Philip Yancey headshotGrowing 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, guiding 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 explored 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 17 million books in print, published in over 50 languages worldwide. In his new memoir, Where the Light Fell, Yancey recalls his lifelong journey from strict fundamentalism to a life dedicated to a search for grace and meaning, thus providing a type of prequel to all his other books.

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.”

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537 responses to “About Philip”

  1. Arti says:

    I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your book, “Where the Light Fell”. Reading it has stirred deep emotions within me, as I have gone through similar experiences within the realm of the church. I’m eager to explore more of your writings and continue my journey towards knowing God better.

  2. Dan Kimeu says:

    Mr. Philip,
    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    I don’t think there is any other author whom I have found captivating and inspiring as you, Philip! I first read, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” in 2017 and it has become my annual must-read. I gave the first copy I had to a friend, who also gave it to another friend. The book is almost in the tenth hand and everyone has the same testimony – My salvation is full of grace than before! While reading “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” God impressed on me to teach and write about forgiveness. I haven’t had anything published yet, but as someone recovering from bitterness, forgiveness, and legalism, your work has given me a reference point. I have already acquired a copy of “Where is God When it Hurts?” and the first few pages are already shaking my long-held beliefs.

    This is a thank you note and hope one day, before the sun sets for both of us, I will meet you. Either virtually or physically.

  3. Ann-Elise Grosser says:

    Procrastinator that I am, I’ve been meaning to write for months to thank you for your revelatory and beautiful memoir. Today is the day. Since I am only a couple of years older than you (I think your brother was probably in my class at Wheaton, but in a clean-out phase, I no longer have my yearbooks to check!), I grew up in the more fundamentalist era, tempered by Northern liberalism and a pastor dad who had experienced a more eclectic church upbringing than many. I could certainly resonate with a lot of the things you experienced, but not the pain that you shared so poignantly.

    Thank you for so honestly sharing your story, and for all your years of probing issues of faith deeply and causing us, your readers, to think. And praise God that, in spite of all the experiences which seemed to contradict grace, that grace penetrated your life and made you a servant to the church.

    I thank God for your and your wife and trust that He will allow you to have many more years of provoking us to think more deeply about who He is and who He wants us to be.

    Ann-Elise Grosser

  4. Samuel F. Jonas says:

    Dear Mr. Phillip Yancey,
    The rationale behind this note serves to express my gratitude towards you for shaping my thought world in the way you did.
    “What’s So Amazing About Grace”, amongst your other publications, has been a great blessing. I purchased my first copy about 18 years ago and have since blessed others with copies too.
    My family and I plan to visit the USA in June 2023. My prayer is that the Lord fashion a way for us to meet during our ministry tour.
    Thank you for sharing and causing great joy in our lives.
    Yours in writing
    Rev. SF Jonas

  5. […] article originally appeared on the author’s website on October 28, 2021. Learn more about Philip Yancey. To find his books, click […]

  6. Christopher N. Oubre says:

    I had watched the very funny film, “What About Bob?” 2 or 3 times before settling on the one kernel I should take away on my spiritual journey: When Bob (Bill Murray) is interviewed by a reporter, he says, “I treat people as if they were telephones. If I meet somebody who I don’t think likes me, I say to myself, Bob, this one’s just temporarily out of order. You know, don’t break the connection just hang up and try again.” This quote kept returning to me, and I began to ponder “waiting on the Lord” and “…in God’s time”. I could see Bob was really talking about patience, faith and forgiveness by suspending his judgement. And I believe Bob was giving me a sneak-preview to the true nature of our Lord! What if God actually spends 99% of His time forgiving and loving unconditionally, but only 1% of His time judging and punishing? And what if He doesn’t judge us until we stand before him, and he asks us, “Who do you say I am?” Perhaps from the day we are born, He lovingly and patiently waits for us to see the light (or answer the phone). And Perhaps until that fine day, He sees most of us as being just “temporarily out of order”. Perhaps He knows something we cannot understand… that most of His children who are not believers yet are actually “Future Believers”?

  7. Scott Malm says:

    I loved reading your book The Gift of Pain. I am writing a book about addiction and recovery and would like to quote some passages in this book. Is there someone I can contact for permission? I have worked in medicine for 30 years. The message from that book made me rethink how I viewed not just physical pain but emotional pain. I would appreciate it if this is a possibility.
    Thank you for all you do.
    Scott Malm

    • Philip Yancey says:

      There’s a “fair use” understanding in copyright that lets you quote around 250 words without applying for permission, as long as you credit the source. If longer, write us a

      I’ve often thought of the parallels between physical and emotional pain. Worth exploring further!

  8. Brian Terry says:

    I sure had my eyes opened reading your book “What’s so amazing about Grace”. When I became a Christian everything was black and white. I went to a fundamental Church and sent my children there. When our children would ask us questions of why this or that we would just say whatever the Pastor and or the school said is right. I fell now I will have to say I am sorry to my children after reading your book. I am 74 and realize I should have to talked to them and listened to them. I really was taken back by what you said about skirt lengths and hair length etc. The Pastor of the church we attended ended upon running around on his wife and eventually committed suicide. There is so much more I have learned I wouldn’t know where to start. Thank you so much for writing such a book that causes people like me to think for themselves and extend Grace to people instead of always judging them. I have learned a lot.

  9. Alexandra Gilligan says:

    Mr. Yancy,
    I was given your book sole survivor because it reminded a my friend of me and my story. I’m going to start reading it and seeing if there are any parallel things. I also plan on emailing you further with a few highlights. Everyone I know is still alive and so I’m trying to honor my mother and protect christs bride. I’m a Jesus lover and freak with a faith that doesn’t make sense of why i have such an unbreakable faith. But it’s JESUS! He was there for me when I was that child, teen, young adult and now. Everything has been thrown at me I’ve fallen through every crack in some of americas pillar Christian’s . You may even know my parents being in Chicago. Thank you for having such courage to write such a book and I want to know how you did it.

  10. Dori Rieder says:

    Thank you so much for your book “Where the Light Fell”. It has churned up much in my soul because I have a similar past experience with the church. I would like to know which of your books I should read next. I want to know God better. Thanks!

  11. Dear Philip,

    Your books with Dr. Paul Brand have changed my life. Several years ago, I read “In the Likeness of God” with my dear friend, Bob Snyder M.D. Similar to your relationship with Dr. Paul Brand, I am significantly younger than Bob. Almost fifty years, in fact. Through a series of incredible circumstances, Bob asked if I would write a book with him. I was nineteen years old at the time. You can imagine how difficult it was for a nineteen-year-old and a seventy-year-old to write together in a unified voice. We searched and searched and prayed and prayed for a solution, until we found “In the Likness of God.” Your relationship with Dr. Paul Brand and your amazing work together inspired us and acted as our model for “Come, Walk with Me.” We published “Come, Walk with Me” in 2020. If you are interested in reading it, you can download a free electronic copy here:

    Thank you so much for your hard work and dedicated service to God. I am honored to call you my brother in Christ.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Dr. Brand and I were 61 and 25, respectively, when we met. I’m so glad you followed in our footsteps! You may know that I went back and updated/revised the two books in one volume: Fearfully and Wonderfully.

  12. Lokesh C says:

    I like that content, Thanks for sharing about Philip Yancey.

  13. Ted Boswell says:

    Just a word of thanks & encouragement. Your book “Soul Survivor” gave me fresh & richer insights into 8 or so of the people who had also touched my life (I’m now 68) as well as introductions to others of mere acquaintance. I just sent the book to a former high school student of mine now in college (I send her one a year) because, as I wrote her, it can help her see and experience how richly diverse Christians & Christianity are, helping us avoid (as the Japanese proverb puts it) being a frog in a well that does not know the ocean (and in some cases helping us survive wounds from those wells). Living in Africa & Japan as well as the US and working with & reading about many different kinds of Christians as a pastor, missionary & bookaholic has helped me so much, and your book will help my younger friend broaden her horizons a bit more quickly. How fortunate we are to be able to grow through fellow pilgrims across the globe and the centuries, so like and unlike us. And how fortunate I am to read your writing & share it to help with that. Their 13 lives & testimonies still live to edify so many more through the gift of your book. Thanks from the heart.
    May he who set the galaxies ablaze keep your heart burning for him. – Ted B

  14. Cheryl says:

    I just finished rereading What’s So Amazing About Grace, since my pastor chose it as this year’s Lenten study book. I finished it with a renewed sense of God’s grace in my life, and that multiplied after reading Where the Light Fell. I spent my childhood and early teenage years in a strict fundamentalist church, and I found myself saying, “Me too!” throughout the book. I don’t think I realized how profoundly those years shaped me in both positive and negative ways until I finished Where the Light Fell.

    After reading What’s So Amazing About Grace for the first time, I wrote a short devotional about it for my church’s Lenten devotional book written by members of the congregation. It is a little snapshot of my “Me too!” and my journey to a deeper understanding of grace. I wanted to share it with you to let you know how you have been part of my faith journey,

    “In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:5-6
    I was well aware of my sins from a very young age. In my childhood church, sermons on Sunday mornings and evenings were filled with images of hellfire and brimstone, and in Awana some of the first verses we memorized included Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23a, “For the wages of sin is death.” Around Halloween, the church youth ministry would host a “hell” house with frightening rooms filled with “demons,” darkness, and large knives and bloody bones (thanks to a butcher who was a member of the church)—followed by a message on hell and an invitation to repent and be saved. Much of my childhood prayer life was spent begging God to save me from the horrors of hell, in the fear that I was not sincere enough in my young faith to truly be saved. My parents changed churches when I was a junior in high school, and it was then that I began to more fully understand grace and that God’s grace was greater than all of my sins. I did not need to live in fear but could find peace in God’s grace and forgiveness. I love the way Philip Yancey explains this in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace. He writes about breaking the cycle of ungrace (my childhood understanding of sin), and he relates it to the story of the prodigal son. I grew up being told that we were either one son or the other—a prodigal who needed to repent of his sin, or a brother who needed to repent of his self-righteousness and resentment. Yancey says that this misses the point of the story–the point is actually the father’s outrageous love for his son. For the first time I understood that the story of the prodigal son is really about extravagant grace and forgiveness, and that is what I had missed in my childhood church experience.”

  15. Karl Franklin says:

    Yancey is a famous writer who has written 25 books and this one should make him even more renowned. Autobiographies can be vain and boring, but this one is not. It is a catalogue of stories that reveal the lives of three main characters: Yancey, his brother Marshall, and his mother.

    The stories are vivid and highly personal, revealing the good, bad and ugly of each life, often with emotional descriptions that will make you cry. It is also well edited and has a professional literary aura about it. There are few Christian books that I have read that uncovered my own personal and emotional responses like this one.

    I can identify with Yancey in a number of ways: his fundamentalistic churches and strict Bible school teaching mirrors my own. However, my family was not religious like Yancey’s and my brother turned out better than his. I was never bothered by stories of drugs, although alcohol was a big part of my father’s life.

    I too met my future wife when washing dishes in the college kitchen. I also questioned the sincerity of Christians and legalism but, unlike Yancey, music was not important early in my life, mainly because music lessons were forced upon me.

    Yancey’s father died of polio when young and his mother was left to provide for the brothers, the eldest whom she vowed should be a missionary. She was in the service of churches and pastors for most of her life and expected her sons to follow in her steps.

    However, Yancey was fortunate and did not. Although he was raised in the south with the racial prejudices of his sub-culture, he had a wide variety of friends and experiences that allowed him to evaluate what was right and good. His mother was poor and eked out a living by working for churches and living in what today would be called “substandard” conditions. She did send her boys to Bible school and fully expected them to “serve the Lord.”

    Yancey gives humorous as well as pathetic accounts of his early life, including living as “trailer trash” and getting in trouble in schools—most often because of his renegade brilliance.

    Several long stories center on Marshall, his older brother, and chronicle his decay into drugs, women and failed marriages, followed by physical and mental problems. It is a sad story and one that can be repeated, in many ways, by other families. Yancey doesn’t attempt to tell us the theological reasons for his brother’s downfall, concentrating more on his own short comings and eventual repentance and forgiveness. Most of the credit for his success must surely go to his wife Janet.

    This is probably not the book to take along to a “spiritual retreat” for discussion, mainly because it is far too raw and honest. Better to read it at the seashore with sunglasses and a drink of lemonade in your hand. You might not want people to see you wiping your eyes and reflecting on your own shortcomings and repentance.

    I applaud Yancey for his disarming honesty and for giving us a story that will cause us to reflect about our own life and also to thank God for his wisdom and grace. As we say at our church, “To God be the glory.”

    Karl Franklin
    March, 2022

  16. Susan Hein says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    I can’t begin to thank you enough for writing ‘Where The Light Fell’. I just finished it this morning and found myself reading out loud portions of the final chapter to my husband with tears falling down my face. We both are graduates of the counseling graduate program that CCU hosted under Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Dan Allender in the early 1990’s. We had the privilege of meeting you and your lovely wife a few years ago when you were the guest speaker at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church’s Chautaqua@Creek event.

    Growing up in an evangelical home centered on ministry service I’ve come away with gratefulness for being introduced to Jesus at a young age and yet as an adult woman, have needed to untangle many threads of what beliefs were founded on Jesus and what were from cultural Christianity. It’s been an important journey and one that I hope is resulting in opportunity to invite others to a walk with God based on grace and not fear. I’m grateful for how your memoir allowed me to reflect on my own journey and recognize His embrace and mercy weaved throughout.

    Thank you for struggling well and for your gifted, grace filled writings.


  17. Mike Courian says:

    Philip, I just listened to your conversation with Carey Nieuwhof, and was deeply moved by it. Thank you for your gracious honesty. Thank you for your hopeful vision of ‘suffering redeemed’. Thank you for for being you.

    Grace and peace,


  18. Jim Hickman says:

    I have just finished reading Where the Light Fell. It is a powerful book with a needed message, as are your other books.

    Though my life was different than yours, there were elements of your story that sparked memories for me. We are about the same age (I’m two years older). We each grew up in a conservative church. We each attended a Bible college, though the school I attended has closed its doors. We each had learned pastors who were regarded as Bible scholars; mine sometimes illustrated his sermons with humorous stories about “darkies,” and was the first person I recall using the “curse of Ham” justification for racial hierarchy.

    Though different forces had shaped her personality, my mother was given to angry, hurtful outbursts (my dad sometimes advised me to “walk on eggs” around her). Though I was raised as an only child, a picture of my infant brother in his casket, the brother who died before I was born, hung in our living room for most of my childhood; his death seems to have inspired my mother’s fascination with death and dying. Tragedy and death were so often on her mind that she couldn’t stop talking about what had happened to neighbors or in nearby towns, telling us in detail even when her two young and obviously unnerved grandchildren were visiting. She was often judgmental and unsympathetic. When I failed to be accepted by a graduate school I had applied to, she said, “God knew it would make you proud, so you didn’t get in.” Later, when I left the rural church I had served for a dozen years in west Texas to go to a suburban church in Ohio, she accused me of abandoning those good people for a big city church; again, because I was proud. The city was bigger, the church not that much bigger.

    Enough of this. While our life-paths did not run parallel, they sometimes veered close enough we might have offered each other a knowing look—though my look would have included a touch of pity for you; as a Pentecostal, I had been taught your spiritual experience was deficient. I’ll share another incident I hadn’t thought about in years until I read your book.

    I attended a Bible college where the dean announced one morning in chapel that anyone who wore a black armband to protest the Vietnam war would be expelled immediately. We were there, he explained, to devote our lives to more important matters than politics. No one wore an armband; the dean’s rules were unquestioned. At the time, I thought he was right.

    This same dean initiated a program where during one chapel service each week, a senior preached. So, during the spring of my senior year I was invited to preach to my fellow students and the faculty. I preached on Colossians 2:8-15, talking about how Christ’s work had made us “complete” (KJV language), stressing how Christ’s death had broken legalism’s power over us. When I finished, the dean commended me for the message and announced that following the benediction, all the female students were to remain in the chapel. I hadn’t crossed the campus before I was told how each woman was being required to come forward and kneel in front of a female faculty member. If a student’s skirt didn’t touch the floor, she was sent to her dorm to change and told never to wear such a short skirt again. Those who gleefully told me what was happening had not missed the irony of my message being followed by the dean’s actions.

    For a variety of reasons, I eventually left the Pentecostals and became a Baptist. Of course, I eventually realized legalism is not the province of just one group. Thank you for your efforts to help us all see the liberty Christ offers.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      What I love most about reactions to my memoir is that readers tend to tell their own stories in response. Yours is a prime example, truly heartfelt.


  19. Robert says:

    I, too, grew up in Dekalb county GA though ten or so years later than you. And, fortunately, I had a much more traditional (loving) relationship with my parents and family. It’s impossible to read your books, though, and not sense some of the underlying pain that you feel about your early years. And, now, after reading “Where the Light Fell” it makes much more sense. I can’t imagine what you went through growing up though I do know a good bit about the south and its intricacies. I also grew up just a generation or so from Primitive Baptist much like your fundamentalist upbringing. I’ve lived in other areas of the country (including Colorado where you live now) though I have come back to Georgia as it truly is home for me. But, Atlanta has changed so much that I live an hour or so away (just far enough!). And, thank goodness, the South has changed quite a bit too. Haven’t we all? Maybe just not as fast as many would like. Like you, I have had quite a journey from that fundamentalist type upbringing to where my faith is now. And, as you know, it continues to evolve. I’m not a theologian but a surgeon and I enjoy reading and exploring about my questions of faith. As I mentioned before, I have read most all of your books but have also enjoyed reading Bishop Jack Spong, Marcus Borg and Brian McLaren and would probably categorize myself as a member of the “church alumni association.” I’m curious to know if you have ever read some of these authors, and, if so, what your thoughts are.
    In short, I’m a true fan of your work and I hope you continue to write. I enjoy getting your monthly newsletter as well. We met one time at Montreat as I am also familiar with some of Dr. Brand’s hand surgery and I asked you about him.
    Thank you for all you do

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I haven’t read much of Spong, but Borg was helpful in researching The Jesus I Never Knew, and Brian McLaren is a friend and a favorite of mine. We’re all somewhere along the Order/Disorder/Reorder paradigm that Richard Rohr describes–especially those of us from the South.

