the evil and then searches for good that comes out of it: the churches and Christians who minister to those in need. God is present in our world, as is evil, and we need to remember that this world is still under the realm of the evil one. Yancey never tries to explain away the hurt or disappointment of the people in the situations he chronicles. Instead, he looks for others who are meeting their needs in the name of Jesus.
And in so doing, he challenges us to do the same. This is by far one of the most convicting books I’ve read in a long time – and it has re-opened my eyes to the hurt around me as well as how God can use me to minister to the needs of the hurting. If you are looking for a book to encourage your faith by helping you see God working in the lives of people across the world then this book is for you. If you pick the book up thinking Yancey will answer the question “Where is God in all of this” by trying to explain away the evil around you, you will not find it here. Evil is present – and Yancey admits that; what he does is look for (and find) God in spite of (or perhaps because of) that evil. This is a definite 5/5 stars.
Note: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review of it. I am disclosing this to comply with FTC regulations.
Charles Foster sets out to write a book which explores the cases for and against the resurrection of Jesus. The book is written as a court-drama with two opposing lawyers presenting their positions. One, known only as X, presents arguments against the resurrection of Christ while the other, known as Y, argues in support of the resurrection. Foster is very honest at the beginning of the book to state his personal position, yet he tries his best to present a balanced view of both sides.
Over all I found the book compelling to read – if for no other reason than to be better aware of the arguments that unbelievers will pose. I find it difficult to believe, though, that someone who honestly doesn’t believe in the resurrection would be convinced solely based on the information contained in this book. Foster seems to indicate this as well, though. In his preface he writes,
The Internet seethes with assertions from convinced Christians that the resurrection can be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ I don’t know what anyone who ways that sort of thing can have been reading, but I do know that it can’t be the relevant evidence. Or at least they can’t have been reading the evidence with any historical or forensic perspective…You can only make ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ assertions if faith has dictated the course of the trial. And a trial like that is no trial at all. Such faith as I have proceeds, stumblingly, from the conclusions of the inquiry that is in this book. Faith has absolute no part to play in the inquiry itself.
Over all this book reminded me of two things: first, and foremost, is the importance of doctrine of the resurrection to Christian faith. The second, though, is the role of faith in this process. If the resurrection could be proved beyond any doubt there would be no need for faith, so the very fact that faith is required seems to require that there is always a certain amount of uncertainty in the entire journey. And I’m comfortable with that. While I would have enjoyed the debate more if it was written by two different authors (each who argued what they truly believed instead of one person trying to argue for a position he doesn’t believe), I found reading it time well spent for the very two reasons listed above. Over all, I’ll give it three out of five stars.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Cross posted on Grace Notes and I Respond to Jesus