Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as “a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time—in order to squash them.” Yancey jokes today about being “in recovery” from a toxic church. “Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbor’s house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity—if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn’t experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.”

For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. “I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.”

Ever since, Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He coauthored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. “No one has influenced me more,” he says. “We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.” More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.

Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. “Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.”

“I write books for myself,” he says. “I’m a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.” Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.

So, just how does a man who’s been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him “align” himself with God for the day. “I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don’t know a more honest book,” Yancey explains. “I can’t think of any argument against God that isn’t already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, ‘Then maybe you shouldn’t be reading them.’ Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They’ve been burned by the church or they’re upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.”

[You may send booking inquiries and blog subscription requests to Joannie:  pyasst@aol.com]

296 responses to “About Philip”

  1. richard says:

    by Richard Weber

    Background
    I was employed as a chaplain with Bridges of Canada from April 11, 2016 to February 14, 2017. During that time, I was contracted to the Edmonton Institution, a maximum security prison operated by Correctional Service Canada. This complaint describes the work environment at the Edmonton Institution, as well as the long series of events leading up to my dismissal from this facility.

    I first met the founder of Bridges of Canada, Monty Lewis, in 1982. I was a Bible college student at the time, and Monty and I were working at the Toronto East Detention Centre (TEDC) and the Toronto Don Jail. Immediately after graduating from college I was licensed by the Church Army of Canada. Later renamed Threshold Ministries, the Church Army in Canada was an arm of the Anglican Church of Canada. In 1984, soon after becoming licensed, I got a job as chaplain at the Toronto East Detention Centre (TEDC). While serving as chaplain there, Monty spoke in chapel services at my invitation on several occasions. On some of these occasions he stayed with me in my home. In 1988, after 4 years as a well-liked chaplain at the TEDC [1], I moved to Alberta to become the Protestant chaplain at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre (FSCC). A year later, in 1989, I was appointed by the Alberta Solicitor General to the position of Senior Provincial Chaplain for Alberta Correctional Services.

    In my first year at the FSCC I learned that Gord Dominey was sexually abusing young offenders. At the time, Gord was an Anglican priest and chaplain at the Edmonton Young Offenders Center (EYOC) and the Kikino Youth Center. Christobel Lines, a chaplain with Threshold Ministries at the EYOC, told me about Gord’s illicit activities, and then Gord himself then told me about them while we were having lunch at a McDonalds in Fort Saskatchewan. After further reports of abuse from the other chaplains at the EYOC, I went to the director and other senior staff of Threshold Ministries, as well as to my bishop and to the archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese in Edmonton. I also told my friend Monty, as well as a few others in Corrections Alberta and the Alberta government about the situation. Every one of these leaders told me to keep quiet about it or I would lose my job. Christobel herself refused to stand with me, saying that she was not going to lose her job for me. She even complained to Threshold Ministries that I was trying to destroy her job.

    Having experienced sexual abuse as a teenager, I knew firsthand about its devastating effects. My conscience would not permit me to keep quiet about the abuse that was happening right in front of me, so I finally went to the only other authority that I thought would help: the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). They dismissed my story as a fabrication.
    It was not until about 26 years later that I heard about Gord Dominey’s sexual abuses again. In December 2015, the EPS contacted me in PEI to make a statement about Gord [2]. After the initial shock wore off I agreed to a taped interview in the RCMP station in Summerside, PEI. The following year, in 2016, Gord Dominey was charged with over 30 counts of sexual abuse. [3] Although Gord’s trial is still ongoing, I feel vindicated.

    Despite the turmoil created by my reporting of Gord Dominey, life at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre went on. I continued to serve those under my care and enhanced the chaplaincy services there [4].

    In 1994, I was introduced to Reverend Frank Costantino, an Episcopal priest in the USA and founder of Bridges of America. Shortly after that I accepted an invitation to the board of Coalition of Prison Evangelists (COPE), of which Frank was president and founder. I became the western representative of COPE, while Monty was its eastern representative. One of my roles was to organize training for COPE workers [5].

    In November 1994, the Head of Chaplaincy for Correctional Service Canada (CSC) invited all Provincial Head Chaplains to Ottawa for meetings. Upon my arrival at the CSC head office, Monty pulled me aside and said, “Richard, we have to compromise our religious beliefs here to get in the door.” It was shocking for me to hear this from a Pentecostal pastor. Similarly, when I told Frank about the sexual abuses by church leaders, he replied, and I quote, “Richard, you are too honest for your own good. Keep quiet.” Nevertheless, Monty, Frank and I had an ongoing close relationship, both personally and professionally. We visited each other in our homes in Canada and the United States, and in 1995, with the assistance CSC, the three of us organized a COPE conference in Edmonton for 300 people from across Canada.

    Forming close relationships with those under my care was always important to me as a chaplain. I have received much love and respect from prisoners and the elderly [6] [7] [8] [9], and have therefore considered it my duty to keep them from being abused. However, by doing so, I have made many enemies among those in authority, including priests, church lay leaders and CSC officials. Many of these leaders routinely told me to keep quiet, and my refusal to do so finally cost me my job.

    It was widely known that Don Westman, a Corrections Officer at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre (FSCC), made a habit of watching women prisoners through the camera in segregation as they sat on the toilet. Everyone knew and talked about this – lawyers, guards, management, Elizabeth Fry Society members – yet no one stopped him or reported him. His voyeurism, a criminal offense under Canadian law, was permitted to go on until I blew the whistle on him. I saw him one day in 1998 in the Segregation Control Room (a room I was not allowed to go into), watching a mentally disabled female Aboriginal prisoner stretched out on the floor with her gown pulled way up around her upper body, her legs spread apart and her private parts exposed. Again, I was told to shut up about it. When I refused, I was dismissed without receiving any reasons in writing. Westman was never charged.

    Sometime after my dismissal I talked with one of the case workers, Phil Joy. Phil told me that he considered Don Westman to be a cruel person, that Don would make inmates stand outside in the freezing cold in winter for long periods of time while wearing just t-shirts and jeans. Phil also told me that Don would make prisoners stand facing the wall on the unit for his whole shift, not allowing them to move. It is my understanding that both of these practices are violations of Canadian and international human rights. I asked Phil Joy why he had never reported this, and he said that he feared losing his job like I had.

    Around this time I warned the Edmonton Alberta Diocese and the priest at St. Stephens Church in Edmonton not to let Christopher Lance Neal work with youth in the poor part of the city, as he had a history of sexually abusing them. The priest said I was harsh and unforgiving, and lacked compassion for Christopher. In 2009, Christopher Lance Neal was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on charges that included sexual offenses involving minors, both boys and girls. I also warned my Bishop that the Anglican priest of my own church was molesting young boys. When one of the young boys came forward, this priest, who had a son in the EPS, was directed to work somewhere else. Nothing else was done.

    My refusal to keep quiet about the sexual abuse among church leaders also caused a deterioration of my relationship with my employer, Threshold Ministries. Senior staff in Threshold Ministries warned me to “watch my back”, saying that the director was out to “get me”. Around that time the director initiated a program to “purge” Threshold Ministries of anyone who had had any homosexual involvement, no matter how long ago or whether it was consensual or not. I had been sexually abused by older men when I was a teenager, so I began to feel targeted. It was not long before this feeling was proven accurate.

    To keep from going to the Canadian Human Rights Commission after my dismissal from the Fort Saskatchewan Institution, Threshold Ministries offered me 5-year contract as Community Chaplain with CSC in Charlottetown, PEI. I was told to sell my condo and move east, which I did. Upon my arrival I was told that there was no position for me. The Regional Chaplain for CSC kept promising me a contract over and over again, but after one year it still had not materialized. [10] To keep me busy I took on some volunteer work for a local parish [11]. When I complained about the lack of a contract to the director of Threshold Ministries, he fired me. This meant the loss of my license. Monty and Frank sided with Threshold Ministries, and from that point on refused to communicate any more with me. My position on the Board of COPE was terminated and my reputation was dragged into the dirt. Threshold Ministries denounced me for my same-sex attraction, even though I had not been living a homosexual lifestyle since my teenage years.

    In early 2000 I drove back to Alberta. There I got to know Gwen and Mike Holland of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers. Gwen and Mike invited me into their home to look after their 5-year old son when they were both working the same shift. After doing this for one year, they offered to build a small apartment for me in their basement. At Gwen and Mike’s encouragement, I filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in PEI. Threshold Ministries was found guilty of wrongful dismissal and was required to let me resign, pay me for two years of wages and benefits, and to not talk about my dismissal. Threshold Ministries did not fulfill this requirement; instead, they blacklisted me across Canada and discontinued their payments early, just as I was having my teeth fixed. As a result, I was forced into debt, was unable to keep up with my mortgage payments, and lost my home.

    During this time, I was required to undergo psychological evaluation. This evaluation confirmed that I was of sound mental health and that I had a “keen sense of morality and a right versus wrong”. [12]

    In 2009, I reported physical abuse at The Bethany Group, a long-term care facility in Camrose where I was the chaplain. After I lost my job there in December of that year under mysterious circumstances, I appealed to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Human Rights again ruled in my favor; the care facilty was found guilty of wrongful dismissal, was ordered to pay compensation and to not speak of it. I was soon to find out that, just like Threshold Ministries, the care facility did not abide by this order either.

    I spent a year trying to get a prison chaplain position in the Eden Detention Centre in Texas. My Bishop, Archbishop Scott McLaughlin, was to complete the Immigration work permit. With everything on the moving truck and ready to leave, I was informed that Scott was having an affair, that he had left his wife and was living with another woman. This had a profound effect on me because Scott had not completed my work permit. Everything was in chaos. The prison held my job for three months while I and others tried to secure my work permit, but to no avail.

    I was then hired by Covenant Health as a hospital chaplain. The weekend before I was to begin they called me and retracted my acceptance. They had received a phone call from my former employer, The Bethany Group, and claimed that I had “questioned a doctor”. I once again appealed to the Human Rights Commission, this time for defamation, but received no compensation.

    I applied for social assistance but was refused. In extreme anguish I drove east, not knowing where to go. I just wanted to get away from the many bad people in the church, government and police in Alberta who had ruined my life. I could not understand why some people in authority thought it was okay to use children as sex toys, and to abuse the elderly and disabled. I simply could not look the other way when I saw this happening. On the way, I attempted to take my own life with an overdose of pills in my car. A farmer found me in a coma, slumped over the steering wheel.

    During my convalescence, both my doctor and psychologist told me that that I was not mentally ill but that there had just been too much loss in my life to cope with. My doctor told me to find a good GP and to take a year off work to recover. She also noted the life she saw in my eyes when I talked about my work, so she encouraged me to go back to being a chaplain.

    After having applied for welfare in Quebec and Ontario, and being refused every time, I finally ended up in PEI. With $50,000 designated for a home in my mother’s will, I purchased a very small home in PEI for $49,000. I applied for welfare, and again was refused. Friends even repeatedly appealed to the premier of PEI, Robert Ghiz [13] [14]. The only thing I was offered each time was a one-way ticket back to Alberta, even though welfare had already been denied me there. I was finally able to obtain social assistance after my GP in Charlottetown, Dr. Meek, put me on long- term disability for major depression. I lived on $644 a month. I grew a garden and ate acorns, dandelions and wild apples (after first removing the worms). I was destitute and deeply in debt. Friends sent out letters and brochures to raise support for me [15] [16], but very little financial support came in. Nevertheless, I always had just enough and with God’s help I moved on from my depression and started volunteering at a long-term care facility, taking services and doing visits. [17]

    As an Anglican priest and a Canadian citizen with German and British roots, I have a deep respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth II. I have corresponded with her staff on numerous happy occasions over the years [18] [19], so I turned to her for support. In 2012, I wrote to Queen Elizabeth about the children that were being sexually abused by Anglican priests. I received a reply from her office assuring me that my letter had been passed to the Governor-General of Canada. [20] I have heard nothing further about this letter.

    In late 2015, around the same time as my interview with the Summerside RCMP regarding Gord Dominey, Dr. Beckner from Bridges of Canada called me to ask if I was interested in a prison chaplains job at the Stony Mountain Institution in Winnipeg. He asked me to send him an updated resume. I told him that I did not think I would be accepted, since Monty Lewis and Frank Costantino with Bridges of Canada had refused to give me a job due to my same-sex attraction and my frequent reporting of sexual abuse of children by priest and pastors in Canada and in the USA. However, by this time both Monty and Frank had died untimely deaths and their two daughters had taken over for their fathers. I wanted to do the thing that I loved the most, so I applied. I was thrilled to be accepted, and proceeded with preparations to sell my home and to move to Winnipeg.

    In the midst of my preparations, Dr. Beckner called to tell me that the need for my services was greater at the Edmonton Institution. I was hesitant to return to Edmonton due to all the sexual abuse I had reported in that city, and because of the hatred that some powerful people in the church, government and police there had for me. Nevertheless, he insisted that I go to Edmonton, saying that the need was greater there than in Winnipeg. If I had known of the recent history of chaplaincy at the Edmonton Institution, and in particular Paul Vanderham’s actions against Reverend Barry Rose, I would never have agreed to go. I would have waited for another opening.

    Arrival at the Edmonton Institution
    Upon arrival at the Edmonton Institution I was met by a Mrs. Cunningham, but not the Assistant Warden of Intervention (AWI). We went to the chapel and to my office, and Mrs. Cunningham introduced me to Paul Vanderham, the other chaplain. Right there and then Paul informed me that he had no intention of helping me to get oriented or settled in. I was on my own. I was also never given a full tour of the Institution and therefore had to try and find my way around as best I could. Notably, I knew nothing of a postal weighing machine in the Administration Building and was warned by staff to stay away from the woman who ran the that department. This lack of information got me into trouble, as described later in this report.

    Toxic Work Environment
    In my first week at the Institution Paul Vanderham told me that he hated Rev. Barry Rose, the chaplain that I had come to replace. I knew Barry. He and I had been to the same evangelical Anglican theological college, and we were part of the evangelical wing of the worldwide Anglican Church. Paul told me that Barry was useless as a chaplain and that he should never have been ordained by the Anglican Church of Canada in the first place. Paul told me that his hatred for Barry was so strong that he had to take sick days because of it. I found out later that Paul’s brother Marc had attended Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta, some 30 years earlier. Marc had gone in as a Roman Catholic and had come out as an evangelical Protestant. Since then, Paul hated evangelical Protestants. I found out from AWI Brad Sass that things had gotten so bad between Paul and Barry that a mediator had to be brought in. Eventually Barry had enough of Paul’s abuse and resigned. For the first month or so I had a running commentary on Paul’s hatred for evangelical Protestants in general and Barry in particular. Paul also told me he hated Barry’s predecessor, Pastor Oliver Johnson.

    Paul also told me that I myself belonged to a schismatic church and a schismatic Franciscan order. These things are not true, and Paul had no right to say them. I was shocked and distressed by all this hatred being expressed by a lay CSC chaplain. I felt like I was walking on egg shells as far as my faith and practice was concerned. Along with evangelical Protestants (like Barry and myself), Paul also hated my contractor, Bridges of Canada. He claimed that Bridges was not qualified to hire chaplains, and that it was associated with the Apostolic Church of Canada, an off-shoot of one of Canada’s traditional churches. Every day I felt as if I was in a war zone. I tried to reason with him concerning Bridges, but kept quiet about my faith.

    I appealed to AWI Brad Sass and Paul for peace. I told them that I suffered from panic/anxiety attacks when bullied, and that I had been on a long-term federal disability pension due to major depression [21]. I explained that the depression had resulted from bullying by my own licensor, Threshold Ministries, as well as my own Anglican bishops, Alberta government officials and the Edmonton police. I told them that the bullying had not just been verbal but had included shouting, physical shaking and pushing, and that it was all because I had reported pedophiles. I also told them that I had been bullied while undergoing “Conversion Therapy”, a form of psychological treatment that tried to make me into a heterosexual. When this therapy failed, I was blamed, shamed and rejected by the groups that applied it to me. I explained that my GP, Dr. Pugh, was delighted to hear about my job at the Edmonton Institution, that I loved my work and could still do an excellent job. I just could no longer handle the bullying and shouting. Chaplain Paul and Bridges Manager Brian Harder knew all this, but this did not stop their verbal attacks against each other and against me. This led me to appeal to AWI Brad Sass about my difficult working environment [22].

    One thing that kept me going was my hope that Paul would not be around much longer. Unlike me, Paul was under contract to CSC. Now, with Bridges of Canada having been contracted by CSC to provide chaplaincy services, Paul would have to join Bridges of Canada if he wished to continue working at the Edmonton Institution when his contract with CSC came up for renewal. Paul even told me directly that he would not work for Bridges of Canada, and he had nothing but criticism for the CSC chaplaincy and the regional chaplains. He blamed them for “destroying” chaplaincy. According to Brad, Paul later changed his mind because he had difficulty finding another job and needed the money.

    Imam Ramazan Tekin did not have an office at the time, so I personally made shelf room and space for him in my office. Nevertheless, Ramazan took sides with Paul against me. Ramazan was very dependent upon Paul to complete all the information on Moslem diets and other customs on the computer, and therefore worked closely with Paul. Ramazan also joined Paul in making fun of the Prairie Regions chaplain, a woman licensed by the Church of the Nazarene, and he joined Paul in his hatred for Bridges of Canada, calling Bridges Manager Brian Harder a “cowboy”. Ramazan also told me that Brian was bullying him, after his daughter had asked him one time why he had let Brian Harder shout at him and say the things that he had said to him on the phone. This did not surprise me, since I knew firsthand that Brian was no better than Paul when it came to bullying others. Brian told me that he could fire me at any time he wanted to, that it was up to him if I kept my job.

    I tried working different hours to avoid all this hatred. It was a toxic work environment, with so many people being mocked, bullied and bossed around on a daily basis. Even one of my own physical disabilities was used to torment me. I wear a hearing aid, and for some time it was not working properly because of malfunctioning batteries. During this time, Paul mocked me for being hard of hearing, shouting at me and shaming me. I could not tell that my hearing aids were malfunctioning, so I could not understand why Paul was doing this to me. Once I found out that the batteries were defective, I replaced them and the hearing aids resumed functioning normally. AWI Brad Sass witnessed Paul’s mocking me over my hearing disability.

    My former involvement in the gay lifestyle as a youth was public knowledge, due to an online news article [23]. One day Paul told me, “You were involved in homosexual acts. Do not ever touch me.” These comments hurt deeply and, combined with my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, produced major panic/anxiety attacks that required me to wear adult diapers for some time to prevent me from soiling myself.

    Paul acted as if he was in charge of the chaplaincy office. The others there had to be submitted to him in every area. This was my experience, and it had been the experience of the two chaplains before me. Paul tried to control and manipulate every aspect of my working life. He told me not to seek volunteers from church groups. He told me not to run any other programs other than the official chapel service. The prisoners asked me to run other programs, but Paul always said no. I did report this to Bridges manager Brian and to AWI Brad. Paul even told me what clothes to wear on the job. He once said to me, ” There is something I do not understand, Richard. You say that you stood up to government and church officials, but now you no longer stand up to anyone who bullies you”. Paul also frequently told me to resign, which distressed me greatly.
    Although I had more seniority and was more experienced than Paul, he regularly belittled and discredited me in communications with the guards and other staff [24]. Whereas I had worked in the correctional institutions for nearly 20 years and was the Senior Chaplain for Alberta Corrections, Paul had worked in Corrections for only four years. One time Paul also deliberately scheduled his own services to interfere with my own, after a mutually agreeable schedule had already been agreed upon in writing [25] [26].

    The Sympathy Cards
    When I first came to the Edmonton Institution I asked a Visits and Correspondence (V and C) guard if I could put stamps on sympathy cards on behalf of prisoners who had no money for cards and stamps, and if I could give the cards to V and C for mailing. I was told yes, I could.
     
    One of my regular practices was to send sympathy cards to prisoners who had experienced a death in their immediate family while I was their chaplain. I would never hand the cards to the prisoners directly, but put them in the mailbox used by visitors at V & C. This way, the mail went through the right security channels. I encouraged prisoners to write down their feelings and to send letters and sympathy cards to their loved ones, to help both themselves and their loved ones through the grieving process. If prisoners needed both a card and a stamp, I would give them a blank card and ask them to let me know when it was ready to be mailed. I would then take the completed cards from the prisoners, put stamps on the envelopes and hand them back to the prisoners to be mailed.
     
    By the time I had given out about 15 stamps/cards, word had gotten around to Paul. When he found out about it he reported me and told me to stop doing it, even though he had no authority to do so. It was none of his business, and I had permission from V and C. Nevertheless, I went to AWI Brad Sass and asked him about it. When he also told me to stop, I did so immediately.
     
    The Flies
    As the warmer weather approached in 2016, we constantly had flies buzzing around in the chapel and offices. The warm weather was exacerbated by nearby garbage bins with discarded food in them but no lids. When I would kill the flies in my office, Paul would shout at me in anger not to do that because they were “our brothers and sisters”. I was appalled and shocked by this demand since flies carry all sorts of germs and I did not want them on my food or coffee cup. I was also stunned that Paul cared about flies as brothers and sisters, while expressing hatred for evangelical Protestants, Jews and homosexuals. The situation got so bad that I took it to AWI Brad Sass and to Brian Harder. Brad agreed that Paul’s belief and behavior regarding flies was very strange. I finally got permission to bring in bins with lids for the garbage, to cut down on the flies buzzing around.

    Anti-Semitism in the Chaplaincy Office
    Chaplains Paul’s father, as I understand, suffered from a form of mental illness that included expressions of anger and rage. He would think that the house was on fire, or some other serious thing, and drag his wife out of her bed in panic. After one such an incident, Paul went to BC to see them. Shortly after his return, Paul’s mother died and Paul had to go back to BC once more. It has been my practice for many years now to have a tree planted in the Holy Land in memory of a friend or family member who has died. I did this for Paul in memory of his mother.

    When he received the card letting him know a tree had been planted in his mother’s memory in the Holy Land, Paul became enraged and blew up at me, shouting very loudly, “Israel belongs to the Palestinians, not the Jews!”. He then stormed out of the chapel, leaving me shocked and yes, deeply hurt. I was stunned, never having had anyone react with such anger for having a tree planted in Israel in memory of their loved one. I had done something I thought would be seen as an act of kindness. When Brad Sass had found out that I had planted a tree in memory of his mother, he was deeply moved. I do not understand Paul’s hate. I have Jews and various Christian denominations in my immediate family and ancestry; nevertheless, we all got on together. Discrimination or hatred due to religious beliefs was never a part of our lives.

    Anti-Semitism in the Institution
    Paul was not alone in expressing anti-Semitism in the prison. Kevin, the Kitchen Manager at the Edmonton Institution, also had a big issue with Jewish inmates. He would tell Chaplain Paul that some of the inmates Rabbi Ari had said were Jewish were actually not Jewish. He refused to give such inmates Kosher diets. On May 12th, 2016, he called the CSC Regional Chaplain to complain that some inmates were not Jews, even though Rabbi Ari had said that they were. Naturally, I defended Rabbi Ari. Brian Harder, the Bridges of Canada manager called to confront me about this, and got very upset and rude and to me. I told him that I had to go, and ended the call. I reported this incident to AWI Brad Sass.

    Anti-Semitism from the Mennonites
    Paul frequently delegated some of his own responsibilities to me, especially for a time when he was engaged in a house renovation project. He told me it was only for a few weeks, but it continued for nine months.

    One of his duties was to oversee the Mennonite “M2W2” program. I ended up covering this program for him for eight months. The Mennonite Central Committee is a part of the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement. At one of the M2W2 meetings, Jim Shantz commented that the Mennonite Central Committee had just been meeting, and that one of the things discussed at the meeting was how the Israeli government was treating the Palestinians the same way as the Canadian government had treated its Aboriginal people. This was an unacceptable comment to make in a prison setting because it could raise tensions between Jewish and non-Jewish inmates. In fact, a Jewish prisoner was stabbed later that same week. I reported the offending comments to the volunteer coordinator, Chaplain Paul and to AWI Brad Sass, but nothing was said or done about it.

    The Couch
    In May of 2016 I returned to my office one afternoon to discover that my seven-foot grey couch was missing. I asked the guard at the main control station outside the chapel about this, and he told me he had no idea what happened to it. I then went to the manager’s office, and found acting manager Graham Spilsby there. When I asked him about the missing couch, he laughed and said, “I am sitting on it”. I asked him to return it to my office, and also told Paul about it when he returned. I also asked Bridges of Canada Manager Brian Harder for advice about it, but he never offered any. Unfortunately, Paul made a big issue of it without my consent. Wanting to avoid confrontation, I told Spilsby that he could keep the couch since it was old and dirty and in need of replacing anyway. I told the Warden that I would buy my own couch; I planned to buy a futon couch from IKEA with private funds I had for my ministry. It was not that big an issue. However, Paul made it a big issue and dragged me along into it. Once again Paul was running the show against my wishes. Shortly afterwards, a couch appeared in my office. Spilsby claimed that it was my couch, but it was the old urine- and sweat-soaked couch from behind the gym.

    If this was the end of the story, it would not have been worth telling. The problem was that I had reason to fear for my life. Paul and former police officer and chaplain Oliver Johnson told me that Spilsby had been connected in some way to the murder of an inmate in the past, and that he was quite capable of killing me. Prisoners also confided in me that Spilsby set up fights between them on the ranges, that he was a cruel man. At first, I was scared at nights in my home, but then I reminded myself that my life was in G-d’s hands, and that I could trust Him.

    Something completely random and yet connected happened to me in the same week that Spilsby took my couch. On May 15th, 2016, I took my dog for a walk in a park in Morinville. As was my habit, I said hello to people passing by. One woman started talking with me, telling me of her abusive husband. She told me how he had abused her over the years of their marriage, and kept her from seeing her children. She was afraid of him and was not sure what to do. I listened to her stories, and at one point she asked me if I would like to see a photo of her husband. Even though I was not interested, she showed me the photo. It was a picture of Graham Spilsby. I was amazed at the odds of meeting his wife in a park where she does not even live, the same week as he took my couch. I have not seen her since. This incident confirmed what Paul, Pastor Oliver Johnson and a number of prisoners had told me about Graham Spilsby’s violent nature. I spoke to all four wardens at the Institution about it, as well as CSC Commissioner Don Head. Nothing came of it. I am distressed that someone as dangerous as Spilsby can continue to keep his position of authority in a Government of Canada institution.

    The Memos
    We as chaplains had to send out memos concerning just about all our movements and programs in the Institution. One day I saw Paul’s memos on the Holy Communion table, just lying there waiting to be taken to the AWI for signing. I was about to go and have my own memos signed by AWI Amanda, so I thought it would be a kind gesture to also take Paul’s memos at the same time. When I came back I said, “Paul, here are your memos. I got them signed at the same time as mine.”

    He responded by screaming at me, “Leave my things alone! I do not want you touching my memos! Do not touch my things!” He said this over and over again. I was stunned by his anger, his rage. I went back into my office, shaken by his outburst.

    Less than a week later, Paul again left his memos on the Communion table, but this time with a note asking me to not only get them signed but also to distribute them! [27] I was shocked a second time; one minute he is in a rage over me getting his memos signed, and the next he is asking me to not only get them signed but to also distribute them. I could understand why he would ask me to distribute his memos, since this is a lengthy process. The trouble was that I walked on eggshells with Paul; I never knew when he was going to have an outburst.

    The Evaluation Team
    An evaluation team from Ottawa, made up of federal regional chaplains and a member of the interfaith committee from CSC, came to visit the Edmonton Institution from November 23 – 25th, 2016. Before the visit, Chaplain Paul tried to scare me about it, urging me once again to resign. Upon their arrival, the team met with us in the chapel. Shortly afterwards, I was taken into my office by Mr. Rasmus, the federal Director of Chaplaincy in Ottawa. Mr. Rasmus talked to me regarding a letter I had written to the CSC Commissioner. He told me that in doing so I had breached protocol; I should have written to him first. Already on edge because of Paul’s warnings, I asked if he wanted me to resign. He told me no, saying that neither he nor the Commissioner wanted this.

    I explained to Mr. Rasmus that I had written to the Commissioner directly because of advice I had received from Chaplain Paul Vanderham. Paul had told me that he was going to contact the Commissioner and the Minister for Corrections, Ralph Goodale. He explained that he intended to ask them to replace Bridges of Canada because it was his belief that they were not qualified to oversee Chaplaincy Services. When I questioned Paul about writing to the Commissioner about this, he told me that this was perfectly okay. Mr. Rasmus informed me that it was not.

    During the evaluation, Paul also told me that one of the evaluation team members had told him that the team had questions about me as a chaplain. If true, this would have been a breach of confidentiality since Paul is my colleague, not my boss (I report to Bridges of Canada, the AWI and the Archbishop, and the AWI). My worry was needless. During the debriefing at the end of the evaluation, which included Bridges manager Brian, no issues or major concerns were brought up. Moreover, the team reported that the prisoners valued me very much, saying that I was always present and available to them on the ranges. After the debriefing, everyone except me went for lunch. I chose to remain behind to conduct two pre-scheduled chapel services because there had been no chapel services recently due to a series of lock-downs. I found out after lunch that this innocent decision further revealed the depth of misgivings that Brian had towards me.

    Paul told me later that afternoon that Bridges Manager Brian Harder had been running circles around him during lunch. Brian wanted to know what I had done wrong to make Mr. Rasmus want to talk to me in private. He was in a panic to know what it was about, not wanting an issue to suddenly blow up in his face. I was shocked that the Bridges manager would do this kind of thing behind my back instead of asking me directly. I called Brian that afternoon to clear up the situation, telling him what my meeting with Mr. Rasmus had been about.

    Paul’s Direct Push for My Resignation
    Paul used the tensions between Brian and me to demoralize me. After my conversation with Brian, Paul proceeded to tell me that the wardens had no confidence in me, that the prison management had no confidence in me, that the chaplaincy staff had no confidence in me and that the evaluation team had no confidence in me. I was stunned, to put it mildly, and deeply shaken. I asked him what he thought I should do and he said: “Resign. You are not wanted here.” I was devastated.