  20. David Wood says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    This is the second time I have commented here. I tried replying to the initial comment and response you left, but my phone would not let me.

    In my first comment I shared briefly about a crisis of faith I was in the middle of concerning evolution. You replied with encouragement that was so unexpected, that it was almost jarring.

    You helped give me hope that there was resolution in the matter concerning my Christian faith.

    That was five years ago.

    I recently decided to write out my personal faith story over the Christmas holiday, covering my faith journey throughout my life and the crisis surrounding evolution that by the grace of God I did come to find peace and resolve in.

    I quote a passage near the end from “What’s so Amazing About Grace” where you quote C.S. Lewis that was incredibly helpful to me.

    Thank you again for being you.

    ~ David

  21. Colin says:

    Hi Philip,
    I am currently reading your book ‘Whats so amazing about Grace’ and want to thank you for it. It has been a great help to me to bringing to realisation my thoughts around what my attitude to many of the issues confronting Christians today should be; the answer is to be graceful of course. Have you revised the book ever? I see it was written in 1997, if it was relevant then it surely is relevant today. It should be compulsory reading for Christians to learn how not to be full of ‘ungrace’, how it saddens me when I hear harsh words spoken of others by those in debt to the Grace of God. One of my favourite portions of scripture is Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well; how tender he was with her. It oftens brings me to tears when I read it because I see my own history in that woman, thats what is so amazing about Jesus, his Grace.

    W.S.A.A.G. is the first book I have read of yours and it surely won’t be the last, thanks again.

  22. Georgia says:

    Hi Philip,
    I just wanted to say that your book, Reaching for the Invisible God, has brought me much-needed hope during an unprecedented and unexpected period of doubt in my life. I have always been academically inclined, and more likely to resonate with intellectual discussions about faith than stories of emotional experiences. Recently a friend of mine deconstructed his faith, and then decided to leave entirely. This amplified the discomfort I have been feeling for many years about the emphasis of evangelicalism on a personal relationship and emotional experiences with God that I simply could not relate to, as much as I wanted to. I am not an overly emotional person, but the journey of research and reading this has taken me on in order to better understand the Christian faith, why people deconstruct and what I truly believe, has been heart-rending. The ground feels like it has been shifting as I am re-examining much of what I was taught growing up in the church, and I have felt quite alone in knowing who to turn to to talk about my long felt but newly realised doubts. My husband is a pastor and has been wonderfully supportive, but as a pastor’s wife it is difficult to find a safe space to express these questions and doubts. I have been feeling quite overwhelmed, alone, discouraged and truly terrified that this journey will lead me to a place of unbelief, and what would I be left with then? A few days ago I was searching the book shelf for more books to help me sort through this time in the fog, and I found yours. The first few pages were a balm to my soul, somehow expressing perfectly what I have been feeling and the questions I have been wrestling with. I am not finished the book, or this process, but the knowledge that there are others who also wonder the same things is truly what I needed. It is also an answer to, not my, but my husband’s prayer that same day I found your book, that God would give me what I needed. I have hope that this process for me will result in a strengthened and more vibrant faith. Thank you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This is so well-expressed. You bring joy to my soul. I’ve just published a memoir, Where the Light Fell, which details my own struggle with these same questions. Keep reaching!

  23. Scott N says:


    Just sharing my gratitude for all your writing. It has been such a blessing in my life. I still have the NIV Student Bible my Mother gave me a few months after my Dad passed away from cancer when I was still in college. It is the Bible I recommend most to Parents and Students alike (I’m a NextGen Pastor). You always ask the biggest questions and tackle them in challenging, thoughtful ways. You are a treasure and gift to the Church, whose impact and legacy stretches to all 7 Continents…not just the one your Mother wished you went to serve. Thank you for following God’s path. Blessings. As it is almost Christmas at the time of my posting this, I hope you and your Family have a wonderful Season.

  24. Jennifer B Sharbono says:

    For a long time, you have been one of my favorite authors, helping me to keep pursuing the faith when church hurt made me want to disappear. Over time, I have seen how the Lord has used my own “dark night of the soul” to cut away at the fluff, shaping my joy to be found in Him alone. As I read your recent memoir (thank you for your honesty in writing), I grieved over your journey, but I also appreciated SO MUCH when you wrote that none of it was wasted. Your sorrow has been used to comfort so many of us. Your books, your insight, your wisdom…after reading, it is easy to see that so much of that was shaped in the valley. It could not have been easy, but thank you for not throwing it away. Death swallowed up in victory is something only Jesus can do, and you point us to Him through it all. Such a gift. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

  25. John Voigts says:

    Hi Phillip. Thank you for all you’ve done for the kingdom. My question is: what tradition or expression of the church do you worship in? My wife and I after 2 years of marriage are still in a discernment process about where to worship. We both grew up in fundamental churches and experienced some of the unfortunate aspects of that that you did. I’m feeling a strong pull to Catholicism or eastern Orthodox. She not so much. I life what I’m learning and experiencing as I explore widely, but we also want to settle somewhere.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      We currently attend a small Presbyterian church. We’ve sampled several traditions over the years, and choose based on the church community we feel most compatible with.

  26. Joyce Stewart says:

    Our church (House of Prayer, Blairsville, GA) plans to study What’s So Amazing About Grace in January.
    I have purchased the Participant’s Guide (Zondervan 2000) and the DVD (both have the pink cover with pasture and fence).
    I have 2 questions.
    ONE: What is the difference between the Participant’s Guide and the Study Guide.
    TWO: There are several editions on Amazon with the pink cover , pasture and fence. Several different years. Are the contents the same? I want to make sure all of our attendees have the same book. They buy their own books. Please advise

    • Philip Yancey says:

      The Participant’s Guide is tied directly in to the video, week by week. The Study Guide is more suitable for someone studying the book more intently, or leading a group study. It provides extra background and may be helpful for you, but isn’t tied in directly to the video group study. All the editions of the book itself, regardless of cover, are the same.

  27. EFRAIM SILVA says:

    Hello Philip, I’m Brazilian. My name is Ephraim. I was recently bombarded with advertisements, all over social networks, for a book of yours “The Question That Never Goes Away”. After seeing him so much in advertisements I started to ask myself, what question would that be?
    I got the book through an app and started reading it. And it’s really very interesting. The issue of suffering and where is God in it. I send this message, as I think it is a very relevant issue, and I would like to suggest it as a theme to be worked on by the group of young people I am part of. But, I lack arguments, and mainly ideas on how to suggest this. And also work on the subject.
    I would like to know if the brother would have any more books to recommend me, or any tips on passages that would be a good starting point to study more about the subject

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’ve written a lot about this topic. “Where Is God When It Hurts” and “Disappointment with God” convey some of my thoughts. I believe they are still in print in Portuguese, although you are fluent in English. That’s good you’re asking these questions while young!

  28. Ashley Varnado says:

    I am a huge fan and have read nearly
    all of your books-multiple times! I grew up as a Pastor’s kid in a pretty strictly religious home. My experiences with the church, and personal hardships association with the PK life left me quite bitter and disillusioned. It certainly left me with feelings of disappointment with God! It really resonated with me when you spoke about disappointment with God being associated with the difference between the Jesus you learned about growing up in Sunday School and then the ‘Jesus You Never Knew’. As a Mother now, I am very cognizant of trying to avoid my children growing up with that image of Jesus and the gospel that I grew up with. Would you ever consider a children’s book or devotional?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you for the encouragement. I’ve had some discussion about youth and children’s books. Still thinking about it…

  29. Michael says:

    Hi Philip! I am a Christian and have been helped by many of your books. For the 6 months I have been wrestling a great deal with nihilism. Life can just feel so meaningless, and the world is filled with so much pain, I can’t understand why God made people at all. What’s the point of our earthly life?! It just seems like the bad far outweighs any good that can come of this short life.

    I have recently read and resonate w/ Tolstoy (Anna Karenina) . I also resonate with the writer of Ecclesiastes. I am hoping you have some resources (that you have written or read) that deal with these hard realities but push me more toward hope and purpose.

    Let me know. Thanks so much for your service to the hurting.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I know that acedia well. I’ve written a bit about it in 2 books: A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith and Disappointment with God–as well as in the memoir just published, Where the Light Fell. Simone Weil is one who understands…

  30. Debbie Lees says:

    I’m reading and loving “The Jesus I Never Knew.” Years ago, I read and liked several other books of yours. I’m visiting a terminally ill dear relative. This book was on his wife’s book shelf. I just finished watching “The Chosen” written and directed by Dallas Jenkins, son of Jerry Jenkins. So many questions you’ve raised are now so clearly seen in this series! I’d encourage you to check it out. It can be watched for free via an app from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store: “The Chosen-TV Series.”

  31. Jaywant Michael says:

    Hello Philip!
    I wonder if you remember your trip to Doha, Qatar in February 2009. On the 6th I was one of your several drivers and took you to the venue – the school where you spoke and dropped you back. I am not sure if you remember me, by that is it unimportant.

    I am just wondering what topic has seized your interest during the pandemic and if there is a new book in the pipeline.

    I must also admit that I have used many illustrations from your books over the years of leading a study from our home that has now morphed into a zoom study.

    And yes, I am still in Doha! 🙂

    Remain blessed,


    • Philip Yancey says:

      I remember that very well because the government had canceled an agreement to use a theater and our hosts scrambled to come up with an alternate venue!

      Check out the Books section on my website. From the dropdown menu, choose “All of Philip’s books”: the first two listed are the ones I’ve been working on, one now published, one due out in October.

      Good to hear from you! Philip

  32. Oie Osterkamp says:

    Hello Philip! I am re-reading The Jesus I Never Knew for the umpteenth time and was wondering if you are watching the series The Chosen. If so, would be interested in your thoughts. Thank you!

  33. Paula Paula Malimba says:

    Good morning, Sir

    I have just read in Devotionals Daily your write up Do Yo Want To Know God?

    You asked at the end “Why doesn’t God do what we want Him to?” and “Why don’t we act the way God wants us to?”
    And I ask, as a parent do you do everything your child wants you to? Of course not. That kid throwing a tantrum
    at 8 PM because Mum/Dad would not give them the chocolate bar they believe they are entitled to does believe that their parents are just being mean and inconsiderate of their suffering. What the kid does not know is that the parent denying them the chocolate worries more about their wellbeing, the effect sugar has on their health right before bedtime, their teeth and all the chocolate they’ve already eaten that day.
    God is sovereign and knows what we need, the things that I have in my life are the things that I need. What God did not give me was not needed. What God has meant for me to have will never go to anyone else and even if I happen to lose something that was meant for me, I will get it back eventually because it was mine to begin with.
    God asks us to be obedient, and disobedience is our human trademark. When we learn to operate by faith, open up our hearts and our souls to the Holy Spirit for Him to take the lead and believe that Jesus died for me to pay the debt I owed by couldn’t pay, we open our lives to transformation beyond our wildest imagination.
    I lived the first 26 years of my life barely acknowledging God and praying sporadically whenever I wanted to, nothing I did back then ever went right. My life was in shambles and depression was looming at the horizon.
    Then I drastically switched during the following 26 years by opening my heart and soul to the Holy Spirit and praying on the daily. The difference in my life as I patiently built a relationship with God on the daily is like day and night.
    Yes, The Lord does what we want Him to do when we approach Him from a standpoint of selfless obedience and pray His promises daily. Just surrender onto Him and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and you will see.


  34. Dave Kline says:

    I’ve been a Christian all my life. I lead a small group Bible Study and have used your materials several times. I really enjoy your writing.
    I’ve never understood the difference between Evangelical Christians and ‘just plain Christians’. I read about Evangelical Christians on this web site but, to me, it just describes Christians. So, I guess I’m an Evangelical?? Can you help me by telling me the difference between Christians and Evangelical Christians?
    Dave Kline

    • Philip Yancey says:

      That’s a great question, and there are entire books written in answer. It’s refreshing to me that you don’t focus on the distinctions. Basically, evangelicals take the Bible more seriously than some other shades of Christians, and tend to emphasize a personal conversion experience and the importance of spreading the message to others. I prefer the term “Jesus followers,” keeping the focus on the one we follow.

  35. Emily says:

    Hello !
    I dont want to miss this opportunity to write to you to tell you how awesome it has been to read your writings. You intrigue me with your questions that I myself am too afraid to ask out loud. Your sheer honesty makes you human, therefore makes it feel okay for me to be also. The books I’ve read of yours are so thought provoking and inspiring I thank God for your gift. It’s so nice to see someone brave enough to be real. I look forward to reading more of your books (you have quite a few after all)
    Thank you for writing it has helped me immensely!!
    Ps Prince of Egypt movie was one of my fav movies growing up- did you actually write the script for it?!?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I didn’t write the script to Prince of Egypt. However, I wrote about it in a book published with the movie’s release, a chapter later adapted in The Bible Jesus Read.

  36. Kurt says:

    I would be curious to know what (if anything) you make of the Jordan Peterson phenomenon. In some of your books you’ve written perceptively about the lingering impact of Christianity on our post-Christian culture through organizations like Amnesty International and Alcoholics Anonymous. Is Peterson something similar? I don’t know what to make of him myself. He’s obviously not a Christian (it’s not even clear he believes in God) but he clearly takes the Bible seriously, and it’s refreshing to see that from someone in the elite. Is he a ‘noble pagan’ like the Church Fathers viewed Plato and Aristotle?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I don’t know enough to comment very lucidly. I’ve seen interviews in which he broke down in tears speaking of Jesus, and another in which he paused quite some time before answering that, No, he did not believe in Jesus’ bodily resurrection. I liken him to one of the philosophers Paul addressed so wisely in Acts 17–only, of course, Peterson is already familiar with the Christian story. He builds on a wide Christian base, and I’m sure he knows that. Reminds me of Tom Holland’s book Dominion, which credits Christianity for most of the good things in Western Civilization, while not buying into the underlying story.

  37. Gerald Polmateer says:

    Having spent 33 days in a hospital was something I needed to be able to visit people in the hospital. There was a time when a 76 year old man told me the doctors told him he had a 25% chance of living. I visited him each day trying to listen and encourage him. I walked into the waiting room where he was just before surgery and spoke with him. Nobody was saying a word and looked hopeless. I spoke with him and he was very anxious. I told him to let the doctors do the surgery and to trust God for the outcome. He immediately calmed down. His family was shocked I said that. The nurses told me they were waiting for him to calm down. As I left they thanked me. The next time I saw him he cried. Before that time people saw him as grump but after that time he was a changed man. He became grateful. He lived for almost 15 years.

  38. Bill McDonald says:

    Hello Philip,
    Frankly, it has been a while since I’ve last read anything Yancy. However that does not mean I’ve given up reading in general or anything Yancy specifically.
    Actually, I have been trying to find a part of a story I read a long while ago, written by you, in which you describe the character, meaning the Lord, emphatically pleading with (all I can recall is) ‘a man in a hut’. After a considerable amount of pleading, the Lord finally turns away. Do you remember that story, if you do can you tell me which book it is from? PLEASE?!
    By the way, I was reading your story this morning and the statement, “Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me”, succinctly describes my experience having been raised in the Catholic church. I have been looking for a way to describe my experience for many decades, especially as I get older and realizing that there was and is some good that came/comes out of that whole chapter of my life. Being able to verbalize a description of my experience is a bit of a relief, frankly.
    I would appreciate hearing from you with respect to “that” book!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Sorry, Bill, but that story rings no bells for me. I did a word search on “a man in a hut” and turned up nothing. I wish I could help. –Philip

  39. Kormani says:

    I am currently writing two novels simultaneously, one of which is a dark fantasy set in the medieval era. Having to create fictional religions has been challenging being a man of faith, history suggests that people from different regions were susceptible to different beliefs, as far fetched as worshiping water its-self. Fantasy writing is a great medium to explore what may or could have been carried through to the modern era in terms of devotion.

    Then we have the darkside, and what beliefs and fuels them, the whispers from the void that quell the light. It is fascinating to explore as I continue to write.

  40. Melissa Andrews says:

    Hello Mr. Yancey,

    I just found your book “Christians and Politics: Uneasy Partners”. Though written for an election that now seems eons in the past, I am finding it perhaps even more relevant today. I wonder what you think now about this quote you shared in the book where a New York Times editorial “…warned that the activism of religious conservatives ‘poses a far greater threat to democracy than was presented by communism.'” At the time you wondered, “Could they seriously believe that?”

    Given the events of January 6, 2021, might that editorial have been a bit “prophetic”?

