Phillip Yancey is one of the most influential writers in the Evangelical world today. “I write books for myself,” he says on his blog, “searching for a loving, gracious God.” Yancey writes about God’s grace instead of the God he feared because of the hell and brimstone preaching he received from what he calls a “toxic church.”
Yancey brings us a new format in his book, What Good is God. He takes us on a global trek to ten distinct groups of people to determine if the faith he writes about holds up through the tough issues he encounters in the “refiner’s fire of oppression, violence, and plague.” We see underground Christians in China, the horrific lives of those thrown into prostitution, recovering alcoholics in Chicago and life on campus in a 1960s Bible College. 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 2008, Yancey instead spoke to a small group in an Indian church. His theme: 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. Yancey’s answer to What Good is God echoes that of a pastor preaching following the Virginia Tech campus massacres on the Romans text “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The design of the book was refreshing. Effective illustrations precede each chapter. The poignant cover shows a small lantern perched on a wall above an unnamed modern city. Faith in God makes a difference-not just in a small 18th century church, but in the indescribable homai vyarawalla suffering of today’s world.
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.