    I walked out of the chapel in shock, to talk to the Acting Warden, Clovis LaPointe. He was busy, so I went to see Acting Deputy Warden Albert. I sat down in Albert’s office and just sobbed my heart out. How could anyone be so cruel and hate me so much? After I told him what Paul had said, he went to talk to the Warden. When he came back he told me that what I had been told was not true. He noticed that I had taken off my clergy collar, and asked me if I had it off because of what Paul had said. When I said yes, he told me to “put it back on and be our chaplain”. Paul’s claim that I was “not wanted here” were clearly false, as further confirmed by e-mails from Warden Clovis and AWI Susan Letendre [28] [29].

    Standing My Ground and Attempts at Reconciliation
    Following Paul’s verbal attack, I sent a letter of complaint to Brian and Bridges of Canada head office. In my letter, I described all the verbal abuse that Paul had directed against me. I also told myself “enough is enough” and finally decided to stand up to Paul. When he came into my office soon afterwards to push me around some more, I walked up to this six-foot something big man and said, ”Paul, you are a bully and a liar. Now get out of my office!” It felt wonderful, but Paul used this later to further discredit me [30], claiming that I had meant my demand to leave my office to be permanent. He himself had told me on previous occasions to get out of his office, and it was understood that such demands were meant to be just for that time and not permanently.

    A few days after Paul’s verbal attack on me, the Warden asked me to meet with him. He asked me who had told me all the lies about me not being wanted and capable in my position. I told him it was Paul, and so he set up a meeting for us. I thought, “At last something will change for the better”. How wrong I was. At the meeting, the Warden asked Paul to speak first, even though I had been the victim. Paul complained that I called him a bully and liar. Then Imam Ramazan, who was also in the meeting, added that I had gone into my own office one day, locked the door and refused to open it for them. I could tell that I was not going to get a fair hearing with the Warden, so I let it go.

    The discord in the chaplaincy office was wearing me down. One evening, in the yard between Unit 5 and the main building, I asked Chaplain Paul to forgive me if I had hurt or offended him, saying that we as Christians need to forgive and to let go of hate and anger. Unfortunately, it was a one-sided plea. Paul expressed no interest in reconciliation.

    Standing up to Paul had further ramifications. Paul told me on December 27th, 2016 that me telling the Warden that he was bullying me was outrageous. He told me that could not “let it slide”. Paul is a large and imposing man. I understood this comment to be a threat.

    Affirmation by the Regional Chaplain
    On November 30th, 2016, I had a meeting with the Prairie Regional Chaplain, Pastor Debbie Tanasichuk, and Brian Harder. I had invited Brian Harder to participate so there would be no questioning by him as to what it was about. I asked Debbie if there were any concerns with CSC chaplaincy, and she told me no. She commented on some good discussions we had had over the phone. I asked Brian Harder if all was well with me and Bridges of Canada, and he said “Yes, no problems. Keep up the good work.”

    Christmas
    Just after the evaluation team left, the chapel was sealed off to have asbestos removed and to have a new carpet put down. We chaplains had to find work space wherever we could. I asked Paul about the Christmas feasts/parties for each range, and as expected it was his way or no way. The inmates wanted chicken but Paul bought fresh salad items in bulk. As a result, much of the food was thrown away, and because of lockdowns there was no feast.

    Paul wanted to take two weeks off during the holiday season, and he told me that he did not want me to take any services during his absence. I told Brad Sass, the acting AWI, about this. I also told Brad again about Paul’s bullying, and how Bridges did nothing to investigate it or to help me. I went on to tell Brad about my desire to run different programs that the prisoners had asked for, and how Paul shut them down every time. Brad gave me a big hug and told me to run my programs in spite of Paul’s objections or criticisms. He reminded me that Paul was not my boss, that we were equals. He understood my struggle with Paul, as he had witnessed Rev. Barry Rose struggle with Paul before me. He told me to “go ahead and do your own thing”.

    So I started “Malachi Dads” and “Christianity Explored” right after the new year. The prisoners were overjoyed, but Paul was not happy about it. He had blocked these programs in the past and did not want to see them running. He said that one of the couples running Malachi Dads was too old, that they had mental issues due to their ages. This couple had the support of Prison Fellowship Canada, Malachi Dads, the volunteer coordinator and AWI Brad Sass, and I had known the couple personally for 20 years. There was no evidence that they had mental issues.

    Even though M2W2 and the Moslem programs would allow inmates from different units to mix, security officer Jenny Reddick would not allow me to do the same for my programs. Similarly, she would not allow the Jewish inmates from different units to mix on Friday evenings for prayers and Torah readings. Jenny, a strict Roman Catholic, complied with whatever Chaplain Paul requested, even when it violated Canadian and international religious rights and freedoms. Paul had turned her off me as he did other staff. When some staff had asked me to bless their homes, to pray with them and to help them spiritually, Paul told them that I was not a real priest because I was not RC.

    Hanukkah
    Rabbi Ari had given Chaplain Paul Menorahs, candles and treats for the Jewish inmates to use for celebrating Hanukkah, but Paul refused to pass them on to me or to the Jewish inmates until the very last day of Hanukkah. On December 31, 2016, he handed over just the treats but held back the Menorahs and candles. Such behavior is a violation of Canadian and international religious rights and freedoms, since all inmates have the right to celebrate their religious holidays. It became obvious that Muslims at the Edmonton Institution were allowed their prayers, but Jews were not. To help correct this injustice, I brought in my own Menorah and candles for the Jewish inmates. Sadly, the guards frequently would not let the inmates out to light the candles. Volunteer Greg Northill witnessed this behavior by the guards a number of times. Rabbi Ari was shocked that Paul had refused to pass on his Hanukkah items to the Jewish prisoners.

    To further raise awareness of religious discrimination at the Edmonton Institution, I reported this incident to Commissioner Head after my dismissal. [31]

    With no one in my own government showing any interest in the rights of the Jewish prisoners, I also wrote to the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. [32]

    The Envelope
    In January of 2017, an inmate gave me a very large envelope to take to V and C for mailing. The envelope included a large drawing, and he was concerned that it would get damaged or folded because of its size. I examined the envelope, which was pieces of papers scotched-taped together, and knew that it would not hold together for long. It simply was not strong enough. I happened to have a padded envelope that would be much be more suitable and sturdy, so I put the items into it and took it to V and C. I asked the guard in charge about how the item could be mailed out, as I did not know how. The envelope was still open, so he checked the contents. He then told me to take it “out of the Institution” to get it weighed and priced, so I took it to a nearby Post Office, got it weighed and priced, and handed it back to him to mail out.

    The guard then told me that he had not wanted me to take out of the Institution; rather, he had meant for me to take it to the Administration Office. Fortunately, since the same guard had checked the envelope both before and after it left the Institution, he was able to confirm that there had been no unauthorized transfer of goods out of or into the prison. The contents had not changed. It was a simple misunderstanding on my part.

    I was in the process of apologizing for the misunderstanding, when a nearby female dog handler jumped off a counter and started shouting at me “You breached security!”. Here I was, trying to listen to the V and C guard in charge, and she was shouting. The shouting brought other people into this small space, and everything was in an uproar. I told the V and C guard I would come back later and talk when there was not all this shouting going on, but the dog handler kept shouting and would not let it or me go. All her shouting brought in Acting AWI Matt James and a Unit Manager, as well as others. She was out of control and I was feeling anxious at her aggressive verbal attack.

    I needed to get away from this dog handler and others shouting at me, when they did not know the facts. I said, “Stop shouting at me now. I made a mistake and I am willing to listen and apologize to the V and C personnel, but not to everyone else. Others bring in a bag of 30 or more seven-inch nails and a DVD player and nothing is said. I make a simple mistake and you are all over me.”

    Matt told me to come to his office, where he asked me about the nails. I told him Chaplain Paul had brought in a bag of at least 30. At no point did he mention the envelope incident, and at no point did he ask me to write a Statement/Observation Report (SOR) on either the envelope or the nail incident. Moreover, at no point did he say he was going to write an SOR.
     
    Later, when puzzling over the dog handler’s aggressive behavior towards me, I remembered an encounter with another guard earlier that same month. The guard had come to see me in my office and asked if we could talk privately. He went on to tell me that he had an affair with one of the female dog handlers, and that wanted to leave it behind him and make things right in his marriage. We talked for quite a while, and I gave him a couple of books and the names of marriage counsellors outside the system. We prayed together, and he asked if he could come and talk with me on an ongoing basis. Of course I said yes. He gave me a big hug and left in good spirits. A few days later he came back to tell me that the book I had given him was “awesome”. Putting the pieces together, I got the impression that he had ended the affair and that the dog handler blamed me for it.

    I never heard any more about the envelope incident from Matt, nor did I see any report written up about it. Even so, AWI Brad Sass wrote me three weeks later that this is what he heard was the reason for my dismissal. A lawyer with the Edmonton Legal Centre told me that the envelope incident was not sufficient reason to dismiss me. The lawyer said that, if anything, an SOR should have been filed by me and the Institution and put in my file as a warning.

    Much later, in May 2017, I met the V and C guard again in Morinville. As we were chatting, he told me that he had not been asked to write any report on the envelope incident either. When I told him that it was a misunderstanding, he said, “Yes, I agree”.

    Physical Assault
    The assaults I experienced in the Institution were not only verbal. In January 2017, when I was in the V and C area, I saw the mother of an inmate in the visiting area. As was my practice, I asked the V and C guard if I could go in and visit her. He told me yes, and to go to a certain door, press the button and “they will let you in”. I did as instructed, but the guard in the control room would not open the door. When I went back to V and C for advice, the guard there called the control officer and told him to let me in. So, I went back, the door opened for me, and I stepped in.

    As I did so, I was physically assaulted by Mr. French, the Institutional Manager. He threw me up against the wall, shouted at me to “get out”, and pushed me forcefully out of the door and back into the hallway. It was appalling that something like this should happen to a small, elderly clergyman like myself.  I went straight to the Warden’s office and complained, and Warden Clovis came out with me and we went around to the door where I had been instructed to go through by V and C. There, the Warden was confronted by an angry Mr. French, who told him they were searching an inmate. Rather than standing up for me and defending my right to go into the visiting area, Warden Clovis cowered at French, a verbally and physically very powerful man.

    This incident, along with a recent CBC investigation [33], lead me to believe that the bullying in the Edmonton Institution is not confined to the chaplaincy office. I believe the assault was targeted at me because it was widely known at the time that I was one of the staff that had been interviewed by the federal correctional investigator, Ivan Zinger.

    The Commissioner’s Affirmation
    On January 24th, 2017, I was sitting in my office doing paperwork when I heard someone calling, “Father Richard, are you in here?”. I went out into the chapel and there stood CSC Commissioner Don Head. He said, “I just wanted to come and say hello”. He shook my hand, and said twice said, “Father Richard you are a good man.”

    The Training Session
    On Tuesday, January 29th, 2017, I attended a training session led by Deputy Warden Belinda Cameron and a guard from the Edmonton Prison for Women. In this session, it was taught that all breaches of the law or prison security rules must be reported. While listening to this I thought back to the time when I had reported to AWI Brad Sass that I had seen Imam Ramazan bringing a DVD player into the Institution without permission. Ramazan had not obtained a signed gate pass, and his bag had not been scanned as he came in. In other words, the DVD player was brought in illegally. Brad’s response was that it was not my place to report on other staff, and so I said nothing further. I also said nothing when I saw Paul and Ramazan later breaching security on numerous other occasions.

    I was conflicted by the contradiction between what I was hearing and what I was experiencing, so I put up my hand and asked Deputy Warden Belinda if I could make a comment. She said to go ahead, so I told her about how my life had changed after reporting illicit activities at work. I told her what happened to me after I reported Gord Dominey’s sexual abuse of young offenders at the Edmonton Young Offender’s Center, and Don Westman’s voyeurism at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre. I told her that my reporting had cost me my jobs, my friends, my colleagues, my reputation, my house and everything I owned. My reporting had alienated me from Threshold Ministries and the church that had ordained and licensed me, and the police called me a liar. Very few had come to my aid. I had paid dearly for following the Deputy Warden’s teaching to report illegal activities.

    The Deputy Warden’s response to my comments was to praise me. She told me in front of the class, “You have remarkable resilience to be where you are today”. I looked across at Brian Harder of Bridges of Canada, and he was not at all happy. His face had a look of thunder on it. He never commented, but some of the Roman Catholic chaplains were grateful for my comments. They thanked me for my courage and spoke about sexual abuse in their own lives.

    My Dismissal
    During the week of February 6th, 2017, Brian Harder called me several times, asking if everything was fine and if there were any problems. I told him all was okay, but he did not seem satisfied; he was fishing for something. During one of those calls he said, “You told me you blew up at an inmate, and that sometimes you need to blow up at inmates”. I told him that I did not say anything of the sort, that such behavior is completely out of character for me as a person. Two of my volunteers were present in my office at the time of this conversation, and one of them overheard my comments [34]. Brian did not send me anything in writing concerning Brian’s allegation; nevertheless, Misty McLaughlin of Bridges of Canada later quoted it in conversation with me as a reason for my dismissal [35].
    On Friday, February 10th, 2017, Brian Harder called me at my home and told me not to go to work that day, for security reasons. He said that an investigation by Bridges of Canada was going on, that my life was in danger and that my position as chaplain had been suspended. After talking with Brian, I called the Institution and spoke to Acting AWI Matt James, asking him if my life was in danger at the Institution. He was shocked by such a question, and said there was no security issue concerning me. He further stated that nothing about me had come up at the Warden/Manager meeting that morning, and that he would talk to the Acting Warden, Clovis LaPointe, about my situation.

    On Tuesday, February 14th, 2017, Brian Harder called me at my home five times, telling me that I had been dismissed from my position at the Edmonton Institution. I sent him an e-mail, requesting confirmation in writing. I received an e-mail reply from him shortly afterwards, confirming my dismissal but providing no reason for it [36]. A subsequent letter of dismissal from the Bridges of Canada head office in Fredericton praised me for my dedication but also failed to include a reason for my dismissal [37].

    I made an appointment with the Edmonton Legal Centre. There, I was told by two lawyers that my dismissal was unacceptable. I was advised to send a letter to demand the reason for my dismissal, so I sent an e-mail to Misty McLaughlin at Bridges of Canada. [38] I also sent two letters by registered mail, one to Misty and one to Clovis LaPointe at the Edmonton Institution [39] [40]. I have yet to receive a reply.

    AWI Brad Sass was shocked by the news of my dismissal, and said that it would not have happened if he was at Edmonton Institution. At the time of my suspension, he was on secondment to another institution. Brad expressed his sorrow over what had happened to me. [41] As noted earlier, Brad had indicated to me in an e-mail in November that he considered the issues between Paul to more about Paul than about me [22].

    I also contacted Don Head, the Commissioner of Corrections. He also expressed shock and surprise, and assured me in writing that he would order an investigation into my dismissal and the events leading up to it [42] [43]. He asked me about the rumor that I had breached security [44]. To this date I have still not received the results of this investigation. Instead, I was referred to Bridges of Canada since they had contracted me out to CSC [45].

    I followed this direction, with help from friends. On Monday May 13th, 2017, I met with Snowy Nobel, the chaplain from the Prison for Women, and Pastor Oliver Johnson, a former police officer and former chaplain at the Edmonton Institution. Snowy and Oliver were both shocked to hear about my dismissal, and Oliver said that it would be totally out of character for me for me to “blow up” at an inmate. Together we composed a letter to Bridges of Canada, asking for clarification regarding my dismissal. I mailed the letter to Brian Harder and Misty McLaughlin by registered mail that evening. I have not yet received a reply.

    Sometime after my dismissal, a large box arrived by regular mail at my apartment in Morinville. Along with ten Anglican prayer books marked “Property of the Chapel”, the box contained the 30 Torah study books, Jewish DVDs and Hanukkah candles that Rabbi Ari had donated to the Edmonton Institution [46] [47] [48]. The Institution later wrote me to request that I return the Torah study books, claiming that they had been sent to me in error [49].

    The numerous additional references attached to this complaint [50] – [59] testify to the effectiveness and motivation behind my desire to work as a chaplain in correctional facilities in Canada. I am deeply concerned about the welfare of the inmates that I have gotten to know and love at the Edmonton Institution. It grieves me that people like Paul Vanderham and other bullies are allowed to continue spreading their poison there, while I am dismissed from my position there without cause. I therefore request my immediate reinstatement at the Edmonton Institution.

  2. Deb says:

    The Holy Spirit has been working on my heart today and I find myself back here reading your blog and I love your bio.

    I haven’t been to church in 5 years, I think.

    It has been long enough that I am not sure what it is going to take to get me to go back. I don’t have a sense of a grace-less God and it occurs to me that you and God Himself are probably why. I went through trying to give my life to Christ as a child, in an atheist family, but the pastor of the local church kissed me on the lips and would sneak up behind me and dig his knee in the back of my knee to get me to fall into his body and I was searching for God and walking around out in nature “playing church” and “preaching at the rocks” and didn’t have any safety in my life, but could look up at the stars or at an infant or my own hand or my own wo”Man’s Search for Meaning” and was convinced that there had to be one. I read “Black Like Me” and was somewhat like the black community. I came out of the abuse in my childhood and became so angry with God that I did briefly become an atheist in words, in college, but could never convince myself that I actually didn’t believe in God. I just was so angry with Him that I hated Him and wanted Him to know that I didn’t believe in Him. I laugh, because I used to not believe in the glory signs like gold dust and things that happen, but one night, I was sitting, praying, telling God that I hated Him and I had gold dust show up all over my hands and I know that I can’t explain it to my friends that God knows the difference between when one of His kids really hates Him and when they are in such pain that they need Him. I have seen lots of miracles. Lots of miracles. And some seasons of glory manifestations. None for a few years, but I saw them for so long that I do believe in them.

    But they don’t satisfy the soul. Love and forgiveness and grace and mercy are so much more important to me than any miracle.
    The Bible says we can have the faith to move mountains, but without love…. it is worthless…. and that is what I know….[pyasst]

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You are caring for exactly the kind of people Jesus cared for. That they respond to you is proof that you are following in his steps. –Philip

  3. BETTY FUENTES says:

    Dear Philip,

    I have just read your article about the death of reading on the Washington Post. And I just want to let you know how right you are, You have no idea how hard it is for me to read without distraction. I do love reading but it is hard to open a book and forget about checking my social media, even though I am not active user. It is one of my biggest concerns that younger people read less everyday and bury their faces into their phones. I am currently working as a teacher and it is really tricky to keep teenagers focus. I do not know what the future holds and I do worry about the next generation.

    Sincerely,

    Betty
    P.S.
    Beforehand I apologize for any grammar error. English is not my native language.

  4. Norman E Black says:

    I recently picked up a copy of one of your books entitled, “Grace Notes”. in it you state that the High Priest wore a rope around his waist and bells when he entered the Holy of Holies. After years of study on O. T. worship especially the tabernacle and temple worship, I have not been able to verify this fact. Can you give me your source?
    Dr. W.E. Nunnally, a professor of Hebrew and early Judaism made this statement. ” The rope on the high priest legend is just that: a legend. It has obscure beginnings in the Middle Ages and keeps getting repeated. It cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud, Mishna, or any other Jewish source. it Just is not there.”

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I wrote the book that “Grace Notes” reprints some 30 years ago and don’t have the sources in front of me. I first learned of the tradition in Annie Dillard’s book For the Time Being. A Google search shows that this may be more tradition than history, so I accept your correction. One source from jewishanswers.org, however says:

      Question: There’s a belief that the High Priest had a rope tied around his waist when he entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple during Yom Kippur (to pull him out should G-d judge him unfit and take his life). Do you know the source of this belief?

      Answer: Thank you very much for your interesting question. I discussed it with an experienced educator here in Baltimore, Rabbi Moshe Oppen, and he said that the source is actually in two places in the Zohar: in Parshas Acharei Mos (67a), and in Parshas Emor (102a). What it actually says is that a golden rope was tied around the High Priest’s leg.

      Additionally, in the Artscroll Edition of the Talmud, Yoma Vol. II, on Daf 53b footnote 25, there is extensive discussion about this statement of the Zohar and it’s Halachic ramifications.

      Take care,
      Rabbi Aaron Tendler

      I’m not qualified to make a judgment. –Philip

  5. Tom Lawton says:

    My wife and I have slowly been working our way thru all of your books. We read them together, and then discuss
    them. We both come from a Pentecostal/charismatic background, but we don’t really classify ourselves as such, as
    we have doubts about some of their doctrine. My concern is this: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life.”
    But what is ‘the truth.” With hundreds of different denominations within the Christian faith, how do we really know
    what “truth” is? Even Peter, the apostle, said, “Some of the things Paul says confuses me.” Recently, we attended a series
    of lectures from a Rabbi. I have to admit. We admired his faith. Judaism is so cut and dry. This is what the Torah says, and
    that settles it. But Christianity is completely the opposite. There are so many various doctrinal beliefs, one has to wonder
    what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the truth.” I come from an insurance and banking backround. My whole life has
    centered around insurance and banking contracts. Everything was spelled out in black and white. No misunderstanding
    what the contract says. I often find myself wondering why the Bible isn’t like that. Why so many interpretations what it
    says? Why so many different doctrines and beliefs? In a world spinning out of control, people have little absolutes to hand on
    to anymore. If the Bible has so many varying interpretations, how can we feel that it is my anchor of my soul? How can I
    believe it is the absolute truth? I believe the Bible is the truth. And I feel the same about Jesus. John 3:16 and the born-again
    experience. One has to be born-again. But the rest of the Bible sometimes leaves me wondering what the truth really is; or perhaps what certain doctrinal beliefs have to say. I wonder if God planned it that way on purpose, so we, His children, would
    keep digging?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I understand what you’re saying, Tom, and I’ve had a similar frustration at times. It helps me to consider alternatives. For example, various branches of Islam have an absolute and clear interpretation of the Koran (think Saudi Arabia), and the net result is that it leaves little room for freedom. They actually have morality police patrolling with clubs to punish the disobedient. You’re right about Judaism too: the scribes codified their Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) into 613 commands–yet this was the very legalism Jesus railed against in Luke 11 and Matthew 23. The problem with cut-and-dried is that it tends to produce a self-satisfied morality: OK, I’ve kept all these laws, so I’m better than other people. Jesus introduced a new way, making the commands more personal–“I am the truth”–and at once simpler and more demanding (“Love God, love your neighbor as yourself”). Those are much more open-ended. Brennan Manning says that 183 times someone asked Jesus a direct question and only 3 times did he give a direct answer. As a Protestant, I believe you’re right that God wants us to keep digging, and in doing so to emphasize the universals (love being at the top) more than any set of dogmatic beliefs. It’s an ongoing search, and I prefer it that way to the times in church history (think pre-Vatican 2) when the church tells you exactly what to believe and what books are contraband.

      • Tom Lawton says:

        Thank you Phillip for taking your time in answering. I really appreciate it.
        There is much wisdom in what you say, and your comments will give me something
        to think about, and a new perspective. We really love your books. We have read some
        several times together (What’s So Amazing About Grace, Prayer), wore them out, and
        had to buy new copies! You have wonderful insight into our faith. Can’t wait to see what
        you write next! Again….thank you again for your response!
        God Bless!

    • Carol Iglauer says:

      I think if you heard Judaism explained by a Reform rabbi, you would have a very different understanding of Judaism. Reform Judaism is not about laws that Reform Jews see as primarily coming from humans, unlike Orthodox Jews. They also do not believe the Talmud is the word of God. They are much more concerned with the task of healing the world, which is anything but cut and dried–and is probably a somewhat inaccurate characteristic of Orthodox Judaism, also. I would say that Judaism, for the most part, puts less emphasis on the need for faith than Christianity usually does, and perhaps more emphasis on the importance of works.

  6. Reinaldo says:

    Are you calvinist?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I don’t know how to answer that. I admire some things about John Calvin, strongly object to others (e.g., his treatment of dissenters), and have real questions about some of his doctrines, such as Limited Atonement. Certainly I’m not a doctrinaire Calvinist.

  7. Rob Barrett, Jr. says:

    Philip,
    I am sitting enjoying the sunset over Purgatory Lake with 2 of my favorite things: Rumors of Another World and Punch Neapolitan Pizza. (Wish I could post the pic) This is my 3rd time reading Rumors. The first time I almost lost my faith, the second time I got it back, and this time I’m just enjoying it as well as the scribbled notes in the margins from my previous 2 sojourns. Thanks for writing it. It’s had a large imprint on my life. It amazes me how timeless it is, even 14 years later. Blessing to you and whatever chapter you are in. Now back to the sunset.
    Peace,
    Rob Barrett

  8. Lisa Holmes says:

    Re: Where is God when it Hurts?
    I live in Cape Town, South Africa. I don’t know if this is the right manner or place to send a plea to Philip Yancey.
    I have had the book Where is God when it Hurts? for decades. I opened it for the first time today, sure that it would be of some help in my time of desperate need.
    I am 41 and have lived with Major Depressive Disorder since I was 17. I take a cocktail of medications and most likely will for the rest of my life. For the most part I have learned to live with this black dog.
    However the last few months have been some of my most desperate. I have promised God that I will never take my own life. I have been radically convicted that I do not have that right. So here I am, stuck in a life that is so hard to bear, hanging on to my Saviour with all my strength. But just getting through a day, through a morning takes so much strength.
    So I start to read Where is God when it Hurts? only to discover that it talks about people who suffer literal pain.
    What about those with mental illness?
    My pain, as I type is palpable. My heart has a constant dull ache. I would cry out but my pain has robbed me of the energy.
    Why does your book not acknowledge that kind of pain?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Dear Lisa,
      I wrote this book with Dr. Paul Brand, who was a specialist in physical pain because of his work with leprosy patients. We were not qualified to deal with the kind of emotional and mental pain that you describe. As you know, no book can cover everything, and I am sorry you had different expectations when you got this book. I don’t minimize the pain you feel at all. It must be excruciating. I’m so glad that you have made a promise not to take your life. I hope you have supportive people around you (pastor, friends, counselor) who can give you in person what no book can. I dealt with some emotional pain in Disappointment with God, but nothing like the kind of pain you experience. I’m very sorry that you are burdened in this way. –Philip

  9. David Hughes says:

    I am sorry to bother you, and you must have answeared this question a lot of times.
    I am not on facebook only email.
    I belong to the evangelical part of the Methodist Church in the UK.
    The Methodist Church is discussing Gay marriage, and I know that there is a notion to say yes to it as other denominations have here.
    However as you can guess, the Evangelical section is against this. I have gay friends and a godson who has had a gay marriage, and would welcome all into my church. The Bible says marriage should be between a man and a woman., and as an evangelical, I believe in the bible. There will come a vote at sometime I expect. Your views if possible would be appreciated. Every blessing David.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      It’s a very confusing (and contentious) topic. I deliberately do not take a position on many of the issues, although you can read some of my thoughts on the topic by clicking on the “Q&A/Homosexuality” button on this website. –Philip

  10. Jason Vaughan says:

    Hi Philip,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful book: ‘Disappointment with God’. I felt the need to read it again (I’d read it before some time ago) and it was a tremendous encouragement. It occurred to me recently that authors can be like mentors to us – a thought that you have also expressed, and I’m grateful to God for you being one of mine through your brave, compassionate and honest writing.

    Jason

  11. Paul says:

    Dear Philip. Your books have inspired me greatly, especially those on suffering. I am a middle-aged South African with a severe brain disability, but also a science degree (physics and computer programming). I have seen the worst of church and political hypocrisy and the way so many of us hate those who are different. I can say that suffering taught me my greatest lesson: Empathy! And later, I learned not just empathy for people and animals (I always adored animals), but I think we were meant to learn empathy for Jesus too! By experiencing a little bit of what He went through, I think it can really teach us something. For me, a prostitute is no longer a “filthy thing”, but a broken little girl forced to grow up the hard way. There are many of them in the crumbling part of town where I live. I make friends with them, chat, and occasionally buy a hungry lady a pie or a can of juice, or even just fetch them a drink of water. At the group home where I stay, people say I pick up diseases from these ladies, because I developed a mystery physical illness some years ago, complete with black skin sores and blocked urinary tract! Thankfully, that situation is somewhat better now, but oh, how people love to gossip. Well, Jesus was accused of being mad, and of having a demon too, so He knows how it feels! I wish I could be as forgiving as Him… At least I have tasted society’s hatred too, so I know a little bit of how He felt.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m sorry it took a disability to teach you empathy–but in the long run, which is more important? May God use your renewed spirit to help others on the same path. And, remember, we serve an audience of One, so don’t let the backbiters get to you. –Philip

      • Paul says:

        Amen to that! You know what? If that was what I was meant to learn, it was all worth it! 🙂

        • Paul says:

          Please come and speak in South Africa, if you can find the time, Philip. We are a nation that is still horribly divided along racial, economic, and criminal lines. Its not just about black verses white, but also greed, inequality, poverty, violence, rape, and local people blaming foreign African shop owners for taking jobs away from locals. The dream of Nelson Mandela is still only halfway fulfilled. We desperately need people to speak some spiritual sanity here. If you can’t come, then please pray for us.

          • Philip Yancey says:

            I’ve been there on speaking trips 3 times, and couldn’t agree more. You’ve avoided catastrophe, but unleashed a lot of bats out of hell. Indeed I will pray, and may show up again sometime!
            Philip

  12. Mary says:

    Dear Philip,

    Thank you for writing books that have more than not challenged my perspectives, and if not, have spoken assuring words to bolster my faith.

    I’ve just finished reading ‘What’s so amazing about grace?’, and what struck me (on top of the main points of the book), was your liberal reference of notable catholics in your analogies. Yours was one of the few books I’ve read so far in christian literature, that has freely placed catholics alongside protestants in God’s kingdom.

    Having been brought up in a brethren church that had a penchant for embracing legalism, my sheltered beliefs were only challenged after I graduated, moved back home, and started worshiping at a different church. 2 years later, I met someone who was a catholic, which sparked off a new found interest in reading about church history, and understanding the theological differences that catholics hold.

    It hasn’t been an easy journey, trying to navigate waters that have proven to be easily aggrieved, sorting through our differences, and wondering if we would ever be able to come together as one to worship the God we both love but view through different coloured lenses. Delving into church history that led to the reformation has made me feel desperately sad at how christians through the ages have allowed politics, power play, and fear, divide what Christ united.