    I came to the website looking for a way to send that question to you, and stopped to read your latest blog post – Talking with the Other Side. I will try to take it to heart because I know it’s what Jesus would want me to do, but I am finding it very difficult to want to relate to fellow Christians who are willing to die on the swords of anti-abortion and homosexuality, but who see no need for social justice reform in this country. When you quote Schaeffer as saying that “few here questioned the assumption that persons are created in the image of God..” it is difficult to get others to see that people like Schaeffer really mean white people are created in the image of God. The rest of us? Maybe, maybe not.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share.

  41. Joyce Johnson says:

    Would you be willing to provide a Top Ten List of films you recommend – faith based or others. Thank you. My Small Group is presently studying The Jesus I Never Knew.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I have weird tastes in movies. Many of these are old, probably unavailable, so I’ll include extras. Don’t know if these are my Top Ten, but they moved me:
      Shine, In America, Sandakan 8, Stroszek, Scenes from a Marriage, Shy People, Amadeus, Apostle, Adu, As It Is In Heaven, East-West, God Grew Tired of Us, Greenfingers, To End All Wars, Hiding and Seeking, The Quartet, The Story of Luke, Mother and Child

  42. Heidi says:

    Dear Philip,
    I recently read,
    “We have lost the ability to create metaphors for life. We have lost the ability to give shape to things, to recognize the events around us and in us, let alone interpret them. In this way we have ceased being the likeness of God, and our existence is unjustified. We are, in fact, dead … We feed on knowledge which has long since decayed.”
    (Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian visual artist/painter, 1928-2000)
    Your book In His Image (you wrote with Dr. Paul Brand) sits here on my desk as I try to wrap my mind around the Imago Dei and what it means to “being the likeness of God”. There is this deep sense, a calling maybe, to make others aware of it anew.
    Your words are a balm and a bright light to me. You writing always seems to point the reader to this image of God in us. I just felt the need to let you know this and encourage you to continue!

  43. John Titus says:

    Dear Mr. Yancy,
    It was in the early 80’s when I read an advertisement in Christianity Today where you asked for information about the Children Of God cult. I responded by writing you that I kept a journal all the time I was in the group (8 years). You encouraged me to keep the journal and use it as history. That inspired me to write a memoir, but my teaching duties put it on the back burner. Recently I did complete it and I put it online for free ( I just wanted to thank you for that initial spark. My favorite book that you wrote is Reaching For The Invisible God.
    John Titus

  44. Kurt says:

    I recently read “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and I find myself trying to apply the lessons I learned from it everyday. To be honest I am, by personality and church background, a legalist, and for much of my life I have lived with a conception of God as a kind of stern parent or teacher who keeps a ledger of all my successes and failures. That’s also the way I’ve treated my friends and family for as long as I can remember. Your book is helping me recover for that. Thanks.

  45. Hannah says:

    I picked up ‘Reaching for the Invisible God’ off a rather neglected bookcase. Reading it gave me words to put to feelings I couldn’t name, and perhaps most importantly the sense that I was not alone in feeling doubt and dryness, and then anxiety and fear in response to the doubt. I found the book so helpful, and encouraging in its frank honesty. It was refreshing to be reminded that although God is unlikely to magic a solution to all of my fears and doubts, that he is steadfast and sure in his promises. I have been encouraged to ‘practice’ my faith like I would practice an instrument, and in all things to trust a God who revealed himself as Jesus Christ. Thank you for writing these books, and I hope that you will continue to use your gift for words to walk alongside those who struggle with doubt.

  46. James Fischer says:

    Hi Philip. I’ve been reading your book “Prayer, Does it Make any Difference” over the last couple weeks. I have really enjoyed the perspectives you offer. It has given me additional assurance in growing my relationship with God. One of many thoughts to ponder is how we need to move from providing God a checklist of things we want Him to fix, and instead how prayer provides the vehicle with which we grow in relationship with God so He may change OUR hearts to reflect His will. Today as I finished your book, my 7 siblings and I, along with my Mom prepare to say goodbye to my 89 yo Dad, who lies in a hospital with Covid and only hours to live. As your book reveals, we don’t need all the answers. God still sits on the throne and is active and in control during the joys and the heartbreaks (as we may see it). We only see a small part of story. And that’s ok. Next up, The Jesus I Never Knew. Keep writing.

  47. Benjamin Simatupang says:

    Hi Philip,

    I’m from Indonesia, and I love to read your books. Currently I am reading “Reaching for the Invisible God”.
    Thank you for your writings. Hope you continue to writing books many years to come.


  48. Gift Otieno says:

    Mr Yancey,
    I’m originally from Kenya, but now lives in Sydney Australia. I love reading your books- l have most of them-. I came across “The Jesus l never Knew” while trying to settle into my new life in rural Australia. The cultural adjustment coupled with the differences in church life was really hard for me. I struggled with church especially and with what l saw as cultural practice more than church “culture”. I didn’t understand nor accepted ways of doing church here. I didn’t agree with what was tolerated and what was condemned.I remember telling a friend of mine, how l benefited more from listening to doctor Phil than my local pastor. I reclused into this judgemental spiritual superiority bigot who saw heaven for myself and hell for everyone one else. I’m thankful for the Jesus l never knew. It changed my life literally, it opened my eyes to the log in mine and taught me Gods view on all things great and beautiful. I’m thankful for the grace that l learnt from it, and the lesson that Jesus brought that l almost missed: “Between the cross and the empty tomb….there’s hope for each of us…

  49. Matt Befus says:

    Hi Philip, I’m a missionary in Latin America, Biology teacher/school administrator, and have greatly grown through your books. I listen regularly to the BioLogos podcasts, and just listened to this interview with Thomas Jay Oort about his views expressed in his popular book “God Can’t”. I cannot agree with the premise of mutual exclusivity between God’s sovereignty and God’s love. What I’ve learned from scripture, much from your exposition of it, it does not match. The idea is new to me. Have you written anything on this view you could direct me to? Here is the link to the podcast
    Thanks, Matt

  50. David Larkin says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    I finished your book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference on New Year’s Day, 2021. I have been reading books on prayer during my devotional time through 2020 and your’s was my 14th on the subject. I have always been a regular reader of scripture but my goal was to improve my prayer life. I am now beginning to feel guilty as I have been spending more time reading about prayer than actually praying.
    I wanted to let you know that I did enjoy your book and found it useful toward reaching my goal. I particularly liked your use of illustrating your points by including the stories and experiences of so many individuals. I also felt such a kindred spirit with you by the various authors you referenced because many of them are ones that I have read over my lifetime and I was surprised that anyone else today would have read some of these. I am thinking of Andrew Murray, Frank Laubach, George Muller, Thomas Kelly, Brigid Herman, and Rosalind Rinker.
    Even after reading all these books on prayer there is so much I do not understand about it. But my faith is in God and I will continue to pray, not so much for my wants and petitions, as to grow in knowledge and relationship with God.
    Thanks again for your book.
    Dave Larkin

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You have excellent taste in reading, as shown by that list of authors! I know what you mean about reading more about it than praying… –Philip

  51. Michael Chin says:

    Dear Philip,

    Thank you for all the books, especially the ones relating to the subject of suffering and pain. Have you written any book that specifically address the questions raised in Bart Ehrman’s book titled “God’s Problem – How the Bible fails to answer ….Why we suffer?” Or are there any book by any body else that refutes Bart Ehrman’s claims?


    • Philip Yancey says:

      I have not read that particular book by Bart Ehrman. The books I’ve written on that topic are Where Is God When It Hurts, Disappointment with God, The Question That Never Goes Away, and The Gift of Pain.. I doubt anyone has an answer that would satisfy Ehrman, however. –Philip

  52. David Turner says:

    Hello Mr. Yancey, Can you tell me if A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith is identical to Rumors of Another World–or have you edited and updated it in some way? Thank you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      It’s identical. The publisher changed the title a few years ago–which is probably a mistake in the days of the Internet. Old school, you’d find out about books through your bookstore. Now it’s anybody’s guess.


    Mr. Yancey,
    I was delighted to hear from you this morning. Thank you for your trouble in helping me locate the source of this story. Is it possible it is taken from “Where is God when it Hurts? I apologize for putting you to this much trouble. This is the last story I need to reference and my book will then go to formatting. I read quite a bit so I may have lost memory of where this story originated. If so, is it appropriate to still use it and if so, how would I reference it in the endnotes of the book? Thank you for your time. Your books have been so helpful to me.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m afraid it’s not mine, David. I may have read it somewhere too, but I didn’t write it. In your place, I would simply be honest in the endnote, saying that you were unable to track down the original source.

  54. Dear Mr. Yancey,
    Your books on grace are life changing. I am close to publishing first book: A Place for Grace: Find Yours!” There are at least two times I am using quotes from your book “What’s so amazing about Grace?” In that book I read the following story but now cannot find the page number to cite it in my endnotes. I’m curious if you might know what chapter or page it is included in so that I can cite the page number. Here is the story. “Not long after the Korean War, a Korean woman had an affair with an American soldier and became pregnant. He went back to the United States and she never saw him again. She gave birth to a little girl who looked different than the other children. In that culture at that time, that was unacceptable. Many women in that culture would in fact kill their children because they didn’t want them to face rejection. She didn’t do that. She tried to raise her little girl as best she could until the rejection became just too much. She did something that probably none of us could imagine ever doing. She abandoned her little girl to the streets.
    This young girl was constantly ridiculed. They called her horrible names. It didn’t take long for this little girl to draw conclusions about herself based on the way that people treated her. For two years she lived on the streets until finally she made her way to an orphanage. Then one day word came that a couple from America was going to adopt a little boy. All the children in the orphanage got excited because at least one little boy was going to have hope that day. This little girl spent the day helping the little boys get ready by cleaning them up, combing their hair, and wondering which one would be adopted by this American couple.
    The next day the couple came in. This is what the little girl recalled. She said it was like Goliath had come back to life. “I saw this man with his huge hands lift up each and every baby. I knew he loved every one of them as if they were his own. I saw tears running down his face and I knew if they could, they would’ve taken the whole group of kids home with them.” She said, “Then he saw me out of the corner of his eye. Let me tell you, I was nine years old but I weighed less than 30 pounds. I was a scrawny little thing. I had lice in my hair and boils all over me and scars all over my body. I was not a pretty sight.” She said this man came over to her and he began saying something in English she couldn’t understand and she looked up at him. Then he took his hands and laid them on her face. He was saying, “I want this one. This is the child for me.” THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO LOOK AT THIS

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m sorry you’ve had to go to all this trouble, but I don’t think this is my story, at least it’s not in What’s So Amazing About Grace. I did a word search using some of the key words from your account, and nothing showed up. Any other ideas? –Philip

    • Laura says:

      Hi David, Philip’s blog assistant here, it was written by Lee Strobel in his book The Case for Grace.

  55. Don Follis says:

    I loved the guest post by David Bannon in the fall. I read his Wounded In Spirit last year. It touched me deeply. I am ready to read it again this year as part of my Advent reading. What a lovely, poignant Advent book. Your Forward is so thoughtful and well done. I share part of Bannon’s tragic story in my own life. I wonder what Bannon now is doing and if there is any way to contact him. (You can email me privately, if you are willing.)

    By the way, I have read all your books, I think. Just the other day I was rearranging my bookshelves and was happy to see 6 or 7 of your books all their together. Back in the day, I loved What is so Amazing About Grace. The updated version of Fearfully and Wonderfully was great. I think my favorite of yours is Soul Survivor. It came at a very important time in my life. Thank you for being a good and faithful guide for me along the way.

  56. Chris Hogg says:

    Hello Philip — Jesus Christ came into my life and gave me His life in February, 1980; I was 38-years-old at the time. Sometime during that decade I purchased Disappointment With God, read it, and have been carrying it around from city to city ever since. Just took it down from the shelf and re-read it. So, so helpful, both then and now. And I have a question. Are you still in contact with “Richard” (his book about Job), and if so, can you share if he has resolved his struggle to believe in God? Thank you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Actually, I talked with “Richard” just last week. He has mellowed a lot, and does believe in God, though not the Christian understanding of reality–more a kind of spiritual humanism. Much progress, and I appreciate your concern. As you know, conversions at the age you mention are rather rare, so I’m sure you have your own story! –Philip

  57. SUSAN READING says:

    I have read several of your books over the years, having just finished “The Bible Jesus Read”. In the last chapter, you mention Revelation 5 which prompted me to listen again to Chris Tomlin’s glorious song “Is He Worthy?”.

    Your writing has blessed my life many times over. You have a way of expressing yourself that brings such clarity to my Christian experience. After reading a chapter in one of your books, I have a sense of experiencing the reality of Jesus in my life on a deeper level. All that to say, Philip, that your style of communicating really speaks to me…

    Thank You for your commitment to a calling that truly blesses me and, I’m certain, many others as well.

  58. Jeff says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,

    I just wanted to write and thank you for “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” I bought the book about 20 years ago, but I never read it until now. I have finished Part 1: How Sweet The Sound. I was overwhelmed with tears and moved to prayer. I can’t wait to finish the book. I have been a Christian for at least 35 years in a church that has historically placed a very strong emphasis on the doctrines of grace. Yet, grace never came alive in my heart like it did today. I had to express my gratitude (there’s that word again).

    Praise, Honor and Glory to God.

  59. Lionel Chan says:

    Dear Mr Yancey,

    Thank you for your gracious reply.

    Since leaving the local Church, we did some work focusing on solidifying our Chinese roots. How Chinese traditional ways contrast distinctly with the Western is how it recognises empathy driven parenting absent discipline and obedience to Sacred Authority, whatever the intention, ends up creating miserable narcissists that refuse to recognise inherited duties. Too much love and not enough Love perhaps, the latter which includes a bit more Yang and Rigour as part of it.

    Both the East and the West in recent times, under the influence of mechanisation, strayed too far on the side of guidance without love perhaps, even if the colonial mechanised dominance of the West arose out of the conditions of overdoing love without guidance/restraint/obedience. How to get the integrated and tempered balance once again seems to be the question of the hour, and your book again has been most helpful for us in nutting this out.

    God Bless,

  60. Lionel Chan says:

    Dear Sir,

    My name is Lionel Chan, I live in semi rural Australia. I used to attend a local Church. I never found a way that I could remain “loyal” to my Chinese heritage, and be Christian at the same time, it seemed to be asking me to say “Who are you to me mother” to my cultural heritage, and to the indigenous Spirit of this Land. Even as the Christianity here is thoroughly European in images, tradition, rhythm (Christmas and Easter in Summer and Autumn makes no sense, symbolically or corporeally) and sensibility.

    I found a copy of your “The Jesus I Never Knew” at a local book giveaway recently, I felt the need to find a way to thank you for writing it. I have not solved my conundrum, in many ways what you wrote confirmed many of my feelings that prevented my properly joining the community. What it has done however is to help me understand my host culture and community much better, the specific inheritances of what it means to be “White” that is never openly discussed, and those Westernised like myself absorb without awareness. So much anguish, and emphasis on refrain from both control (praiseworthy) and guidance (a bit problematic). It all makes a lot more sense now.

    I feel now a pull to come back to attending the local Church, even if only to reconnect with local community and participate in local charity work to which I feel a calling as well.

    My gratitude sir.

    Yours Faithfully,
    Lionel Chan

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I love this letter, Lionel. You show such a spirit of humble openness and authenticity. I pray that you’ll find what you’re looking for. I know that God will honor your charity work.

  61. Emily Dykstra says:

    Hi, Mr. Yancey-

    My husband has been unemployed for 16 months. We’re thankful for a solid church body who lets us be us. If we’re sad, we’re allowed to express it. If we had a breakthrough, we celebrate.

    We sold our house. We moved in with my Mom. And now it appears it would be best if we moved into a rental. There are a lot of losses.

    I was feeling particularly ashamed today and navigating it in prayer. I picked up your “Prayer: Does it make any difference?” book and found solace in these timely words: “As adults, we like to pay our own way, live in our own houses, make our own decisions, relay on no outside help. We look down upon those who live off welfare or charity. Faced with an unexpected challenge, we seek out “self help” books. All the while we are systematically sealing off the heart attitude most desirable to God and most descriptive of our true state in the universe. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus told his disciples, a plain fact that we conspire to deny.

    I was washed with comfort. The world tells me to be ashamed. My husband has a stellar resume but God has kept us in unemployment to form Christ in us. It’s hard, but it’s beautiful.

    Thank you for your book. It comforted me during such sorrow today. It turned my eyes to God’s goodness. I’m thankful.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      What a beautiful spirit you show! It’s one thing to write these words, and quite another to live them out. You lift my faith today. Bless you, and the millions like you facing similar challenges during this crisis. –Philip

  62. Elva says:

    I’ve been thinking about you lately and your book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” (What a great title) And how you deftly redefine the word to mean “social justice”. I’m sure you thought the true church would react by going back to works. And I know Christians don’t do a lot of thinking, but they do have the Holy Spirit. So, they just ended up reading it and thinking, “I should do more to show Christ’s love to others!” And never once considered social justice the Answer. They’re still voting Republican. Oh dear. It was a good effort, though! Hey – watch out for those peaceful protestors! 😉

  63. Jim Griffith says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    I wanted to check in on your blog today just to thank you for helping me through an incredibly distressing time in my life.

    This ongoing pandemic has combined with unrelated health and economic setbacks to really take a severe toll on my family. A “reflexive Christian,” (raised Baptist, drifted in and out of different denominations from college years deep into my 40s), I have tried to turn to God and fight through all this with Him, but I realized I didn’t know how. I knew plenty of Bible stories from childhood Sunday School classes but didn’t know how to connect with God to help understand my own story. An extreme introvert who is also very shy, I’ve always had a hard time “doing church” as an adult. I would have mild panic attacks in the parking lot before Bible Study. If I summoned the courage to get through the small group, I’d often spend the service saying prayers I didn’t understand, and singing familiar hymns that didn’t move me.

