Though he bills himself as a journalist, Philip Yancey manages in his many books not only to ask searching questions about God but to put the church on notice that superficial answers will not do. Yancey is an editor-at-large for Christianity Today; his books include "What's So Amazing About Grace?"; "Disappointment With God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud"; and "Where Is God When It Hurts?: A Comforting, Healing Guide For Coping With Hard Times."
His latest is a response to the "new skeptics" who question God's goodness and very existence. "What Good is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters" ($23.99 in hardcover from FaithWords; $10.99 in Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook e-book) puts it bluntly: "Often when people pose a question like 'What good is God?' they are asking why God doesn’t intervene more directly and with more force. Why did God let Hitler do so much damage, or Stalin and Mao? Why doesn’t God take a more active role in human history?"
Yancey is scheduled to speak at all three morning services this Sunday at Bidwell Presbyterian Church (located next to Chico State University). He'll give one message at 8:30 and 9:45 in the sanctuary, and a second at the El Rey Theater in downtown Chico at 11:11. The presentations are free and open to the public; best seating is at 8:30 or 11:11.
"What Good is God?" is arranged in ten parts, each recounting a trip in search of answers, each presenting a talk Yancey gave. "This book," he writes, "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."
Yancey's book is not a logical defense of Christianity, but a picture of God at work in the trenches. The author is convinced that "for whatever reason, God chooses to make himself known primarily through ordinary people like us."