    Your references to catholics made me wonder what your perspectives are, on where catholics stand in the christian faith, and on whether differences can be reconciled? Can both work together hand in hand? And how intimately?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      A group called Evangelicals and Catholics Together has been working on this for years (the magazine First Things covers them well). As you note, I have learned from and been nourished by many Catholic writers. The beautiful thing about books is that they contain ideas unadorned with ritual and other trappings, and can be received on their merits. There are some things about Catholic culture and doctrine that seem strange to me (celibacy of priests, Assumption and Perpetual Virginity of Mary, papal infallibility, etc.), but then there are equally strange things in the Protestant tradition! We have so much in common, mainly the entire Protestant Bible (of course, Catholics accept a few extra books in addition). For years Luther thought he could bring reform to the church from within; in many ways, the reforms he felt strongly about did occur. The saddest result of the Reformation was the splintering and disunity that resulted; Martin Marty estimates 45,000 Christian denominations and sects in the world. That makes the questions in your final paragraph more daunting than ever.

  13. Anne says:

    Dear Phillip,
    Many years ago I read a wonderful article in Campus Life magazine about the “solo” experience of the Vanguard program at Honey Rock Camp. I wonder if you wrote that? Thanks very much.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I did. I went on a special program that brought together juvenile delinquents and federal prisoners, arranged by Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship. A great experience! It whetted my appetite for moving to Colorado and hiking the mountains here.

  14. Joan says:

    HI!
    I am a 42 year old mother who was raised in the church. I have just started reading your book on Prayer. Lately I have been seeking a concrete example of God being present today. It seems to me that all the books, all the sermons I read and hear are just different excuses for why we cannot see or feel God. We can’t handle it, he is speaking through silence, we need more faith, etc…What if you pray for more faith and he doesn’t deliver? I try to see God as my Father but as a mother I cannot understand why (if God is to be seen as our Heavenly Father) he would allow his children to suffer. Say what you will, but there is no concrete example against the fact that he is allowing his children to suffer. So a child with cancer suffers and dies to bring glory to God? I don’t buy it. It seems like God created us to sit back and watch us suffer. Like it is a game to Him. He knew the suffering that would happen and he still created us. Why? Any reasoning anyone gives for this is that we just have to wait until we die and then God will reveal himself. I cannot get past all of this for some reason. I do not find comfort in a God that hides. I need a sign that cannot be explained away. I pray and cry out to God with no response. Why? I do not want excuses…If he loves me why won’t he just answer in a way that will change me? And I don’t want to hear that he is answering through nature or something like that…

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I have written books with titles like Where Is God When It Hurts, Disappointment with God, Reaching for the Invisible God and The Question That Never Goes Away. I don’t minimize the question you raise; I’ve spent much of my career raising it myself. I won’t add to the formula answers. You’re right: this world is broken, badly. For whatever reason, God has chosen to let natural laws predominate–laws that encompass much good (the body’s healing properties, our immunological systems, etc.) and much bad. My best clue to how God views this world comes from Jesus, who always responded with comfort and healing, and who himself was subject to the same consequences of a broken world. We live on an invaded planet, and trust that God plans restoration someday. “On earth as it is in heaven”–I pray for that, and work for it. Beyond that, what can I say?

  15. Riannaks says:

    Dear Philip,
    Thank you so much for your insightful and encouraging books and responses. I seek your wisdom as I am at one of the lowest points in my life. My father was distant and absent. My mother was very dependant on me so I grew up very quickly, no childhood. We trusted God for everything, was faithful and active in Church, praying and tithing. My husband and I have been trying for years to get pregnant. This year, our Medical Doctor told us that we have an almost nil chance because of my past chronically health problems that never seem to end. I have had 3 pregnancy prophesies by 3 different people who did not know my secret hurt. Nothing yet and I am not trying to be like Abraham and Sarah.
    I lost my job (downsizing) and our home is at risk of foreclosure. I have been job searching in my profession and interviewing for months with no success. What happened to my seed and Malachi 3 “opening the floodgates of Heaven”?
    My Church is experiencing a major challenge shaking us to the roots. I am in leadership at Church, people come to me for comfort, counsel or prayer but I am in a dry hot desert now. These past two years have been one bad thing after another, all unanswered prayer. I need God to speak and I shall praise God regardless but I am so depressed and anxious because I feel like God is so so distant. His Word is very contrary to almost all aspects of my life. I would love to hear from you. Blessings to you always.

  16. Nessa says:

    Hi Philip-
    I know you answered a lot of questions about writing in your Q and A section but hopefully you will still read this. I am an older mom that has pursued a very task-oriented career for most of my life in order to pay the bills and keep the household running. It is a million miles away from writing or anything creative in general. In the past few years I have felt a nudge to either “use it or lose it” and sometimes feel a deep sadness over lost time and not trusting that the abilities and talents God gave me were mine to use, to help others, to explore and maybe even to enjoy. Beyond that writer’s psychosis you were dead-on in describing, the truth is a huge part of me loves it. My problem is that, at this age, I don’t know where to start. I would love to go “back to school” but don’t know if that is the right route or what kind of schooling is necessary. An English degree maybe? Or do you just send your work out to different publishing houses (is that the right word?) and hope for the best? I read an article recently about “cold calling your heroes” so here I am. Signed – “Stuck”

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Dear “Stuck,” I am hesitant to answer because the Internet has changed the rules and the game. Now anyone can get published, and blogs are a common way to force yourself to write on a daily basis. I would encourage you to explore that avenue. I always recommend a writers’ group too, in which you can read works in progress to get feedback. Anything that helps overcome the loneliness and what I call “psychosis” of writing. Frankly, there are two iron clad rules: read a lot and write a lot. If you can find a mentor, that’s a bonus. A class in writing here and there can help, yes, though I wouldn’t necessarily plunge into an English degree; these days what you learn in university doesn’t always translate easily into popular communication. The library has various Writers’ Guides to Christian Publishing that can tell you where to send articles, and you can probably find that online as well. All the best! –Philip

  17. Ana Paula Nascimento says:

    Hi, I’m Ana Paula, I’m 32 years old, I’m from the Methodist Church, I’m a journalist and I’m currently studying “Letras” (Portuguese) (I do not know how to say). I’m from Brazil, first I want to apologize for my English. I went through very difficult times in 2016 and as I went through that I read the book “Disappointment with God”. I have known your writings in the devotional Daily Bread that I receive for free in my home and bless me a lot. I became interested in your devotions and so I bought your book. I had completely lost hope and faith and after reading the book I decided to live. I’m reading “Disappointment with God” again and just wrote a devotional to “In the Upper Room” speaking from my experience. The other day I watched a video where you talked to young students about one of your books – Rumors from another world – (I do not know if the translation will be correct), and I want to read more of your books as soon as I can buy more. I’m going to send the devotional I wrote, but I do not know what the translation will be because I’ll use google translator. I want to thank you immensely for your wise way of writing and I praise God for your life. May God continue to bless your work, your ministry and your family! I have a dream of being able to write one day and I think I would like to know that your work reaches many people sometimes very distant but united in one faith. A big hug.
    From your reader: Ana Paula Nascimento
    Follow my devotional:

    Disappointed with god
    Read Romans 15: 4-13
    “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may be rich in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
    While I stood in line to pay the bill, I observed a gentleman in a very worn and dirty signature suit. He was making a bet on one of the games at the property. On his throbbing face I could see his smile of hope as he said goodbye to the attendant. A desire perhaps to improve his life and avoid his exhausting work.
    That made me refer back to the year 2016. At the age of 31 I had completely lost hope and was disappointed with God. The failures, obstacles of life, and disappointment had consumed all my will to continue.
    I attended college, postgraduate studies that did not result in any jobs in the area. It took me a long time to get a job and three years ago I worked in a place where I was completely dissatisfied, unmotivated, miserly, and in a position that any teenager knew without effort and did not need to finish high school to occupy it.
    With so many frustrations, family pressures and finding no meaning in life, I began to flood in a sea of ​​sadness, self-pity, guilt, negative thoughts, excessive complaints and envy. Not to mention the disappointments I suffered in the Church in which I gathered. But by now I was attending another.
    Thinking of being depressed, beyond hope I had lost faith. I looked for a psychiatrist and his diagnosis: anxiety. The treatment was therapy sessions that I could not afford. I insisted and started a generic treatment that I would not have to pay, but I was disappointed as the doctor himself had already alerted me.
    I went to the sessions twice and left. During this time I was reading the book “Disappointed with God” by Philip Yancey (Christian World Publishing House), and decided to live. With his wise words of faith based on biblical accounts, especially in the book of Job, I awakened to life.
    I went back to God and realized that He was still by my side, but this time I had frank conversations. He talked about how I really felt about Him and my frustrated expectations. From there I received encouragement and God strengthened me at every step. I made decisions to give up pessimism, gossip and take more positive actions in life without being anxious for tomorrow. (Matthew 6: 25-34)
    With the support of my fiancé I returned to study, I took my second habilitation and today in 2017 my life gave a turnaround. Like Job, my conception of God was wrong and I am glad to have awakened me through the transforming wisdom of His word that brings us hope. Not a hope like the one who bet on a game, but a hope that guarantees us eternal life.
    Prayer: Thank you Lord for Your sacrifice, your unconditional love and for Your hope.
    Thought for the day: “Would it be exaggerated to say that because of Jesus, God understands our feelings of disillusionment with Him?” (Philip Yancey)
    Let us pray for the anxious, depressed people who are thinking of giving up.
    Ana Paula Nascimento (Juiz de Fora – MG)

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Ana Paula, I’m sure the Google translator did not do justice to your Portuguese, but your message came through loud and clear. How perfect that you are using God’s comfort for you to extend comfort to others (See 2 Corinthians 1). You were open and receptive, and it moves me to hear that some words I wrote a number of years ago had this kind of effect on you–and much cheaper than psychotherapy! Your story encourages me, and I know through your writing that it will encourage many others. A big hug in return. –Philip

  18. James Moore says:

    Hi Mr. Yancey,
    I have a problem that I was hoping you could help me with. I have been struggling mightily with the New Testament worldview of demons as opposed to our modern worldview. The first issue is with Jesus attributing at least one case of seizures to the influence of a demon. The second is the reference to a spirit of deafness and muteness. Most atheist point out that we don’t take our epileptic child to an exorcist these days but rather to a neurologist. What would people think of us if we concluded that our epileptic or deaf child was possessed by a demon?! When I read these stories I can’t help but think they simply reveal the ignorance of a primitive culture. I am a devout, but doubting, Christian and this is a major hurdle for me. I’ve read explanations from Christian apologist but I just don’t find them very convincing. I’m sure you’ve come up against this objection before and I’d love to know your thoughts – or book recommendations. By the way, if I had the chance to meet anyone alive today – it would be you. You have been a truly profound influence on my Christian journey and I already think of you as a friend. Maybe in heaven we’ll meet 🙂 Take care and thanks.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I was raised among people who looked for demons and spirits around every corner, and I suppose I’ve gone the other direction. I must say, though, that missionaries to places like Africa and Haiti, and some parts of S. America and East Asia, have impressive firsthand accounts of possession that manifests itself in ways similar to that described in the Bible. I don’t know enough to attempt an answer to your excellent question. I do know that mental (and spiritual) states have physical manifestations–placebo effects alone prove that. You might take a look at Craig Keener’s 2-volume Miracles. Sorry I can’t help more. –Philip

  19. Thomas W. Burkman says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,
    I am a mainline evangelical, currently using Vanishing Grace as curriculum in an adult Sunday school class. The members of the class are diverse theologically, including some whose beliefs are evangelical but who would shun that identity given the current political environment.
    I have trouble using your books as curriculum because of your overt, explicit identity as evangelical and your constant implication that evangelical is the default setting for genuine Christianity. Tony Campolo’s writings are similarly infected, and in CT it is a terminal disease.
    Might you consider writing your next book as a Christian and for Christians? Your publisher wants niche marketing to increase sales, but you have the stature to defy that impulse. I hope to hear from you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I hope I haven’t communicated that evangelical is the default setting for genuine Christianity! I’ve learned much from Swedish Lutherans, many Catholic authors, Orthodox priests and a host of others. I use “evangelical” in its original meaning as good-news-messenger, and call those labeled as such to work harder on truly expressing that good news. I hope you don’t feel the same way, for example, about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is mainline Christian and insists on keeping the name. You make a good point, though: words change over time (80% of them pejorate rather than ameliorate) and it may be a losing battle. I’ll keep your caution in mind. –Philip

  20. Daniel Kim says:

    Hello. I’m Korean. I read your book “the question that never goes away”.
    I am saddened by the atomic bombings in Japan during World War II.
    But we must also consider the damage that Korea has suffered in Japan.
    Korean young girls were dragged by Japanese soldiers, and they were terrible.
    Korea was able to become independent because Japan lost the war.
    I hope you know this history. Thank you.

  21. Rod says:

    Philip,

    My father died about a month ago and one of the things he left me was a book — your book, The Jesus I Never Knew, given to me almost 20 years ago. It’s been on my shelf all this time, and I didn’t think to crack the cover until recently. Dad inscribed it, saying he thought my reading it would leave me hungry for more in the way of spiritual things, and that has been true. It is true. A number of things related to his passing away into a sure expectation that he would meet Jesus have inclined me toward a new understanding of and desire for God. I wake up in the early morning and start my day in a quiet house with prayer and meditation on two books — the Bible (currently the Book of James) and your book. It has been life-enriching. So many of the themes you touch on match the things I’m praying about or reading about in the Word. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us. Though that book was written in the 90s, not much about it is dated, and what you write about the relationship between humans and God is as fresh as it gets.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Your father left you a legacy, and you are embracing it. I know he would be (is?) pleased that you honor him in this way. Nothing in life is more important than encountering and accepting the love of God. –Philip

      • Rod says:

        Philip,

        I wanted to let you know that I’ve been praying for you. I’m reading through Reaching for an Invisible God, savoring it by only reading a few pages a day and really considering what you say — and it occurred to me that I ought to be praying for this man who has, along with John Stott, been such a constant spiritual guide for me in the mornings when I pray & study the Bible. Funny (and a little sad) that it didn’t occur to me to pray for you & your ministry until after I’d been reading your books for awhile. I also just read about your harrowing car accident, and can now pray more specifically for your spinal condition.

        Rod

        • Philip Yancey says:

          You’re so very kind, Rod. Yes, writers need prayer, as we work in isolation and it’s a paranoia-producing occupation. We keep at it because of responses like yours.

          This year is the tenth anniversary of my accident, and your prayers have been answered–in reverse! No lasting effects, other than a sore neck now and then after sleeping.

          Philip

  22. JEE KIM says:

    Hi Mr.Yancey!
    I’m Korean living in Florida.
    When I was 17, I read your book “Prayer: Does it make any difference?” in Korean.
    At first, I didn’t want to grab the book because the book was thicker than I thought
    and it’s still the thickest book I’ve ever read in my life.
    As I finish reading chapter 1, I told my mom that I’m glad this book is thick because there’s still more pages left.
    I am fast reader. I like to finish reading the book at least in that same week.
    But I wanted to read “Prayer” as slow as I could, basically decompose every context in the book.
    The book is eloquently written so it’s still delightful to reread the same page for 10 times.
    Whenever I hold the book in my hands, I can clearly see that you threw away more than 10 pages to make one complete page.
    If that’s not what you have done, then you are truly genius…!!
    I moved to Florida when I was 18 and ‘Prayer’ was the first book I bought, this time in English.
    It’s been more than 7 years that reading ‘Prayer’ comes after reading the bible as my daily routine.
    My ultimate goal is to absorb every context in the bible and the book of Prayer.

    There are so many more things I want to tell you.
    How inspiring and comforting your words are.
    I read most of your books and watched youtube videos as well.

    If I knew this webpage exists, I would have come earlier.
    I found it as I was searching if there’s any of your events I could participate.
    Thank you for your work.
    Thank you so much for your efforts.
    Thank you for your existence..!!!

    My name is Jee Kim.
    You will see me more because there are questions I really want to ask you and
    I don’t think I expressed enough how amazing you are.
    Hope you have a great day.
    🙂

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You are my encourager of the month, Jee Kim. I don’t want to disappoint you, but I don’t throw away 10 pages for every 1 page I keep. Usually I end up throwing away 100-150 pages from each book, however. I am so glad that the Korean translation held your interest! And then you went on to the English version. You warm my heart. I have made four tours of Korea, and no country has treated me better. Your note is proof of that. Thank you. –Philip

  23. Elton Hewitt says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    I recently watched the film “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers”. This film begins with the quote “No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.” Following the quote in the film, it says “Phillip (sic) Yancey, author, Rumors of Another World”. The quote is thus attributed to you, and it is implied that it comes from the book Rumors of Another World. However, I have this book and have searched it thoroughly and I cannot find the quote. I have also checked the internet and not been able to find the source of the quote. Could you please tell me if this quote is from you and what is the source of the quote? Thank you very much.
    Elton Hewitt

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I have said that quote, or something very close to it, at public speaking venues. I don’t think it has made it into any books, however. It’s always hard to pin down an original source. There’s a good chance I adapted it from something I heard from someone else! –Philip

  24. Beth Christensen says:

    Hello Philip I have read a number of your books and listened to you quite a lot and I love your honesty and forthright way of writing about the Christian life. I’m a trainer and so I work with the four different learning styles: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, read-write. I’m a mixture of all of these as a lot of people are. My biggest one is visual. I’ve been thinking about how that affects my relationship with God. When I read my bible or Christian books I want to visualise the stories. If I talk to someone on the phone I picture their house or what they looked like last time I saw them. I want to SEE God. I know that is not possible and I feel like sometimes that hinders my prayers or my general relationship with Him. I thought I would mention it to you in case you have come across anything about this in your research/writing. I would love to hear what you have to say about this. It would make an intriguing subject.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I wrote a book circling around this topic: Reaching for the Invisible God. It’s an important question, and I’m glad you mention it. –Philip

  25. Steve says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    This ‘thank you’ note is long overdue. Maybe I can explain the context of my gratitude.

    For over 20 years, my wife, family, and I attended a wonderful evangelical church here in the South. In recent years, though, it embraced more and more of what I term ‘evangelical culture’ and sadly became quite intolerant both in teaching and in practice. Instead of being open to study and discourse, members were tacitly expected to fall in line with the slogans and dismissive one-liners of mainstream evangelicalism. One issue, in particular, brought things to a head. It was clear there could never be discussion on the topic, so, with a heavy heart, we left the church. Two years later, the results of that decision in daily life still cause us emotional pain.

    Rather than simply shrug my shoulders, however, I decided to study the topic in depth – and that is when I came across your experiences and writings. I could empathize with the path you’ve trod through the years, and many of your words resonated strongly with me. Your courage in confronting difficult subjects, and, when necessary, standing against Christian populism, encouraged me during the difficult task of researching and then writing and publishing a book (something I’d not done before). Yes, it’s possible to be an evangelical Christian without embracing today’s evangelical culture. Yes, it’s right to challenge and critique and question and even doubt aspects of our faith, because it leads us closer to Christ. Yes, God is like Jesus, so we can strive to uncover ‘What would Jesus do?”.

    So, thank you for bridging, in an inspiring way, the gap we’ve created between Christ and real life. Thank you for providing encouragement to those like me who secretly need reassurance when following conviction and taking positions that lose many friends. It’s one thing to outwardly portray stoicism; it’s quite another to face daily the doubts and second guessing. Thank you for unwittingly giving me the perseverance to write and publish a book and to demonstrate to my family that it’s not OK to sit back and do nothing.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You cannot know how much encouragement I take from this note. Gratefully, Philip

      • Mary-Ann McKerchar says:

        For the first time in my 40 uears as a Christian, I am able to give Christian books to non-Christians. I had all but given up on Christianity when I first encountered your books. Thank you for expressing things which have always made me feel awkwardand never a “real” Christians.
        Mary-Ann McKerchar

  26. Rebekah says:

    Philip,

    I have read and now am re-reading with my 19 yr. old daughter, “Disappointment with God”. (which has helped us both tremendously). Then late last year, I randomly picked up a copy of “The Jesus I Never Knew” since I knew the author! I (like you) grew up in a large well-known, evangelical church and have worked all my adult life overcoming some of the many obstacles of faith related misconceptions. This book has renewed my affection for Jesus the Man. The chapter on the Beatitudes was one of the most moving descriptions of what I have always viewed as a rather “unrealistic” portion of scripture. Thank you for your poignant, refreshing writing. It is much needed in our Christian world today.

  27. Jeremy Kolansky says:

    Hi Mr. Yancey,

    I recently read your book “Disappointment With God.” It was helpful in a couple ways but, like your friend Richard (in the book), I was still left with the problem of “Is God Unfair.” Thankfully, God does act (whether fair or otherwise) and I have some thoughts I’d like to share:

    We get disappointed when we don’t get what we expect. We expect God to do things for us in this life because we think that this life is what matters. We place our hope in this life. If God were to give us what we wanted in this world, even were he to heal all our diseases, we would still age and die. Those are paradoxical constraints. God will give us what we all really long for (even though we don’t often know what those are) but not in this life. In the next one. This life is the decaying mess that it is because we sinned. God isn’t unfair. If He were fair, He’d leave us to our mess. Instead, God offered a way for us to leave this wretched world, to restore to us the relationships we so desperately need, and to live eternally like we all wish we could. If we always view God through the lens of wishing this world was “the end all, be all” we’ll always think He’s unfair. We’ll always be searching for the magical words to get our prayers answered.

    Really following along the paradoxical thoughts of expecting God to heal our diseases but still letting death act helped a lot. Also, was the question of “How is there hope in suffering?” There is hope, because God promised that in the next life things would be better. That He came to conquer this world and to replace it. To fix for us our problems that we created by sinning.

    Anywho, I’m sure you could formulate it better. Just wanted to share with you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you, Jeremy. Obviously you’ve given the subject a lot of thought, and I’m glad you passed along some of your conclusions. –Philip

  28. Richard Sims says:

    I have started to read through your book on prayer. However, it does not look as though it will address a question I am interested in. A penny for your thoughts: In thinking about prayer, it seems out of balance. If we receive all good things from God, it is hard to see what God receives from us. What would you say God receives from us? Thank You,

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Pleasure. Several times the Epistles urge us to bring God pleasure. I see it as parallel to what a parent feels when a child learns to walk, or choose well, or loves. Our human pleasure is a mere glimpse of what God must feel. –Philip

      • Richard Sims says:

        In receiving all good things from God, we are greatly benefited. If I choose well, and God is pleased, how is God benefited?

        • Richard Sims says:

          Like an oracle, Mr. Yancey only seems to give you one kick at the can. This is where the start of a good conversation goes to die. If you are interested in a chorus of thank you’s, this is your spot.

  29. Emily J. M. says:

    Hi!
    I’m sure a blog comment isn’t the best way to contact you, but I saw that you’d been recently answering them, so I thought I’d give it a go! I have been around chronic sickness my whole life – and recently began writing about what it looks like to love people with chronic sicknesses, day in and day out as we Watchers are hurting too. My blog is called Calledtowatch.com, and as I prepared to make it ‘live’, I read your book “Where is God when it hurts?” which had been sitting on my bookshelf for a while.

    I admit I began it rather cynically (in fact, without the first few paragraphs on ‘Watching’, I don’t know if I would have made it through the ‘pain is actually good’ part). I’d read too many ‘responses’ to suffering which merely seem to say: ‘sickness is a product of the Fall, and God will heal it one day’. Of course that is true, but also rather clinical. It only scratches the surface – because we don’t want to know so much ‘why’, I think, but ‘what now?’ How do we live in light of this?

    I very much enjoyed your book, and was utterly floored by one of the first sentences (“we can only Watch”) – which represents the essence of my entire collection of work and thought! To think that someone else had thought it too, separately, at a different time and country. Such an encouragement. I had secretly been afraid that perhaps what I was reflecting and writing and praying about would not be helpful to anyone besides myself.

    I just wanted to thank you for your book, to let you know I listed it in the ‘resources’ section of my website, and to explain that although what you wrote is at times exactly what I wrote I didn’t know that until after! Writing (especially about such a sensitive topic) is hard and I deeply appreciate the time and effort and struggle you put into it.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You are doing very important work, Emily, and I’m delighted to hear that we’ve come to some similar conclusions. You are on the front lines; I sit in an office in isolation and write. My partnership with Dr. Paul Brand was transformative for me. We wrote more in a book called The Gift of Pain. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. –Philip

  30. Philip,
    I ‘ve had a few challenges– came to know Christ, personally as an adult, husband in prison, later he died of alcoholism, mental illness in my family, yet steadfast in my own life to earn a doctorate and am now associate professor emeritus at a large regional university. Your books are a great help for my spiritual growth, but I must say, I’ve never been angry with God and never questioned God as Father and his Son as my Savior. But, here is my question, I’ve always struggled with relationships especially long term friendships. Is this a spiritual problem? If we are right with God, we are right with our neighbor, isn’t that what I should count one? Can you recommend reading that will help with right relationships with others?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I can see why you’re a little relationship-shy, Carol, in view of the brief background you mention. It sounds like you’re doing great, frankly. I’ve found that small groups at church can–or, to be honest, cannot–be a good place to look for compatible friends. To me, what you mention is more a personality issue than a spiritual issue. Let me recommend some reading: The Road Less Traveled, by Scott Peck; books by Brene Brown; the book Lean In, on the power of introverts, and almost anything by Henri Nouwen. That’s a lot to handle, I know. The fact that you care, and that you hunger for relationship–these are signs of health.

  31. Khaldoun says:

    Hi Phil
    We meet a few years ago at a CS Lewis conference.
    I teach philosophy in Chicago. I am still speechless in the face of evil. My baby son died in my hands years ago. And your work has helped me through it. Thank you.
    I have a question. You said:
    “When I speak to college students, I challenge them to find a single argument against God in the older agnostics (Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, David Hume) or the newer ones (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) that is not already included in books like Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and Lamentations.”
    Would you please expand on this or tell me where I can find the direct or indirect Biblical answers to this?

    Thanks brother
    Khaldoun
    Please respond to khaldoun.sweis@gmail.com

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m not sure how to respond. If you read, say, Job, Psalms, Habakkuk, the complaints against God and criticism of how creation works are stark and obvious. Theodicy, argument from design, violence, suffering of the innocent, oddities of creation–they’re all set out in vivid detail. –Philip

  32. Phyllis says:

    Hi – I too was refreshed to hear your take on evangelicals support of Donald Trump. He does indeed stand for everything that Christianity is against! How hypocritical it seemed that these Christian leaders would support him. And I was terribly disappointed to hear that James Dobson would be supporting Trump. However, then I read a few interviews and Dobson made much more sense. I could appreciate what he was saying. He spoke of religious liberty being squashed by Hillary Clinton and quoted her discussing how she would change things along those lines. A big concern of Dobson is Supreme Court appointments. And I can certainly appreciate that as well. I could not ever have voted for Donald Trump. Never. But the reasoning of some of the evangelicals became a little bit more clear and understandable once I did some reading. Phyllis

  33. Marc Castellani says:

    Philip,

    Your writing has resonated more strongly with me than that of any other Christian writer, and you come across as a thoughtful and insightful individual who responds instead of reacting to the most challenging situations. This is why I hope you find time to address this question.

    We just endured an incredibly painful election season, and the hatred and anger engendered by it continues to be expressed across this country. Although I have strong opinions on the topic, I’ve struggled to express them in a way consistent with the fruits of the spirit. I believe that if I’m faithful in my Christian walk, others will see love, joy, peace, patience, etc. However, most of the election discussions have instead fostered hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, dissension, factions and envy (Galatians 5: 20-21). I’ve found myself remaining uncomfortably silent because I don’t know how to engage others in a way consistent with Paul’s guidance.

    What are your thoughts on living in a way that honors the fruits of the spirit? Is it possible to discuss something as loaded as the election with these caveats in mind? Are Christians truly called to do that, or are there circumstances where this doesn’t apply?

    If you can recommend any specific readings on this passage and how it applies to our daily lives, I would appreciate that as well.

    Thank you for your work and your ministry. You’ve have a profound influence on countless numbers of readers.

    Sincerely,

    Marc

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Wisely, you don’t reveal what “side” you’re on, because your question applies to both sides in this regrettable campaign. I love your spirit. And I’ll quote some advice from a pastor friend of mine in Chicago. She is open about her partisanship, but I the spirit she expresses should apply when either side wins an election:

      Being a Christian is hard.

      We’ve had 36 hours now to absorb the surprising results of our presidential election. Many of us have been in a daze – slightly bewildered and confused. Regardless of your preferred candidate, the polling data had predicted a very different outcome than what we all saw happening before our eyes.

      Now, with a mandate from half of the voting public, Donald Trump takes the office of president backed with a Republican majority in the House and Senate. This is the glory of a government by the people which none of us would change for a moment. Change is most certainly on the docket for the next few years.

      Throughout the last few days I have thought about how much easier it is for me to be a “left of center leaning progressive” than it is for me to be a Christian. As a political party member I can vent and debate, mock and obfuscate other’s policies. As a Christian I must lean in and listen; I must embrace and include.

      While the political part of me seeks revenge, (“Let the markets crash! Watch Putin’s advances with a weakened NATO! See the dismantling of America’s leadership!”) the Christian in me must pray for the welfare of the city, our country and the world. The claims of Christ demand that I seek the things that make for peace.

      I can’t mock those who voted for Trump or suggest that the rise of the “know nothing” party is complete. I don’t get to paint them with a wide brush of ugly words. And perhaps most temptingly, I can’t try and write off the “other” Christians who supported President-elect Trump. That’s not allowed. Like me, they are beggars of grace. And the One from whose hand we have equally received will not allow me to stand close while my heart is far away.

      Like I said, being a Christian is hard.

      Yesterday morning we gathered as a staff to have time of lament. We confessed our grief and our fears. We expressed our hopes and asked protection for our country. We read the psalms, recited the Lord’s prayer and sang, “He’s got the whole world in his hands!” Then, in the silence that followed, Sharon looked up with tears to say, “My people have survived more than this. We will get through this. We always have and we always will.”