    So when COVID, and job loss, and the deaths of my kids’ grandparents, and depression, and anxiety all joined forces to wallop my family and send me careening onto on my backside, I seemingly had no way to pull myself back up. Nothing to cushion to the blow. I of course thought of turning to God, but faced the prospect of more confusion and dry, empty prayers.

    And yet, I turned to Him still. Things all came to a head a few weeks ago. I was lying on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom, trying to coax her to sleep (kids’ mental health has really suffered in this ordeal) while a million problems raced through my mind. I pushed those out of the way long enough to issue a guttural, silent prayer that came up from a well of despair I’ve never felt before.
    I think it was something like:

    “Oh my God, are you there? Oh God I don’t know if I can keep this up. Oh God this is too hard, and I’m too alone, and the world is making me feel like a helpless baby. My God, I need something. Not a miracle. I just need something, I need to know you’re there. I know there’s enormous suffering out there, and hardships I can’t relate to, and I don’t want to take anything away from them God, but I need to hear you. Maybe I’m thick-headed, and that’s okay, but I see so much pain here, and suffering, and helplessness and hopelessness, God, and that’s okay God, I will keep doing my best, but oh God I just need you to show me something.”

    A couple days later I was killing time in a used bookstore, for the air conditioning as much as anything else. I saw “Reaching for the Invisible God.” I am an avid reader with diverse tastes, but I have never bought a “Christian book” before. Never occurred to me. Didn’t really see how anyone could have the time for it. “The Bible ways what it says,” I figured. “Always has, always will. Believe or don’t, but I don’t see why we need to argue about what it says.”

    I bought this book. Read it. Loved it. And I now have an entirely new perspective on Him, what he promises me, and what it’s like to know Him. Of particular comfort are the passages about Jesus’ ministry as “The Rosetta Stone,” and your comparison of spiritual practice to music practice. Have to play the scales before you can dazzle them with a concerto. These days I am much calmer. More secure. More faithful. More confident. Better for my wife and kids, undoubtedly. I am returning to Jesus’ ministry at points of confusion. And I’m learning to “play the scales” (regular prayer times, Bible readings in the morning), and really PLAY them, for the first time in my life. Above all, I don’t feel so alone.

    Did God put your book in front of me and push me towards it? I don’t know. I have no idea if he intervenes in my life (or anyone’s) like that. And that’s okay! Moving forward, I will continue to read, pray, work hard, avoid sin, love everyone, and leave the rest to Him.

    Thank you again for writing this books all those years ago. You helped me beyond measure. I hope you’re doing well.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This is so gripping and personally touching. I can never thank you enough for taking time to tell your story. It offers a glimpse of what millions of people may be going through right now, in the midst of this pandemic. “Reaching” is one of my most personal books, and I feel that we’ve connected on a deep level. You inspire me to keep reaching, keep searching, and keep writing. Bless you as you continue to navigate these stormy waters. –Philip

  64. Janine says:

    After my 4 children went to heaven I devoured your books. Looking for answers. U didn’t give me answers. U gave me more questions. I liked that. Finally someone who didn’t know. Finally someone who was honest. Then on your list book I got it!!! God loves me, I won’t get the answer to the why and God loves me and God wants a relationship with me. That’s it. U taught me that. That’s all I needed to know. God wanted to know me. My children were safe. So thank u. Yes I’m still broken hearted. I live in Zimbabwe. My heart swells here with my people and God has a special calling for us. Oh how I love my God. Thank u for listening to Godnand writing those books. May God bless u. Janine Milliken.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This comment stuns me, and warms my heart, Janine. Haven’t I seen your name on my Facebook page a few times?

      4 children! My, that’s unimaginable. I know that hurts deeply: grief is where love and pain converge. You’ve known a lot of both. –Philip

  65. Gabi Osorio says:

    Years ago I had the opportunity to reald The Jesus I never Knew (English version), I still have that book with me ; then I got in my hands “Gracia Divina Vs. Condena Humana” the title in spanish never attracted me, I start reading it because it was a Philip Yancey book and The Jesus I never Knew really touched me. I couldn’t finish the “Gracia Divina Vs. Condena Humana”… but this afternoon my dad found the english versión… “What’s so Amazing About Grace” and that tile immediately got my attention, I forgot I had it as a gift from a Pastor I meet in North Carolina, making a long story short I started reading tonight and what a much difference feeling. First the title in english means much more… it is like when you have found something great and want all your neighbors to know… I felt like the woman that lost that coin and then found it was the feeling I got with the english title that I couldn’t get with the spanish one… Spanish is my mother tongue… now that I am reading it in the original language, I can’t stop reading the book is making me realize that even though I was taught a lot about grace I wasn’t really living under that grace and showing others that grace… thanks for writing and reminding me about it… I like that part that you far rather convey grace thank explain grace… I pray I can convey grace too…

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’ve always wondered about that title in Spanish (my wife grew up in Colombia and Peru). You confirm my suspicions. Now you too can be a grace-dispenser!

  66. Gina L. says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    Thank you for the information about Richard – no doubt about it, I will keep praying for him. I wish that he might see that it is obvious God cares about him. Your book was written 32 years ago – and God had me read it and put a deep burden on my heart for him. It is God reaching to him again! No doubt in my mind.

  67. Gina L. says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    I just finished your book Disappointment with God. Wow! But I actually came away from it with a huge burden – for Richard. I kept hoping that by the last chapter you would say that Richard finally made peace with God and is walking with him (I didn’t make the connection with your dedication at the front of the book). I prayed for him all through the book – especially when I saw that he was still choosing not to believe at the end. I realize it has been several years since this book was written, so I am hoping things have changed for him? This continues to haunt me for some reason – and I am continuing to pray for him. One thing that occurred to me (probably way too simplistic, but . . .) is that one difference in Job and Richard is that Job did not have Jesus! We do. And Hebrews 11 is full of people who didn’t necessarily get an “answer.”

    I would also just like to thank you. The book bent my thinking in so many ways. At one point I was literally on my face before the Lord in tears, thanking Him for His amazing love (chapter 13 for one) – and there were chapters where my feeble brain struggled to keep up (chapter 27). I have not experience the depth of suffering and disappointment like many in your book, but I have had some times of deep uncertainty, fear, and confusion. Part of me wanted to give up – and yet I thought to myself, there is nowhere else to go! I have to have Him! And I have continued – thank the Lord! That only deepens my burden for Richard. It breaks my heart to think of him still away from the Lord. Do you have any news about him?

    Thanks again! I have already bought some extra copies of your book to share with others. May the Lord bless and encourage you and keep teaching you amazing things!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I love this letter. It warms my heart to hear that something I wrote years ago has such an impact on you. I especially appreciate your concern for Richard. He’s gotten past his anger, and is open to spirituality, more of the New Age kind. He welcomes your prayers. –Philip

  68. Rachel says:

    It was very nice to stumble upon this article of your bio. I have heard of you, as both of my parents view you as one of their favorite authors. But I have just recently come upon your books on my own, the latest one being “Reaching for the Invisible God”. I was excited when I read in this bio article that you are called to reach out to those who live in the borderlands of faith. I believe I am one of those, as I frequently view myself as a Christian agnostic, if that makes sense. My two most common phrases are “I don’t know what to believe” and “Lord, is this really you?”. Maybe your book will help guide me to the answers I am looking for. Thank you for being you. 🙂

  69. Tim Roberts says:

    Dear Philip, Thank you for writing “What is so Amazing About Grace!” As a 63-year-old Christian, I have been stirred by the topic of grace for the past 3 to 4 years. Just this summer I have been reading your book and it is speaking to me very clearly and refreshing my heart!

  70. Angie says:

    I am reading Disappointment with God for the second time, the first time was when I bought the book some thirty years ago. I would like to read the book on Job written by Richard. Could you tell me the title of the book so I can try to purchase a copy of it? Thank you!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      It’s titled “The Suffering God” and has been out of print for quite some time. Good luck!

  71. Alison McDaniel says:

    I can hardly find the words to express how much your books have positively affected me. My aunt and uncle introduced me to your books almost 15 years ago. At the time I was in the midst of finding my way through young adult life in NYC where I had moved to forge my own path away from Arkansas, where I was raised. I was raised in a wonderful Christian home but like you, I had many questions about things I had seen in the church and even more questions, as I experienced new churches different from the ones I was used to in the south. The first book I read was Soul Survivor, (which I have probably read 10 times now). It impacted me so much I had to read more. Next I read The Jesus I Never Knew…I needed more. I cannot remember in what order I read the next two, What’s so Amazing About Grace and Disappointment With God, but wow what a profound impact those two books have had on my life. What’s So Amazing About Grace for me, seemed as if you had looked into my own mind and then answered so many thoughts and questions I never dared express out loud. I can’t explain the camaraderie I felt with your words. What it did for me, I have been convinced it would do for others, especially non-believers. I have given so many copies of that book out, I have lost count. I give it to everyone I can think of, for any occasion. I have a copy that is always in my carry-on and I read it and re-read it over and over, always moved to tears as I zoom my way through. It is impossible to explain the connection I have to that book.
    When I first read Disappointment With God, I hid the cover of it when I was reading on the subway or in public, scared people would get the wrong idea about me. I didn’t want anyone to think, I might think such a thing. What kind of Christian would dare be disappointed with God? This was a time in my life where I really had no idea what true disappointment with God might feel like. I read it and put it on my bookshelf, stirred but not capable of truly understanding the idea. Fast forward to a few years later when my world was turned upside down through multiple, sudden deaths that were very significant in my world. Disappointment with God was an understatement and my world was changed. I could no longer even function as the person I had been before. For some reason when I was deep in my pit, where I had become comfortable living, I picked up that book again. This time, I didn’t care if the whole world knew how disappointed I was with God. I did not understand how He could allow such good people to suffer and continue to suffer. This time around, the words were a medicine to my soul. Painful and therapeutic to me all at the same time. My eyes were opened to the suffering of those all around. Suffering and pain has no boundaries and now, I could no longer pretend otherwise. This book has been such a ministry to me and it literally breathes life into me every time I read it. It is soul soothing and through reading it, I came to understand that there are just things in this life that I will never understand. I can live with that because I trust in the One who understands and knows all things. Beyond what my simple mind could fathom. Thank you for your words. I gift them to anyone who has experienced the unfairness of suffering. I have two copies right now waiting to be mailed out to people who I imagine might be feeling how I once felt. I can only hope your words are as ministering to them as they are to me.
    I believe at this point I own almost all of your books and I wanted you to know they have really meant so much to me… in trying times and not so trying times. As I write this, I am just about to finish reading Soul Survivor again. After reading about the ones who inspired you so much, I felt strongly that I must tell you that YOU are one of the people that has inspired me and changed my way of thinking about many, many things. You have read my mind, answered questions, said things many Christians I know wouldn’t have the courage to say, ministered to me, soothed me, moved my soul and in doing so have changed my life and enriched my walk in faith. Your words have been a gift. Thank you.

  72. T.A says:

    Hey Philip,

    You’ve written a lot about how your racist upbringing and how you’ve worked to overcome it. In the midst of what’s going on in America right now, what encouragement can the Gospel offer to a black person that’s wondering how long God is going to sit back and watch injustice unfold?

    I’m reading “The Jesus I Never Knew” and trying to find some comfort in the fact that Jesus seemed to lean towards the oppressed, but I’m finding that a bit hard because it doesn’t seem to be like any of the ‘oppressed’ in the bible had suffered hundreds of years of abuse as a people *solely* because of the colour of their skin. God has never seemed more distant and this passivity doesn’t seem to be doing it for me any more.

    Also, are there any black authors you have read who have helped shape your faith in some way? Just curious because I would love to read about a biblical response to racial injustices that is coming from someone on the receiving end of it.

    P.S. “What’s so Amazing About Grace” is a book that has changed my life, so thank you for writing it.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I can’t say I understand, because I really couldn’t understand unless I shared your experience. I do think the Israelite story, which later became the Jewish story, may be an example worth considering; it’s no accident that so many spirituals and so many civil rights sermons hark back to those days of oppression and liberation. Man, were those prophets angry! And history has shown that anger can lead to even further injustice (French and Russian revolutions) or to genuine progress (anti-colonialism movements, fall of the Berlin Wall, South Africa). All this gets theoretical though, and doesn’t help much when you’re in the midst of the oppression.

      Black authors: Cornel West is one contemporary who has strong views yet engages well with people he disagrees with. John Howard Griffin, a “temporary” black man, had the most impact on me because of his expose Black Like Me experiment. John Perkins, whom I got to know, holds out realistic optimism for reconciliation, something in short supply. John Lewis of Georgia is a significant voice who has affected me. Otherwise, I’ve mostly read the novels by Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Ralph Allison and the like–they’ve certainly shaped my sensibility, if not my faith. I’d love to hear any you would recommend.

  73. Bongani Sithole says:

    What an honour to have an opportunity to write to you and express my sincere gratitude in your work. i was introduced to your work by my lecture at Bible School in South Africa. Your book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” provided me with such freedom in my Christian walk especially now that i am Pastor. Thank you. AB Sithole, Pretoria: South Africa

  74. Christopher Coggins says:

    I am rereading Soul Survivor for the 3rd time. I have read it at very different stages in my life and get something fresh and encouraging each time. In the opening chapter, you conclude with a confession that this book is your response to the exercise Mr. Fred Rogers presented whenever he had a chance to speak… “pause for a minute of silence and think about all of those who have helped you become who you are.” As I pause, once again, I am overwhelmed by the sea of faces and voices that fill my mind in answer to all those who helped me become who I am. There are many… so many… and you are among those who have helped me become me. Thank you! Your work on this front may well be complete, or at least the public sharing of it… but I have to ask… if your list is not exhaustive, and I know it is not… who else would you include in your hall of honor? What would Vol. II look like? Is it possible there is enough there to literally write a sequel? If so, I am sure others would love to read it! Feel the love!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I wrote that book in my active journalism days, when I was seeking people to interview who might be models for my life. It’s probably too late to start a volume 2, but you ask a great question. I would certainly include Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement; and Sir Ghillean Prance, one of the early voices in climate change and former director of the New York Botanical Gardens. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, would be at the top of the list. Some others, both living and dead: Jurgen Moltmann, a contemporary German theologian; Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity; John Perkins, who pioneers racial reconciliation; Ron Nikkel, who took Prison Fellowship to more than 100 countries; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia. I’d like to explore perspectives on faith with one or both of the Obamas, though they’d be tough to get to. N. T. Wright, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Vaclav Havel, Richard Rohr, Will Campbell, Jimmy Carter, Wendell Berry, George Herbert, Ernest Gordon (amazing POW survivor of the “River Kwai” Japanese camp who became chaplain at Princeton)…the list goes on. Now you’re getting me excited.

  75. Dear Mr. Yancey,

    I’ve been wanting to write to you for a long time. I live in Germany and have been reading your books. Your book “Disappointment with God” is the reason I found God in my life. I was reborn in Spirit through your book. I want to thank you sincerely and hope you always keep on writing! Your style of writing is so wonderful and natural. God bless you and keep on writing and reaching out to people like me.



  76. Bob Colwick says:

    Hello Mr. Yancey,

    I have been a fan of your writing for almost 20 years and appreciate your voice being in modern-day discussions about grace, love, etc. Like you, part of my journey involves working through a very legalistic upbringing in the church; while there have been so many subsequent encouraging steps forward to learn about, as you say, “a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller”, one recurring setback in my life is a sense of anger against that upbringing (and the people involved with it) – at times, this anger is a stumbling block that prevents me from continued growth. Realizing that overcoming this anger is part of the process and is a mixture of philosophical and practical elements, I wanted to pick your brain and get your recommendations for someone who wants to move forward in faith but at times just can’t seem to move beyond the anger/bitterness from past sleights…just curious what the “game changers” were in your life to move beyond the pain in your religious upbringing. Thanks!


    • Philip Yancey says:

      Whew, great question and well-expressed. First, some anger is appropriate. Look at Matthew 23 and Luke 11 in which Jesus lashes out against the judgmental and rigid religious leaders of his day; you’ll never find him more angry. At the same time we, not being Jesus, can easily move from appropriate righteous anger into the wound/revenge cycle. Over the years I’ve been helped by writers such as Scott Peck (especially his “People of the Lie”), Gerald May, James Fowler, and James Hillman to understand the stages of faith we go through. Kathleen Norris and Richard Rohr are also helpful, especially Rohr’s template of Order/Disorder/Reorder. I now view the churches I grew up in with more empathy. Life is difficult, and people raised in fear (theologically, socially, racially) respond with defensiveness and bias. Along the way, I’ve tried to identify the very positive things I took away: biblical knowledge, a community that embraces the needy within the community at least, a deep sense that our life choices matter ultimately, a resistance against the surrounding celebrity culture. Mainly, though, I have looked for healthy Christians to help heal my image of what wholesome faith looks like. For me, Dr. Paul Brand was a key, along with people I interviewed as a journalist: Millard Fuller of Habitat for Humanity, Robert Coles, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, etc. I sought out people I wanted to emulate in some way. Then I found a very healthy grace-filled church in Chicago. They are out there, at least in the big cities. Why did people flock to Jesus? Because he stood out as a fountain of Living Water to people who grew up in a rule-oriented spiritual environment. That’s my story, or at least a bit of it. I’ll have a memoir out in 2021, if plans hold, and you can read the rest. The fact that you’re asking the question indicates you’re well on the way to health.

