What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

Now that’s a big questions, isn’t it? What good is God? When I saw this book was coming out I jumped at the chance to read it. I like Yancey’s style. He’s not afraid to ask the big questions and allows us to join him in his search for the answers. His writing is not preachy, it’s simple, clear, and approachable, but gets to the heart of the matter. He writes about the real world, not abstracts and “what ifs.”

In this book, Yancey tells of his visits to ten unique places, ranging from Virgina Tech in the during the aftermath of the massacre to Mumbai India during a terrorist attack, from a conference about ministry to sex workers to a conference on C. S. Lewis in Cambridge. Each section has two chapters, one  that tells about the place, person or situation. Some of the stories are tragic, heart-wrenching, like the story of the woman whose mother sold her to a brothel when she was 4. Others are inspirational, like how the church is tackling multiple challenges in South Africa. The following chapter is a version of the speech he gave to that particular audience, focusing on grace and the power of the gospel in the face of life’s tragedies, oppression and fear.

Chances are, I’m not going to have the opportunities to travel to the places Yancy has, to meet the people he’s talked with, but I do find their stories amazing. I think that this book does have some meat to it. It gave me some new insights and made me think about some issues in a different light. As am American Christian whose life is pretty doggone good, I found the book as a whole uplifting but challenging, too.

God’s love is transforming lives across the world, bringing hope, liberation, healing, and Yancey gives us the opportunity to experience it with him. I could include a dozen passages that I found particularly interesting or meaningful, but you should really read for yourself. I will include the last bit of the afterward though.

For whatever reason, God chooses to make himself known primarily through ordinary people like us. The questions “What good is God?” is an open question whose answer God has invested in us his followers. We are the ones called to demonstrate a faith that matters to a watching world. I have reported on ten places where I have seen that question answered – incompletely as it must be when entrusted to ordinary people, yet in a way that assuredly releases the fragrance of hope and transformation. May that fragrance continue to spread. (pg. 287 ARC)

Yancey shows that faith does matter, it does make a difference, and it can change lives. I’m glad I read this one.


Published October 19, 2010 by FaithWords
304 pages

Challenges: 100+

I received my ARC from the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.