      Yes. God is faithful. We can all inhale and exhale. God is still redeeming the world and asking us to participate. Please join us in praying for our country. Pray for people of color first, along with undocumented workers and those particularly dependent on governmental services and assistance. Pray for the losers and the winners. Pray for people of good will to reach out to their neighbors and friends. Pray that we may find a way forward for all of us together. Pray that the character of Christ will also be the character of his people.

      Pray for us Christians.

      With compassion for all,
      Pastor Laura

  34. eBookDaily says:

    Philip,

    “The Bible Jesus Read” is highlighted today on eBookDaily.com:

    http://ebookdaily.com/bargain-kindle-books/2016-11-18/B0035XOQPO

  35. Kathleen Griffin says:

    Our church is talking about doing a book study using one of your books in the fall. We would be interested in knowing if you would consider being a retreat speaker sometime in late fall of 2017 for a Saturday retreat and Sunday morning for our church service. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

  36. Jesus L. Dawal Jr. says:

    Hi Philip. I am Jess, and you have always been my favourite writer. A profound inspiration, I keep pressing on to write about the many facets of life. Your books have always been challenging my traditional beliefs in Christianity, and I thank God they do. I am from the Philippines, and as you might have known, our president is somehow similar to your Donald Trump. I am relieved to have found out that you still hold the same beliefs, and those beliefs that you have imparted through your books were those that I gauged in voting during our elections. Just like you, I am deeply baffled by how many Filipino Christians have voted, even defended our current president. I don’t know why I left a comment at all, but it’s therapeutic to me somehow. Thank you for your life and all the struggles you went through. And thank you for your message. I will forever cherish them.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m glad you did leave a message, Jess. We Americans have as hard a time understanding your president as most of the world has trying to understand our president-elect. I’m glad to make this connection, and thank you for the encouragement –Philip

  37. Scott says:

    Hi Phillip,

    You may remember me from our contact in the early 2000’s. “What’s So Amazing About Grace” helped me see a loving Jesus after years of growing up in the church.

    I’ve had you in the back of my mind as I have been writing a book the last two years. Not knowing what to write I just listened to him and wrote. I have hoped that once I had it finished you would read and give me feedback on the advanced reader copy. So I am looking you up to ask for your feedback. If you would be honored if you would make a quick read and let me know what you think and that my reference to your book is correct. If so please let me know where to send you a copy.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Scott, I would like to say yes and normally I would. However, I am in the midst of a heavy writing project and made a decision to focus solely on that for the next year at least. So sorry, and all the best with your book! –Philip

  38. John Smith says:

    I am just finishing reading your book Vanishing Grace. All I can say is Thank You. I am so glad to see that there are others walking the same path as myself. I too look around and say “where has all the Grace gone? We are walking different paths but yet come to the same conclusions. What lifts my spirit is that no matter where you walk, He is always there waiting for you.

  39. Tom Kean says:

    Your writing is incredibly thought-provoking. Thanks for doing such a great job of exploring your own faith, beliefs and actions – and for honestly and openly sharing your explorations. I am reading VANISHING GRACE now and wanted to comment on Chapter 7, SCRIBBLES IN SAND. I agree with much of what you say about the role of artists and the ‘disappearing’ nature of most art. That said, I felt like you sold yourself short in some ways as you described this transient nature of art. The other side of the coin is that while art today is here and present, it lives on, not necessarily as a piece (or artist) itself, but in the minds of those who encounter it and the influence they have on others, who in turn influence still others, and so on. You have been influenced by many others, some of whom you know and cite, who were influenced by people you probably never have heard of. You have had an influence on me, and my great-grandchildren will be the beneficiaries of some of that influence, and may never know your name or read anything you wrote. Be encouraged! PS – as a fellow Coloradan enjoyed your post on elk mating season this morning.

  40. Kairat says:

    I think you are a money-loving hypocrite. You do not do anything that Jesus has taught. What a waste of life.

  41. Ghian du Toit says:

    Dear Philip

    I have read a couple of your books and it has catapulted me to beautiful planets beyond this life.
    How could I ever thank you enough?
    It enriches my walk with the Lord and it is an invaluable resource!
    The Lord uses your books mightily (without you even knowing it, I suspect).

    Blessings and Shalom!
    Ghian
    Wellington, South Africa

  42. Joe says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,
    I represent the online ministry http://www.befreeinChrist.com. We are a fellowship of Christian men who are struggling with lust, in one form or another. We would like post your article “Holy Sex, How it Ravishes Our Souls” as a resource on our website.
    This article was originally posted on October 1, 2003, on Christianity Today. We typically feature a different writing each week to every 2 weeks.
    Please let me know if you would allow us to provide our brothers with this wonderful resource.
    May God bless you and your efforts to help others!

    In Christ,
    Joe

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Absolutely. You’re quite welcome to post this. Please note that it’s adapted from the book “A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith.” –Philip

  43. Benny says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    I have read one of your books. I am now trying to read “Reaching for the Invisible God.”
    I have a problem which puts me in your first chapter. I am a Christian, a believer in God who will not give up. I know a little about mathematics and biology. I have believed in evolution since childhood, grudgingly, but it made no difference, I was always a believer in God.
    I recently looked up the theory and equations of radioactive dating. The field is extremely interesting because the equations are correct, confirming and expounding upon the geologist’s relative time scale. There is NO CHANCE the equations and results are incorrect. The Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago and life has changed through the ages. All periods from Cambrian to Holocine have their own radiogenic dates. Regardless of what you believe about evolution, life has changed through the ages. This is an ultimate proof of evolution.
    In the 4th chapter of Genesis it says:”Tubalcain was an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” From archaeologists in the Levant, the Bronze age ended 1500 B.C. Also in the last 1000 yrs of the Bronze Age people knew about iron but could not make much of it and made jewelry of it. So Tubalcain lived 1000 years into the Bronze Age which was 2000+1500+1000=4500 years ago. Tubalcain was about the 6th generation from Adam, so you could roughly add another 500 years to make the age of Adam 5000 years ago. The traditional age for creation is 6000 years ago. Not bad for one verse in Genesis!
    Now for my problem, I have a huge hole in my soul and being. I know for a fact that the first 11 chapters of Genesis did not take place 6000 years ago because of radiogenic dating. Therefore, there was no Creation , Eden, Adam and Eve, Fall of Man, Noah’s Ark, or Tower of Babel. So much for the foundation of the Bible. They can at best be only myths or fables, only symbolic tales with a traditional grain of truth. Woodlands Indians were making arrow heads on our farm 1000 years before Eden.
    This never bothered me much till I recently read a volume about Darwinism. Darwin was 99% correct about evolution and natural selection, but nobody knows how or why evolution really works. Evolution is correct and functional but nobody knows its purpose or why. Darwin says it is adaptation to life’s conditions. This is not a real good answer, but it is all we have.
    Herbert Spencer and others created Social Darwinism and caused a huge amount of suffering. Only the fit survive. Actually some species cooperate or stay as they are for millions of years flying in the face of evolution.
    Do we live in a world with no religion and only the fit survive?
    This is what God himself apparently says since mathematics is the magic behind physics and the Word himself (Jesus, the second person of the Trinity) is the spirit of mathematics. Nothing was made without the Word from the book of John. The natural world is controlled by the Word through mathematics to the natural laws. The natural world rules, though miracles may happen. Evil spirits are definitely present, existing somehow independently of the natural world. To sum up, the natural world is what we live in and we are a part of it.
    Does God have a right to twist our beliefs to something untrue? He said you SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE. I feel free but I feel betrayed. I do not have an answer for this.
    For now my faith is limited. There is a supernatural God, but he put himself back in with the ancient Mid Eastern gods of darkness if you believe in Genesis. The present religion is wallowing in untruths.
    The Creationist groups are responsible for part of our problem. Look up Preston Cloud for a clear and logical rebuttal of Creationist beliefs.
    Benny

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I strongly recommend that you peruse the BioLogos website, an organization founded by Dr. Francis Collins, one of the premier scientists of our time (he directed the Human Genome Project and now heads the National Institutes of Health). They deal with these science/faith issues so much better than I could, with far more expertise. As for Genesis, I recommend that you find books by John Walton. You ask very good questions, and some experts in both science and the Bible may be able to help. –Philip

  44. Corri Byrne says:

    Thank you Philip for the extensive research in The Jesus I Never Knew. Only recently come across it and found it a fantastic insight, to give new eyes to our reading of the gospel and to understanding Jesus.

    You have inspired a new series at our church, New Eyes. Looking at the great irony, that we know Jesus backwards, yet our life unfolds forwards.

  45. Lisa says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    I have read your stuff for decades. Thank you for rescuing so many of us from rigid Christianity and teaching us to welcome messy Christianity :-), including doubts and questions.

    Hey have you checked out Evan McMullin for President? He compassionately vetted refugees and bravely fought terrorists overseas, worked as Policy head for the Republicans in Congress, and has business experience. He has family values and has a record of integrity. I heard you questioning the movement of evangelicals towards Trump, and I totally agree with you! It is so alarming! But so many of us prayed and then (I believe) God gave us a new candidate – McMullin was asked to run at last minute, he is not a power-grabber. Please look him up and consider supporting his candidacy! He actually could win, but it would take a lot of publicity to get the word out. He is already on enough ballots to win – or to take votes away from T and C so that the House can choose another. Feel free to write me if you would like more info. 🙂

    Thanks for reading this!

  46. Michael Johnson says:

    I enjoyed your comments on Donald Trump. I have read some of your books and enjoyed them all. I was a Christian prior to the Reagan revolution in 1980 when Republicans deliberately confused Christianity with patriotism and capitalism to get their people elected. I now view politics and religion cynically as a tool to maneuver people to an end that benefits their personal goals, not goals of a God whom might think differently. I am in my 60’s and will probably die an atheist unless someone can change my cold heart, even if it is an attempt to maneuver me to their self serving purpose. I would love to be a Christian again.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Michael,
      I hope that somehow you are graced with a direct relationship with God, unmediated by those who may try to maneuver or manipulate. You already show an open, wise spirit. The Kingdom could use you! Philip

  47. ann says:

    Easy… Donald is against killing unborn babies.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Actually, his views on abortion have been very mixed over the years, so I wouldn’t count on it… Philip

  48. David Alexander says:

    An article in ” CP politics” has you wondering about voting for Donald Trump for pres. i understand your argument against that vote but what is the alternative? When there are only two candidates that are miles ahead of the rest of the pack, it would appear to me to be a waste of vote to vote for anyone other then Trump.
    Your thoughts please .
    dave

    • JOHN MARK POOL says:

      Phillip Yancey shows how DECEPTION takes place beginning with his “New Age” views that pushes a very non-Biblical view he offers to separation of Christian involvement in Kingdom of God Government! DONALD TRUMP IS GOD’S CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT! Acting as a “Chosen one ‘Pontificating ‘ his religious spirits secularism views! Yet his Spiritual Smear won’t stop real Believers from being God’s Word to a very sick nation! We are The Church and we do not need seeds of discord from Phillip Yancey! 😛

    • Peter D'Souza says:

      Evan McMullin is a sane alternative and the only conservative in the race.

    • We only have 2 choices. The other candidates running only have very small numbersof followers.
      Most people,Christians, that is, would rather have Trump because he is not part of the establishment Republicans. Hillery, or as I call her, Hitlery, has proven over the years to be very anti- Christian . Considering full term abortions, Benghazi, funding from Islamic nations, her husbands’ MANY sexual infidelities, and all the things she has contradicted herself on all these years. I have no doubt that IF she wins, the public will know it was rigged, and the fallout will be an uprising that the US hasn’t seen since the Civil War

  49. Dee says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey: I write this, I am praying, in a most respectful manner. I have read your books over the years and gained from them. Today I find out that you have endorsed the democratic platform and candidate, and am wondering what I had missed when reading your writings formerly. I am so disappointed. I will pray for you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Look again. I never ever endorsed a democratic platform or any candidate. Rather, I expressed my disappointment that so many evangelicals hold up as their flagbearer a man whose life seems to contradict the most basic principles of our faith.

      • Lisa Durham says:

        Mr. Yancy,
        I am an evangelical Christian. I was raised in a “hellfire and brimstone” church, and grew closer to God in a bible-teaching, grace-based church. I am also a social worker. And yes, a democrat. Many find that so hard to believe. And yet, my desire to help others comes directly from the Bible. As I read Christ’s charges to us, and realize that NONE of us deserve salvation, I am so struck by the number of “evangelical” Christians who are so quick to judge, condemn, and crucify others. And yes, I’m also so curious how evangelicals can say Donald Trump is God’s choice for us, even when he says he does not need to ask for forgiveness. I believe that is the biblical definition for a non-believer. The amount of hate, sexism, racism, every -ism that this campaign has brought out in our country grieves me deeply. I am praying for God’s intervention, and also deeply trust His Will. Thank you for speaking your mind.

        • Philip Yancey says:

          I love your spirit, Lisa. Keep praying. –Philip

        • Phyllis says:

          I am amazed by the way Christians are judged and condemned. It is rampant. It really does seem that to many, a person is evil and hateful if they believe that marriage should be reserved for a man & a woman. Why is one view tolerated and the other not? Yes, being a Christian IS hard.

  50. Dan Snyder says:

    I just read your comments about Donald Trump. Sorry I had never heard of you before. It makes for such a refreshing change to hear common sense spoken, rather than political diatribe. Being fairly new to the faith, although old in years, I have a hard time reconciling the fact that Jesus kingdom is not of this world, that we are not to be of the world (or in the world, I can never remember which word means which status) and yet politics would seem to epitomize being of the world. I’ve read the bible a couple of times now and don’t remember Jesus seeking to change any Roman laws. He may not have agreed with them, but He never argued for armed insurrection – or even lobbying your Roman Senator. It is sad to see churches fomenting fear amongst their members to scare them into voting one way or the other. Jesus tells us not to fear. My pastor gave a sermon on that, about how we who are in the love of God have nothing to fear – and two sentences later says he “fears” the US government will throw him in prison for not performing a same sex marriage. But I guess it keeps his flock coming back each week.

    Anyway, just wanted to write to thank you for a breath of fresh air

  51. Frank Raj says:

    Dear Philip

    The reason evangelical Christians are supporting Trump is because they follow Christianity not Christ.

    We have had this discussion about Christianity when you came to Dubai a few years back!

    Here is a poem from my book: ‘One Secret, 101 Life Changing Poems’ …

    Blessings

    Frank

    RENAME IT CNT
    By Frank Raj

    WE need to rename an ancient subterfuge passed down the ages
    Successfully perpetrated on unsuspecting humans in many stages
    A multi headed hydra brilliantly dividing mankind employing sages
    Religion still ensures regular mayhem with its confusing messages

    ITS strategically chosen alias, is something called “Christianity”
    The suffix has birthed a colossus, an organized religious insanity
    Diabolically crafted as a mere language construct to fool humanity
    And to breed proud fools strutting about with their devout vanity

    LET us bell the cat, name the evil to expose its ideological tactics
    Denounce it so people know its cunning use of the sacred prefix
    Destroy its vast foundation, its splendid global edifice so fantastic
    Let brick and mortar churches choose more humble characteristics

    RELIGIOUS empires have been built on men’s longing for Truth
    Expose the middlemen; let them lose their lofty pulpit livelihood
    Compromised, Christ’s simple teachings have not been understood
    A religious way of doing life, is strategically employing falsehood

    WHY do human beings so easily surrender their precious freedom?
    Poisoned carrots are the lure, the gullible receive man-made wisdom
    Men cling to spiritual pride like affluence; such a common infection
    Pious fools believe that ritual and tradition can achieve perfection

    COMMUNISM has fallen, let Christianity be the next to fall apart
    Let humanity directly seek the Maker, shun all pious blackguards
    Know the unknown God who humbly walked the earth on record
    People are saved by grace alone through faith in His precious Word

    SCHOLARS have no idea who contrived the term ‘Christianity’
    The Trojan horse undermines the Church, imposing its blasphemy
    Like all man-made religions, it is the untruth people are used to
    Let us give its due and rename it CNT – for it is ‘Clever, Not True.’

    • Frank Raj says:

      Hi Philip

      Hoping for some feedback this time!

      New one – not in my book!

      ECLIPSED
      By Frank Raj

      There is One called Christ and there is something called Christianity
      Down the ages that one suffix has misled all humanity
      People have not unmasked the unholy conspiracy

      The gospel as ‘Good News’ was proclaimed in all simplicity
      How then did Christian doctrine evolve into such complexity?
      The fishermen Jesus picked were not chosen for their proud theology

      Christ ignored the learned Pharisees spiritually esteemed in His day
      What He taught men the Apostles simply referred to as ‘The Way’
      Not a religion, it granted men direct access to God, to come as they may

      Such divine privilege could have toppled Caesar’s Empire
      Constantine understood the opportunity to formally acquire
      Roman control of men’s beliefs and he followed through to conspire

      Rome strategically designed a state religion and Christianity was crafted
      The diabolical plot to exploit Christ as a prefix was grafted
      Embracing the sacrilege the Church ever since has been shafted

      Great Christian authors, preachers, renowned leaders unknowingly
      Reinforce the satanic suffix foolishly extending its legitimacy
      Puzzled why men’s faith lies impotent in a paper tiger called Christianity

      The Trojan Horse now masquerades as the ‘Church,’ in a great edifice
      Enamored, the body of Christ is hypnotized, and hopelessly transfixed
      Religion blends easily with the Truth and Christ is eclipsed

      • Philip Yancey says:

        You’ve been prophetic on this issue for years, Frank. We could talk over details, but I appreciate the broad sweep of what you’re saying. –Philip

  52. ann lyons says:

    we started Vanishing Grace as an adult bible study
    only did first chapter

    who is Gabe Lyons in the first video session

  53. Jim Macdonald says:

    Hi Dr. Yancey

    We are just about the same age, which I was amazed to see. You seem so much wiser than I am. I am re-reading Disappointment with God and just had a question. What ever happened to Richard? Is he still at the same place he was when you originally wrote the book? Anyway, I really enjoy your books and your devotional is one of two that I read every day, along with my Bible. Keep up the good work. God Bless.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I don’t feel very wise, but I do feel old! “Richard” was actually a pseudonym for a real person, and we have been in contact over the years. He is much less angry now, and open to spirituality and the supernatural, though more in a New Age kind of way than traditionally Christian. Thank you for your concern for him.

      • Jim Macdonald says:

        Hi Dr. Yancey. Thanks for responding and your comment. Interesting about ‘Richard’. I think part of his issue was ‘gimme prayers’ rather than ‘be with me prayers’. When I throw up a ‘gimme’, and the Lord gives, I say ‘Thanks, by the way, if you’ve got an extra million to send down it would be appreciated, finances are tight this month’. I think He is amused. I might not be the best Christian, but I know who I am. I know about the ‘Old’ thing. My brain is 25 and is constantly at odds with my 65 year old body. The body usually wins. Have a great day. God bless.

        Jim

  54. Michael Jared says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey, I have read almost all of your books. I have read “Whats so Amazing about Grace” maybe 6 times, and took 1 year to teach it in a Sunday school class. I wanted to send you a book by my second favorite writer Calvin Miller but can’t find your address. I always wanted to thank you and Calvin for sharing yourself with me, but I was too late with Calvin,and didn’t want to be too late with you. Thank you so very much.

  55. Michael Kunsman says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    I read What’s So Amazing About Grace and agreed with your message so much that I have both recommended it and used several references from it in my ‘amateur writer’ article The Simplicity of Grace prepared for my Serra Club Newsletter to be submitted for October.
    I am now just beginning Part Three of Rumors of Another World and once again completely agree with all your suppositions. I would really enjoy meeting you but would be pleased to converse via e-mail as well.

    Mike

  56. Nathan Cartwright says:

    I grew up in an ultra-conservative (cult) “christian church”. I wrote you a letter once before and you sent me a signed book about faith surviving the church. I loved that book but I”m not writing you now for any renumeration–I was more impressed (and touched) by your letter. I’m trying to follow the bible and have had some pretty amazing things happen since then but now I feel like I’m in the great darkness of testing the soul, and it has been a few years of this and I’m really hurting. I can’t seem to get my health and will together to get anything going so my wife, a nurse, supports our family at present. My mother-in-law has shown me scriptures such as “If he does not work, neither shall he eat” and others. I’m trying to believe in the amazing grace of God through Christ but I feel like I have no ministry other than perhaps to my wife and boys. Recently a Christian relative said he does not pray for mercy for others anymore, but that they should be given their ministry instead. I don’t know why, but it made me emotional…I had to walk outside for embarrassment because I couldn’t stop the tears. I was raised to believe I fall so short, but now I’m like my name “Nathan David”…telling my sins to myself. Can you suggest anything to help me feel I’m worthy of the sacrifice made…I am simultaneously eager and scared to meet Jesus again. If nothing else could you please pray I could be more of worth to my family and God would help with my depression and chronic pain. Thanks for your time.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’ve often thought that the worst part of a recurring “sin”–say, an addiction to pornography, very common these days–is not so much the sin itself as the feeling that follows, that one is cast aside, disqualified for use by God. You sound really depressed, a condition that cries for in-person help, from friends or a trained counselor. A book is a poor substitute, I know, but I would recommend Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love (written when he was in a similar state) or most anything by Brennan Manning, who battled this issue all his life. Intellectually, you probably know that God loves you and you have worth. Emotionally…that’s a challenge, I know. As for ambivalence about meeting Jesus, try making a list of all the people Jesus encounters in the Gospels: the more “unworthy,” outcast, moral failure someone was, the more tenderly Jesus treated them. –Philip

      • Ruth Anerino says:

        Thank you for calling out evangelical Christians supporting Mr Trump. In contrast when you hear Sec Clinton talk about her faith…it barely gets mentioned….her work for women and children world-wide….her daughter Chelsea has written a good book for teens about service and groups that help others…Mr trump is full of himself and wealth and WINNING….at any cost! Thank you for your life and your writing!

  57. Marcello Salvate says:

    Hello Philip.
    I´m writing to thank you for everything you wrote and I had the opportunity to read.

    It will be always a pleasure to lean with your wise words and share everything I can with others. Vanishing grace imacted me in a way it is hard to explain… all histories inside the book, all thoughts on it… every word of it impacted me a lot.
    Your words helped me to get close to God and I wish you receive all God can give you in this life and at heaven too.

    Thanks a lot Philip, thanks a lot.
    Never my friend, never stop doing what God gave you as gift, never stop fascinating people with your wise words. You have no idea how many people you helped with our words, but in heaven you gonna see them all and your prize will be there.

    Thanks a lot John, thanks again, hope to meet you someday.
    God bless you and your family.

    Cheers
    Marcello Salvate
    From Brazil, MG, Belo Horizonte

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This message, from the other side of the equator, from a country with problems of its own, was truly a “grace note” to me.
      Philip

  58. James Moore says:

    Hi Mr. Yancey,
    I want to start off by saying that you have been an invaluable resource for me in my shaky Christian walk. My question is about your friend Richard (Disappointment With God), and whether he ever returned to the faith after all of these years? I struggle with my faith in the exact same way that Richard did and I am very interested to know if he ever came back to faith. Thank you so much for your time. God bless you.

    Sincerely, Jimmy

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Jimmy, “Richard” came back to a kind of faith, but not Christian faith. His beliefs are more in line with New Age, a belief in supernatural and another world, but not one he would express in Christian terms. He has overcome much anger over the years. I know he appreciates your interest, and I’ll let him know next time we communicate. –Philip

  59. Hi Philip,
    My friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is given only a couple of months to live by the doctors. She is a nurse by profession, an agnostic and questions the existence of God. Yesterday she asked for me and said ‘I wish I had your religion now’ which gave me an opening to share the faith. I offered to give her a bible but she refused, but ready to read a book. The first author who came to my mind is you. Could you be kind enough to recommend a book I can buy for her? many thanks.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m so glad you’re there with her. I’ve often written about the problem of pain, and my latest attempt is The Question That Never Goes Away. Bless you. –Philip

  60. Richard Bahr says:

    Hello Philip,

    I enjoy your books as I’m sure most do that post on your site. I’ve purchased several of your book “Prayer” and given them away to people that I think would find it helpful. It’s the most unvarnished autobiography on prayer I’ve ever read.

    I have a favor to ask…and I’ll suggest in advance if it’s too much…I completely understand.

    I wrote the study guide for Carl Medearis’ book “Speaking of Jesus” and attended the “Simply Jesus” event a couple of years ago. I was moved to get to know Jesus better and read the gospels for two years straight, finding the humanity of Jesus as something that helps me relate to him. As I searched for other texts to read on the subject (Christology) I found books only written in a bit of a heady fashion. So I wrote and am just now releasing a book that a local Christian publisher embraced. The title is “Amazed: Why the Humanity of Jesus Matters” and is available on Amazon (not yet Prime, but it is available in paperback and Kindle). For what its worth, its a short book (160 pgs total) and I it’s designed to be an easy read. It would mean a lot if you would take time to read it.

    I have a business in Minneapolis that affords me the time and funds to spend a good deal of my time in recent years in homeless ministry. All the proceeds from this and the Medearis study guide help fund our work.

    Thank you in advance. I’ll continue to be a supporter and reader of your work regardless.

    Yours in Christ,

    Richard Bahr

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. I wrote a book on Jesus a few years ago, and agree about our underemphasis of his humanity. Good work. –Philip

  61. A Aposta de Deus em Jó – Igreja Bíblica de Botucatu says:

    […] Ninguém tem expressado a dor e a injustiça deste mundo melhor do que Jó. Mas por trás dessas palavras de angústia se encontra uma verdade vagamente luminosa. Jó, e você e eu, podemos através de obediência, nos juntarmos à batalha para inverter este sofrimento. O prazer que Jó gozou em sua velhice é um simples antegozo do que está para vir. As dúvidas de Jó foram silenciadas por uma visão de Deus respondendo-o de um redemoinho. Nossas dúvidas, também, serão silenciadas por revelação, por encontros marcantes com Deus. por Philip Yancey […]

  62. Gordon Kennedy says:

    I am reading your book “Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference”. I admit I don’t know how to pray but want to learn as the disciples wanted Jesus to teach them to pray. However, in Chapter 12, page 159 you write “The secret to keeping company with God will likely not be found in a new set of tapes, another book, a different preacher, a weekend seminar.” I agree. I have read two (2) books on prayer and have yet to hear from God or to even to have learned to pray. So, what is the answer to communicate with God and Him with me” I have even told God that I will be quiet and wait to hear from Him but to no avail.

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi, Gordon,
      I saw your comment and just wanted to say a few words of encouragement. The fact that you want so desperately to communicate with God is a wonderful thing and leads me to believe He is drawing you closer. Please don’t feel that you must do anything special or “just right” to capture God’s attention. Think of someone you love, especially if you have children, think of them. Did you need to read a book to know how to communicate with them and let them know your feelings? (When they hit the teenage years, that is a different story, of course!) Fathers want to hear from their children, no matter the mode of communication! For me, communicating with God doesn’t seem to happen when I am actually “praying.” It is when I am pondering things while in the shower, or walking in the woods, or driving in the countryside. My mind senses and processes things that I am somehow able to determine did not originate from “me”, if that makes sense.

      For some people, listening to music opens up the communication lines, for others, going to church. For others, it is in a time of quiet reflection and prayer. To be honest, I have never been in “intentional” prayer and “heard” from God. it happens more for me throughout the day through things I see and experience. Please don’t think God is ignoring you. Keep your spiritual eyes open and rest assured that God wants to communicate with you also! The Bible assures us that we will find Him when we seek Him with our hearts. (Jeremiah 29:13) Sounds like you are doing exactly that – surely your eagerness and desire to speak with God pleases Him greatly! Prayers, my friend!

    • Ken Thigpen says:

      Good evening Sir,
      I have been struggling with my life. I often am discouraged with my life. I want to share with you about my discouraged experience.
      I feel disappointed with my own life because I motivated to accomplish in my own life. The happen was divorce then Baptist kicked me out and no support for a long time, rejection with my deaf plus my daughters, lost my job by false accuse, remarried with a wonderful lady but deal with her strong willed and problem with my marrying now, no job now.
      It affects me discouraged a lot so I lost my motivation to have relationship with the Lord by not reading the Bible or prayer.
      Yes, I know God is valid but I don’t understand what is going on. I would like to know what name of the book you recommend me to read? The disappoint of God by Yancey? or The good of God by Yancey??

      • Philip Yancey says:

        I’m sorry it has taken so long to reply–somehow I overlooked this comment. I wrote “Disappointment with God” exactly for people going through the kinds of challenges you describe. I hope you find in it something that gives a new perspective. I’m sorry for all you are going through –Philip

      • Jan Bennett says:

        Ken, as a person whom was so broken I contemplated taking my own life due to life circumstances and choices I had made.
        An old friend reached out to me and invited me to her church “to be loved on”. I remember thinking, “yeah, like that will help”.
        But the night of the invitation I was again alone and crying and remember thinking, what have I to lose. I went to her church and was in fact loved on by total strangers in a way I had never experienced in my life! (I was 52 years old at the time) I have been delivered and set free from a 40 year drug and alcohol habit, rehab did not work, nor did counseling. I had been raised in a church but I had never experienced the encounter I had with Jesus that morning I arrived at my friend’s church! That was 4 years ago and today I still struggle with my flesh but I know He truly loves me! My relationship with Him has shown me how to repent, forgive and pray! When I first started attending my friend’s church, I bought a Bible and would randomly open it and read scripture (I was not raised reading the Bible). God begin revealing things to me about my life and the choices I had made over the years. I remember reading Job and this began to open my heart.
        I will not mention what “religion” I was raised, nor the “denomination” of my friend’s church because it is not about the “religion” it truly is about our relationship with Him! I encourage you to read Mr. Yancey’s books he mentions but I also felt the need to encourage you to go back to reading the Bible. I am currently reading “What is So Amazing About Grace” and often find myself going back to Scripture as I read, knowing that is where the “truth” is! I will keep you in prayer Ken, but please do not give up on our Heavenly Father nor his word! His grace truly IS amazing and His love IS unconditional!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Shame on me for referring to another book, but I addressed this very problem in “Reaching for the Invisible God.” It’s a great question, one I spent a year exploring. –Philip

  63. Noa says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey:
    I’m a writer from Spain. I publish weekly in some important christian media in Spanish and English in Europe, and I’m starting a path in which I’ve been as influenced by you as much as you tell you’ve been influenced by Buechner. The last weeks has been kind a nightmare full of choices, challenges and doubts. I was tempted to stop writing and look for another job to provide to my family, because, you know, sometimes is not just enough that you feel your job as writer is useless, it’s also the Spain’s political and economical crisis; it’s look threatening poverty into the eyes. But suddenly I arrived to Chapter 7 in yours “Vanishing Grace” and God struck me lovingly with your words. And today I woke up and I found your “Why I write” post. I’ve been challenged again but not by pain or fear, but by God himself to continue writing, resting in Him for my needs and my family’s, and, in the same way, growing on writing to be like old prophets pointing to God with words. Lastly knowing that my good deeds doesn’t matter, neither in writing or not writing. It’s all about God’s grace reaching us by unsuspected ways sometimes. The hope that God puts in me it’s that I can repeat to others, in my culture, the enormous blessing you have been to me today.
    So, thank you so much, Mr. Yancey. Barely have words to explain it.
    Noa

  64. Nara says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    Thank you for writing. “Disappointment with God”, “Where Is God when It Hurts?”, “The Jesus I Never Knew”, to name some, are brilliant titles as I most probably would not be so interested in reading them in the first place if they were not so titled. Your writing, at the very least, extends sympathy to the likes of me. It seems that your “pilgrimage” somehow inspired me to embark on mine, somewhat.