  77. Judy Lyon Foster says:

    Hi Philip,
    I’m proud and thankful to say “I knew you when” as I have watched, read and listened through all these years . You have been honest and real and thoughtful as well as sensitive and encouraging in your writing and your speech as I have heard you on the radio. It seems that God has blessed you much and used you for His glory. May He continue to bless you.
    Your friend (from high school years and YFC,

  78. Angela says:

    February 19, 20

    Dear Mr Yancey,
    I have only just stumbled upon your beautiful library of books and would like to purchase the paperback version of an earlier book, “The Question That Never Goes Away: Why?” I have checked all book sellers (; Barnes & Noble; and Amazon but could not find it.
    When I tried ordering from Amazon, the provider says there are several ‘used’ copies; however, when you click on this tab, you are re-directed to a similar book, “The Question That Never Goes Away: What is God Up to in a World of such Tragedy and Pain?
    Any suggestions?
    As a graduate counsellor in training; I know that these writings will sustain my faith in God and assist me in being present with those who have given me the privilege to be with them in their deep suffering.

    God be with You,
    Angela (Alberta, Canada)

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Angela, I see your confusion. The US and Canada have only a hardback version, which you can get for about the same price as the paperback, which is only published in the U.K. I’m not sure if you can order a U.K. edition from Canada. The content of both the US hardback and the UK paperback is the same. I’d stick with the hardback, available new for $13.21 US.

  79. Dann Johnson says:

    Hi, Philip. What’s the status on your personal memoir? Still writing, or planning on writing, that?

  80. Jana Walczuk says:

    Can you recommend a book concerning the errors in the Catholic Church rituals, beliefs, concept of praying to saints, etc.?

    Thank you,
    Jana Walczuk

  81. Rev. Dr. Joseph Crowther says:

    I am in the early stages of a memoir-like writing project which will engage the topic of faith in the midst of trial. I was struck (positively) by a Luther reference you made in the final pages of “Where is God When It Hurts?”…i.e. that we should live with death always before our eyes [so that] we will not expect to live on earth forever, but will have one foot in the air.” I had never experienced this quote/teaching by Brother Martin and cannot find it in his writings. I greatly appreciate what you have shared through this book and would be further indebted if you would share a source for this particular teaching. Blessings!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      There must be a source somewhere, but after 42 years (the book’s original date) and four moves, I doubt seriously that I’ll be able to put my hands on it. Sorry!

  82. Munir Masih says:

    Dear Brother Philip,
    Greetings in the Christ name!
    Just one sentence. Please translate your books into Urdu (Pakistani) language.
    God bless you

  83. Munir Masih says:

    Dear Philip Yancey ,
    Greetings in the Christ name! I am Munir Masih from Pakistan. Thank you so much for writing wonderful books for Biblical literature readers. I suggest you to translate your material into Urdu language too. Here in Pakistan there are millions of Christians who needs to read biblical material but most of them were not able to go to English medium schools because Christians in Pakistan are poor. So they are not able to reach and write English. They can only read Urdu language. Here is my email address.
    Have a blessed time.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      My wife and I tried to visit Pakistan last fall and our visas were denied by the government! Books are a good alternative. Do you know any Pakistani Christian publishers I could try?

  84. Janice Shaffer says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey:
    My husband of 57 years passed away on January 25, 2019. I resumed teaching our adult Sunday School class after about six-weeks of experiencing the terror of losing his loving companionship. Our study, “Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference” has turned out to be a great faith builder for me and probably the most helpful (to my understanding of God) than any of your other books. Aside from the necessity of weekly preparation (I develop and e-mail or snail mail questions to help with the class’s preparation and our discussion), sharing your profound thoughts and detailed research had broadened my life-long experience of faith in the Almighty. At age 83, you can understand the length of my stubborn quest. Upon completion of your books, I have always thought that I must write and tell you what a great encouragement they have been to me personally. Today is finally that day. Thank you for the research and utter sincerity with which you present the Truth we all need. I treasure it. The idol of my twin sister is Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, but I have announced with assurance and pride that my idol is Philip Yancey. This is just to thank you for your conscientious and deep-seated effort to share the faith and love “that will not let us go.” God keep you publishing and writing and safe in the palm of His hands.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Gulp, I’m uncomfortable being compared with Patrick Mahomes and really uncomfortable being idolized. But I understand your intent, and am glad you waited so long to bless me with your kind and generous words. No retirement in my sights! –Philip

  85. One more, final question came from the audience on my last night in Newtown, and it was the one I most did not want to hear: “Will God protect my child?” I stayed silent for what seemed like minutes. More than anything I wanted to answer with authority, “Yes! Of course God will protect you. Let me read you some promises from the Bible.” I knew, though, that behind me on the same platform twenty-six candles were flickering in memory of victims, proof that we have no immunity from the effects of a broken planet. My mind raced back to Japan, where I heard from parents who had lost their children to a tsunami in a middle school, and forward to that very morning when I heard from parents who had lost theirs to a shooter in an elementary school. At last I said, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t promise that.” None of us is exempt. We all die, some old, some tragically young. God provides support and solidarity, yes, but not protection—at least not the kind of protection we desperately long for. On this cursed planet, even God suffered the loss of a Son. Philip Yancey, The Question That Never Goes Away

  86. […] series of conversations about Christianity. Here’s my interview, edited for space, with Philip Yancey, an evangelical Christian writer who has more than 15 million books in print in more than 50 […]

  87. mackenzie mully says:

    Hi Mr Yancy!
    I am writing from the Oxford Union looking to send you an official invitation- please could I be given an appropriate email and phone number?
    many thanks,
    Mackenzie Mully

  88. Tolulope Ajayi says:

    PHILLIP! I read your book “where is God when it hurts”, that was not too long after I lost my mother and faced severe persecution from my father. Since then I’ve always been searching for more and more books of yours. Thank you for your honest books, “where is God when it hurts” changed my total perception about suffering and I thank God I got that book at that crucial point of my life. But Phillip I have a question, I read a book “rumors of another world” and I thought it was written by you. I cannot find it in the list of your books on your website. I just want to clarify if it was really you that wrote it. Also, from your travels, you never mentioned Nigeria, don’t you think it will be nice to come to Nigeria? maybe another book can come out of it, and I will hope to meet you and even host you (I live in Nigeria).
    I hope you get to see my questions and respond.
    God bless you Phillip.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      The book you mention, Rumors, was retitled A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith and is still in print. As for Nigeria, thank you for the invitation! I’ll keep that in mind. –Philip

  89. martin benz says:

    Very Informative article. thanks for sharing

  90. Karen Nance says:

    I didn’t read all of the responses above mine, so I hope I’m not repeating someone before me. You are quoted as having said, “I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don’t know a more honest book,” I believe there is one more honest book in the world than the Bible, and that is The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The man who interpreted it and brought it to be published said of it, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
    I have lived by its precepts all my life (57 years), including my own period of questioning the beliefs of my parents. It has been a pretty satisfactory life. I recommend it to you highly. You can access it for free, here:

  91. Chris says:

    Hi Philip –
    Well this comment is about 10 years overdue, but needing to be said, and I’ll explain why – Probably my all time favorite book (and I’ve read many) is your book ‘What’s so amazing about grace’. I read this book over 10 years ago and have re-read it several times, and now I am reading it again, and it keeps getting better, like ‘you have barely scratched the surface’ kind of better.
    You introduced me to the transcendent Babette’s Feast, and your chapter on the ‘new math of grace’ blows me away, more so every time I read it. And by the way Philip, the ‘atrocious mathematics of grace’ was a lovely title to try and explain the explainable – I should know because I am an engineer who knows a thing or two about math – and, I must say it, anyone who wrote to you with those negative comments, quite frankly, may have missed the point of the gospel entirely!! As you so beautifully put it, ‘we risk missing the story’s whole point: that God dispenses gifts not wages’. Or as you say later ‘Are you envious because I’m generous….?’
    Now I feel like I’m ‘gushing’ over this book the same way General Loewenhielm couldn’t say enough about Babette’s Feast. Well that’s how much of an impact this book has had on me, and I would recommend this one to anyone as the ‘must read’ (if you only read one book by Philip Yancy)
    Just a quick note about me – as a earnest christian for many years, I have basically given up on organized religion ‘en masse’ , precisely because of the amount of un-grace( as you put it) I have encountered. Grace, still the best and last word, transcends all our feeble attempts…, and my new ‘spiritual faith’ seems to have ‘transcended’ my christian faith – the best way to put it for me. I still love the bible as well, but it too is only scratching the surface of God’s unsearchable ways (Rom 11:33-36)

    Anyway thanks you again Philip

    Chris Porter

  92. […] Gateway interviewed Philip Yancey, who, along with the late Dr. Paul Brand, wrote Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing […]

  93. Dianne says:

    Thank you so much for writing “Disappointment with God.” The first time I read it I was dealing with issues regarding my perspective of God. I have an extremely sensitive spirit and have a hard time dealing with when God is angry in the Bible. I was mentally and emotionally abused as a child also, so I have a hard time with anger. The way God is portrayed in the Bible is not like the way I would have liked Him to be because of the anger issue. Despite being a Christian for many years and praying about this for a long time I still struggled. Even though DWG addresses different questions than what I was dealing with, it still helped me immensely. It has been too painful to read through the Old Testament myself (I’ve been through the Bible a couple of times) anymore, so it helped that you did kind of a fast forward through the Old Testament. It helped me see where God is coming from, in a way I was unable to see plodding along at just a couple chapters a day like I had done previously when reading through the Bible. I still struggle with my image of God, but it is getting better little by little, and of course Satan is always prowling around, trying to turn me away from God and tell me lies about God. But when I go through a dark valley where I again am troubled with misconceptions of God, I pull your book out again, and it helps to bring the right perspective back into focus.

  94. Pastor Roger L. Robinson says:

    Dear Phillip, You wrote 2 books I have a question about-The Jesus I Never Knew & The Bible Jesus Read. Are either or both of these books based on the Jewish & Hebrew roots of Christianity?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      The Bible Jesus Read looks at selected books from the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament), so it would probably be the closest.

  95. Dear Philip,

    I read your Q&A regarding homosexuality and the churches. I heard you when you said that you felt comfortable when both sides sent you hate letters. I would say that you were afraid to lose the respect of either side of the conflict. Thus you maintained a relationship with Mel White. . . .

    But then I heard the story above from a man who has suffered needlessly due to prejudice: “Let the people around you know that you are serious about institutional corruption and the protection of whistleblowers.” This is his call to be vindicated! He wants you to stand up and be counted!

    I am angry at the indifference and cowardice that kept me silent for over twenty-five years while I was being honored as one of the best and brightest theologians at The Athenaeum of Ohio. I knew, from personal experiences, that the teaching of my church regarding homosexuality was a distorted and cruel doctrine. But I also knew that no one who openly challenged Cardinal Ratzinger’s doctrine of homosexuality could survive as a pastor or theologian.

    So my final and dangerous calling has been to publish a book that allows Christians of all denominations to gain a close and personal look at the dreadful and unmerited suffering that continues to be imposed upon believers supporting same-sex marriages. For details, go to


  96. Andrew G. E. Samuel says:

    Hello dear Mr. Yancey
    There are two main things I want your help in..

    Your beautiful books had been recommended too many times by my friends to read..
    I already have these:
    + “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants”
    + “Reaching For The Invisible God”
    + “The Jesus I Never Knew”
    + “Where Is God When It Hurts?”
    + “The Question That Never Goes Away”
    + “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”
    + “Disappointment With God”
    And I need your precious advice to tell me which book should I read first —I know they are all good books but I want to make the best benifet of them by some arrangement.

    The second to go, that I have ‘at least’ three of my friends that stopped attending any churchs! —their reasons are either personal (because they were going to see some friends not for listening the word of God) or unclear (they just don’t go because they think the church is boring or not full-of-soul and one of them was telling me “Yancey said it’s fine with Christianity not to go to church” another said “I’m not afraid when I meet God tell him it wasn’t ok with those churchs”! )
    SO.. I had read before an article for you about how important it is to attend the church ‘Even If It Is Toxic’. Then, I want you, first of all, to pray for them and for me. And to give me some points (better with verses) that helps me and them to understand the importance of churchs in our Christian Life.

    Thank you so much in advance for your patience and sorry for making it so long but I feel it’s so important for me.
    God bless you 🙏

    • Philip Yancey says:

      For first books, I would recommend The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace. I don’t know where your friend got that quote about church. In interviews I’ve said if a church is abusive or toxic, you should find another one. In the short book Church: Why Bother? I try to be honest about church challenges, but definitely come down on the side of the church. If you can make room for one more book on your shelf, that one may answer your question about church. I appreciate your spirit and your concern for your friends. –Philip

  97. vernon justus says:


    Years ago i read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and still am impacted by it today. Since then I have read most all of your books. I have to say that they have all been helpful. My all-time favorite is What’s so Amazing about Grace, but recently I read Reaching for the Invisible God again, which caused me to remember that my faith is just that: faith.

    People ask me who my favorite authors are and I always reply C. S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. I think the reason why is that you both are unafraid to ask questions you don’t have answers to.

    I checked the Events link on your site and noticed a lot of open dates. Would you consider coming to Oklahoma City?


    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’m curtailing speaking for 2020 to finish a memoir I’ve been working on for 3 years. Maybe after that?

  98. Irene says:

    Philip I really want to express my thanks to you for the blessing your books have been to me over the years. You are easily my favourite Christian writer, and you never fail to inspire me through the topics you write on. “The Jesus I never knew” was the first of your books that really spoke to me, and this has been followed by many more, including, “What’s so amazing about Grace”, “Soul Survivor”, “Disappointment with God” and the one I’m currently really appreciating “Finding God in unexpected places”. I love reading your observations of how God is working in different parts of the world. It is truly heart warming and humbling.
    Like you I have been really impacted by the work of Dr Paul Brand, who I first read about back in the 80s as a teenager. As a nurse, I too have a deep concern for the poor, ostracised and suffering in any society, and hope to touch people in my sphere of influence by practical demonstrations of the love and grace of Jesus.
    Have you ever considered visiting New Zealand? We would love to have you come and speak here!
    God bless you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’ve been to your great country three times, and wish it were more. I’m so glad you’re acquainted with Paul Brand. In August we’re releasing a newly updated presentation of his life and thought, Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image.

  99. Matt Butner says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your honest look at a lot of questions that most Christians seem afraid to ask. Before I learned about you, I sometimes wondered if there was anyone that asked the questions I asked, or saw the issues that I saw. At times, it seemed that the only people that did not deny the problems that to me were as plain as day were the people who most vehemently rejected the faith that I was holding on to. You have encouraged me, and shown me that it’s not wrong to ask these questions, to wonder about faith, to grasp with the issues that many seem to ignore. I’ve been reading Vanishing Grace, and it strikes at so many points that I myself have wondered; again, I want to thank you for what you’re doing. I feel more sure and strong in my own faith thanks to you, and hope to spread that encouragement to those around me.

  100. Sue says:

    Hi Philip,
    I want to thank you for your honest approach in your writings, and many of your books had helped me through thick and thin. Currently, I’m reading your book on prayer while trying to come to terms with the Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday morning. As I argued with the Lord in my head, He moved me to write an article to call on Christians to pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who are under persecution. It’s my hope that God will use the article widely in different media to reach as many Christians as possible.
    I want to refer you to a book titled Outrageous Courage by Kris & Jason Vallotton. In their book, they recorded an eyewitness account of a miraculous resurrection of a woman died in an auto accident. Just thought you may be interested in looking into this.

  101. Ian Hamilton says:

    Thank you Philip for your so very illuminating book – What’s so amazing about grace. I have been graced with grace in my life but in a way your book made the picture much clearer and the thankfulness much more thankful. Chiara Lubich gave me huge insight into how to live my life and she has and is still a huge inspiration to me however, God is great, because your book somehow showed me what we all need and that we are surrounded by grace and are surprised by grace. The ugliness of the world does not need to pull us down which was something that was beginning to get to me until I chanced upon your book.

  102. I found “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” to be very approachable, clear and interesting. It starts with the story of Babot’s Feast that jolted me and years later I still think about it. Our God is amazing and deserves our response.

  103. Sean Ford says:

    Philip, I am going through “What’s So Amazing About Grace” for the second or third time, and just finished the chapter about your friend, Mel. Though not historically a model of grace, my church now has an excellent ministry devoted to those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who (want to) love them. I wanted to share it with you, just in case you were able some day to pass it on to someone who could benefit.

    Thank you for what you do, and please keep it up!

  104. Philip, Thank you for your insightful and honest Q & A session at the Writers on the Rock Conference!
    I am not an autograph hound, but it was fun to get your autograph on my 1987 Fearfully & Wonderfully Made paperback, and chat about your coming release of you and Dr. Brand’s rewrite of that book with. That is very exciting. With all the new discoveries about the human body since the first book was published in 1980, I am certain the research portion of that was challenging, as well as rewarding for you. I did sign up for the Launch Team, I hope that I can help in that.
    I am an engineer with the National Park Service. I am preparing to retire in 672 days (who’s counting) by working on my Masters in Christian Counseling. Hoping to have a second career, helping people receive freedom in a life with Christ.
    Be blessed, sir! And keep researching, writing and editing. Thank you!

  105. Craig W Holland says:

    Hi Philip, I would like to thank you for your books. I am a 60 year old physician who became a christian while an undergraduate at Michigan State University many years ago. I fell in love and was married before I entered medical school to a young woman who was reared in a very fundamental baptist church. We attended various churches of that background for nearly twenty years of that and eventually left in 2002. CT was definitely not anything I was encouraged to read (to say the least) but in ~2004 we were attending a church with a small group that was using your book “What is so amazing about Grace”. It made quite an impact on both my wife and I and I actually believe if it were not for that book and “The Jesus I Never Knew” we would have abandoned our faith. I now own and have read all of your books. Anyhow, I was wondering about your thoughts about the sexual abuse accusations that have arisen lately, particularly pointed out in the Fort Worth Telegraph. Many more conservative believers have long maintained that such things were not possible. Unfortunately, very credible stories have surface in congregations very close to us personally that are difficult to ignore. I wish that these accusations were not true, but I am about 99.99999% they are. In the one church that we were involved with there was the abuse, then the cover up, now the circling of the wagons mentality. And it is made more egregious by the staff having political connections. Anyhow, it would be interesting if you were to write a blog on this topic.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Your comments touch me deeply. Coming from that background, I know how difficult it can be to sort out what to retain and what to jettison. I appreciate the suggestion for the blog. I have friends who work with the organization G.R.A.C.E. ( who have convinced me that many of the accusations are 100% right. In fact, some estimate that the problem is as widespread in Protestant denominations as in the Catholic church, which has attracted far more scrutiny. How sad that the church that bears Jesus’ name turns so many away from him because of our behavior.

  106. Jason Young says:

    Question for you, sir. I’m preparing to use your 6-session video on Prayer as a class in the prison our church volunteers in. We have about 40 men signed up to take the class with us right now, some of whom are Spanish. I am purchasing a copy of participants guide for all of the inmates in the class. A few weeks ago I saw the guide for sale on Amazon in Spanish, but have not been able to find it again. Do you know if it is still available somewhere and if so, where I could get it?

    Thank you!

  107. Allison says:

    Hi there, Mr. Yancey!

    I am taking a psychology class that focuses on Biblical integration with psychological practices. Part of our assigned reading was to read your book, “The Jesus I Never Knew”. We were discussing the content in class, and one of the students brought up the chapter about temptation and Jesus in the desert, where you speculate perhaps the devil did not know Jesus was the Son of God and was tempting Him to see if He was. We were wondering, did you mean that literally or were you speculating?

    Thank you!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      That idea came from the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, in a sermon he wrote. It was speculation, and rather creative speculation. Satan doesn’t have unlimited knowledge–the close calls in an attempt to kill Jesus in his infancy prove that. I’m sure he knew something major was happening in the universe, but exactly what?

  108. Don Mitchell says:

    Through the years I have read and number of your books, and I appreciate your perspective in many areas of life and theology. I read Wher Is God When It Hurts and I just finished your book a Question That Never Goes Away. When evil man hurt innocent people, we cringe and are very upset. We call it evil. One question that just won’t go away for me is the story of Israel conquering the Promised Land. Why was that “genicide,” that killing of men, women, and children, that enslavement of survivors. . . why do we call that good? Muslims try to wipe out Christians, and that is evil. I am a believer who has been in ministry until I retired; I’ve read about Saul being instructed to not even spare the animals of Amalek; I’ve read of Joshua’s instructions, etc., but I still can’t answer thes nagging questions.

  109. Hannah Webster says:

    Thank you so much for your writing — in your books, your blog, your articles. I was first introduced to your work through my dad, who has been an avid fan of yours since his days as a college student. His career choice was at least partly inspired by your books (specifically those written about and with Dr. Paul Brand).

    Walking through life as a Christian isn’t easy, but I am thankful that your writing has been a part of my journey. It has been while reading your books that I have been challenged by questions about race and justice, learned from some of my *now* favorite authors, speakers, and thinkers (thanks to your introduction in Soul Survivor), and been encouraged to wrestle with my faith.

    I am now a student at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. I am studying communications and hoping to either fight for justice with the written word or through community engagement (at least partly inspired by the heroes I met while reading Soul Survivor as well as your other books and your blog). I saw that you are on the schedule to speak this semester during our chapel. I just wanted to thank you for faithfully asking questions, writing, speaking, and following Christ in a way that has encouraged and inspired me.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      By all means introduce yourself at Westmont! And thank you for this most encouraging “grace note.” –Philip

  110. Sarah Alfred says:

    Dear Philip, Thank you for writing “What is so Amazing About Grace!” As a 63-year-old Christian, I have been stirred by the topic of grace for the past 3 to 4 years. Just this summer I have been reading your book and it is speaking to me very clearly and refreshing my heart!

  111. Mr. Yancey,

    Recently I got rid of a number of books that I’d owned for some years. One of them was Soul Survivor, a book I read more than ten years ago and whose influence I still feel today. I let it go because I felt that it had fulfilled its purpose in my life and I thought someone else might benefit from reading it. However, I didn’t feel the process of releasing the book would be complete until I had expressed my thanks to you for writing it.

    I remember reading the book’s preface, where you write about 9/11 and an experience you had related to that tragic day. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that it was while reading that section of the book that I realized I wanted to be a writer. Sitting on my couch in the soft glow of a lamp, I felt a deep desire to do the kind of work you and many others have done and are doing–lifting people up with words. Thank you for writing the book that gave rise to my own passion to write.

    In Soul Survivor I encountered for the first time authors whom I still read with pleasure and spiritual benefit. First among these is probably Frederick Buechner, one of the most honest, funny and poignant writers I can think of. Despite having traveled a vast distance from my conservative Christian origins, I’ve never ceased to be moved his books. Annie Dillard and Henri Nouwen have also brought inspiration and encouragement. Other writers you discuss–Chesterton, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy–I was somewhat familiar with already, but your book encouraged me to give them additional consideration.

    In short, Soul Survivor gave a great boost to my spiritual journey, and I am grateful to you for writing it and for helping to broaden my understanding of Christianity and its many valid and beautiful expressions.

    Blessings to you in the new year.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      A delightful response, for which I thank you. Welcome to the oh-so-fulfilling (and odd) family of writers. I found it thrilling to write about my heroes. –Philip

  112. John Aleiya says:

    I am a great admirer and follower of your writing and teaching and your “Grace Notes” daily readings are an essential part of my day. 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 graceful). I very much appreciate your books, your insights, your stories of others & your own.
    Thank-you very much.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I’ve just revised and updated two of those books with Dr. Brand, and Hodder & Stoughton will publish them this coming fall under the title (I think) Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image. It’s funny how Dr. Brand became much better known here in the US than in the UK. C. S. Lewis would be another example. Thank you for those exports! –Philip

  113. Dear Philip, thank you for your insight and inspiration in articulating truth that is palatable to us who have be conditioned by our traditional way of thinking! I came out of Hinduism and have been in Christian ministry for over forty years in South Africa. Started my ministry with YWAM. Served with many para-church ministries in Africa and now run a Foundation to empower rural communities in South Africa through our Foundation. Please visit our website if you can.
    Every Blessing upon you and you family!
    Abel Govender(Rev).

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I did visit the website. What a handsome, happy-looking staff! May you continue to experience joy in serving. Your work is very important.

  114. Daniel Dixon says:

    Great Information…!

  115. Nick Carter says:

    I am a great admirer and follower of your writing and teaching and your “Grace Notes” daily readings are an essential part of my day, as they have been for the last three years since I was first given the book. One of the recent ones, “Role Reversal” on October 27th, is much in my mind at the moment. You may be aware of the dreadful exhortation by the well known English atheist scientist Richard Dawkins for people to post videos on YouTube of them defaming Christ and faith. My prayer for him is that he may have a “Damascene” encounter and emulate the dramatic change that took place in Paul’s life. If Dawkins was ever able to read “Role Reversal” what might then result?

  116. Joyce says:

    Thank you, Philip, for the honesty I see written into your books, not only regarding your faith journey, but your journey as a writer. You well describe the writing life as one of solitude in many ways, of being misunderstood, and seen as rather odd, and all of that has served to affirm that as a writer, I am ‘normal’! Thank you! You have expressed the writer’s life so well, in ways I could not articulate, or even understand about myself until I read your books. Of course, this is not to diminish my appreciation for your openness in finding your way to the real Jesus. I, too, was raised in a rather strict, confusing (Lutheran) church, seemingly focused more on law than on grace, even though the Word was preached by kind pastors. The biggest confusions came from the congregation, and my resultant feelings that we (my family) would and never could be ‘good enough’ to fit the white-picket-fence image of perfection. We simply didn’t fit in, didn’t fit the ‘image’. It has taken me over fifty years to find my way to the Jesus of the bible, and in so doing, to reach out in genuine love and compassion to the hurting, the lonely, the lost, the struggling. What a tragedy, all those wasted years pursuing some kind of ‘Focus on the Family’ image, instead of Jesus. I must admit, it took several health issues to break me, and in my brokenness, I found meaning, and I found Jesus. I now understand that when I am weak, I am strong (in Him, not in myself, my possessions, what people think of or admire about me, etc.) So thank you for sharing your story. It affirms mine. Your books are REFRESHING! Keep writing HONESTLY, because you build bridges to others who are struggling to figure out what the heck the Christian life is all about. You give others permission to question, to probe, to reevaluate what they believe, what they have been taught, and to look at their faith with honesty. And that is where healing and freedom begins.

  117. Jean says:

    Mr Yancey, I want to thank you for giving me hope in a tough life. As a child I was sexually abused. As a teen I was beaten and abused by my mentally ill mother and sister and ignored by my father. Don’t get me wrong – my parents did many good things for me. But they equally did many evil things to me. Later, I was raped by my boyfriend when I broke up with him because God showed me that as a new Christian, I shouldn’t date a non-Christian. When I prayed, “God help me. God bring something good from this,” God clearly told me I was going to get pregnant from the rape. And that the child would be a gift.

    We’ve had a lot of struggles – intense poverty and failed dream after failed dream. But my son is a delight and has grown into a fine man with a child of his own.

    In the past few years where I’ve finally begun to process all the pain in my life because I didn’t have to be “mother” and just ignore the pain and push on, your books have meant the world to me. You’ve shown me both pain and God’s goodness. You’ve helped me in some of my darkest hours and I thank you for that. Life is still almost overwhelmingly hard and I know that none of my dreams are likely to become reality in this life. But I try to show God’s grace to others. And I’ve found that because of the evil done to me, I’ve been able to understand the sorrows in other people’s lives.

    Keep up the good work. God bless you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This is one of the most moving accounts of “redeemed pain” that I have ever heard. I’m so touched that my books were with you on the journey. You took my own questions, sought answers, and emerged wiser and stronger. I love your spirit, and feel such compassion for you and all that you have borne. –Philip

  118. Kay says:

    Dear Philip

    I love the way you write about the Christian faith. Your essay “Rumors Of Another World” always serves as a reminder to me about the brevity of life.

    Earlier this evening I was listening to your talk on Suffering & Grace that you delivered at the University of Virginia in 2015. You quoted the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, as an example of human suffering and tragedy. May I humbly inform you it has been pointed out by numerous (sound-minded) people on the internet that the shooting was nothing more than a hoax? …[T]he so-called “parents” of the children who were “massacred” were merely Crisis Actors employed for a government-sponsored propaganda campaign to push for gun-control.

  119. I wanted to thank you for speaking at our church, Southeast Christian in Parker, a few weeks ago. Your sermon was wonderful, but I wanted to thank you for your last comments most of all. You said you understood that our church was going through a rough patch, but that God was not finished, that you were excited to see what God was going to do in the next chapter of Southeast. Thank you for that; it really meant a lot!
    I really resonated with the sermon portion about India. I just came back from a mission trip with Greg and others from Southeast in April where we got to go to Damoh as well as the Siliguri area. I got to hear firsthand many of the stories you talked about. It is incredibly heartbreaking and life-changing to hold their hand, hug them, and pray with them as your world is changed. I wrote about it in my blog, the website below.
    Thank you for your time and for your sermon!

  120. Marija says:

    Dear Sirs,
    I’m just reading your book What’s So Amazing About Grace? in translation into Croatian language. And I came to page number 106, where in the passage you wrote that Nazi Germany at the time of the occupation of the Balkans, Germans and Croats infiltrated hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma and Jews. The same moment I felt the need to write to you. In a few paragraphs before you wrote that AVM is not completely clear of all these developments in the Balkans and the former Yugoslavia. As a Croat generation and proud of my ancestors who have left me in the legacy of love for homeland and faith I must correct you. Those Serbs who had so much hatred of my people had ethnic cleansing of Croats, Roma and Jews. Take a look and explore how well Alojza Stepinac rescued people. Now look back at 2018 what you mention in the book. Deeply explore and do not write what only a part of the source says. Look at the movie called Huda Jama. Such places of suffering in Slovenia are “only” 300. Do not write about the history of the area where you are not close. How do I write about America’s history of suffering? Neither sources nor archives are sufficient. Only people in this area who live for generations of oppression and persecutions can write about it. Look at Vukovar. Then write it down.

    Best regards.

  121. Leslie Calderoni says:

    Dear Philip,

    I’m interested in finding an Amplified Bible, being moved to read more of it, but I’m wary of authors that take liberties with interpretation. I’ve always loved your books, and lens. Can you recommend an amplified that you’d feel comfortable reading/trusting?


    Leslie Calderoni

    • Philip Yancey says:

      The official “Amplified Bible” is very trustworthy, giving alternative readings from the original Greek. The Message by Eugene Peterson is a paraphrase in modern, sometimes casual English which is more subjective, though Peterson is quite trustworthy.

  122. Cameron Dockery says:


    I am a minister that read your Book Whats so Amazing about Grace the year it was published and have never recovered. I still Go to it from time to time. Thank you. I would love to hear you thoughts on word written by the ancient Greek pagan poet Aeschylus.

    “And even in our sleep pain that can not forget falls upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the wakeful grace of God.”

    These are profound words that leave me with questions. Namely, who is God and what is grace.

    Thank you,

    Cameron Dockery

  123. Dear Philip,

    Thank you for writing “What is so Amazing About Grace!” As a 63 year old Christian I have been stirred by the topic of grace for the past 3 to 4 years. Just this summer I have been reading your book and it is speaking to me very clearly and refreshing my heart!

    The reason I am writing is to request a suggestion from you. I am working with some guys to plan a Men’s Retreat for the last weekend of September. Three churches are joining together to plan and attend – it will be great! Our retreat theme is “Grace in a Man’s Life” and for humor our promo video uses clips from the old TV series MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (see it here:'s%20Retreat%20Promo.mp4?dl=0)! The weekend retreat will have three teaching sessions, each taught by different guys, maybe with sub-themes: Grace from God, Grace between Christians and Grace to the World. I am considering borrowing material from your book for one of the sessions. Not that I feel capable of teaching on the subject, but that I feel guys need to know more about this.

    My request is this, of all the aspects of grace your book covers and the hundreds of illustrations it contains, can you suggest a couple sections of the book that you might focus on if you were speaking to a group of men about grace?

    Forever thankful for your ministry and help!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I would recommend something from chapters 17-19, simply because our nation is so divided politically. When I wrote the book, Bill Clinton was in office, and now it’s Donald Trump. How can Christians apply what I suggested some years ago in a new cultural and political context? That might stir up some interesting discussion! I wrote a sort of sequel, Vanishing Grace, a few years ago, addressing this very topic. Politics stirs people up, so your group may need to exercise grace even as they learn about it. –Philip

  124. Carla Vornheder says:

    As I am around southern evanglicals (I live in small-town Arkansas), it seems, now that Trump has already been elected, that they are looking for just any semi-reasonable excuse for still supporting him. They want to be just as extreme as liberals. Politics these days seems so cutthroat. If you don’t agree with liberals, then we experience unceasing attacks meant for Trump, but received by those who voted him in.

  125. Lionel Moses says:

    Mr. Yancey, I should have written this years ago when I first read The Jesus I Never Knew! It changed how I perceived life and approached strengthening my relationship with the Jesus that I could relate too, and based on His life, I’m sure He can relate to me. It is truly life changing.

    Similar to many others, I understand church hurt but when you knew there is a Christ that can relate and cares. It changed the trajectory of my thinking.

    Thank you

  126. Merle Mees says:

    Thank you for the honesty and transparency in your blog and books. I am attempting to help a man who says he needs to forgive God. Any suggestion would be appreciated. Blessings.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I recommend 2 books by Lewis Smedes: Forgive and Forget and The Art of Forgiving. Lew knew about “forgiving God.” –Philip

  127. James Moore says:

    Hi Philip,
    I wanted to ask you about your thoughts on atonement. After reading your works for many years, I got the impression that you lean towards the Christus Victor interpretation. Forgive me if I am mistaken. I’m a fellow Protestant who has always held to the traditional penal/substitutionary view. However, after researching historical/alternative theories, it seems to me that atonement is far richer than I had ever imagined. The neat formula and juridical language I had been taught didn’t seem to do justice to all of the events that occurred during the Passion narrative. The Christus Victor view has an attractive richness to it but seems to leave out the juridical side that is apparent in Paul’s letters. So basically, l believe in a penal/substitutionary view while trying to incorporate parts of the Christus Victor view. I’m still trying to work this out and would love to have your thoughts on this complicated topic. Thank you so much.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      One suggestion: Read The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge. It’s long and comprehensive, and helped me greatly in putting together various ways of looking at the Atonement. I can’t recommend it highly enough. –Philip

  128. Hi, Mr. Yancey–
    I’m very grateful for your books. Currently I am reading Soul Survivor and can hardly put it down. It’s so yummy and life giving.