    Thanks for introducing me to Shusaku Endo. I’ve just finished reading Scandal, am cherishing it, looking forward to reading his other books, while anticipating Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Silence. I’ve been curious about Buechner too. Went to a book store in Singapore, where I found most of your books, but couldn’t find any of Buechner’s. As for C.S. Lewis, aside from perhaps The Screwtape Letters which I enjoyed and was insightful, I couldn’t seem to get through his superbly “high” language, especially his non fiction works. The way you write about his thoughts gets rid of that linguistic barrier. So thanks for that. It seems that you and the writers mentioned have something subtle in common. You’re all reaching out to a specific kind of audience, perhaps, and I sort of identify with that audience.

    Anyway, I was wondering if in the future you would write something about mental illness. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, an illness not considered an illness by everyone but me, the psychologist, and a friend. People who say they care about me don’t understand the condition and what really bothers me is that they don’t even try to. I myself am having trouble looking at my own condition and relating it to God’s love. Strangely enough, your mentioning of the disorder in one of your books (Prayer, if I’m not mistaken) was what prompted me to look into mental illness in the first place. Since then, I’ve been through a confusing, but very revealing, journey which will be too long to write about in this already long “comment”. It’s just that I, and probably million others like me, seem to need the perspective of someone like you on this much stigmatized predicament (especially in a culture where I live in). Marsha Linehan, a fellow sufferer/expert on mental health who is Catholic, once remarked that the likes of us are in “hell”, so to speak and we need all the help we can get to get out.

    I’ll stop here before I rant further.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to “misfits” (“the least of these”, I’d say) like me, Mr. Yancey.

    An Indonesian Fan,

    Nara

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Your note moves me deeply. I’m humbled by your comments, and hope that Buechner’s writings do make their way to Singapore; just last week I spoke at a writers’ conference in his honor. I know a little about Borderline Personality, which in the US is recognized as a most challenging category. This must be a burden to you, and yet you write so clearly and insightfully. Thank you for your words.

    • Nara says:

      Goodness, you replied. Thanks for taking the time, Mr. Yancey. I’m so excited I can’t wait to tell the friend I aforementioned about this, since she’s a big fan of yours and the one who introduced me to your books. I daresay you’ve been like a distant pastor to us. I wish we had known you were coming to Jakarta. My, I’m putting you on a pedestal, aren’t I? Nevertheless, that’s how I feel.

      Thanks for your kind words. I guess the kind of sympathy contained in your reply is something I don’t hear much from people around me; too few ears, too many mouths, including my own, to be fair.

      Anyway, is there any book or any person or anything that discusses mental illness from a biblical/Christian perspective that you can recommend? I ask since I only managed to find a few of such resources, of which only a few I find to be helpful. Having read psychological views with my very limited understanding capabilities, sometimes I still wonder whether it’s an illness to be cured/managed or a diabolical influence to be resisted.

      • Nara says:

        This haunts me from time to time, especially the second paragraph of the following quotation.

        “This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren’s son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son’s illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, “The Purpose Driven Life.” This weekend, Matthew took his own life – putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

        Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.” – Ed Stetzer

        (quoted from http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/07/my-take-how-churches-can-respond-to-mental-illness/ )

      • Philip Yancey says:

        Christianity Today magazine recommends these books: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-top-5-books-on-mental-illness.html. Like you, I believe we need many more.
        –Philip

      • Vikki Kampkes says:

        Hello Nara,

        I read you comments concerning your struggles with mental illness and the lack of resources available. How brave you are to seek help. I have a close friend who has recently written a book which may interest you. Although her struggles may be different from yours (hers is a personal journey through deep depression) you may find it helpful. Search for ‘Beautiful Courageous You’ by Lauralee Berrill. West bow Press.

  65. GJ says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    I’m Brazilian and I don’t know if you’re aware of the problems we’re facing these days in our country. Besides politics, we’re everyday closer to a hate speech that really scares me.
    Last year, on São Paulo’s Gay Parade, we had a scandalous protest from the LGBT community. A transsexual was hanging on cross, dressed as Jesus and a sign over the cross where we could read: “Enough with Homofobia” . The reaction from Christian community you must imagine. For weeks, social media were all over it. Some reacted mercifully with peaceful speech while others were hateful with a condemner speech.
    Very recently, a popular christian leader and singer posted on her instagram what she called a “#HolyIndignation”. The reason was a store’s propaganda where we could see a clear apology to Gender Ideology. She even mentioned Target Stores on US. The reaction you must also imagine. People started commenting her photo with most hateful words. This fact has become a “Trend Topic” on Twitter Worldwide, remaining on second place for a while. So these are harsh days.
    I told all this because I want to ask you: How to react? How to position? I understand that God’s grace and love is unconditional and this must be part of the gospel we preach. I’m no better than any other sinner because I’m a sinner as well. I want to be more like Jesus, I want to react as He would. He didn’t sin, He loved sinners, but I still wonder what would be His words and action before all this.

    ps.: I’m sorry for any mistake on my writing. Speaking English is so much more easy than writing! Hope you understand.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You communicate very well in English! I shouldn’t comment specifically as I, in another country, know few of the details, though I’m aware of the turmoil in Brazil. For me, there are two principles to keep in mind. One is in 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul says, “What business is it of ours to judge those outside the church?” The other is simply to follow Jesus and see how he treated notorious sinners and moral outcasts. “I did not come to condemn but to save,” he said. You can’t very well save someone with a spirit of condemnation. That’s the topic of my book “Vanishing Grace,” which may not yet be published in Brazil. Jesus came for the sick, not the well, for the sinners, not the righteous. Of course we’re all sick, we’re all sinners, and your last paragraph expresses it well.

      • David Nelson says:

        I like to think of Mark 14:50/51, and that after the disciples fled a young man of dubious sexuality was still there defending Jesus. Jesus would not have had this response, had he been condemning the young man.
        But the bigger question is how do we effectively pass on the grace and the prerequisite knowledge of Jesus, to people caught in sexual confusion/slavery. and how to overcome the identity and economic problems that lead them there.

  66. daniel mckamie says:

    Your book on Prayer.

    Mr. Yancey

    It whole heartedly does make a difference! I just finished reading your book on prayer and am so grateful you wrote it. It has taught me so much about how to look at other people and to think of things outside of me and my control. I am truly learning how now to have conversations with Him on a daily basis now. I am very grateful as well for your accident as the epilogue held the 4 questions that I immediately sent to the 6 people in my life I love the most. It took me a while to finish the book as am I not only a slow reader; I also like to read books like this and then reflect on parts of them before continuing ; so as not to trivialize any one point. This helped me to say several prayers during the reading not only for people in my life but for many of the people whose stories of pain, heartbreak and sorrow you shared in the book itself. I prayer thanks for you and your gift and am glad that you hear His whisper.

  67. Jody says:

    I was having issues downloading “Where is God When it Hurts” and had to call Amazon. While the customer support person was helping me he asked several questions about the book. I was excited to share with him and recommend your books to him. Please pray for Bret.

    Your books have been so valuable to our family; especially my husband who has read some over again.

    Thank you!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Great story! And customer support, tech support, and telephone solicitors are some people in need of kindness and grace–they deal with ornery people all day long. –Philip

  68. Daoud Pi says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    For a while I have been wanting to send you a message – and yesterday, I stumbled across a video featuring a talk of yours in Hong Kong (“True Happiness?”), prompting me to send you a note! The reason is that you cite Switzerland and Iceland as the (supposed) leaders in world happiness (as a function of the ranking composition – probably all due to wealth, health and public infrastructure…), but you not perceiving the facial expressions and tone of the voice of those people as particularly happy when you speak there.

    Well, here is a feedback of a very happy inhabitant of those countries. I wish in my heart that I would have had a chance to see you talk when you visited here. Because your books and the Godly wisdom you offer through your balanced, honest reflections have been strengthening not only my faith, but also the lives of many friends (some going through painful losses, the pain of not having children, losing loved ones, serious depressions, etc.). My wife and I often use your books as gifts when we talk to people in need of encouragement or a different bigger picture offered than the one we find in tacky church messages or half-hearted “encouragement” by fellow Christians. Your books are thus offering great comfort to friends in need, family and as part of ministries we are involved in, in part outreach to prostitutes (offering prayer and an open ear, rather than guilt and condemnation).

    I thank you for your work and would cherish the opportunity to meet you in person. Until then, I feel connected to you “in Him” and I wish you and your family all the best. We look forward to more wonderful books.

    With love, Daoud

    Ps. I’ll make sure to get a front-row seat when you speak here, and to throw in some “hurra’s” and “Amen’s” 🙂

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You make me want to return to Switzerland right away! And actually, I’m not very expressive facially myself, so I’m glad that when I speak, not everyone in the audience responds like me. –Philip

      • Dmitri says:

        Read your book Disappointed with GOD. Hmm. I am trying to put across (without causing stress to your followers) about how this book is, well, to be blunt – not touching my heart strings. Without going into too much detail, I cannot help but think that GOD does not care for everyone, only a few: David HE loved. Saul, well… (I am expecting the religious here to go and spew scripture in my face by saying this and the reasons el al). The issue here is that crying out to GOD yields no results at all. Bear in mind that I have read your book (combination of two books in one – The Jesus I never knew was the first part). I cannot recall the name of your friend that visited you who lost his fiance etc.

        My story could be parallel to his (except for the fiance bit). There comes a point where you say “*(^&*” it. I have called, cried and prayed over and over again and still nothing has happened. I have spoken to various pastors, councellors etc and they all spew the same garbage and meaningless words. The best part is that they all say “Have faith” or “GOD has a plan” …… I know the scriptures and the scriptures are real in my head, not my heart (religious folks in 3..2..1..) How many times does a person have to ask GOD for a relationship and … nothing. Not a d**n thing. So, at the end of the day, blaming GOD (who wants to be loved but does not partake in a two-way conversation) seems plausable. God does not give up on you, people say. Hmm, well, I beg to differ. Only HIS select few will make it into Heaven. He has picked those whom HE wants. As for the rest…

        Although I did not find that the book helped me at all, I have to applaud you on your writing style.

        Kind regards from Cape Town, South Africa (and you would be amazed at how many people in the USA do not know where that is situated)

        Dmitri

        • Philip Yancey says:

          Thank you for your most straightforward response, Dmitri. You are not alone. Even the great saints complain about God’s non-response, the “dark night of the soul.” And, of course, the Bible echoes your response in many places: Psalms, Lamentations, Job, Habakkuk… You’re an honest seeker, and I applaud that.

          I do know where Cape Town is, and it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

          Philip

  69. Richard Edfeldt says:

    Philip,

    I’ve been an avid fan and faithful reader of your books over the years. Your best sellers, Where is God When It Hurts? and Disappointment with God, helped me and my wife navigate some very rough emotional seas when we found out our son, Jacob, was to be born with a fatal heart defect. We found a doctor (Dr. William Norwood) who developed a series of surgeries to ameliorate the defect.

    In fact, back in 2001, we came to a conference you spoke at in Nashville, TN, and my wife, Karen, and I volunteered to take you to the airport. We ate lunch together before we delivered to the airport. You were a gracious captive as we discussed our journey with Jacob. And that is why I’m writing today.

    I was listening to the April 13th devotional from your Grace Notes. You referred to how you have repeatedly had to field questions revolving around pain, suffering, and doubt. You shared how you have learned to not even try to address the ‘why’ questions but try to help people to see that God does care about us in our suffering.

    Hearing that made me remember that that was exactly what my wife and I did to you. We peppered you with questions to help us gain some type of understanding as to why Jacob was born with such a devastating prognosis. We were very inconsiderate of your time and consumed with our own agenda. You had just spent the morning speaking to a group of ministers of education and, probably, the last thing you desired to do was to provide a free counseling session. I apologize for being so insensitive.

    I know the purpose of that day’s devotional was not for you to complain about having to interact with people on this subject. You were endeavoring to point to God’s love and care for his children. And that has been the common theme in your books. Don’t drive yourself crazy in asking the ‘why’ questions, but to seek to see God’s love, concern, and care every day of our lives.

    We lost Jacob back in 2009. It was and is a difficult journey. Occasionally, the ‘why’ question tries to bubble up but we try to let it evaporate. At this point, we seek to see God’s love and reflect that love in our daily actions.

    Anyway, I wanted to apologize for our selfishness and being so inconsiderate. And I want to thank you for your career of authorship that helps address a subject that scars so deeply.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I remember that conversation, one of many in which I felt completely inadequate. My goodness, you certainly have no need to apologize. You were going through one of the most difficult passages of life–how could you possibly think of anything else. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Jacob lived about as long as John Claypool’s daughter, and I may have recommended at the time his fine little book, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler. I know that you view Jacob’s time on earth, troubled as it was, as a gift. The other is A Grace Revealed by Gerald Sittser, who lost three generations at once in an automobile accident. They have endured far more pain than I have, and perhaps can offer some solace. “Why?” is indeed the question that never goes away, and I ask it myself all the time. May you know “the God of all comfort,” worthy of trust even in those things we cannot comprehend. Thank you so much for writing.

  70. Andy Kanalos says:

    Enjoyed your Grace book. Your definition “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more,…….less Really resonated with me. What bible passage or passages inspired you to use those words?

    Keep the faith,

    Andy

    • Philip Yancey says:

      No one Bible passage. Just an observation of Jesus’ message in his parables about the “undeserving,” contrasted with his strong words against the Pharisees for their legalism. –Philip

  71. Blake Morgan says:

    Hi, Mr. Yancey, I want to thank you for writing The Jesus I Never Knew. My grandmother and my aunt fell in love with it almost twenty years ago, and after they shared it with me, I fell in love with it too. It opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the Lord, and it was a better way. My problem is this, Mr. Yancey. I am a biological male happily married to another male, and although I respect your difficult decision to keep an open dialogue on homosexuality, I don’t believe your attitude is morally defensible. As a respected scholar you almost certainly know better than I that discrimination against gay people is at its heart discrimination based on gender. The Old Testament’s virtual silence on lesbianism and the fact that Jesus’s statements against divorce were about men divorcing women, not the other way around, are just a few of the examples that reinforce this fact. Being a gay man is to want something that only women are supposed to want, thus robbing women of their “proper use” as Paul puts it, whereas being a lesbian was virtually incomprehensible to the ancient Roman world in which the Church fathers wrote what became the New Testament canon. I think it’s time to listen to what Jesus said about the law permitting those with hard hearts to do things an objective morality would not permit, and it’s hard for me to conceive of something more objectively wrong than treating love between unrelated consenting adults as sinful just because of what’s between each partner’s legs, to put it bluntly. I understand you may not be able to change your mind openly because that may affect your livelihood and the circles in which you move, but I think it’s sad for a man who clearly knows better to tap dance around an issue that I believe he fully understands and refuses to fully discuss. In short, you are better than that, Mr. Yancey, and I hurt for you because you do not seem to want to admit it.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I think I understand your point of view, and thank you for it. I think you should be careful, though, in declaring “morally indefensible” a position that the vast majority of scholars, religious and secular, have agreed on until very recently–and that scholars such as Richard Hays and N. T. Wright maintain to this day. Many majority opinions get proven wrong (slavery, women), but in a transition time I think appeals to grace and reason, as you do elsewhere in your comment, are more compelling than ad hominem arguments. Regardless, thank you for commenting. –Philip

      • Blake Morgan says:

        You’re very welcome. It really is an honour to communicate with you! Unfortunately the real problem is that I live in Mississippi, where, as of July 1st 2016, if one assumes that someone has had sex outside the confines of a heterosexual marriage, it will be completely fine to fire that person, deny him or her housing, and even refuse to provide such a person with a WEDDING CAKE. I’m not making this up. The word “cake” is actually mentioned in the law. I understand quite frankly that this is an emotional appeal, Mr. Yancey, but if these circumstances don’t warrant it, I’m not really sure what does. How much grace and reason went into a law like this? Our Lord was the greatest advocate for grace and reason, but standing in the temple among the money changers, even he knew when to go for the whip. (By the way, I am speaking metaphorically. I don’t want to spread the stereotype that all gay people are into whips.) As far as your examples from history, I think “women” is a just little too broad for me to comment on it further. As for “slavery,” once you bring up that issue, you have basically conceded the argument because it’s a topic that proves just how categorically and embarrassingly wrong a majority opinion can be in the eyes of history, despite the flimsy biblical arguments that seemed to support slavery in the past. I think that out of many prominent voices in the faith community, you are one of the people brave enough to be on the right side of history. It’s almost completely for your benefit if you choose to do that and essentially of no practical use to me. Nonetheless, if you’re ever travelling in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Mississippi, my husband and I would love to treat you to a very lively but respectful conversation over dinner. I know just the restaurant! Frankly we could use the tourism considering the nightmare our lawmakers have just created.

        In His Love,

        Blake

        • Philip Yancey says:

          I’ve always wanted to visit Vicksburg, after reading about it in Civil War accounts. Funny, isn’t it, how those old houses like Downton Abbey and the Southern plantations, built on the backs of oppression and injustice, become such tourist magnets. If I’m ever in the area, I’ll let you know. Thanks for the invitation.

          • Blake Morgan says:

            Please do let me know! You should have my e-mail, and I would love to meet you. Take care!

  72. Horeb Eliot says:

    Hi, Philip

    How would I know if the Bible addresses specific people (to Jesus’ disciples, as you stated in the Prayer: “You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it”) or everyone in general (Jeremiah 29:11; I even insert my name “I know the plans I have for you, Horeb…”)?

    I am confused if I am just appropriating certain verses for my self while the fact could be they’re meant for the ancient Israelites (Exodus 14:14; often used as a modern-day encouragement) or other groups or individuals.

    Many thanks.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Excellent question. I too resist those who appropriate verses from the OT that were given to Israel and apply them directly to modern times. As for the extravagant promises on prayer, along with C. S. Lewis I do see some of these as given to Jesus’ disciples, who became the apostles, and who had certain powers specific to their calling and time. Discerning which ones we can take as promises and which ones were restricted–now that’s a tricky question, and I don’t have a good answer. As you say, I do my best in discussing in the book on Prayer. –Philip

  73. Died says:

    Hi Philip,

    How do you look at the topic of election / predestination? I deeply struggle with that topic.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I used to struggle with it too. Finally, I decided there’s no way to reconcile the linear, time-bound perspective of a human being with the eternal, timeless perspective of God, for whom our causation questions make little sense. I wrote of this briefly at the end of Disappointment with God. I marvel at the apparent freedom God has given us, to choose for or against Truth. –Philip

      • Dieder says:

        Hi Philip, Thanks for the reply. Can you expand some more on your thoughts concerning election/predestination and how you look at it at this point? I read the book by the way!

        • Philip Yancey says:

          If I were going to write on that topic, I’d need to spend months researching and thinking about it. So I’d best decline. –Philip

          • Scott Benson says:

            Philip,

            I’m a new Jesus follower and your books have been very useful to me. Got baptized the other year a few days short of my 57th birthday!?

            St. Augustine teaches that the future is unknowable, which is also hinted at in many places in the Bible. Because we are time-bound creatures, limited to sensing the present and recalling the past, it maybe bothers or disappoints or upsets (or better word?) us that get to see no glimpse or what will happen a year or a second! from now.

            From God’s timeless perspective, our end is known…

          • Philip Yancey says:

            Yes, Augustine wrote some remarkable reflections on timelessness–long before modern cosmology gave a theoretical basis to what he intuited theologically. Welcome to the family, Scott. –Philip

  74. Nagy Zoltán says:

    Tisztelt Philip!
    Jó olvasni a könyveit!
    Isten áldja!
    (Magyarországról)

    (google translate)
    Dear Philip!
    Good read his books!
    God bless!
    (From Hungary)

  75. George says:

    Thanks for all your write-ups.
    Your books have opened my mind to a different world of being a believer.
    After laying my hands 15 years ago on The Jesus I never knew, I have read 7 of your books and every book ignite a fire in me and to see the missing part of Christianity.

    What Good is GOD is another heart touching book in my hands now.

  76. […] like how Phillip Yancey explains it, “…stories are easier to remember than concepts or outlines.… It is one thing to […]

  77. Ray Friesen says:

    Mr. Yancey: Thank you for all the writing you have done and your willingness to share your own struggles and doubts with those of us who read your books. I have read several and have appreciated them, especially “The Jesus I Never Knew” and “What’s so amazing about grace?” Both have helped me in my thinking and my preaching. I have just started reading “Prayer” and confess to a kind of disappointment, for two reasons. One, your fundamentalist upbringing (so was mine) seems to shine through in your “must/should/have to” language. We have to confess. We must feel helpless. “. . . we must trust God with what God already knows.” This seems so contrary to your book on grace and, actually, to other comments you make in “Prayer.” I don’t think we have to anything other than open to God. We get to confess, knowing we will be loved and forgiven. When we do feel helpless, God cares, but God is no less present or any less caring, or less interested in our prayers when there are some things we think we can do. We don’t have to be totally open and honest with God but we CAN be. It is safe to be that open and honest. That is the grace. The other thing I find troubling is that you almost mock, certainly belittle, the practice of prayer of other religions. That, I suggest, is uncalled for. Their prayer is no less sincere than ours and no less welcome in God’s ears. We would do better to learn from them rather than belittle them, suggesting we know and are better. I hope you keep on writing. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say and teach.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      These are most helpful comments, and I learn from them. You make a good point about my pedantic language, and I’ll need to watch that. My goal was to make prayer less of a chore,or an obligation, and evidently for you at least I accomplished the opposite. And I need to review the book to see what you mean about my comments on prayers of other religions. Surely I did not mean to mock them, and am sorry if it came across to you that way. I have not heard that criticism before, so I “must” (accurate, in this case) look into that.
      Philip

  78. Heidi Chupp says:

    I’m going to try to put the short version down of all that’s in my heart . . . I’m reading through Vanishing Grace for a second time right now, and I keep thinking, “this is what I want!”, sometimes with tears. (I was raised in the evangelical tradition and figured out early on how the system works — and how to work it too.) Another book of yours that’s a favorite is Soul Survivor — it’s made me hungry to keep learning and reading.

    But What’s So Amazing About Grace is the book that changed my life. I really mean that. I walked into a public library about 15 years ago, with about 45 minutes to burn until it was time to pick my daughter up from school. There was your book, on a sparsely populated shelf. I’d heard about it, so I decided to check it out. A few minutes later, tears were streaming down my face and I was trying to hold back the sobs as I finished your description of Babette’s Feast and said to myself, Can this really be true? It seems too good to be true.

    Fast forward a couple years later to a Christian publishing conference I was attending in San Diego, where you were present to speak about writing. Of course, I was present and took notes! And then, as I waited with the crowd for lunch, I turned around and there you were, right behind me. Uh … I now know that the word that describes me best at that moment is “starstruck.” We exchanged hellos and pleasantries, but I didn’t quite know what else to say. Actually, I really wanted to say, “YOUR BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE!” but somehow that didn’t seem appropriate. All I could think of was, “I think I’ve read some of your books.” Yes, I said those words. Gah. I’m still cringing all these years later!! And maybe even blushing a little too. My family still teases me about this. 🙂

    I couldn’t find another way to contact you other than this comment section, but here I am, a decade-plus later, finally saying thank you for letting God use you so mightily in my life. Maybe someday I’ll get to thank you in person — properly this time! The message of God’s grace still amazes me, and I pray that my life reveals His grace to others the way you have shared it with me. God’s blessings to you!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You’ve more than made up for that tongue-tied meeting, Heidi. Writing is hard work, done in isolation, and the only feedback I get comes from something I worked on months or years ago. Yet that hope, that what I’m working on today will connect with someone like you out there someday–that’s the hope that keeps me going. Thank you for the boost, a true “grace note” in my life today.
      Philip

  79. Dennis R. Kuhns says:

    We are going through you book and study materials, “What’s so amazing about Grace?” I am finding it a profound experience. As a retired Mennonite Pastor, I can resonate with many of the stories you use to highlight what is so amazing about grace. I was especially moved by your chapter that touched on homosexuality. I want to thank you for writing this book and for your ministry of writing. May God bless you and keep you.

  80. Randy says:

    Hi Phillip
    I have read everyone of your books and genuinely appreciated the transparency of struggle that your journey of faith has provided. Its an honest representation of what a Christian walk really is. As a 53 year old male who is happily married and extremely satisfied in every aspect of my life, the struggle remains in following God’s primary command— to love God with all your heart and soul. More than 30 years of committed faith coupled with countless hours invested in scripture, bible group study, supporting books and prayer have still led to a frustrating distance from a God who professes unconditional love and acceptance. If this is supposed to be the most important relationship of my life, then its not netting out so well in progress I’d always heard that as we age we tend to draw closer to God but I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to embrace and sustain a passion for something that remains so abstract and unclear. No need to respond— I primarily wanted to say that your books have helped and I wanted to thank you for that…. please keep writing them.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I identify so well with what you write. No doubt you know of Mother Teresa’s long drought of the presence of God. Yet we soldier on, hoping, trusting, clinging. I’m honored to be a fellow pilgrim with you. I described my own challenges in “Reaching for the Invisible God.”

  81. Mark W says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    A father is lecturing his son when his son interrupts him to say, “I know Dad” to which the frustrated father yells in reply, “No, you don’t know because if you knew you wouldn’t have done it!”. Your book, “What’s so Amazing About Grace” is my seventh book in my quest to immerse myself in the topic of grace. Its a beautiful book. Thank you. At the same time, it seems all I am accomplishing is to become more aware of my ungrace. I feel like both the father and the son with myself. When I share my frustration with Christian friends they relate but are also resigned to that just being the way it is this side of heaven. So I keep searching. What does it take to move beyond wanting to change to actually changing? I guess I will try “Vanishing Grace” next.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      A poem by Leonard Cohen says it well:

      Ring the bells that still can ring.
      Forget your perfect offering.
      There is a crack in everything.
      That’s how the light gets in.

      Philip

      • Mark W says:

        I recently read “Vanishing Grace” while on a mission trip to serve the poor in the appalachian mountains of Kentucky. You are a very gifted person. Thank you for this book. While on the trip, we worked on a trailer that really needed to be condemned and replaced but since we did not have the money for that, we did what we could to fix leaks and replace the rotting floor. This past week I told a friend about the terrible living conditions and wishing we could do more. My friend pointed out that even if we had put in a new trailer, it would also be neglected and in a few years end up in the same shape. I had to agree with him. However, this did not get me down but made me realize I had received grace.

        You see even though I knew the physical work we were doing would not last, I was very happy doing it. Indeed, I was very grateful that I was being allowed to participate in doing something for someone else with no thought of any personal benefit, “no pressure” as they say. If I had spent my time dwelling on the negative that I could not control, as I often do, then I would have been discouraged and depressed as I often am but as it was I was happy, content and fulfilled.

        If I understand the poem and my experience correctly, it seems the lesson for me is to relax, to trust God, to stay in the moment and to focus on what I can do to help and make things better, especially for someone else.

        God Bless

  82. Mason says:

    This great Q&A reminded me of a student film I made while at Chapman University’s film school. My film was largely inspired by my own faith crisis and transition, and I thought that you might appreciate the film. Enjoy! And feel free to share with any who may benefit from seeing the film.

    Here’s the link to the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3EfssqGuQM

  83. Philip Yancey says:

    Benjamin, Stick with Moltmann and the rewards will come through; he does require effort, though. You’ll likely enjoy Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson, Robert Barron as well. Normally I would happily agree to your request. I’m afraid, though, that I’m way behind on a major writing project and have sealed myself off for the next year or so. It would be great if you could find some fellow-Aussies, even local ones, to trade manuscripts with. I’m not sure where you’re trying to get articles published, but if in Australia they could give you more helpful feedback.
    Philip

    • Michael says:

      I love your books. In your book, “Disappointment with God”, you quote Moltmann on page 104: “God weeps with us so that we may one day laugh with him.” I love this quote, but I cannot find it anywhere in any of Moltmann’s books or articles. Can you tell me where you found this? (You do not give the citation) Thanks. BTW: Your book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” changed my life.

      • Assistant_to_PY says:

        The quote is from a book titled “The Power of the Powerless” which is a collection of Juergen Moltmann’s sermons, published in 1983. [jdb]

  84. Marilyn Phillips says:

    Hello Philip,

    Thank you for your books, your deep and honest writing and willingness to tackle the tough questions. I have been blessed by many of your books, and am presently reading “Vanishing Grace”. I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit on your understanding of the atonement, as I am curious about the way you briefly described the “good news” in chapter 9, ie. the way Jesus “demonstrated a different way if being human”. I realize you weren’t trying to give a definitive treatise on the gospel there, but it did raise interesting questions for me.
    Thank you.
    Marilyn Phillips

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Marilyn, I know the atonement is a befuddling, and sometimes contentious, issue these days. I don’t think I’m ready to write about it in more detail yet. i hope to in the future. –Philip

  85. Richard Bahr says:

    Hi Philip,

    I’ve started doing some writing after I developed the study guide for Carl Medearis’ book “Speaking of Jesus”. I’d like to quote the correct source in another book I’m developing. I believe I heard you say it at a “Simply Jesus” conference a couple of years ago. The quote is (roughly), “You can’t worship a homeless guy on Sunday then ignore one on Monday”. Do I have it right and is that your original saying?

    One last thing and a shameless plug – I think it’s really cool that you take the time to coorespond to so many of the people that write you. Thanks. The book I referenced above is a second book I’m developing, however I have my first book coming out later this spring entitled “Amazed – Why the Humanity of Jesus Matters”. It would be sweet if you’d check it out. Medearis is too busy now in Jordan (told him I understand…totally). It’s a small book but hopefully the big idea comes through.

    Thanks again for sharing your openness and insightful work with the rest of us,

    Richard Bahr

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Richard, The quote is from Shane Claiborne: “How could I worship a homeless person on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” I saw it on a poster, so not sure of the original source.

      I like your book title, so I’ll definitely try to check it out.

      Philip

  86. Dennis Seman says:

    Many people are being diagnosed with various mental disorders (for lack of a better term) that can interfere with their Christian walk. For example, someone could have a deep depression or fear of associating with people, or even leaving their house. These people could also be very strong believers, but are hampered my these various mental problems. What can happen, though, is that they may be constantly be told that they need to evangelize others, to love people, etc. when they find these very activities too much to bear and then the feel guilty because they are not doing what they are being told they should be doing.

    I am always reminded of soldiers in WWII that were of fighting age, but were not drafted. I expect many of these felt a twinge of guilt not being on the battle front, but they were just as useful at home in the USA building war materials.

    It seems like a worthy issue.

  87. Ed Derksen says:

    I just finished reading “The Bible Jesus Read” and want to tell you that it was both challenging and encouraging. It challenged me to get better acquainted with the OT and encouraged me by showing how deeply profound the OT really is.

  88. Jim Magwood says:

    I’ve so appreciated your writing over the years and finally decided to say so. Thank you. You write the same questions and discoveries as I occasionally think. As I’m now “old” and retired, I’m wishing I could find something more to do, maybe reaching out as Dr. Brand did. I’ve thought of a simple little one-room bookstore in my tiny country town where I could sit and read and perhaps interact with the visitors who come looking for books – and Jesus. Maybe? Again, thank you.

  89. Re: When Mourning and Dancing touch each other

    Dear Philip,

    My life was so complicated.

    Mid-year last year the doctor identified my daughter -12 years old – autoimmune, and advised us to undergo steroid and medical treatment for two years. We found out that her sickness did not allow her to go out and being exposed under the sun, as it would trigger her immune system to attack her skin and her mussle. She was so mature when facing this, despite of her limitation on movement last year. Her mussle was tickened-stiff and blocked the joint, so she could not move the way normal people move. At the lowest point of her illness, she sometimes falled down when walking, because her weak mussle could not withstand the weight of her body.

    Few months after my daughter was identified autoimmune, my Mother-in-law at the same time was diagnosed cancer. The shocking part was that the cancer was carsinoma, a fast-growing cancer cell ever amongst other type of cancer. The cancer was on her womb and was suspected to have spread out outside womb.

    Earlier in June 2013, My Dad was sentenced 3.5 years by the judge and they made him locked in prison, because the District Attorney suspected him to work with his company’s partner on corruption at Government airport project in East Indonesia. All evidences and proof led to denial of corruption exist in the project was presented; expert from prominent University in Indonesia were brougt to the Court for their expert opinion. Despite of possitive result from the defense, the Judge decided that “indicated-corruption statement” was sufficient to derive conclusion of guilty as charged.

    My Dad was a devoted Christian and he never committed the crime he was accused. When the verdict was brought forward, I could not stand and stayed silent with tears. Even days after that final judgement, I was not able to focus on my work – life seemed too heavy to face.

    My wife and I had the same feeling on this situation: On the one hand, we wanted to trust God and know that He has beautiful plan for us; on the other hand, it seemed too difficult to understand why all of these happened at the same time. Why God let His children to face prison, critical illness, and the autoimmune disease that none was sure on the cure.

    Your book and writing made me see that beyond this pain, we could still see joy surounding. And when God did not answer our pray the way we wanted, it did not mean He leave us alone in our struggle.

    When Dad was on trial, many friends at Churh sent encouraging messages for him regularly, to be strong and to trust God. Hundreds of church members formed a prayer rallies for him. A small tact team, form Legal Ministry – mostly lawyers, voluntarily supported Dad for legal advice. They directed us to work with four senior Lawyers to defend his case, flew regularly to the city where Dad was being charged.

    During his years in prison, many church members, pastors and prominent law expert in the country paid a visit. Local church and Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship organized prayer circle and support for Dad. Lately when he was given permit to go out from prison to serve in community, Dad went regularly to student fellowships to lead bible study and English course. He began to gain back his life and ministry, in the midst of an uncomfortable and unpleasant “life”.

    His remission status came several times in a year and it served as deduction for his sentenced. This week my Dad went home.

    My daughter gradually showed progress. During last visit this week the Doctor was happy to see her progress, as she was able to join normal activities like the other teens: ballet, choir and school organization.

    This week is special. A week before Christmas, and we got our double presents: My Dad’s remission and my daughter’s good progress.

    Few months before, my mother-in-law illness finally was cured. Miracle during her surgery – the doctor could not find the cancer spread as per their prediction. The doctor declared her status free from cancer, post operation and surgery.

    When God closed one door, and He seemed did not open the other doors, my wife and I were very thankful, because we could see the windows were wide open for us to see His miracle and unfailing love through friends, church and families.

    It was you and your book that reminded me that mourning and dancing could touch each other; and they actually embraced each other in my life. Your books were the one who told me to believe, it was God’s plan that eventually revealed in my family’s life.

    Lastly, these months we felt that God brought us so many people who are in needs – autoimmune, cancer, and one of my office member of the Board who was also imprisoned – similar case to my Dad. Those whom we are able to support them with our presence, care and thoughts for them to go through their pain. That was because my wife and I once went through that similar situation.

    Thank you for your books (Prayer does it make a difference, and Reaching for the invisible God). Thank you that you are able to help us see God’s love through our journey, and also His plan for us along the way. Thank you for letting us know that when lives seemed so complicated, we have our simplest mode in coming to God – through trust and prayer. It was your book who made me look and understand that through pain, God revealed His plan for us.

    May our great God grant you wisdom to write more so that you can continue become a blessing for others in pain and those in great agony.

    Brother and sister in Christ,
    Thomas & Joyce

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Oh, my, what trials you have been through! As you may know, I visited Indonesia in 2015, and heard other stories of persecution of Christians–perhaps that is the background to what your father experienced. And your daughter! It hurts to read all that you have been through. Yet you stayed faithful, and faith-full, and by the end of your comment I can see triumph. “Mourning and dancing touch each other”–this is a beautiful concept, straight out of the Bible, of course. Thank you for taking the time to tell your story. It humbles me to hear that my writings have been companions with you through this process, and I rejoice in the positive turn of events.

  90. greg bennett says:

    Hi Philip,

    It’s one of my favorite times of the year: Christianaudio.com does their $7.49 sale. One of the places I start off is to see what you’ve been up to lately, and expand my search from there. I often get sentimental thinking how you’ve affected my journey, which we have shared for about 20 years now. You helped to put me squarely on a path to liberation. To understand “freedom in Christ” over canned answers, cliche and religiosity. You have helped me understand how to breathe. To examine and live in the presence of God, in countless ways that I never would have considered. To be honest (or “TBH, Dad…” as my girls now say to me). I have danced through phases and seasons, and been dragged through others, but my faith is intact, and even maybe even grown, in the process. Thank you for being part of that process.

    I’ve always told people that one day I would have lunch with you and David Robinson. Together or individually, it doesn’t matter. The Admiral, of course, is the linchpin of the San Antonio Spurs (I’m a 40 year fan) dynasty, and an outstanding example of God’s grace and character. You are, besides the Spurs part, the same. Again, thank you. If you are ever floating through Phoenix, AZ, where we now live, you are welcome to shoot me an email and I’ll set up our lunch, as I’m sure I’ve been on your list, as well. 😉 God bless you and Patty. Thank you for being my friend these many years.

    Greg Bennett

    • Philip Yancey says:

      What a grace-filled note, Greg. Surely that’s the only time I’ve been linked with David Robinson. I’m a lot easier lunch date than the Admiral. I’ve only been to Phoenix once, for some golf, but I have some good friends there, so don’t be surprised if you can check that one off someday. Sometimes I wish I did have simpler, more formulaic answers. Your letter reminds me why I don’t. You affirm and encourage me.

  91. Guy says:

    Judge righteous judgement.

  92. Doug Hanson says:

    Philip,

    My father asked me to read, “The Question That Never Goes Away.” I did. Here are my thoughts to my 74 year old Christian father, the most wonderful man I know.

    —–
    Mom & Dad,

    Thank you again for the willingness to have the discussion. I’ve read the book and sat on my thoughts for a few days. I considered not commenting, but I just gotta be me.

    Philip says, “History staggers under the weight of suffering brought about by human hatred and ambition.” Yes, this appears true. And Phil is correct about one thing: even after completing his book, it’s still “The Question That Never Goes Away.” I was initially surprised and then saddened by the fact he says, “I don’t know.” This is extraordinarily unhelpful.

    As anyone can, I can list tragedy after tragedy and in not a single instance is there evidence some celestial entity intervenes. Stalin’s Great Terror, Katrina and Galveston’s storms, Europe’s Black Death, China’s incredibly deadly dynasty battles, the tornado outbreak in 2011, WWI, WWII & The Civil War, the Holocaust, throwing acid on Afghani schoolgirls, religious wars such as the Thirty Years’ War and the Crusades, Krakatoa, last month’s Hajj Pilrimage trampling, Idi Amin’s reign of terror, Oklahoma City, the Spanish Influenza epidemic, Bhopal and Union Carbide’s methyl isocyanate poisioning (I teach about this one in HazMat class), Haiti’s quake, Rwanda’s genocide, Sandy Hook, female genital mutilation, the Challenger Space Shuttle, or closet to me, 9/11. It doesn’t end. Phil tries to reassure me over and over that just faith that God is in control offers great comfort and peace. I can’t see it. I just can’t accept this as a Master Plan. And further, if this is the case, how could anyone bend a knee to whichever deity is responsible for this plan? I certainly cannot.

    For me, here’s the take-away:
    1. He does not know why evil exists
    2. Help those who suffer
    3. God chooses not to intervene, but has a plan you can trust

    He says that the only thing we can count on is faith in “Immanuel,” or “you are with me.” In light of tragedy, this is difficult to accept. If God had been seen in the last 500 years helping anyone, this statement has great power. However, I know of not a single case in 5 centuries (or 20 really) where He has. Phil goes on to quote Isaiah’s take on “… a child who would be called ‘Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,’ [who] would someday restore justice to the Earth.” This, of course, begs the question, “When Phil? When?”

    I was exasperated on coming to this summation. However, consider this summation but from a secular perspective:

    1. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) doesn’t know why evil exists
    2. Médecins Sans Frontières helps those who suffer
    3. God chooses not to intervene, but Médecins Sans Frontières has a plan you can trust (to the point of losing 13 staff members to a recent US air strike)

    Why the difference? Médecins Sans Frontières is a godless organization. It seems apparent they feel waiting for God’s intervention is misplaced.

    I’ve stood at Ground Zero in Hiroshima. I’ve stood on the Killing Fields in Cambodia. I’ve stood in front of the ovens in Auschwitz. I’ve stood where New York City’s World Trade Center once was. I’ve stood at Patong Beach where the 2004 Tsunami hit Thailand. I’ve stood near the Yangtze River where in 1931 a flood killed four million. I’ve stood in Eastern Samar in the Philippines were Typhoon Yolanda killed over 6,300 of Ruby’s countrymen and women. I’m open to the theophany. But, in its absence, there’s simply no reconciliation to be made. For me, and only me, this was settled before Jesus was said to have walked the Earth — 300 years BCE, as a matter of fact. Epicurus’ famous paradox reads,

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    No doubt you’ve heard me say that no one now worships Poseidon, Zeus, Ra, Odin or Quetzalcoatl. Seems a shame that we’ve spent a few millenia building houses of worship for the gods Shiva, Allah, Buddha and most recently, Xenu. Couldn’t all of that money have been better spent? As an aside, I learned of Epicurus while reading about one of my heroes (though broken) Thomas Jefferson. He considered himself Epicurean and there’s little doubt that phrases like “unalienable rights,” “all men are created equal” and others stem from TJ’s understanding of Epicurus.

    On p. 89, Phil says, “Yet it does help us to see God not as a remote being, untouched by what we go through on Earth, but rather as One who is willing to experience it in person.” I just don’t understand. How is this logic possible? One sentence later he says, amazingly, “We go through suffering not alone, but with God at our side.” On what grounds can you make the statement? God was at the side of the 343 firefighters climbing the towers on September 11, 2001? This is illogical. The firefighters didn’t need a supreme being at their side. They needed water. Or better, they needed celestial intervention to divert a couple Boeing 767s a hundred feet into the Hudson. He goes on with, “Because of Jesus, we have the assurance that whatever disturbs us, disturbs God more. Whatever grief we feel, God feels more. And whatever we long for, God longs for more.” Again, on what grounds can you make this statement? This is understandably wishful thinking. So, you’re saying that he suffers more than we do yet stands with folded arms of indifference? Phil concludes saying the jury is out. That, “We cannot really reconcile our pain-wracked world with a loving God because what we experience now is not the same as what God intends.” How can he speak to this? It’s clear he hopes for this. But, as for a factual statement this is extraordinarily unsatisfying. And frankly, obscene.

    In my 34 year career in the Fire Service, I’ve heard it countless times: “Thank God for protecting me in this crash.” On reflection later at the firehouse washing blood off my hands and face, it always occurs to me: how egotistical, conceited and exclusionary this statement really is. God chose you to survive, but the family returning from the Christian retreat in the minivan all lost their lives? It’s just illogical, but somehow this notion survives.

    When I teach fire safety (to adults, and after a warning), I show a video from the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire, very, very similar to last night’s fire in Bucharest. A camera crew filmed the entire event from start of the fire inside to its complete destruction from the outside. The National Fire Codes changed as a result of the 100 people killed and 230 injured. But, all that was needed was the required wider exit. Clearly any deity worth his salt could have opened a window. Or punched a hole in the wall. Or shone a light towards the back exit. Or better, prevented the ignition. Instead, I have a video of the front door of the club crammed with concert goers as they burn alive feet first. It’s just excruciating to watch. Phil quotes a Pentecostal pastor, “When God seems absent, sometimes it’s up to us to show his presence.” Phil comments, “Often the world only knows the truth of Immanuel, “God with us,” because of his followers.” Again, this is wholly dissatisfying. Can’t the same be said about Zeus? Or Allah? There’s either evidence or there is not. Carl Sagan popularized the phrase, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Yes Carl, yes.

    Near the end of the book, Phil quotes a pastor speaking after a school shooting which killed 17 in Scotland. The pastor said he gathered around youths paying tribute by lighting candles. With tears down his face the pastor said a prayer and suddenly one teenager said, “I must change!” He then discarded a knife while another pulled a piece of bicycle chain from his pocket and did the same. The pastor wrote later, “Was God in Dunblane? Of course.” I’m dumbfounded. Simply dumbfounded. Evidence of God’s presence is a teen placing a knife under some flowers while days before 16 children and 1 teacher at Dunlane Primary School are gunned down? This logic is infuriating. Phil says a Newtown parent asked him, “Will God protect my child?” To which he replied, “Yes! Of course God will protect you. Let me read you some promises from the Bible.” Again, I’m dumbfounded. Was this question not asked at any time before the Sandy Hook shootings? Did not one parent pray before their child left for school, “God protect my child?” Did not one child themselves pray, “God protect me?” How can you possibly say to a Newtown parent, “Yes! Of course….” Phil later has to correct himself with, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t promise that.” Exactly, no one can. But God does indeed promise this very thing: “The LORD will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life.” (Psa. 121:7) “No harm will overtake you; no illness will come near your home.” (Psa. 91:10) “No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.” (Prov. 12:21) “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed….” (Is. 54:17) Which is it Phil?

    It appears to me that nothing, from Elizabeth Fritzl to Stalin to the 2004 Tsunami, will force a real discussion. Instead, we get blind reliance on ancient texts or ridiculous comments from Pat Robertson. Close-mindedness has a horrible track record: slavery, priest abuse, mysogony, women’s right to vote, etc. On page 121, Phil says, “… as I pondered the question [Where is God when it hurts?] after Sandy Hook, to my surprise I felt my faith affirmed, not shattered.” He quotes Desmond Tutu, “For us who are Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof positive that love is stronger than hate, that life is stronger than death, that light is stronger than darkness, that laughter and joy, and compassion and gentleness and truth, all these are so much stronger than their ghastly counterparts.” I agree. Let me try that sentence again with a substitution: “For us who believe in Germanic gods, the death and resurrection of Odin is proof positive that love is stronger than hate, that life is stronger than death, that light is stronger than darkness, that laughter and joy, and compassion and gentleness and truth, all these are so much stronger than their ghastly counterparts.” Or better, how about from my perspective, “For us who are non-believers, my life experience is proof positive that love is stronger than hate, that life is stronger than death, that light is stronger than darkness, that laughter and joy, and compassion and gentleness and truth, all these are so much stronger than their ghastly counterparts.” Why use Jesus? This is, or should be, common knowledge. Odin, by the way, took a spear and drove it into his side. Then hung himself for nine days. He was then resurrected.

    Just like the Hague revoked the tax exempt status of the Church of Scientology this week, I’d revoke them all. I mean, feel free to believe in the spirits of thetans blown up in a nuclear explosion on earth by the evil dictator Xenu 75 million years ago if you’d like. But, let’s care for the less fortunate, or how about veterans, teachers and firefighters before we build yet another church. Instead of tax exempt, I’d take some of that cash previously making it’s way to the pockets of Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar and his $65 million jet, or the recent pastor in Singapore found guilty of extorting $37 million from a church “Famous for its slick image and wealthy brand of Christianity….” and do something much more edifying with it. For the record, this Singaporean pastor stole the money to fund his wife’s ailing pop career and, of course, to provide himself a luxury lifestyle including a $20,000/month Los Angeles mansion. I can think of better ways to spend a quarter million dollars a year in rent. Especially when 80 percent of the world’s population live on less than $10/day. Including every single member of my wife’s extended family.

    Phil quotes a couple New Atheists and says, ” ‘Is that what you’ve experienced?’ I asked those who had gathered in Newtown. Standing before a close-knit, grieving community, the New Atheists’ assumptions rang all the more hollow.” Are you suggesting that whatever is less hollow is true? Why deny Science? Clearly, as he quoted, we are in fact “a momentary cosmic accident that would never arise again if the tree of life could be replanted.” How you feel about established fact is not at issue. The issue is why God allows suffering. He goes on to say, “I don’t think so. I have seen an outpouring of grief, compassion, and generosity — not blind, pitiless indifference….I’ve seen demonstrated a deep belief that the people who died mattered, that something of inestimable worth was snuffed out on December 14.” How dare he say that non-believers, and in his case, non-Christians do not pour out compassion and generosity? This is not helping the Evangelical cause. In fact, as I’ve pointed out before, the biggest group of givers on Kiva is Atheists, second are Christians. Takes 2 seconds — go check out kiva.org. You’ll see for yourself that the Atheists lead the pack. They say, “We loan because: We care about human beings and understand that it takes people to help people.” The Christians say, “We loan because: Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (Jam. 1:27)” Why the difference? I loudly object to Phil’s line of thinking. The only thing hollow is Phil’s disappointing attempt at suggesting the Christian God with His folded arms of indifference is something worth worshiping.

    In about 6 hours, an asteroid will pass Earth, in astronomical terms, by a hairsbreadth. Is God purposefully steering the asteroid to miss us like He could have done on 9/11? It’s unlikely. It’s just gravity affecting the motion of celestial bodies — which I can see the effects of, measure and predict with unerring accuracy. I can tell you within nanoseconds when that very asteroid will pass us again 1,000 years from now. That’s something to believe in. There’s the evidence that demands a verdict. And the verdict is in.

    In honor of this Halloween near miss, I’ll close with an astronomer and a couple astronauts:

    “There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.” — Carl Sagan, regarding the view of Earth from space in Time.

    “It’s the abject smallness of the earth that gets you.” — Stuart Roosa, Apollo 14

    “We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon you can put your thumb up and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you’ve ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself—all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are, but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy loving here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.” — Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 & 13

    “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” — Neil Armstrong

    “For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.” — Donald Williams, pilot for Spaceshuttle Discovery and commander for Spaceshuttle Atlantis

    “This planet is not terra firma. It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for. It’s lonely. It’s small. It’s isolated, and there is no resupply. And we are mistreating it. Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion or our hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is our home, and this is all we’ve got.” — Scott Carpenter, Mecury 7

    “When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” — Frank Borman, Apollo 8

    “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.” — Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14

    “I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified facade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.” — Michael Collins, Gemini 10 & Apollo 11

    I love you two very much,
    Doug
    —–

    Ruby is my wife. Philip, did I misstep? If so, where?

    Cordially,
    Doug

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You did not misstep, no. I have been wrestling with these issues for my entire writing career, hence previous book titles like Where Is God When It Hurts, Disappointment with God, and The Gift of Pain. You raise powerful questions and arguments that no one can fully answer. Strangely, I can find most of them articulated in the Bible itself–Job, Lamentations, Habakkuk–so we’re in good company. It’s wonderful that you have such an open line of communication with your parents.
      Philip

      P.S. I see no need to comment on the many points you made. There are a couple of clarifications, though. To the Newtown parents: “More than anything I wanted to answer with authority, ‘Yes! Of course God will protect you.'” I never said that, as you seem to think; indeed, my point was the same as yours, that I couldn’t say such a thing. And one other: I don’t know about kiva.org, and I don’t in any way minimize the compassion and practical help from atheists and groups like MSF; there are a lot of studies, however, that show volunteering and charitable giving are substantially higher among church attenders. It’s not a competition, of course; I welcome all contributions to “the common good,” and I imagine you do too.

  93. Denise says:

    I wonder if you have a study guide for “Where is God When it Hurts?” ? We are going to use this book with our High School student Bible Study next semester and are looking for one. Thank you for your challenging and engaging style of writing.N

    • Philip Yancey says:

      There is no standalone study guide, but the current edition has study and discussion questions included in the back. All the best!

      Philip

  94. Kassia says:

    Dear Philip,
    I am so blessed for having read your book In His Image – I was in Nursing School when I read it and it was such a blessing. By far it has given me the best understanding into the body of Christ. Really amazing! I thank God for you and for your openness and courage to explore beyond the surface. Thank you! Keep on brother!

  95. Efrain says:

    Dear Philip,

    I want to thank you because your books have been a source of inspiration to my faith (especially “The Jesus I never knew” and “Prayer – Does it makes any difference?”). I am really identified with your way of seeing life and christianity. You made me think more deeper about the world and the humanity. I really think you’re a great writer.

    Also I want to say thank you because “Soul Survivor” open my eyes to the world of literature. Now that I read a lot of your favorite authors (Endo, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chesterton, Lewis, etc.) I understand why the have influenced so much in your life. They are geniuses!

    Good bless you!

    Greetings from Venezuela,

    Efrain

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You must be reading these in English, Efrain. If I directed you to some of those authors, then I feel accomplished. Blessings–I know your country is going through hard times.
      Philip

  96. Jerry A says:

    I have always admired your books. In one of them, you write about your relationship with Mel Wright. As a gay Christian, how should I “read” you concerning same sex relationships? So many of our more progressive evangelical friends (i.e. Tony Compalo) are on our side. How about you?

  97. Haapaniemi Esa says:

    I am not thanking you for the books you have written and that I have liked so much, but I am thanking God for you and the books.

    Neither did I want to read the other peoples messages left to you, so that my opinion would be my own and not colored with other peoples classes.

    I wanted to comment some text of the latest I have been reading (not finished yet), the Soul adventure. There you agree, that Christians have been killing a lot of other humans. I am not against the info, but I am not accepting the numbers. FYIO, I’ll give here one good source for checking the numbers. Both are from the same web site, just different pages:

    http://necrometrics.com/gunsorxp.htm#XP
    http://necrometrics.com/pre1700b.htm#Martyrs

    Maybe you have know that already, so I am sorry for stepping in. Now I will go back lurking…

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Very helpful website, thank you. It was new to me.
      –Philip

      • Stephanie Cramer says:

        I made a profession of faith in 1971. Within weeks the Lord had me to get sober in AA in Los Angeles. I came from a Jewish family and although began following the Holy Spirit then I was un-churched for my first five years. After 5 years I joined the Army. Army chaplains invited me to attend church and I took them up on it. My first permanent duty station was in Frankfurt, Germany and at that time I joined an Anglican Church. I am ashamed about not having written to thank you decades ago. Where is God When It Hurts and Christian books by Dorothy Sayers were my salvation during my years in Frankfurt. Where is God When It Hurts had such a profound influence upon my life because I had not realized until then that pain and trouble were not the enemy. This weekend to come I anticipate having the privilege of speaking at a small church Christian women’s retreat and my kick-off question is “Do you see God working through all of the prayers He hasn’t answered the way you would have wanted?” So most likely you are the person who built that foundation in my life. One day in heaven I hope to again say “thanks”. Stephanie C.

  98. Brett Baker says:

    I want you to know how much your journey through your writings has impacted my life. Our paths have crossed over the years but I have never had the privilege of meeting you. I attended CIU from ’99-’03 and first saw your book “The Jesus I never knew” on the nightstand in the alumni center when my parents came up for a visit one weekend. I think you spoke at a conference one week but I was unable to attend. Anyway, I have wanted to contact you for a long time and just tell you the impact your writings have had on my life. I grew up in the South as well and resonate with many of the things your share around race and healing from church contexts. More than anything though, I have grown immensely from your work on the issue of pain and feeling ‘disappointed’ by God. I grew up with a dad who was very academic minded and I was never a good student, in fact, “What’s so Amazing about Grace” which I read after my first semester at CIU, made we want to read again and hope that God could find something meaningful for me to do in this life, in spite of feeling like a broken soul, with little potential. I am still struggling on this journey of life and brokenness but have been spurred on to keep laying down my burdens one day at a time. Thank you for your ministry.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Brett, I’m in the midst of a memoir that revisits those days, with circumstances we share in common. This came at a good time to encourage me. Thank you for taking the time to write, and remember that brokenness seems almost a prerequisite for God to use us. –Philip

  99. H Ath says:

    Dear Philip,

    My ladies small group have voted to read “Disappointment With God” this fall – a unanimous vote, which may tell you that we are all struggling with this issue! Among us we have chronic and invisible illnesses (such as terminal cancer, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue to name a few), broken families, unemployed spouses, wayward children, difficult marriages, alcoholism, financial struggles, etc.

    I have been looking for a study guide to go along with this book – tried Amazon and Christianbook.com as well as your site here, but I gather there isn’t one. So I am wondering if there is some kind of a generic guide you can point us to, questions to ask while we read the weekly chapters and for discussion when we meet? This is the first Philip Yancey book most of us have read so we are excited to explore this “new” author and his writings, and hopefully gain some clarification on this topic. The reviews and samples of your books I have read are very encouraging! Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Thank you so much and may God continue to bless you and your writing!
    Heather

    • Philip Yancey says:

      A new edition will be published this fall which includes discussion questions. I hope that helps. –Philip

      • H Ath says:

        Thank you so much for your reply and your help! This is such a difficult topic, but I believe our group will be blessed immeasurably by your book and the additional questions!
        Heather

  100. Karen Fillman says:

    I’m so grateful to Philip Yancey for helping me understand modern Christianity better. I was born and raised Catholic before joining the Protestant church after a spiritual awakening. I always feel like I’m five steps behind everyone else. I am constantly baffled by opinions I hear Christians say and by the state of the church vis-à-vis a suffering world. Jesus tells me to love others, to seek out the marginal, to not be a respecter of persons, and to seek His will because this is not our home and we have to make a difference while we can. He doesn’t tell me to point fingers or join a country club church or sentimentalize or politicize or trivialize this great Gospel. Jesus has my faith well in hand but Philip Yancey has helped me keep my sanity. He is asking the questions I’m asking inside and- hallelujah! ~ supplying me with answers that actually make sense. What a relief.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Gulp–I’m blushing. And so appreciative that you took the time to write and remind me why I go to work each day
      –Philip

  101. Susan Stevens says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey: I attended the 1995 “Attention Makes Infinity” writing workshop (poetry, with Paul Mariani) at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs, and heard you speak about the existential nature of Ecclesiastes–impressive, and I still have the VHS tape of that evening. I’ve just read straight through at the library your book Disappointment With God, and bought copies for family members. The chapter “Why God Doesn’t Explain” is to me the most profound. Your philosophical approach has a way of reaching those whose belief systems are vague, cynical, or impeded by discontent with paradox. I consider myself a Mark Twain agnostic atheist after a Lutheran upbringing–or better, feel as though I’ve graduated from church–turning to Buddhism afterward, and most admiring the Unitarians for their inclusiveness. Thank you for your articulate book, which has come the closest to making me re-think my doubts in the whole matter. Susan Stevens

    • Philip Yancey says:

      My goodness, that’s now 20 years ago! Good memory. You’re truly open-minded, buying copies of a book for your family members when you’re still trying to work things out for yourself–like all of us. –Philip

  102. Aaron Hutmacher says:

    Mr Yancey

    I recently attended a Young Life camp for military families at Trail West in May of this year. Our guest speaker was John Haddad who often shared excerpts of your book, “Reaching for the Invisible God.” He also shared that you were gracious enough to provide each family with a copy of the book. Thank you as this would probably not be a book I would have picked up and read on my own but I was intrigued after the event. The good news is I finally got around to reading and finishing the book and I have become a huge fan.