    I was praying recently that God would put some generative, mature, joyful Jesus people in my life. Your book is helping me. I was having a hard time with questions about divorce and boundaries and autism and dementia and refugees, to name a few. A lot of Christians grew up learning that if you quoted a Bible verse, that was enough. Just let it be. Have a problem? His grace is sufficient. Struggling with anger towards divorce? Turn the other cheek.

    I believe the gospel has hands and feet and a pulse and your books always, always show me that. They’re compassionate and truthful and not glib. So incarnate. Thank you. They’re actually helpful. The people you write about in Soul Survivor are real and useful l and leave redemption and love in their paths. I didn’t know their stories. I’m thrilled to know them.

    Thank you for taking the time to write these books, share your own journey and bring hope to people who need to noodle over these things.

    Emily Dykstra

    • Philip Yancey says:

      This is a lovely “grace note” of encouragement, Emily. Soul Survivor is my personal favorite because I got to write about my heroes. You absorbed exactly what I hoped to accomplish, and thanks for letting me know. –Philip

  129. Nyra Wise says:

    I have been blessed so many times by your books and have read them all. I have been waiting for a new one for a few years now and wonder if there is something I missed. You, Ravi Zacharias and Max Lucado are my favorite authors. You each speak to the same truth from different directions and style and I am a lifetime reader of something every day. It seems that you have spoken before about working on books you wrote with Dr. Brand so is that the next book we will be able to read? Just anxious for the next book. Thanks for your blogs in the meantime.

    Blessings to you

    • Philip Yancey says:

      My last two books were Vanishing Grace and The Question That Never Goes Away. I’ve been mainly working on a memoir, but sometime in 2019 (probably Fall), will release a newly redone version of my writings with Dr. Brand. Thank you for the encouragement–and keep reading!

  130. Jen Holmes Curran says:

    When I became a Christian at 16, your book The Jesus I Never Knew was the first Christian book I read. I remember falling farther in love with Jesus through those pages, going on and on to my lapsed mother about how amazing he was. At the time I was worshiping at a conservative Baptist church, convinced that drinking and swearing were terrible sins, and watching fearfully for the signs of the coming rapture and the real-world Nicolae Carpathia.

    I have changed quite a bit since then. I drink and I swear, and read the Bible differently…. with a lot less fear, and a lot more gratitude for the generosity of God. I can’t unsee a call to justice in the scriptures that I was blind to once. I just think the gospel is a lot bigger than I used to. But one thing that has not changed is the presence of your books in my life, and their ability to challenge and encourage me in my faith.

    I co-pastor of a small rural congregation alongside my husband, and preparing for a sermon recently I picked up The Jesus I Never Knew just to see what you had to say about the Wedding at Cana and I realized that now that I am coming up on my 36th birthday, it is almost 20 years since I first read it. Through all the changes in my faith and life I am still moved by it. How on earth did you do that? There are so few authors that come with me on this journey.

    I write this for two reasons, I guess. One is to say, Thank you, thank you, thank you for your writing that has been such a gift to the church and to me. And the other is to ask this question of “how?” How have you managed to stay on the shelves of Christian bookstores all this time? I no longer feel like I fit in that culture, but your books still speak to me, and I hear the gospel in them as much as I did way back when.

    I have just had my first article published online with CT, but as I think about writing more for the church, I see how the different parts of the church are speaking different languages. Maybe it has always been this way, but I wonder it is possible to break through those dividing lines. You seem to have managed it though and I am both grateful and amazed.

    Thank you!
    Grace and Peace to you,

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Goodness, this is a blushingly generous comment, Jen. We must connect because we’ve traveled such similar paths. I’m impressed that you were reading me at 16, and even more impressed that we’re still companions on the journey. Like you, I feel I’m sometimes on a high-wire act, tiptoeing through the culture and subculture both. One day I hope to do a book on writing, and then I’ll try to figure out an answer to your question. Meanwhile, I’m simply grateful for the privilege of making a living by exploring what I would do anyway. –Philip

  131. Tom Coke says:

    I suppose you could say the same about our bodies. They wear out and die. But our resurrection bodies will be eternal. The same holds true for the renewed earth that Scripture talks about. Romans 8:18-25 is fairly clear on that. Eternal bodies need the eternal earth to live on. Anyway, the new city on earth won’t need the sun (Rev 21:23) since God will provide the light.

  132. Tom S. Coke says:

    Have you read any of N.T. Wright’s books? Several years back I began reading them and they changed much of what I believe not only about eschatology but Scripture as a whole. I was raised much the way you were and heard constantly that a Chrisitan’s hope was to saved and go to heaven. But that’s not even Scriptural, at least not the emphasis of Scripture. Our ultimate goal is to be resurrected and live in God’s Kingdom on earth (remember the Lord’s prayer – “Thy kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven.” I was just wondering what your thinking is on this?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I have indeed read N. T. Wright, and have the highest respect for his scholarship as well as his gentle spirit. In general I agree with his approach, though it does raise some major questions, such as: What about when the sun burns out in a few billion years and planet Earth becomes unlivable–how does that square with eternity. I’ll let God worry about that one, however. –Philip

  133. Jonathan Lusher says:

    The Miraculous Making of a Pastor

    I started out as a Jew; not a very Orthodox one, but Bar Mitzvahed and Confirmed all the same. From the time of my Confirmation at 15 until age 64, I kept only a vague and unlearned concept of God. Rarely attending any synagogue or church and then mainly to accompany a friend or out of curiosity.

    Then one day, taking a flight on a small regional jet, we encountered the worst turbulence I had experienced in 60 years of flying. The kind where the flight attendants are attached to the roof of the plane. Suddenly, I remembered – word for word – the Twenty-Third Psalm. If I had ever memorized it, it would have been at least fifty years ago.

    Curious. But I dismissed it as an oddity. But it wasn’t. From that time until today, I was exposed to some many “coincidences” that I had to marvel and wonder at what was happening. Understand that as a trained police investigator, and general skeptic, I knew there was no such thing as coincidence; there was always SOME explanation until proven, and very rarely proven otherwise.

    Some examples. I went onto a security assessment in Houston. The man in charge is a police sergeant who for “no apparent reason” began to recount his story of miraculous recovery from terminal cancer. I met someone who took me to a Quaker Meeting. I went out of curiosity yet was clearly affected by the strong presence of the Holy Spirit (not knowing Who it was until much later). Before one Meeting, I “happened” to notice a book on a packed bookshelf titled
    “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” My eyes and heart were opened to Christ, but only partly.

    For the very first time, I began to read the New Testament. Remember, Jews vehemently ignore it. But it began to reach me in incredible ways. I began to study seriously.

    One day as I sat at my desk, I found myself sobbing for quite a long time. “For no reason.” I called out to Jesus to help me, to forgive all the sins in my long life. I called a friend I knew to be a strong Christian and asked what was happening. He chuckled and said “You’ve just been saved.” I knew at that point I had much work to do. The Lord clearly reached out to motivate me to catch up on my long ignorance and vague beliefs. My study, discussion and work intensified.

    A few days later as I was out for my morning walk on my hill, I saw in the early dawn light (!) a cell phone in the gutter. Turning it on, I found a number to call. Doing so I reached a woman who told me it was her daughter’s phone. I offered to meet at a local coffee shop and return it.
    Thus we met, merely as a matter of courtesy, with no expectations, no points of reference. We paused to have a cup of coffee when I learned she was widowed the same year my spiritual quest had begun. Her name is Kristin, which of course means follower of Christ. We met again in a few days, and talked for hours.

    After few more meetings, she invited me to attend her church of three years – an Independent Baptist Fundamental church. Of course, I said. Another first. As I sat and listened to the Word I was struck, convicted and in tears. I was baptized into that church two weeks later. And Kristin and I were married a month later. We both knew then, and still know, that God brought us together, and it was not a “coincidence.”

    The pastor led me to Heartland Baptist Bible College, where I enrolled in the Practical Bible Training extension program. I complete the one-year, graduate level thirty hours in four months with no grade lower than an “A.”

    As I became more immersed in doctrine and theology, I found that my long-time experience in teaching was a gift from God, and should be applied in church. I also found that this church was holding back my growth and began searching for a new one. Once I found one, the pastor remarked that he “saw me teaching” and created a new Sunday School class to teach, which I did for more than a year.

    I yearned for more, not knowing what ‘more” meant. I met a pastor who also was a former law enforcement officer and who was leading a newly merged church. We began to talk about discipleship, and I knew I had found the “more.” Beginning to attend his church, we talked about the forming Deacon body, and I felt called to that. But he said no. As we talked he started to say the word “preach” the same word was forming in my mind at exactly the same time. I knew this was truly the aim of all the rapid and miraculous growth, led by the Holy Spirit. I knew immediately that my relative chronological newness did not matter to God, only the call. I began to teach Sunday School and lead Wednesday night prayer and study meetings, meanwhile preparing sermons.

    I finally got several opportunities to preach, and this simply confirmed the call my Pastor and I had heard. A few months along, out of the blue my Pastor said he thought I should be ordained, and take on an outreach program for the church. Both of these milestones have just occurred.

    This story does not recall the literally hundreds of “God-incidents” that fill the last very few years, but the sense of the Lord’s miraculous and powerful actions is clear. To take this poor sinner, absent from God for so long, and to change his life into one of service, one of repentance, one of pastoring is almost beyond belief. Sherlock Holmes once said that when you rule out the impossible, you are left with the merely improbable. Improbable but true. And indeed, with God nothing is impossible….

    • Philip Yancey says:

      All I can say is “Wow”! I’m impressed by your openness. You may not have felt that receptive at various stages, but you stayed open and “tuned in” to God’s promptings in your life. I’m so glad that you took the time to spell out your story in such detail. I know it will encourage and inspire others. And I have the strong sense that there are more chapters to come! –Philip

  134. L. Philips says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    When I first read your book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” in high school, it felt heretical to super-conservative evangelical me! I worried it was blasphemous and put it down and was afraid to read it again for a long while. But isn’t it funny how God works? Years later, when I first started to really struggled with the church I attended and with a season of doubt in the pursuit of my Ph.D., I found it again – and God used it to keep me hanging on. I’m 35 now and since that time, I have followed all your works. You write often about those writers and thinkers who have mentored you along spiritually; you have become one of those mentors for me as I make my own way along as a writer and a scholar. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you properly or tell you that. I often wish I could have met you in person to say thank you; but I do believe that one day, in the light and joy of the redeemed world we are all longing for, I will. Until then, I keep you and yours in my prayers: may you persevere the race marked out for us! Bless you, and thanks!

  135. Sally Goldman says:

    Hi Philip, we live in South Africa. We love your books and DVDs and use your Grace Notes each morning to start our day. I am happy to have found your website and have signed up to receive your mailings. I was reading through some of your Q&As and noticed the following from you:
    I would point to how Jesus dealt with people who were moral failures … Jesus chose one such woman, a woman who had five failed marriages in her resume, as his first missionary.
    We dealt with this story in church yesterday and I feel I have to “defend” the Samaritan woman at the well. There is nothing in John’s account to suggest she was an amoral woman. Jesus says nothing to her about sin, as he did with the woman caught in adultery, he merely reveals her life story to show his particular divine insight. She was respected enough by her community that they listened to her account about Jesus and let her lead them to him. The fact that she had been married five times may have just been that in those days young girls were married off to much older men, who may have died. In this case, she would then have been married off to someone else, without whom she would have been a completely unprotected, economically destitute woman. The men may well have divorced her (women could almost never divorce their husbands) due to her being barren. So all her previous marriages say nothing about her moral character and in fact may all have been very happy and successful. The fact that she lived with a man who was not her husband could again have a simple explanation. Roman law did not allow the marriage of previous slaves and free-borns, so common-law marriage was rife. Men also took concubines when they were already married and she may have been forced to agree to this for this to have the protection of a man and family. This woman was theologically and politically astute, challenging Jesus as to where the centre of worship was, aware of the conflict between Samaritans and Jews. She had amazing spiritual insight and was keen to evangelise her community. I see no sign of a moral failure and feel this feisty woman has been given very unfair bad press by the church.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you for this, Sally. I may well have misinterpreted what was going on. Traditionally, the fact that she was drawing water at noon, the hottest time of the day, is seen as a sign that she’s viewed as a bit of an outcast by the women of the community, though that’s rather presumptive. Jesus does seem to bore in a bit by his comment that the man she now has is not her husband, so that may also be a clue too. Yet the cultural patterns you mention are certainly true. Women had it tough in those days! I’m sorry if my references gave the wrong impression. Mainly, I love the acknowledgment of “thirst” that Jesus draws from her–if only we all admitted that thirst so readily. –Philip

  136. Lance says:

    It has been a number of years since I read your book The Jesus I Never Knew, but I recently picked it up again and used it to describe the incarnation (salt-water aquarium) for a Christian Worldview Course that my wife and I are doing for people. That illustration always stuck with me and I just wanted to say thank-you for being a faithful follower of Christ and for doing what He created you to do.

  137. Evangeline P says:

    Dear Philip,
    My husband and I have been fans of your writing even before we met each other. We felt so understood when we read your books on the realities of suffering. I’m 39 weeks pregnant and we decided to name our boy ” Ephraim Yancey ” in your honour. Our prayers are that people who ask him the meaning of his name, will read your books, feel understood and rediscover their faith.

  138. Katie says:

    I’ve been meaning to send you a message for a while. I’m 23, a recent college grad, and I’ve been telling my friends that you’re my favorite author since high school, when I first read What’s So Amazing About Grace. I’ve grown up as the daughter of a pastor and an apologetics professor, and of the countless Christian books populating the shelves inside my house, yours were the ones my twin sister and I gravitated toward.

    I just wanted to say thank you, for your blog posts and student bible as much as your books. I’ve found life through so many of your words. The summer after my junior year of college, I led a small group in the fellowship I was a part of. We read through Reaching for the Invisible God. And for perhaps the first time, I was able to articulate so many of my experiences – or lackthereof – with God and the church. I was able to let go of the shame I’ve always faintly clung to for the fact that I always felt like “that person” who went to the retreat and didn’t get the experience I’d hoped for, the person who closed my eyes during “listening prayer” times and was not blessed with a profound image, the one who yearned and longed and prayed for a tangible sense of God’s presence and overwhelming love and, more often than not, didn’t get it. I’d listen to others talk about “hearing from God” so easily and felt two layers of shame – one from my own doubts (is my faith not real?) and one from the imagined doubts I perceived from others (is her faith not real?). But in your book, your honesty gave me hope. And, inspired by some of your words, I began to see faith as not unlike personalities – that we have different “types”, that some people may experience and hear God often (and it is not my place to doubt those experiences), while I may long and doubt and wait far more than I hear…and that that is okay – that these different kinds of relationships with Him might be something He delights in, something He finds beautiful. How boring it must be to have the same kind of relationship with billions of people.

    At college, I often encountered friends who found themselves in the shadows between belief and unbelief. Again and again, I would offer them your name, hoping they would find a similar freedom in realizing their doubts and questions did not disqualify them from faith.
    I often feel different than the Christian community that surrounds me – far more skeptical, far more embracing of doubts, far more comfortable discussing the persistence of my questions than any answers I’ve been offered. You have made my journey of faith much less lonely.

    Thank you.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Katie, I can’t tell you how this warms my heart. I’m 68, a year shy of three times your age, and to hear that somehow my words leap across time and even generations…well, that’s a great gift that you gave me. You express yourself so articulately, and I appreciate the care you put into this note. I had many “toxic church” experiences, and now I look back even on those with gratitude, for them spurred me to a kind of gritty, honest pursuit of God, one that, as I later discovered, the Bible honors. “How boring it must be (for God)…”–that’s a remarkable insight Katie.

      You make me feel less lonely, and spur me further down the same path. Keep feeling different…you’re not alone.


  139. Mark Brown says:

    You and I enjoy similar authors. I love to read C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine. They are passionate authors! I also enjoy reading your books. They are sincere and genuine.
    Keep writing, I read each of them.

    Mark Brown
    South Dakota

  140. Mr. Yancey,
    Just curious…do you believe that John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey? (Matthew 3:4)

  141. Ken Wiens says:

    Thank you so much Philip for sharing your story. I grew up as an adoptee in a Mennonite Brethren Church. We could not dance or go to movies or date girls who did. If one used the Lord’s name in vain they were doomed for eternity. That was the gist of it. Even so I accepted Jesus as my Saviour at about 7 yrs old. I am now going to be 66 yrs old next month. Many years ago I wrote a piece for you. I do not remember now for which publication. Writing is what I’ve always done best.
    I still struggle with lack of self-confidence and procrastination when it comes to writing. I will never forget a parent-teacher conference in high school with my English Lit. teacher. He strongly advised my parents to steer me into a writing career.
    At any rate your writings never fail to inspire me! If anyone will manage to get a fire going under my butt to get me writing more just reading your writings would do it!


    Ken Wiens
    B.A., Mdiv., ThM

  142. Brent says:

    Dear Philip,

    There seems to be an invisible thread that weaves through life, connecting ideas, and making you feel like you’re not alone. For us the writers have included Tim Keller, Ann Voskamp, Leslie Fields, and others. It seems like you’re name keeps popping up as we’ve learned from these folks, so we’ve been reading “What’s so Amazing About Grace”.