    Usually I pick up a book and try to finish it in about a week or two. This one took me about a month and a half. I would read a chapter every couple days and think about what I had read. I had to really sit there and dwell on many of the issues you presented. I love the fact that you included many of your own thoughts but included so many references to others. Thank you for taking your time writing this book and share your journey I could tell that you put considerable work and time into it.

    There were several parts that stood out to me that I could relate to. I wanted to share a few of those excerpts. On page 15 a man from Iowa said, “I know there is a God: I believe he exists, I just don’t know what to believe of him.” These words rang true with me as I wonder if God set the world in motion and then decided to step away. On page 119 the words discussion of parenthood helped to define my purpose more clearly and keep me focused. I have two boys and a daughter who are in their early teens. As we struggle with keeping our children safe we also want to help them grow this sentence really reinforced my purpose. “The goal of parenthood is not to produce clones who replicate their parents, rather to produce mature adults who make their own choices.” Finally you end the book with a statement that I had to reflect on, “I have no problem believing God is good. My question is, more, what good is he?

    I face a daily struggle in my faith and walk. I see things that only a true God can do but revert back to doubt and question his role when things go bad. I wonder if God is still really there. Thank you for sharing your heart, your struggles, the struggles of others and your faith. It was an enlightening and refreshing experience to read this book. Thank you again for donating this book as this gift was a blessing to me, my family and the military community. There is so much more I could share but I will wait until another time. I am looking forward to reading more of your books in the future.

    Aaron Hutmacher

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Dear Aaron,
      Your letter alone makes my decision to donate those books worthwhile. Don’t worry about how long it took you to read my book–it took me much longer to write it!

      Actually, I kept going with the question you mention and wrote a book titled What Good Is God? I keep asking those kinds of questions, and it’s encouraging to know that some of my readers do too.

      Philip

  103. Dave says:

    Hey Philip

    I have nearly read all your books. I have just ordered the last one ‘The Question that Never Goes Away”. Your books have helped me so much. Looking back to being young Christian who needed lots of support I often didn’t find the answers I was seeking from the Church. This lead to years of backsliding away from my faith. Stumbling upon ‘Disappointment in God’ and ‘Where is God When it Hurts’ where a God send! I am disappointed as I come to the end of your books, but I’ve also benefited from authors you speak about such as CS Lewis and Jurgen Moltmann…. Thanks for taking me to a deeper understanding of my faith, who God is and who I am.

    I now work in men’s residential Christian Rehabilitation center in Scotland (see website address). We help young men from addictive backgrounds with life controlling issues. It would be great to receive some of your books to add to our library. I really think they could help the boys as much as they have helped me. The boys would be able to read your books in their quiet times and in their class times. Any teaching manuals would also be great. Would it be possible to receive a donation?

    Thanks again, I look forward to your new work.
    Dave O’Donnell

  104. CH says:

    Hello Phillip!

    With deep gratitude, I thank you for putting a piece of your heart on paper– it truly is beautiful. You clearly reflect the grace and kindness of our Savior. Your writing has helped me through tough times and I cannot thank you enough!

    I have a question that has always burned in the forefront of my mind and was wondering if you could point me to any resources. I have searched and searched and searched and have found very little that even addresses the question, and even less that at all helps. The question can basically be summed up as, ‘How can a reflective Christian remain sane while holding an orthodox view of Hell?’

    I was saved at a summer camp and came home to a completely non-Christian family. For the past 6 years, I have prayed for them every day and still come home to a completely non-Christian family (with the exclusion of my now-spouse, which is a tremendous blessing). I face a lot of inner turmoil because of this and have no idea how to move forward. I have many friends now who face similar anguish. This seems to be a very common, often ignored, question among Christians.

    Let me know if you have insight or resources on any of this. I would be deeply grateful. If not, I suppose you can quit brainstorming the topic of your next book! ha ha 😉

    Thank you, again, Phillip, for being such a tremendous blessing to so many– you have a heart of gold!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You’re very kind, thank you.

      The best book on Hell I know is The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. It’s sane, reflective, and creative. I haven’t read Hell: The Logic of Damnation by Jerry Walls, but that may be helpful too.

      All the best,

      Philip

  105. Heavy hearted says:

    Why is it that when i’m so depressed that I honestly don’t want to wake up in the morning and beg God for a feeling of peace/a word etc that nothing happens? I have a lot of faith but when you feel God isn’t there when you’re in that much despair it’s very disheartening. I’ve got your book on Where Is God When It Hurts but to be honest it’s too overwhelming to read a big book at the moment. I can barely get out of bed.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Yes, I think a lot of it has to do with us humans relating to an invisible God. I wrote a whole book about it, “Reaching for the Invisible God.” You express depression very well. I doubt a book is the place to start. You need human contact: a counselor, a pastor, a friend. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. –Philip

  106. Bev Christie says:

    Is there somewhere I can purchase Soul Survivor on CD? It would make such an awesome gift for children and friends whose interactions with the church have left a bad taste in their mouth. I tried Amazon. Audible downloads are great for myself but not easy to give as gifts.

    Thanks
    Bev

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m afraid the only “hard copy” audibles are cassette tapes–the book has been around for a while! And all audibles are “abridged,” so don’t include the entire book. Sorry! –Philip

  107. Dieder says:

    Hi Philip,

    Been reading almost all of your books. It helped me in difficult periods of my life. And I need to keep reading them. I need to remind me of these truths from the bible.
    The last couple of months I do struggle with the problem of evil. The question “Why did God allow evil to arise to fullfill His plan with Christ in this world?”. There is a lot of pain and suffering because of that plan. How do you deal with that?

    Dieder

    • Philip Yancey says:

      My books Disappointment with God and Where Is God When It Hurts are the main places I explore the big question you raise. I’m glad we’ve connected through writing! Philip

  108. ewan says:

    Can I please humbly request prayer for healing for my lovely God given wife who has cancer. She is not a believer yet. She has many Christ like qualities, humble, modest, caring, forgiving, and has a heart for the disadvantaged. She is currently more open to the Lord. Please pray for the Lord to be glorified throughout this process, for strength, grace and wisdom for all involved, for her salvation and that of her family and friends and for complete healing. Thanks so much and God bless ewan
    p.s. Please let me know if there is anything specific that I can pray for you

  109. You were the first Christian writer who made room for a thinker like me. Maybe twenty years ago I found your books, and your unique mix of artistry, doubt, compassion, and Sehnsucht cast a vision for me as a young believer. So many storms have hit since then, and I have learned how simple and how fragile my first faith really was. There must be a God, not just because Creation rings with Him, but also because in all of these deep and lonely breakings He has continued to help me praise Him again.

    I’ve recently been contacted by a publisher and asked to write a book, and part of that has involved setting up a website/blog so that people on the internet connect with me as a person. That’s been scary for several reasons. I don’t know when a person begins to feel like a “real writer,” or that something he (or she) has to say might do a stranger good instead of harm. But as I was adding a list of favorite places to that site today I ended up here and remembered that you had gone before me.

    I remembered how human you were in your books and how your writing established a template that allowed room for my brain, for my soul, for my poetic thrashings. That gave me courage. You are one of those essential spiritual fathers for me like Lewis, and Chesterton, and Tim Keller. And I just wanted to tell you thank you for leading the way.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      What a delightful “grace note” to receive from you. You should be flattered–very few writers get contacted by a publisher! Scary is good. You’re not alone. And I’m very gratified to hear from you. –Philip

      • Nigel says:

        Philip:I went to see you at Walnut Hill Comm. Church, my home church. As a canecr survivor and a leader of our church’s canecr support group, I want to express to you my personal gratitude for your talk and your books. Currently we are working through Where is God when it hurts . It is so refreshing in our evangelical faith to have a Biblical perspective on pain and suffering. God can and will transform our suffering. Keep up the honest and transparent dialogue in the church. By the way, where did you go to college? I am an attorney and father of 6- just wondering.In Christ,Peter

  110. Joshua Naranjo says:

    Hi Philip,
    I am a student who is currently studying at a bible college in Australia. I just wanted to say thank you….Thank you for being honest in your books, such as, “Disappointment With God” and “The Jesus I Never Knew.” The honesty in your words have given me much revelation about God and why certain things happen the way they do. These books have been very helpful and challenging for me. It’s helped to reveal Jesus in a more tangible way to me. Thank you very much! Thank you for asking the hard questions!

    Joshua Naranjo

  111. Fedor Covaci says:

    Dear Philip,
    The book you have written revolutionized my theology of grace and other essential doctrines.
    I was reading your books more relevant in my preaching.
    You may be thinking to visit in Austria. It is a large community of Romanians who would need your help.

    Fedor Covaci
    Pastor
    Bethlehem Graz

    I Thank You

  112. LE Herbert says:

    Dear Philip,

    I have read most, if not all, of your books. I enjoy reading someone who is not publishing a “book a month”, and who is a thinker.

    I’ve always wondered about the following topic on “Forgiveness” and how it relates to grace. I know we are to forgive others and the reason we should forgive. However, it’s always stunned me that you will see people on TV who have suffered the murder of a loved one, or some other horrible injustice. Many of the victim’s families comment, “I have forgiven him” in an expression of “closure”, or some other “Christian-like” behavior.

    I ask, “Has the murderer asked for forgiveness?” Has the “guilty” expressed remorse, at all? This act of forgiveness is backed up by the “command” that Christians must forgive (70 times 7, etc.) their trespassers, and it helps the victimized “let go” of their anger, anguish, etc. so they are not carrying bitterness or resentment.

    Then, I search the scriptures and I see nowhere are we asked to give blanket forgiveness as a response to those who have done wrong to us. In the command re: “how many times do I have to forgive someone”, and He says 70 x 7 – but that appears to me that the transgressor asked for forgiveness.

    The larger question is that God does not forgive US without our asking for forgiveness and repentance. So, how can I be expected to forgive, as a Christian, anyone who causes me harm and is not seeking forgiveness? In fact, in my thinking, I am giving the wrong message to the transgressor and those like him – almost as if I am condoning his “sin” if he is not asking for my forgiveness, and I bless him with forgiveness when he may not even want it.

    I think the burden we carry from being harmed by someone else (who is not repentant or wanting forgiveness) is between me and God to heal, to take away the bitterness and anger…because I don’t believe offering blanket forgiveness for the vilest of men is even sincere. The “Christian” part of us is called to respond with forgiveness if it is sought – we must forgive because we were forgiven (because we also sin).

    Grace? We forgive others because He forgave us. (But, we prayed for Him to forgive us!). It’s requisite to becoming a Christian – Christ is there waiting for us to accept Him. If we do not ask, we do not receive forgiveness – we receive hell – I cannot be more holy and righteous than God – I’m his creation saved by grace.

    This topic may be worthy for you to write a book!

    Thank you – would like to hear your comments.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Excellent thoughts about important questions. I recommend The Art of Forgiving and Forgive and Forget, both by Lewis Smedes. We do, of course, have one strong example of forgiveness offered even without apology or remorse: when Jesus prayed for his persecutors, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
      Philip

      • Ken Koeman says:

        Philip,

        I’m responding to your encouragement that we should follow the example of our Lord in forgiving when he prayed for his crucifiers, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Although this prayer reveals that the heart of Jesus was full of forgiveness at that moment (a wondrous thing!), it does not mean that Jesus was actually extending forgiveness to his murderers at that moment. When our Lord actually extended forgiveness to another person, he did it with these words: “Your sins are forgiven” as in the case of the cripple let down through a roof. Yet our Lord did not pronounce forgiveness upon his murderers at that moment by saying to them, “I forgive you” or “Your sin is forgiven.” No, instead he prayed that they would be forgiven, which is very different than actually pronouncing a person to be forgiven. And, since it was a prayer, might we know if and when this prayer was answered? I believe we can know. It was answered 53 days later, but only after Prosecutor Peter delivered a blistering indictment upon the Jewish crowd, confronting them with their heinous crime and causing them to be cut to the heart. Only after they were deeply convicted of their crime and asking how they might be saved from its consequences did they hear that word of amazing grace, the offer of baptism, and the promise of forgiveness. Though, like our Lord, we must grow hearts full of forgiveness, we do not extend it to those who have hurt (or, even, harmed) us until these people are first blessed by guilt.

        • Steve Layman says:

          Commenting on Ken’s thoughtful response, it would appear to me when the “Son/ Mediator” asked the “Father/Judge” to forgive His crucifiers it was because Jesus had already done so and precisely because they had not: ….”While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    • Philip Yancey says:

      There is the scene at the cross where Jesus prays for forgiveness for the people who crucified him–who clearly had not asked.

      I recommend that you Google Wilma Derksen’s YouTube talk on forgiveness. Very rich (and her daughter was murdered). If you use Facebook, I am posting on that.

      –Philip

      • Steve Layman says:

        For me, the best works to read are: interesting, informative, intelligent, insightful, instructive, inviting. With “The Jesus I Never Knew” you “hit the mark”. My only problem is taking more than 5 years to finish because when I open it to move forward, ready for some new insight, I go backwards to reflect. Thank you Philip, for your faithfulness to Jesus and your gift.

  113. Ribka Mariana R says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey

    At first, let me introduce my self, Im Mariana from Indonesia, I have heard about you from my friend.
    I like your books, ‘where is God when it Hurts’ but I just can read preview because there is no bookstore in my city sell that book again and I need the books to do mid semester exam
    Can you help me to send your e book ?
    I know this is strange for you, and may be so illogical but I very need that book in this week.
    I will pay but I dont have credit card.
    I have searched for your book in my city at all bookstrore. But I found nothing.
    I’m sure your book can be great source for my journal to do mid semester exam

    Can you help me ?

    Thanks before
    and God bless you Mr Yancey 🙂

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I wish I could help, Mariana, but it’s impossible for me to send an e-book to another country. To protect copyrights, the e-publisher “tags” the origin country and keeps this from happening. Very sorry! I know my books are in Indonesia, both in English and many in Indonesian language. Perhaps ask a Christian bookstore to order for you? I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.

  114. Dave Holden says:

    Dear Philip,

    Thank you so much for your writing and for your soul exposing honesty. Like yourself I have been exposed to toxic churches and if I am honest I was left badly wounded. Through the grace of which you write I have been won back and come to the realisation, of which Victor Frankl wrote so ably, that the only choice that cannot be taken from us is that of how we will respond to whatever happens to us. I have chosen to not be bitter, but to endeavour to be a reflection of his grace wherever I might be. Like yourself I read a lot and have come to consider CS Lewis, Victor Frankl, yourself, William Lane Craig and others to be guiding lights (and almost friends unmet) in faith and family.
    I have had a desire to write for some time, and have been doing so for over a year, and would like to publish a book. It has been recommended that I have the book professionally edited and I was wondering if I could ask you for a good editorial recommendation. I live in New Zealand but am happy to use a U.S. editor given the wonder of technology. Once again, thank you so much for your writing, and know that it has been instrumental in me “coming home” and knowing that I am not alone.
    Kindest regards
    Dave Holden

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Toxic churches in New Zealand?! You honor and humble me to hear that I helped you back on the path that I found with such struggle myself. Your note shows deep maturity, and I’m sure you have much worth writing about. I’ll send you a private email with any editorial ideas. Welcome home. –Philip

  115. Rachel says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    I want to thank you for the frankness and honesty with which you write. I have grown up in church and Christian schools and have experienced and witnessed both tremendous grace and painful ungrace from Christians, though I most strongly associate church and Christians with the latter. There are two particular ways in which I owe you a debt of gratitude. The first is for your words in What’s So Amazing About Grace. When I read What’s So Amazing About Grace, it feels like I’m listening to a gifted story teller, with the occasional commentary or explanation following a story. When I get caught up in the language and the complexity of the Bible, when I find myself leaning towards the legalism of the southern churches and schools I’ve attended, when I feel I cannot make sense of it all and feel discouraged, I often times find myself returning to your book. Each time, I rediscover a love for the Bible, and the merciful Father who has gone to such great lengths to bring us into a relationship with Him. Secondly, your refusal to excuse the shortcomings of the church, while still showing grace and love for her, redirects me when I feel so fed up with the church. I find it much easier to feel (and show) true love and grace for people who are judgmental and unkind outside of the church than for those who are judgmental and unkind within the church. Yet your writing points me back to a better response, loving the church even while disagreeing with her at times.

    My most sincere thanks,

    Rachel

    • Philip Yancey says:

      If I received only this response after writing that book, it would have been worthwhile. You embolden and inspire me to keep at it.
      –Philip

  116. Clefton says:

    We are about to begin the study on “Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?” What chapters in the book relate to the study sessions?

    There is not a one-to-one correspondence between the group study and the book. The study does follow the progression of the book, though. If you read 3-4 chapters before each session, you’ll cover the relevant content. –Philip

    • Clefton says:

      Thank you very much. I will share your response with the group. God bless you!

      • Philip Yancey says:

        I’m sure many people can relate to some of your anecdotes. Sigh, the church is composed of people. I met some of the characters you describe in my inner-city Chicago church, and some more in Deep South churches. As I often say, If I were God, I wouldn’t have turned over the mission to the likes of us. Then again, it’s very good for the universe that I’m not God. Thanks for the detailed description, and for not giving up on Christ’s Body, deformed as it is.
        Philip

        • Nam Hee Soo says:

          Dear. Phillip

          Hello, this is Hee-Soo from South korea.
          I am sending you this e-mail because there are several questions popped up while reading your book.
          “What is forgiveness?” I thought no favor can get from our own efforts to attain salvation, but I frequently search about “The
          method to attain salvation.”
          I asked my church missionary serveral times with the questions such as “What is forgiveness? Should I just believe? Is that all i can do?” but i couldn’t get any satisfactory answer or answer which solve my curiosity. Most of them said, “Forgiveness is disappearance of sin. Just understand like that.”
          While reading your book called ‘What’s so amazing about grace?’ , I found their answers was full of contradictions.
          I am really curious about forgiveness.
          To understand the definition of forgiveness, does the reference of your book, which is called ‘Forgive and Forget’ written by
          Lewis Smedes has the answer to my question? Can you please recommend a book about forgiveness?
          Following is the few questions.

          1. Does forgiveness means God reconciliation with us by forgetting our sin?
          2. In our church we sing a song called ‘Our sin cleans out with the precious blood of Jesus’. Does that mean the disappearance of sins?
          3. To attain salvation, should we trust the gospeland repent? Is that all i can do?
          If the conclusion of commandments is love, then is forgiveness the conclusion of salvaton?

          Sometimes, I feel I am serious legalist, especially, when I become slave of small plans and lists. Maybe it’s caused by some incidents which had big impacts on my life.
          Merely, I have ambiguous obedience which you have mentioned. I also go to church but many Christians including me , seem like they have misunderstood the words in the Bible.
          As the Bible said, ‘ Therefore, I tell you her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little,’ I want to understand original meaning of it and want to live like that.
          I owe the grace of God to your book.
          Thank you.

          Sincerely yours,
          Hee-Soo

          • Philip Yancey says:

            Dear Hee-Soo,

            I just returned from Korea in November, and I know the Korean church struggles with legalism such as you describe. I like the way you think, and you are asking very important questions. Yes, I would recommend the books by Lewis Smedes, who wrote at least two on forgiveness. I know about being haunted by doubts and even guilt from the past. I don’t want to contradict your teachers, so I hesitate to respond specifically to your questions. The pattern I see in the Gospels, though, is exactly what you describe, especially Jesus’ words to the Pharisees after the woman anointed him.

            I love Korean people, but it hurts me because of the pressure to perform, and the perfectionism that can become a huge burden. Your country needs a huge dose of Grace, I think.

            Philip

        • Johnson says:

          Enjoyed very much your message video to folks in Newtown. As a faehtr of two young children, I was moved by the message. Though I’ve never seen you speak, your voice was familiar as I have several of your audio books. There was a time about 12 years ago when I could not read the Bible, for reasons I don’t have time for here. But it was mostly your writings that got me through this period of several years. So, I’ve long wanted to thank you. The Jesus I Never Knew endeared me to Jesus like no other book. As I now brave the writing world myself, you have been an influence and will continue to be. Thank you again.

  117. Paul Dela Cruz says:

    Good day Sir Philip,

    Thank you for your ministry (writing these books: What’s so Amazing, Prayer, Does it make difference?, Where is God when it hurts and The Jesus I never knew) which I just encountered when I started in seminary 2 years ago. as of now I am doing a book review of your “The Jesus I never Knew” as a requirement in one of my subject. I was deeply moved and encouraged by these books and grateful thanking God for the profound and challenging thoughts I have read. A BIG THANK YOU Sir for contributing to the Body of Christ, indeed it is a great starter for seminary students like me.

    Pagpalain ka ng Diyos! (God bless you in tagalog-Philippines)

    – Paul DC

  118. Philip,

    I see that you will be speaking in Bristol this weekend as part of the Buechner series. David Stevens and I both live in Bristol as the Christian Medical & Dental Associations has a office and conference center nearby. Our regret is that we will miss hearing you. We both have speaking engagements this weekend.

    May God grant you favor.

    Blessings,
    Gene Rudd

  119. Linn says:

    I’ve appreciated your books for many years now. They cut right to the truth and bypass all the wrapping and bows. I’m a very honest, straightforward person and have always been with God. But I have questions….so many questions right now…

    In the past three yrs I’ve lost my older brother, my sister, my brother-in-law, my dog….I lost my fiancee, my kids and I have had to move three times….I was in two car accidents, the second one crushed my car and no one could believe I wasn’t seriously injured or even killed….I’ve gone thru devastating legal storms that have left me penniless and seemingly without a future of any kind….I lost my job and have not been able to find another, I lost my unemployment in December of 2013 and in February of 2014 I lost our home, which meant I lost my kids too because I had to move in with my mother and there’s no room for my kids so they had to move in with their dad….I lost two best friends because they just turned their backs on me as I was going thru all of my legal trouble….I used to be a single mom with a good job, a college degree, a car, my bills were paid, and I had someone I thought loved me in my life. Almost overnight I became jobless, penniless, homeless, childless, loveless….hopeless. I never leave my mom’s house now – no transportation – and we don’t get along very well. I’m basically alone 24/7. I’ve searched for so long and so hard for a job, with absolutely no success, and am now down to my last couple of hundred dollars. My credit record is horrendous. Bills are late. I have no one to turn to, no one who can help me. Every corner of my life, and heart, is completely broken. I pray and pray and pray and pray….no response. My days are all the same now….loneliness, unemployment, worry, conflict. I miss my kids so much it’s like a deep grief. I am grieving for my siblings who died, for my dog whom I loved so much, for my job that I loved, I am grieving for my home that I lost. I am grieving for my life that is all gone now. I feel tired, unattractive, washed up, and I look it, too. My self-confidence or esteem has bottomed out. I cry all the time lately. Waiting on God? YES. For some kind of answer, for some kind of hope, for some kind of a break. What has this taught me? Right now, I feel it’s taught me that prayers aren’t always heard or answered, that maybe God does not love me the way He loves others, that punishment can be harsh and never ending, it’s taught me that maybe I’m simply destined to be this lonely failure, no matter how hard I worked and tried to have a good life and give a good life to my kids. Whatever I did to deserve all of this must have been just awful, and I feel that I deserve all of this because otherwise God would help me, right? I am so broken, I am so alone, and I can feel my heart giving up. I can feel my spirit giving up. I feel defeated. I feel abandoned.

    What does one do when mercy seems to not exists? When God remains silent, impassable, as life crumbles and gets smaller and smaller by the day. What do you do when you desperately need miracles from a God who doesn’t even seem to be giving responses????

  120. mrs Alison veness says:

    Dear Philip,
    Our Homegroup have just studied your book on Prayer and now will start the next book…Whats so amazing about grace. We have all been really moved by your video clips and it has made us think at a different level esp being in partnership with God in Prayer which is so exciting.I grew up in an evangelical clergy family but much loved and even when my Dad died i had so much support but became a little missionary at the age of 11yrs old!! Now I am 68yrs old, retired nurse and creative therapist: my husband a clergyman, divorced 17yrs ago but remarried to the same man(!) 10yrs ago, 3 adopted children , one an addict but we all love each other whatever, even though we sometimes despair!!! I’m now reading The Jesus I never new and having my eyes opened! Thank you. When are you coming to England. Please come to our Homegroup!!! or even to St Albans in Herts! or to Spring Harvest??
    Thank you and enjoy your Bible and mountains! With kind regards Alison Veness

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I do indeed get to U.K. now and then, so watch my Facebook site. It sounds like you’ve mastered the lessons on grace that I’ve been exploring all these years. –Philip

    • Matthieu says:

      Having just read an unsigned alircte critical of your latest book, and as I am personally completing Whats so amazing about Grace I want to thank you for the insights you have shared. Particularly I want to thank you and Mel for openly describing what were very difficult times in your lives, so that others can prepare their hearts to show grace. I would also like to encorage you to continue taking on the hard topics and shareing your viewpoint. In particular if you feel the holy spirits leading I would like to see you write about the phenomenon of Marriage and the functional Christien home. There is so much available to describe the dysfunctional but very little aimed at how to do it right.

      • Philip Yancey says:

        Thanks for the idea. After 45 years of marriage I have learned a few things and maybe it’s time to collect them!
        Philip

  121. Arielle says:

    Everytime I get inside a bookstore, the first thing that I would do is to go to HelpDesk and ask where do they keep your books.

    I know you have been receiving good and aweful feedbacks and comments, but let me just express mine. I find your books stimulating, brave, and encouraging. I always find myself in the middle of realization and reflection. I like the fact that we share the same views. I am not fancy with words but I have been looking forward to speak to you.

    I thank God for writers like you.

  122. Al Streett says:

    Hi Phil,

    We first met at a YFC Director’s certification course in 1972 in Rockford, IL. You, Milt Richards, Tim Stafford and Ron Hutchcraft were leading the sessions. I served as EX Dir of Hampstead YFC in MD. If I recall correctly, I wrote a paper on the kingdom of God which received positive feedback. Over the years I have continued in my studies and now serve as Senior Research Professor of Biblical Exegesis atCriswell College (Dallas, Tx). I have written two books that might be of interest to you: 1) Subversive Meals, an analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman domination, and 2) Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now, which picks up where Dallas Willard left off.

    Each has received good reviews from people who count. Please let me know if you would like copies for review. You can check both out on Amazon.

    My upcoming book is titled “Caesar and the Sacraments.”

    Great to touch base with you. I have followed your ministry over the years.

    Alan Streett

  123. Clarence Watkins says:

    I have read a few of your books,now reading vanishing grace…..in a word…wonderful.

  124. John says:

    I just want to say thanks. Your books have been used by God to keep me in the fold. Please, keep writing friend.

  125. Homer Heater says:

    Dear Mr. Yancy:

    I first wrote this letter in May of 2001. I decided not to send it. However, seeing you again speaking of your toxic church in Bible Study, I decided to resend it. Here it is:

    Over the past several months, I have read four books dealing with similar topics: yours (Soul Survivor), Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, Mouw (The Smell of Sawdust), and Carpenter, History of Fundamentalism in the 30’s and 40’s.

    The Poisonwood Bible has been highly touted, but I found it to be a very cynical and distorted book. I know thousands of Southern Baptists and none fits the Elmer Gantry or Mitchner’s preacher in Hawaii in the slightest. I might not agree with the perspective or conduct of a lot of Southern Baptists, but this was the most unfair caricature I have seen in a long time.

    Mouw’s book was the most delightful. I sense in Richard (both in personal contact as well as in reading), a gentle, loving spirit that was most encouraging. He spoke to a number of us seminary presidents last January. Even he does not have it all right. I shared with him one area that a lot of evangelicals don’t hold, that he said they did.

    Carpenter’s book is a good correction on some of the distortion about fundamentalism, and Mouw acknowledges that correction. It is a good read to see the tremendous good that was generated during that time.

    Your book, I thoroughly enjoyed, but was nonetheless disturbed by it. You introduced me to a couple of people I had not known before. However, I was troubled by what still (after all these years) comes across as bitterness and cynicism. I am the president of a Bible college and a seminary. We do not characterize ourselves as fundamentalist (preferring evangelical), but others might do so. I certainly don’t think our Bible College is at all like what you presented in your book.

    The tone you use to characterize the Bible college you attended is almost snide. I was particularly disturbed when you quoted your brother who used to quote 1 Chronicles (parbar) and people thought he was speaking in tongues. I detected what might be arrogance or at least superciliousness. A dear friend of mine who grew up with you in your church in Atlanta becomes furious just seeing your book. She feels you slandered both the church and the pastor.

    I am the product of the Bible college movement, hold a Ph.D. in Semitics from Catholic University of America, and currently enjoy working with a group of Bible college young people who excite me daily with their enthusiasm to know God and make him known.

    I seldom write to people about these kind of issues, but I was drawn toward you in your writings and yet disturbed that one in your position to influence so many has an attitude toward the conservative wing of the church that I believe is distorted. My guess is that you are somewhat melancholic as well as very bright. This tends to produce cynical people .

    For whatever it is worth, I have passed this perspective on and tell you quite honestly that I have and do pray for you.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Homer Heater, Jr.
    President emeritus, Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I thank you for the spirit of your letter, Dr. Heater. As the husband of a missionary daughter, I agree with you about Barbara Kingsolver’s book, and we fully share admiration for Rich Mouw and his generous spirit. I’m sorry I came across to you as bitter and cynical. I have had open and helpful conversations with the leadership of the school I attended and we are on most excellent terms, so I haven’t gone “behind their backs.” More, I don’t use the name of that school because I’m aware that some of what I write might hurt them. I try to write honestly about my experiences, and you should know that just because I tell a scene does not mean I approve of it: for example, I agree with you about my brother’s cynical attitude and didn’t write that scene in an approving way. What I’ve learned, though, is that the more specific and detailed I write, it summons up responses in others who had parallel experiences, though not the same. As you know, Dr. Heater, there are many, many people out there who were damaged by the church or its institutions. I hear from Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, and others who had experiences quite unlike mine yet can identify with some of the excesses I experienced. I guess I “tilt” in their favor because that is my background, and also my calling–to reach those wounded by the church. As you say, some who find this offensive don’t read my writings at all. (As to your friend, I attended one more moderate church in Atlanta but most of my “toxic” memories are of another, smaller and more fundamentalist church–the two are sometimes confused, as again I do not use their names.) You are in the middle, appreciating some parts but not others. I will try to learn from your comments, and thank you for doing the biblical and honorable thing by writing me directly. I’m sorry you waited so long to mail that letter! –Philip

  126. Dwight Stokes says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey: Your books have made an incredible impact on me. It is so important to have a voice like yours in today’s climate. I love all your books but have been most impacted by The Jesus I Never Knew (which I have used to teach a class of young people in my church) , What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Vanishing Grace. I am a judge in our court system and a product of loving Christian parents who valued all people — people of all races and backgrounds. You are a great resource for giving hope to non-Christians and people who need help in these days. You express thoughts so well as if your words are directly from Christ — loving, forgiving, non-judgmental, compassionate and caring for the hopeless and marginalized of this world. You are a great inspiration to me as I see marginalized people every day in court. You depict the Jesus of the gospels and of the unparalleled sermon on the mount in ways that people can grasp. Thank you for your books, your columns and your wisdom that comes from earnestly seeking Jesus in a fallen world. God bless you. Your books make me feel as if we have spent a day in conversation on deeply held beliefs we both share. Thank you again… And keep writing about grace and the Jesus we need to know and follow. Sincerely, Dwight.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      If only I could live up to your most generous words. You are the one on the front lines of grace. If something I write somehow helps you in what you do, I am very grateful. –Philip

  127. Tina Etherington says:

    Dear Philip,

    I first read “What’s so amazing about grace?” in 2008 and immediately bought 10 copies as Christmas presents for my bible group. I have now just re-read it (still inspirational!) and would like to buy it for my Italian-speaking husband. However, I cannot find an Italian version. Has it ever been translated? If so, where could I purchase it? If not, are you thinking of having it translated?

    Thank you and blessings
    Tina

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Strangely, I find no record of an Italian translation. Foreign rights are handled by the publishers, and no Italian publishers have contracted for it, sorry. –Philip

  128. Assistant_to_PY says:

    Noted, thanks. jdb

  129. Danilo Reyes says:

    Just recently, I completed reading your book Soul Survivor. I found affinity regarding your assessment of the fundamental beliefs and churches. Just like you, I am having a hard time shedding the influence it has upon me largely because I owe an immense debt of gratitude to the denomination that facilitated my becoming a US citizen. Intellectually, I cannot accept the God of my conversion anymore. But I continue to hang on because, being Asian, the concept of debt of gratitude is so indelibly written in my consciousness. Leaving the denomination that was instrumental in facilitating unspeakable blessings to me and my family feels like I betrayed God Himself. Because of the denomination I used to belong to, I am now a social worker in Southern California and all my four children graduated from college. I did continue to worship with the denominational churches I used to belong to but I find myself arguing in my mind against the messages I hear Sunday after Sunday. Instead of worshipper I became a critic. I don’t like that part of me when I go to church. But, a significant part of me has been lost and I feel guilty about leaving the church that gave so much to me and my family. Perhaps I will continue to struggle with guilt for a very long time.

    I continue to search for a church that is reflective of where I am spiritually and intellectually. So far, I have not had luck with that pursuit. Your books have been my refuge! From time to time my wife and I go to a church that preaches in Joel Osteen mode, but I can’t relate to the music. The loud noise smashes God out of my mind. Like the story about Frederick Buechner when you invited him to your church to preach, the optics in the church draw me away from worship rather than enhance it. But thank you for the books and your courage in writing what you describe as toxic faith in the fundamentalist churches. I believe you might have alienated and angered so many in a very public way and that takes a lot of courage, something I will never have. Hopefully I will be able to attend one of your book signing events one of these days. Again, thank you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I understand. You are caught between the Asian qualities of loyalty and reticence and the U.S. qualities of individualism and consumerism. That’s quite a balance to keep! I’m far from a “church hopper” myself. Sometimes we learn most by staying with a group that may not be our first preference. Your comment shows a lot of maturity, even though to you it may feel confusing. Don’t give up. –Philip

  130. William Timmers says:

    I want to know simple answer, if you can, are you more of “Progressive” Christian? Or, “Evangelical” Christian?

    Yes, labels is confusing because I know a Evangelical Christian author who also does not believe in literal hell and Book of Revelation should be in the Holy Bible, those are strong Progressive things.

  131. Frank Handler says:

    As much as I appreciate your dedication to the Lord, I have to say that your comments in CT recently are off base. You say that Jesus came full of grace and truth, and that, “We’ve done pretty well with the truth part. But let’s restore some balance.” So you have chosen to over-emphasis grace, as evangelical churches have been doing for decades and Protestant churches have been doing for centuries. It’s the easy way to try to sell a book because who wants to hear the true gospel that requires sacrifice and calls for repentance? It’s so easy to call on believers to say the right thing instead of asking them to follow the gospel in actions that offend the world and is considered judgmental.

    The problem today is the lack of truth in the church. The emphasis is almost completely on grace (which leads to homosexuality being accepted and its sinfulness being ignored). People are allowed to freely sin without consequence and sermons are touchy-feely inspiration that won’t offend anyone because, as you seem to emphasize, we need to reach sinners by not offending them. Sorry, sir, but that just makes for really bad Christians and weak converts. We haven’t done well with the truth part at all–the truth would shine a light on their darkness so they repent, not hand over a light for free and then have them misuse it. Watch as TV preachers, Kathie Lee Gifford, reality show stars, theology professors, student ministry leaders, and even emergent pastors claim to be “grace” filled people that show no regard for what’s truth, living life as if it makes no difference whether one is a Christian. It’s a sad state that the church is in today. Your book should have been “Vanishing Truth.” Please stop over-emphasizing grace at the expense of living out the true gospel. The misrepresentation of grace is actually the death of truth. Thank you for your consideration.

    1 John 3:18

    • Ross Calverley says:

      I haven’t actually read the book you mention. I have read “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” several times on the other hand. Certainly Jesus did come bearing grace and truth but above all he came with love. What is the greatest commandment? And the one like it? (It’s also mentioned again in 1 John 4:21)

      Frank, I don’t know you apart from your comment on here. But to compare your comments about those who you feel “lack” truth with Jesus’ interactions with sinners, I know without any doubt who I would rather have feedback on my life from. Jesus came across sinners who accepted that they were hopelessly in the wrong situation. Jesus did not condemn these sinners.

      Certainly there is nothing wrong with pointing out in love, errors to people you know well enough to do so. Nor steering people away from teachings that are suspect. But to come onto someone’s website (who I suspect you don’t know, obviously) and to misrepresent them and attempt to dictate their livelihood wouldn’t come into my definition of loving your neighbour as yourself.

  132. Devin K says:

    Mr Yancey-
    I am overjoyed to once again have the privilidge to share your words, experiences and inspirations in your books. I am currently on the third book of yours that I have read and find myself thinking deeper than ever while I take in your words. I hope to come to meet you in November while you are on your book tour in Ohio. I pray that God continues to work thru your heart and hands to inspire all of us Christians in a modern society deeply needing such truth, as you share it.

  133. REV MARY WOSE says:

    Dear Mr Yancey,
    I thank God for the wonderful inspiration you have. I have read “Where was God when it Hurts” ? This book has given me reason to see God’s hands, moving along with me in all my ordeals in life. God is always there when the eyes of faith are open.
    Thank you and May Almighty God continue to bless you.

  134. Karess says:

    Mr. Yancey, you are, and will always be, one of my favorite writers. God bless you.

  135. Min Jung Kim says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey.

    Thank you for visiting Korea and giving a precious message.
    I am one of prayer who is praying for Korea to be united in Jesus Christ and also to awe the Lord. Although I’m praying this continuously, I felt somewhat anxiety.

    But by your message today, I found “Hope” in our country. Although our nation is going through “Winter Season”, if we continously pray with hope, the “Spring Season” will soon arrive. When I saw the picture of “Spring Season” , lovely flowers spread all through the ground, I do found “Hope” in our country.
    Thank you very much.

  136. Kerry Rabins says:

    I have just “discovered” Philip Yancey and am blown away by what I have read. I started with “Where Is God When It Hurts?” and I just read “Christians and Politics, Uneasy Partners”. And my response is Yes! Yes! Yes! I have been so troubled by my Christian friends who have lashed out judgmentally at, well, at all Democrats! They pass on ugly rumors and they gossip about things that are all stirred up at church, of all places! Let’s be clear here. No one knows a man’s heart, except God. Just because a fellow Christian puts a lesser importance on a sin that is extremely important to you, doesn’t give us the biblical right to bash them and pronounce that in our own judgment they can not be a Christian! Whosoever has not sinned, people! In regard to abortion and homosexuality, these are symptoms of a huge cultural and moral decay in our country, but judgmental Christians are crucifying the sinner, not the sin! We are to love people to Christ and spread Good News, not resort to name-calling and ostracism. Jesus talks about not being able to serve God and Money, yet our culture has glorified the comforts we enjoy – thru money- to the point where when everything doesn’t go our way we decide to fix it. With drugs, with divorce, with anger, with judgment, with holier-than-thou posts on Facebook. Do people not see the hypocrisy between vilifying people who decide to get an abortion and those taking pride in owning a gun to be able to protect themselves by blowing away any intruder who threatens their household? Both are evidence of a spirit of fear! And all of us Americans are addicted to Comfort. I want to lash out too, and say, read Matthew 7:1-5, for Heaven’s sake! Anyway, I know I am preaching to the choir, but it feels good to get some of these things off my chest. Thank you, Philip Yancey for a balanced, Godly look at ourselves. I look forward to reading the rest of your books!

    • Brenda Charrier says:

      Kerry,
      I LOVE what you wrote! I happen to be a very “left-leaning” Christian. I grew up during the 60’s and 70’s, and was very much influenced by the civil rights movement, the peace movement (during Viet Nam), and environmental causes. I worked for Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Union as an organizer, and other things (Grapes of Wrath influenced me here). And I am a vegetarian (actually, the only “animal products” I eat are the eggs that are produced by my own hens)–because of the abominable treatment of factory farmed animals in this country, and because I would never kill an animal for food (never mind “sport”). I support free legal services for the poor and disenfranchised, and generally campaign for “Democrats”. I have gay friends who I love with all my heart (and I know and accept what God says about “homosexuality”), some who are celibate because they are HIV-positive. One of them spends his life looking after the needs of homeless people, the elderly, “undocumented” immigrants, and people living (and dying) with AIDS. I have never known a kinder, more generous, selfless (and, yes “Christ-like”) human being in my life than he is–and yet, at a recent demonstration (in NYC, the Climate Justice March, and “Flooding Wall Street”), where I made signs with verses from Isaiah, Psalms, and other places, about our obligation to defend the poor, to be on the side of the oppressed, etc–and he held them with me–he said, “Christians don’t like me.” Sad but true. I said, of course, “Jesus loves you. He is the only One who defines “christianity”. And Christians need you.” Broke my heart. That same day, on Wall St, so many people said to me that I was the first “Christian” they had ever met a “Christian” who wasn’t “right-wing” and “intolerant”, etc. Too bad. I know there are plenty of Christians who share my point-of-view, even though I know many more who don’t (unfortunately). Wish they were more “present” in the places where Jesus has a stake–and where Jesus really IS. (With the poor and oppressed, and those fighting on their behalf.) I am so glad I was able to “represent” my Saviour, my God, on Wall St that day.
      I love Philip Yancey because of his emphasis on Jesus, and how much Jesus loves every human being. My HIV-pos. friend is just should know how much Jesus loves him. Shame on the “Church” for making him feel so unwanted. The “details” of his life are so much less important than him knowing he belongs at the foot of the cross, with everyone Jesus died for. (The “devil is in the details”, after all. So I’ll leave that stuff up to God. Where DID that expression come from?) Jesus can deal with the “details” in his life, just as he deals with the details in all of our lives. Isn’t it more important that he embrace Jesus first? Let Jesus deal with the rest. Not my job. (Didn’t mean to go on and on–just so happy to “meet” another real Christian “Democrat”. And Philip Yancey is one of my two favorite “Christian” writers. C.S. Lewis is the other one.)
      God bless you, Kerry!
      In Christ,
      Brenda Charrier

      • Travis McNeil says:

        Kerry and Brenda,
        Your comments very well worth reading. I am a 68 year old male so you can imagine how much religion, society, and politics have changed in my lifetime also I was born and raised in LA. just imagine!
        The church of Christ that I am a member of welcomes everyone. The church sees no color or ethnicity we are all Christians or are trying to be. Attend a local church of Christ I think you would be surprised.

      • Terry says:

        Thank you for having the heart of Christ. God looks at the heart.Look at David in the bible.God said David is a man after my own heart.

  137. Flora Ducharme says:

    Years ago,early in my faith walk, I read the books you wrote with Dr. Brand & I was blown away. The spiritual insights I learned are amazing.
    Your book Amazing Grace stirred me to be more ‘grace-full’ myself. I’m still working on it (being more grace-ful).
    I very much appreciate your books, your insights, your stories of others & your own.
    Thank-you very much.

  138. Brandt Shelbourne says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey. Over the years I have enjoyed, benefited from and been changed by your writing. Perhaps most life changing was my first read – What’s So Amazing About Grace and The Jesus I Never Knew. However, I wanted to let you know about my most recent read or start. I was in CO recently visiting my son at the USAFA for parent’s weekend and took the opportunity to buy What’s Good About God at the Focus on the Family bookstore. After boarding in Denver to return to Charleston SC via Charlotte, I settled down for the flight, started on my orange juice and began reading your book. I had just finished reading about your accident and the call to come talk in VA, when I began to feel strange and then promptly passed out, much to my wife’s surprise. Thankfully all is well and nothing much happened other than cause a lot of concern on the plane and having to spend the night at an ER in Charlotte. I haven’t gone back to the book yet, but am hoping that I don’t pass out again while reading it. Thanks for committing to writing for the body of Christ. Sincerely. Brandt Shelbourne.

  139. Thomas Henshell says:

    I have read Prayer and it fundamentally changed my prayer life.
    I read the Jesus I Never Knew, and it gave me new appreciation for the sermon on the mount.
    Last night I finished What’s so Amazing about Grace. Wow. I put it next to Mere Christianity as a must read for old believers.

    I wanted to take this moment and tell you the impact this book as made upon me. I am a 38 year old video game developer. I am involved in the integration of Faith & Video Games. Before we, as video game makers, express something with our art, we have to have something to say. And reading your book has convinced me that something is Grace.

    The clarity of your challenge “What is the alternative to grace? Ungrace” moved me deeply. It has shifted the question “What is the most graceful action/reaction” from somewhere in the cluttered dusty back of my mind to the forefront. Grace is now something I am trying to let flow into all aspects of my life.

    Thank you for waking me up to the greatest gift the Church has to offer the world. I hope to now live worthy of the call.

  140. John Whitelaw says:

    I find the couple of books written by PY challenging, stimulating, interesting etc. In particular the book … Prayer…Does it make any difference?
    Incidentally I share his view that I too wish prayer could be a simple, straightforward almost childlike . I accept a complex matter leads to a complex book. I’m uneasy that it is eg beyond the understanding of the archetypal dear old lady in the pew. Has PY written any books that are for those ( and I don’t want to seem condescending) shall we say who are less gifted than he is.
    Also on his website here and in the Q & A section, he relates a funny story, renaming his books under ” mold” instead of ” God”. According to POLISH FRIENDS of mine there is NO one similar POLISH word for these two English words. Can he elaborate/ clarify as I ended up with egg on my face. TY….JOHN.

    • Donna Hastings says:

      John W. I am one of those “little old ladies” in the pew. I’ve been raised in church and been in many different denominations, and Phillip’s books resonate with me. He speaks and writes on a very down to earth level, and his examples from his own life make all the difference in understanding what he means. My favorite of his books is probably “What’s So Amazing About Grace” – and he says it like it is. His honesty and search for meaning in his own life has influenced my life in positive ways. He makes me think.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Sorry, I don’t know Polish. I’m just repeating what the Polish nanny said who looked at my book and said it translates “Disappointment with Mold.” –Philip

      • richard says:

        no hope left

        I first came across staff from Dilaram houses ( YWAM) in Switzerland in 1975, I was searching for a purpose in life and they invited me to their Centre in Heerde,Holland where I went in early March 1976 .
        During my 1 -1/2 years there I was put through the healing sessions, to make me into a Hetrosexual ,it caused me alot of confusion and pain and incredable life long shame when I did not changed from Same Sex Attraction to Hetrosexual attraction. I was convinced that I was not good enough for God or that He hated me,or I had committed some un forgivable sin. They tried to cast out homosexual demons, and I was told I was rebellious and so on. I was so let down by not being made a real hetrosexual man, I did not understand why I had to suffer with this terrible sin of SSA. I kept waiting for the miracle to happen and it did not. I was 22 years old and told to bend over one of the leaders knee infront of the staff so he could spank me for my reactions to my still SSA feelings and when I refused he forced me to bend over his knee and he spanked me. Things were not going well and I was finally sent out to work in the Community working at DE Klok Soap Factory 12 hours a day and the money I made went to pay for my food and to pay the morgage on the property that was owing and they did not have . It was a lonely time as I did not speak Dutch . The work too hard and too much for me lifting 100 lbs of Soap and I weighed maybe 80 lbs, I ended recking my stomach and have a 14 inch scar down my stomach today from lifting too heavy a load, they never said sorry. They finally threw me out saying God had told Ken Wright from New Zealand that I was to leave and be dependent on no one and to work. I was sent to London and it was hell.

        I ran into Youth With a Mission again in 1979 while working for Barry Mc Guire and Rev Jean Darnell and a Team touring the UK. The YWAM director Lynn Green invited me to join the YWAM community and told me that YWAM holland was wrong for the way they treated me. I said no and left . And never ever should have considered going with them again in hind sight.
        After some time in the USA I returned to the UK and took Lynn Green up on his offer and joined YWAM again – after a few months he suggested a new life and start for me in Youth With a Mission Canada. I arrived in Canada and was told by the Immigration Officer in Quebec that I was not welcome in Quebec, I left my documents in the taxi from the airport and went to the Montreal Police to report them lost and was told if I could not write the report in French they would not help me, goodbye. I walked the streets on Montreal for days searching for the Taxi driver and finally found him and my documents which he had not handed in .

        In 1981 YWAM Canada sent me to the USA to DayStar Ministries for further healing because I was still same sex attracted, i needed more conversion therapy , Uli and Carol Kortsch had told me to go for the 12 week therepy and then I could come back to YWAM Canada. But when it came time for me to return,they ignored my plea and left me stranded in the USA with no money and no place to go,the British and German Embassy would not help me. YWAM CANADA lied and dumped me in the USA ,I was terrified as I had no money and Day Star was closing down for good.

        In 1982 I was at YWAM Honolulu ,Hawaii USA and as YWAM taught I went to a leader Larry and Debee Nicholson ( Americans) and told them I was struggling with Same Sex attraction thoughts only towards Larry Morris another staff member, these were just thoughts nothing had been said to the person and no improper contact had happened. It was just thoughts like we all have attraction thoughts towards other people male or female from time to time. In YWAM we had been taught to be open about things in our lives.

        Instead of talking it through with me and praying ,they reacted by removing me from the mens dorm, . I was put in a derelict house ,the walls were gone from all the rooms and bushes were there instead,the toilet had fallen through the floor,no water ,no shower ,it was termite ridden and I was terrified. My movements were monitored and restriced to a few feet. I could not speak to any male as they arranged a plane ticked back to YWAM LA I was treated shamfully and illegally .
        YWAM L.A did not want me back the leadership there was very homophobic at the time according to John Dawson the present Chair of YWAM International . So Lynn Green of YWAM UK sent me to a logging camp in Colorado run by YWAM . Instead of returning me home to the UK, I was sent for further punishment . Upon arrival in Grand Junction Colorado on the grey hound bus,I called Janice Green (YWAM UK -Lynn Greens mother)the Base leaders mother in law as instructed , she said I could sleep on the street for the night and go without food ,she had no intention of picking me up. This YWAM leader left me on the streets of Grand Junction for the night and I was terrified. The next day she took me aside and said she was going to make me into a real man .
        I could not be alone with any males and no cooking there , that is a woman’s job not a man’s ( I am a qualified Chef, after 4 years at a College of Technology training as a chef. .
        She treated me so badly like a a piece of rubbish totally disgusted with me, and all I had had was SSA thoughts . She treated me so badly that after 3 months of hell I finally ran away and headed back to Canada, she called every christian organization along the greyhound route to Canada and warned them about me a gay . She called US Immigration right away and said I was in the USA illegally, which was not true and I was heading out , she hated anything slightly Gay. And Lynn Green justified her actions by saying it was what she was taught. And as the Chairman of Youth With A mission International living comfortably in the UK still, he refuses to apologize for what was done to me. YWAM shamed me for being SSA, abused me and gave me an image of God as someone who hated me for not making me into a Hetosexual and an image of myself of shame.
        I crossed the border into Canada and headed for Saint John New Brunswick where there was a YWAM base where I knew people.
        She had called ahead and warned them this queer as she saw me was on the way. When I arrived there I was not welcome ,she had not told them I simply had had some thoughts , she tared and feathered me . I was not welcome however I could stay a short time to sort out what I was going to do. Again the British and German Embassy refused to help me even though I pleaded for help .
        It was here that I met Capt Mark Dickson of the Church Army and we became friends . I decided to apply to the Church Army Training College .
        I was accepted into the Church Army right away because of my years with Youth With A Mission, and good references .
        The Regional Rep for Church Army Capt. Smith was not happy at this decision.he did not want me in church Army , he hated YWAM.
        I packed up my things and was excited about the years of study ahead ,as I stood on the Train platform in Saint John waiting for the train to take me to Toronto and the Church Army,./now called Threshold Ministries.
        Capt. Bruce Smith the Church Army regional Director ,later to be the National Director came up to me on the platform and said we have found out about your (gay past just thoughts in Hawaii) you are no longer accepted in the Church Army ,and he walked away leaving me with my suit cases , shattered and no place to go.
        He did not stop to ask me if I had a place to go or ask me to explain my side of the story ,he simply dumped me and walked away.I dragged my suitcase to the local hostel and got a room for the night.
        I called my friend Capt. Dickson and also the Harbinsons of YWAM Canada . Both were shocked and told me to hang in there, they found out that Debbie Lindsey a YWAM staff member in Saint John had (later a VineYard pastor with her husband) called Capt. Smith and she had told him the lies Janice Green from YWAM Colorado had spread right across the USA about what happened in Honolulu,which was just impure thoughts nothing more. But had become something more in Janice Greens evil eyes and The Nicholson in Hawaii hated, homophobia , for the first time in my life I was labelled and because of Nicholson, Green and Lindsey and Smith, 4 people, the rest of my life would suffer the results of their hatred .None of them ever took the time to talk to me about it my feelings and views , they simply labelled me and did everything in their power to destroy a good man, my life. None apologized ever even though I sought reconsiliation.
        Capt. Mark Dickson not Capt. Bruce Smith called all of the YWAM bases I had been on including Honolulu and spoke to the main leader ,all of whom said I had done nothing wrong and there had been an over reaction to the whole thing and they recommended me for Church Army. But the damage had been done for a life time . If I had only known it and Capt. Smith would never forget or forgave my acceptance into Church Army. and he would later destroy me.
        After completing my training I wanted to work in the prisons as a Chaplain and so Church Army sent me to a parish in Northern Ontario. After my time there I went to work in the prison system and remained in that becoming the head chaplain over all the 13 prisons in Alberta a first for the Church Army and drawing incredible anger from the Salvation Army who had always held that position.
        I went through much pain with the Salvation Army anger over them loosing their stronghold. Which was really sad as my mother was in the Salvation Army and if the war had not happened had been accepted into the Officers training in London.
        Capt. Bruce Smith became the National Director of Church Army and Capt. Reed Fleming a senior officer told me to watch my back as Capt. Smith was out to get me. He was overly homophobic and to look out. He told inappropiate gay put down jokes at church meetings .
        I did not listen I had been in the Church Army for 18 years and done an excellent job what did I need to worry about.
        I am not at either extreme of the gay issue , I am just me who loves people no matter their struggles in life . We all have them and only in Jesus can we find real hope and life. It is Jesus and a relationship with him that matters, not me .I have cared for gay people dying of Aides and welcomed them to use my shower and fed them meals and washed their cloths in my home , I was and I am a very kind man.
        I did not I could not imagine anyone holding a grudge and hatred for 18 years, I had very high respect for the Bishops, and leaders of the Church ,too high it seems and it did not enter my head that some could be as ugly as non Christians or worse.
        I lost my job at the prison for reporting abuse of prisoners ,one a guard for having a retarded female North American Indian prisoner naked on the floor in his control room with her legs spread apart and him looking in.
        The Director of the Church Army did nothing to stand up for me with the loss of my prison job. I was offered a Correctional Services Canada in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island as a Community Chaplain and a volunteer chaplain at the local prison.
        He told me it was a 5 year Contract with the federal Government and Capt. Darren G. Had been in the position for one year and had set things up, Capt. Smith told me to sell my condo and move 5,000 KM to Prince Edward Island.
        Foolishly I trusted the man and moved, when I got to the Island I went straight away to the Archdeacon to introduce myself , Archdeacon Morgan was very blunt and told me that Church Army had not asked him to assist me in any way. And secondly the officer who I was replacing had never met with him in a year, and attended a Pentecostal church not an Anglican Church which had not gone down well. He told me I was on my own.
        The Regioal Chaplain for Correctional Servies Canada John Tonks held a contract over my head for a whole year for me to sign, he kept promising to bring it and have me sign it for a 5 year contract with CSC but he never did bring it,it was a very cruel game he was playing. And CSC head Chaplain Chris Carr said nothing. Pierre Allard with the CSC Commissioner office knew me well and publicly acknowledged me for me excellent work as a Prison Chaplain later said he was sorry he did not keep an eye on what Rev John Tonks and Revd Chris Carr were doing reguarding my 5 year contract, he would not have let them play the games they were playng.
        I finally was tired of waiting for the contract to sign and so complained to Bruce Smith about it and he replied by throwing me out of the church Army and CSC failed me. I stuggled back to Edmonton and stayed with friends.
        A friend who an Edmonton police officer, when he found out about my same sex attraction drove me to a prostitute in his police car and was going to pay her to teach me to be a man, the police and Government did nothing and he has his job still. I have asked for an apology so many times.
        Capt Smith contacted all the Bishops and lamblasted me with who knows what all because of my SSA and the deed was done,

        Capt. Smith blackened my name right across Canada and made it impossible for me to be accepted by a Bishop and so I went to the breakaway Anglicans, Reformed Episcopal Church ,and they were as cruel and bigoted as Capt. Smith and made my life hell so called bishops who were failures themselves with such anger hate and arrogance I was not the first they destroyed driving me from one place to another right across North America.
        In 2010 Bishop Dorrington of the REC was cruel beyond words ,never have I met such a cruel man in my life,he tortured me emotionally until he broke me. He lied, he stole my money, he wrote to all my supporters and asked them to support him instead of me. The Psychologist he had forced me to go to told me to get away from him and his group or they would destroy me . When I wouldnt resign the Phychologist wrote my resignation.
        And the sad part is that he did it to a priest before me and he told me he would write a letter about that priest so he never works as a priest again.
        I struggle to live each month for all my needs and bills and go hungry most of the time . I cannot afford the means to live , I trusted people and they let me down . In January 2011 alone and hated by homophobic leadership, bullied and lied to by bishops I trusted with my life. I drove out into the Countryside and in a farmers field took 200 pills , a passing farmer found me unconscious in a coma and called for help, I remained in a coma in hospital , I did not want to die .
        So much hate from those who should know better.
        The Doctors in Quebec told me there had been too much loss in my life for me to handle ,from being thrown out of the church Army onwards, and it was time to take care of me ,after 20 years as a prison chaplain and 13 as a palliative care chaplain. And then go back to what I did so well,
        I went to a priest I knew In PEI , it was there I met some american christians who came up to me in a coffee shop where I was using the free internet. They had noticed my Franciscan Habit . I was so lonely that I accepted their invitation to come to their home for a meal and christian meeting.
        Over a few months I got to know them ,things did not seem right ,they were controlling and closed,ridged in their beliefs . I was becoming uncomfortable around them and the things they said. then one day they told me I had a homosexual demon and they wanted to pray over me to deliver me. Again I was shamed and put down I knew there was no such gay demon, we parted ways .
        The whole of my life has been a struggle because of people who hate. I had been on the Board of COPE along with Monty Lewis and Frank Constintino the founders of Bridges, both men sided with Church Army/Threshold ministries and refused to give me a job while they were living. Now their daughters have thrown me out of Bridges, all based on a lies and hate .
        My life is over, a good man destroyed by those who hate and those who look the other way. Thank you Canada .
        No one will hire me , choosing to believe the haters instead of the hated.

        Since becoming a Canadian citizen 38 years ago pledged to stand up for what is right, to uphold the law of this country. I have honored this pledge by giving my whole life to the vulnerable in this country; to the young, the elderly, the sick, the dying, to prisoners and anyone in need. I have not been honored back. Since coming to Alberta as a chaplain 29 years ago, I have on many occasions reported the verbal, sexual and physical abuse of such people around me and under my care. I stood up for what I believed was the right thing to do. In return, I became a target of the same abuse. First, the very people that were put into places of public trust and responsibility over me, people in the church, in government and the police, told me to keep quiet. Then, when my conscience would not let me do so, I was verbally, physically and sexually assaulted. My own church and employers slandered and blacklisted me across Canada, the US and Great Britain. The fact that I was sexually abused as a teenager and still struggle with same-sex attraction was used as a weapon against me, even though I have honored my vows to God and the church by being celibate for 42 years. My stand for the vulnerable cost me my career, my home and my health.
        I am 62 years old, and I am saying enough is enough! Enough turning the blind eye to church officials, government employees and police officers that have made it a lifestyle to break of the laws of this country. Attached to this letter you will find a copy of the complaint that I recently submitted to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. It provides many of the names of people, charitable organizations and corporations that have punished me for exposing the abuses being perpetrated in their midst. It is my sincere hope that you will consider my case and use the authority given to you by God to defend the vulnerable members of our society. Let the people around you know that you are serious about institutional corruption and the protection of whistleblowers.
        Rev. Canon Richard Weber,

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