    Your book has been convicting but freeing. When you reach the dangerous edges of grace, I feel a bit of anger, but I know it’s true. That’s probably how people respond when I do the same thing. And this is where we find ourselves struggling. We get to churches and Bible studies and find ourselves being judged for having no children. We hear all the talk center around homosexuals being the most evil. We here calls to defend Trump (OK, not at our Lutheran and Reformed churches). And I doubt that I am with Christians.
    But then, I find myself in a different kind of legalism- I think I’m a better Christian, but no I’m a wretched sinner. We bring up grace at a Bible study and people don’t respond. We bring up the fact that we ALL deserve judgement for our sins, and everyone is quiet. Everyone wants to focus on politics. In Baptist-like circles, everyone wants to focus on end times garbage, or how they were blessed for donating to Jerusalem’s military.

    So we find ourselves alone, a lot. When we find churches with decent preaching, we are often judged or find that the church has a strong sub-culture of modern identity and a lack of hospitality and love.

    Listening to an online sermon by Chuck Schlie, we heard your “Traverse City Prodigal” story. That’s where I’m from and we moved back here. The story adds to the lovely book by Keller we are using for our book study. I want to thank you for that illustration and for your work, with the Lord’s strength, in saying things that need to be said. Grace and peace.

  143. Christina Smith says:


    Thank you so much for your book “Whats So Amazing About Grace?”! I first read it about 8 years ago when something in me began to search for grace after years and years of growing up in a fundamentalist church and attending a very legalistic christian college. Our stories (and many of the details) are eerily similar. You and I even exchanged emails for a time. Even though I couldn’t muster the ability to trust Jesus after reading your book, I had a life changing encounter with him last year, which changed everything. He has healed a lot of my hurt and set the record straight for me in many areas. I have even been able to get involved in a church without throwing up every Sunday (really – a freaking miracle). I felt so inspired by what I have learned from Him (before I even entered the church doors and received influence from imperfect people), I began to journal. My writings have now prompted me to start the journey of writing a book (an art form that I know nothing about!) that helps people that were hurt by the church find Christ outside of the church. I am living proof that church is not necessary to the equation, and I want to share it. Understanding grace, as you know, is a huge part of that.

    I was wondering if you did any consulting and, if so, information on your rates. There are some sensitive and controversial aspects to this book that I need help navigating, and “Whats So Amazing…” is just that. Bravo!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Wonderful story, Christina. I’m so glad you filled me in. I’m also glad you’ve started writing. I wish I could offer editorial help, but I’m so far behind on my own deadlines that I have no time for any other projects for the foreseeable future. You might try Writing For Your Life. There are services out there that offer just what you’re asking. –Philip

      • Christina Smith says:

        I understand! The “Writing” area of your site is very helpful as well. I am sorry I didn’t see that before I commented. Good luck on your deadlines! All my best to you.

  144. Nick Buxey says:

    Hello Philip. I have read your books for a good many years now and found enormous comfort and guidance in your writing. Lately I have been reading John Stott’s book “Through the Bible Through the Year” and was finding it quite helpful. Today I read these words: “Although I believe that my readers come from different churches or denominations, at least two things surely unite us. Firstly, we are all committed to the church. At least, I hope we are. I hope that none of my readers is that grotesque anomaly – an unchurched Christian-for the New Testament knows nothing of such a monster!…” This really upset me. I have tried to fit-in with a local church for 9 years, but have recently left because I found no real warmth, or friendship there, even though I was a steward for a number of years and was involved with making coffee on the church rota. I am trying new churches, but I often feel a bit of a ‘loner’. My lovely wife does not attend church with me, or share in regular bible reading, but she does believe in God. She attended the Alpha Course voluntarily a good few years ago and was confirmed in the Church of England, but was put-off when she tried to get involved – especially as secretary with the Church Parish Council. She became disillusioned with some other Christians and the attitude of the church in general. This has left me torn between church and the wife I adore. I cannot feel it’s right to leave her on her own regularly, even though she would never stop me. She is the ‘bread-winner’ and works very hard for us and I feel that, as a Christian, love begins at home. Therefore, my church attendance has been pretty erratic and, at the moment, I find it hard to go at all. I pray and read every day and feel that I have a close relationship with our Heavenly Father, although I know full well that I still have enormous growing to do in my relationship with Him. Am I an “anomaly” and a “monster” because of this? I just need some reassurance. I’ve always trusted your words. I feel pretty lonely at times as a Christian ( and I realise that my erratic church attendance hasn’t helped). I don’t seem to feel much sympathy from other Christians and John Stott’s comments have not helped in this respect – I just feel more alienated. I’ve wanted to talk to my local vicars to discuss my situation, but they never seem to find the time. That’s why, in desperation, I’m contacting you. At least I feel warmth and love in your writing. Thank you in anticipation of your time and attention.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      To me, Stott’s comment seems harsh, uncharacteristic of him. I sometimes counsel people to “take a vacation from church” after a wounding episode–and churches seem to specialize in those. I know that in the U.K., where it seems you’re from, it can be very difficult to find a church with a sense of nourishing community, a church that also shows spiritual vitality and opportunities for service (and not just in U.K.!). I would encourage you to keep looking, because in my experience those who stay away from church for long, seldom go back, and the coal removed from the fire loses heat. The problem is finding the right fire! Don’t let the guilt get to you as that’s not usually a good motivator. Rather, keep searching, and try to look at church not just as a place to nourish you, but one where you can nourish others.

  145. Mike Rosenau says:

    Hi Philip, I have been looking everywhere to see if there may be a small group study guide that you or someone else may have written as a companion to the book “In the Likeness of God” that you co-wrote with Dr. Paul Brand. Does one exist? I was so inspired by that book and the practical applications to life in the Body of Christ.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      No, one does not exist. However! In about a year you’ll see an entirely new edition that combines the two books with Dr. Brand, updating the medicine, cutting duplication, and improving the text. And a person is currently working on a study guide for this new book.

  146. Thomas says:

    Hi Philip,

    I have a million and one questions, but I will just start from this one. I’ve read almost all your books, and let me start by thanking you for helping me see grace for what or should I say who he really is. Thank you for asking and bringing up the questions that are rarely spoken about, and helping me understand that my occasional doubt is necessary for deeper reaches and experiences with God. I read your book on prayer (Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?) at a time I too was having many struggles with prayer; still am, but hopefully getting better. I noticed you didn’t write anything on Praying (or speaking) in tongues. I’m sure you have an opinion on the matter. I’d like to hear what you think, and no I do not expect you to have all the answers I’m looking for, but probably reading what you have to say would help me see it in a different light. Thank you in advance.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Interesting question. Since I’ve not had that particular gift, and try to focus on “mere Christianity,” I haven’t spoken about it. It’s true, of course, that a huge percentage of Christians worldwide practice that gift.

  147. David Wood says:

    “One concentrated effort I’ve made in the past year has been the regular practice of sending notes of appreciation to strangers — writers, artists, varied creators — whose work has moved me in some way, beamed some light into my day. It’s so wonderfully vitalizing for us ordinary mortals to send and receive such little reminders of one another’s humanity — especially in a culture where it’s easier to be a critic than a celebrator.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I saw this quote today used in a Psychology Today article and decided I would take Mr. Emerson’s advice and write a letter of gratitude and appreciation to a few people whose works have had a significant impact on me.

    Back in 2007, I decided to put myself out there and finally answer what I believed to be God’s call on my life to be a worship pastor. Having grown up in a pentecostal environment, I never felt anywhere near good enough to be in church much less a minister, but I stepped out in faith and I ended up resigning about 18 months later over my personal faith crisis surrounding the subject of grace.

    I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I leaned heavily toward a Calvinistic view of grace at a heart level, but my head as always lagged behind.

    That was roughly ten years ago and my doctrinal crisis eventually bloomed into an existential crisis, particularly when I set out to disprove evolution a few years ago and to my horror realized I had been wrong. Consequently I am no longer in church regularly and struggle with my faith in ways I never dreamed possible just a few years ago.

    Recently I decided to try and step away from the constant critical analyzing to appreciate the undeniable beauty of faith in my life that I have found. As a small step I listed the most influential books I have ever read. The following are those books which have touched me in a profound way to the point of shaping how I perceive the world and my faith.

    Mere Christianity ~ C.S. Lewis
    The Reason for God ~ Tim Keller
    What’s So Amazing About Grace ~ Philip Yancey
    The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C.S. Lewis
    The Hiding Place ~ Corrie Ten Boom
    They Speak With Other Tongues ~ John Sherrill
    Hinds Feet on High Places ~ Hannah Hurnard
    The Shack ~ William Young
    The Crucible ~ Aurthur Miller
    The Langauge of God ~ Francis Collins

    It is difficult to describe or put my finger on exactly why this book holds a special place in my heart. What I can do however is give an indication as to its importance in my life based on a recent event.

    A couple of weeks ago while Christmas shopping I had the urge to order “What’s so Amazing About Grace.” I didn’t have a particular person in mind, but I couldn’t shake off the desire to buy the book. So I found a copy on ebay and didn’t think any more of it. Shortly afterwards, my wife’s grandmother had emergency surgery and began having difficulty recovering. They found her in a diabetic coma on Thanksgiving day and Hospice was called in a few days afterwards. Those following days were painful and difficult for my wife. When she finally got the call on monday, I took off early from work to go be with her.

    I held her as she cried. I tried consoling her, but I struggle with doubts and am not the best at reassurance these days. She went to check the mail and told me a book I ordered had come in. It was your book that I had ordered for no particular reason. I explained to her how I ordered the book, not knowing who I was going to give it to for Christmas, but all things considered it sure did seem as though God wanted her to have it. It is difficult not to have the impression its re-emergence in our lives was divinely orchestrated.

    With that in mind, thank you for being part of our lives through your writing. I also follow you on facebook and am appreciative of your thoughtful, measured commentary, constantly pointing your readers to the grace of God. In this world where Darwinian reciprocity seems to command and dictate almost every square inch of our lives and relationships, the hope of a relationship with the creator of all, not based on what I have to give or give back is the one beautiful pearl that never loses its beauty and I thank you for being a continual reminder of that beauty through your writing.

    David (one of your fans)

    • Philip Yancey says:

      What a gracious and generous note. Your “crisis of faith” doesn’t concern me, because brokenness is often the gateway God uses, and clearly you have the desire and openness that God treasures. Thank you for telling me some of this story, which deeply moves me.

      And on the evolution issue, you might check out the BioLogos website, which deals with these issues in depth.

      Bless you,


  148. Jee Kim says:

    Hello Mr.Yancey!
    I was just wondering how are your days. Recently I got obsessed with Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and his books. Then I thought it would be awesome if I ever get one chance to talk to Goethe, the man who died in 1832. It was only my dream but then you were on my heart next to Goethe. How blessed I am to live in this era… that it was possible for me to at least express how much I appreciate your works and how much I love you as an author. I’m already excited to think that I am able to send this message and you will be able to read and reply. I will try my best to take this privilege as often as possible.
    I am planning on going to London and paris then Korea early of next year. Wishing that I might be able to see you in person one day by wandering around the world.
    I wish you the best.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I am blushing to be mentioned in the same paragraph with Goethe. I have only one advantage: I am still alive! –Philip

  149. George says:

    Hello Philip,

    With life issues coming up on daily basis, The Las Vegas shooting killing 58 and over 500 injuired; only yesterday the Texas Church shooting killing 26 and many more event in 2017. One will be desired to read more from your knowledge of write ups.

    I could not keep thinking about yesterday shooting at Texas Church, a family of 8 killed, a pregnant Woman with 3 children killed. What questions would be in the minds of that community.

  150. Frank Kohler says:

    I picked up your book, Reaching for the Invisible God, and am three-quarters through it, and love it. There are so many great references to other famous writers, many of whom were Christians who have struggled in their faith. Besides that, I love the honesty about your own struggles. I have read others books by you, but this one strikes a special chord with me. I am a retired pastor, working on a book of my own, where God has clearly intervened in my life time and again, and yet some days I wake up in a dark place, like you have described. Thus this book has particularly interested me.

  151. Dan Vachon says:

    My brother Philip,
    We will most likely never meet in this lifetime, but someday in glory we will have to sit and chat and laugh at the goodness of the Lord and rejoice at the wonderful lessons He allowed us to learn, and I will thank you in person for putting pen to paper and making sense of my recent hurts and woes. I have spent my adult life in ministry, raised a large family, but recently went through a nasty divorce after 30 yrs due to my wife having mental health illness. Some of my children are far from the faith, some former colleagues have pointed out I am “disqualified” from ministry, yet today I can still smile. Jesus never left my side and you helped me see and understand that. I have experienced some of the life struggles you also have had and you have encouraged me to see God and His word in a new, fresh and relevant way, so THANK-YOU. I will be purchasing a few more of your books as I only have 3 or 4, but know that you are in my prayers daily as I read a portion of your books. My ministry is now more to encourage people one on one and to show God’s love that way (I have also been a paramedic 25 yrs so I bring that dynamic to my “ministry”), but I often tell folks that Philip Yancey is one of my favorite authors because he understands the dynamics of how Jesus taught, thought and walked. So, until we meet, thank-you for your work and may the Lord keep blessing you.

  152. Lindsay says:

    Mr. Yancey,

    I have prayed the prayer of salvation too many times to count, starting in my teens and continuing well into my thirties. I was perpetually stuck at the starting line of Christianity, paranoid about my inability to experience what my friends, pastors, etc. described as a “personal relationship” with God. I thought that being a Christian meant experiencing God and Jesus in the same way that I would experience my human family and friends, which I have never been able to do. This created a big disconnect for me, and I have spent years assuming that the disconnect was a sign of my own unbelief.

    Recently, I came across a copy of your book “Reaching for the Invisible God,” and I was extremely encouraged by your frank approach to doubt, the mysterious nature of God, and the personification of Him that’s so widespread in protestant/evangelical culture. For the first time, I realized that my inability to understand God as human had nothing to do with my salvation and everything to do with modern evangelical culture trying to incorrectly force Him into a human box. Since reading your book, I have vowed to stand strong in my faith and move forward, refusing to doubt my own salvation any longer.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart from being willing to honestly broach subjects that so many won’t. It has been life-changing for me.


    • Philip Yancey says:

      This warms my heart, Lindsay. You may enjoy the book Without God, Without Creed, by James Turner, which explores how careless language raises expectations about what an encounter with God should look like. Bless you in your honest journey. –Philip

  153. richard says:

    by Richard Weber

    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.”

    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.

    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.

  154. 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

  155. 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.


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

  156. 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, 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

  157. 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.

  158. 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.

  159. Rob Barrett, Jr. says:

    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.
    Rob Barrett

  160. 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

  161. 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

  162. 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.


  163. 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!

  164. 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.

  165. 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.

  166. Joan says:

    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?

  167. 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.

  168. 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

  169. 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

  170. 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

  171. 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

  172. 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.

  173. Rod says:


    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:


        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.


        • 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.


  174. 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

  175. 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

  176. 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

  177. 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

  178. 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

  179. Rebekah says:


    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.

  180. 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.

  181. Emily J. M. says:

    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, 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

  182. 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.

  183. 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
    Please respond to

    • 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

  184. 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

  185. Marc Castellani says:


    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.



    • 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

  186. eBookDaily says:


    “The Bible Jesus Read” is highlighted today on

  187. 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.

  188. 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

  189. 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

  190. 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.

  191. 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.

  192. Kairat says:

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

  193. 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!
    Wellington, South Africa

  194. Joe says:

    Dear Mr. Yancey,
    I represent the online ministry 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,

    • 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

  195. 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.

    • 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

  196. 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.

  197. 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!

  198. 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:

      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

  199. 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

  200. 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 .

    • 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

  201. 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.

  202. 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

  203. 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’ …



    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!

      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

  204. 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

  205. 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.


  206. 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.

  207. 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.


  208. 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!

  209. 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.

    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.

  210. 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

  211. 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

  212. 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

  213. 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 […]

  214. 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

  215. 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.

  216. 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,


    • 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 )

      • Philip Yancey says:

        Christianity Today magazine recommends these books: Like you, I believe we need many more.

      • 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.

  217. 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.

  218. 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.

  219. 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

  220. 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)


        • 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.


  221. Richard Edfeldt says:


    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.

  222. 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,


    • 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

  223. 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,


        • 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!

  224. 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

  225. 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:


            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

  226. Nagy Zoltán says:

    Tisztelt Philip!
    Jó olvasni a könyveit!
    Isten áldja!

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

  227. 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.

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

  229. 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.

  230. 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.

  231. 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.

  232. 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.”

  233. 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.


      • 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

  234. 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:

  235. 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.

    • 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]

  236. 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

  237. 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.


  238. 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.

  239. 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.

  240. 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.

  241. 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.

  242. greg bennett says:

    Hi Philip,

    It’s one of my favorite times of the year: 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.

  243. Guy says:

    Judge righteous judgement.

  244. Doug Hanson says:


    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 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,

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


    • 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.

      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, 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.

  245. 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!


  246. 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!

  247. 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,


    • 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.

  248. 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?

  249. 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:

    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.

      • 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.

  250. 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

  251. 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 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!

    • 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!

  252. 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

  253. 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

  254. 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.


  255. 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

  256. 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,


  257. 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

  258. 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.


    • 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

  259. 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?


    • 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

  260. 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

  261. 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

  262. 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

  263. 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
    Bethlehem Graz

    I Thank You

  264. 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.”

      • Ken Koeman says:


        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.


      • 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.

  265. 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.

  266. 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

  267. 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,


    • 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.

  268. 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.

        • 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,

          • 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.


        • 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