I wrote What’s So Amazing About Grace? more than twenty-five years ago, at the close of the twentieth century. I feared that some parts of the church were growing so shrill and divisive that bystanders no longer heard the gospel as good news. Now more than ever, we need grace

In fact, I submitted the book to my publisher with the proposed title What’s So Amazing About Grace and Why Don’t Christians Show More of It? A wise and gentle editor persuaded me to shorten it. “That title’s a bit in-your-face for a book buyer, don’t you think?” he said. “Besides, we can’t fit that many words on a book’s spine.”

I remember standing in the kitchen as I stuffed the thick bundle of my manuscript pages into a mailing envelope—this back in an era when editors preferred hard copy to digital files. “It’s probably the last book I’ll write for Christian readers, especially evangelicals,” I said to my wife. “After all, I have a chapter on Mel White, now an LGBTQ activist, and another chapter on Bill Clinton, a favorite target of evangelicals. I’ll likely be blackballed.” I was wrong. The book went on to sell more copies and provoke more responses than anything else in my writing career.

Writing the revision of What's So Amazing About GraceI have been working on the revised and updated edition of What’s So Amazing About Grace?, and it will be released on October 3.  As I reflect on the past twenty-five years, it seems clear to me that the world needs grace more than ever.

At the time of the book’s first publication, President Bill Clinton was halfway through his second term in office. Historians were ranking those years as among the most peaceful and prosperous in U.S. history. Unemployment hit historic lows and, astonishingly, the federal budget produced a surplus four years in a row. Congress passed bills with bipartisan support on major issues such as welfare reform and crime prevention. All this happened because Democrats and Republicans worked together—though not without strife—rather than automatically opposing whatever the other side proposed.

At the same time, international tensions had greatly eased from Cold War days. The Soviet Union had broken apart into sovereign republics. Russia was reveling in its newfound freedom and looking to the West for help in managing a chaotic economy (at least until Vladimir Putin became prime minister). China’s economy was booming, lifting millions out of poverty. The political scholar Francis Fukuyama proposed that human development had reached “the end of history,” a triumph for liberal democracy.

Fukuyama spoke too soon. In the years since, wars have broken out in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine; and autocrats have risen to power around the world. A new Cold War is taking shape between the U.S. and its old adversaries, China and Russia.

On the domestic front, U.S. elections now show a sharp divide between blue states on the coasts and red states in the middle. Some politicians seriously advocate for their states to secede from the nation; others speak darkly of a potential civil war.

Much has changed culturally as well in twenty-five years, including the country’s religious makeup. Church membership has fallen from 69 percent to below 50 percent, a historic low. According to the Pew Research Center, currently about three in ten U.S. adults describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious identity. These “nones” vote overwhelmingly Democratic, widening the political divide.

Philip Yancey with Bill Clinton

I wrote for Christianity Today magazine during the Clinton presidency, and in that role I was twice invited to the White House. The concept of “culture wars” had recently entered politics, and President Clinton seemed baffled by it. A Southern Baptist himself, he couldn’t understand evangelicals’ outrage when he permitted gays to serve in the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Back then, no country had yet legalized same-sex marriage, and transgender issues were barely mentioned.

Both sides have hardened over the past few decades. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals that eight in ten Republicans believe the Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists, while eight in ten Democrats believe the Republican Party has been taken over by racists. Almost half of all U.S. adults report that they’ve stopped discussing political news when they disagree with a close friend or family member, and one in six have simply broken off the relationship.

Often it seems that two sides are standing on opposite banks, shouting at each other across a canyon. In such a climate we can choose to withdraw, hunkering down with like-minded people. Or we can choose the Jesus way, seeing schism and antagonism as a testing ground for grace.

What’s So Amazing About Grace? has been in print for twenty-five years. In that time I have received several thousand letters of response. Mostly, they tell stories. The man who shot John Lennon, now studying the Bible in a New York prison. Former president Jimmy Carter, spending his post-presidency bringing grace to less fortunate countries. An Emmy-winning actress working to heal wounds from childhood. Members of the rock band U2, who studied the book together. Letters responding to What's So Amazing AboutGrace

I have made changes throughout, mainly by updating old examples and references. This edition also includes a Reflection Guide consisting of questions that make the application more personal. I hope that a new generation of readers, not even alive when I wrote this book, discover for themselves what’s so amazing about grace. A quarter-century later, I am more convinced than ever that the United States and the world need a massive infusion of it.

(Adapted from the Preface to the revised and updated edition)




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43 responses to “Now More Than Ever”

  1. Lee Smith says:

    The first time I tried to read this book, it was too much for me – I was a Southern Baptist who was scared that too much grace sounded like blasphemy. Can you imagine? But God continues His work… I read it years later, at the time most needed. And God used it to strengthen me in my faith at a critical time I was so, so frustrated with His people and with the church.

    “God is wise and heart and mighty in strength. He moves mountains without their knowledge…” (Job 9:5). I’m a college professor formed by my faith and encouraged and supported by seminal books like this one. Striving to give grace keeps me in mind how much I need of it.

    Praying for the inflows and outflows of grace to you, Philip, as you’ve delivered word of them to so many.

  2. Mrs. C. Kelly says:

    A fellow parishioner gave me the book What’s so Amazing about Grace in 2007. Four years passed before I picked it up to read and boy was I “Amazed.” I loved it. Seeing the new revision will give me the perfect opportunity to introduce it to others, especially during this digital age. Thanks for all you do Philip!

  3. Lyubomir Leshchuk says:

    Hi, Philip! Looking forward to reading the revised version of the book.

    Have you ever gotten a chance to speak with Malcolm Gladwell? I feel like the two of you would have a grand time together. If you have, I’d love some links or references to your talks, if available.

  4. Kenneth Dodge says:

    an “up dated version”?? Nothing has really changed …Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever??
    Yes, an emphasis on the grace of God is always greatly needed. I look forward to reading your “new” book. . Thanks for writing.

  5. I’ve read your original What’s so Amazing about Grace twice, but it’s worth reading a third time. Your books have not only helped shape my faith but have stretched and encouraged me in the daily living-out of God’s grace. Thank you!

  6. Shari says:

    I can hardly count the times I have participated in groups using your text! So many memories of the people and our responses…
    I can’t wait to read your new book!
    Thank you!!

  7. Lexi Reisinger says:

    Philip, as a 27 year old woman, I want you to know that your writings are spanning a generational gap and you’ve given me hope or at least some camaraderie in some really dark times. Your humility and authenticity are more appreciated than you will probably ever realize. Keep pilgriming on!

  8. Tamara Trussell says:

    I read your first Grace book right after it was released and several times recommended it to book groups I was in over the years. It never failed to deliver the great need we have for GRACE. And, ever more so today. I can’t wait to get my new copy on October 3rd! Thank you for taking the time to re-introduce this much needed practice, and esp needed in the Christian community. I hear such contempt for “others” it shocks my heart and I don’t want to be a part of the community. Rather I go where people who are and are not of the Christian belief actually show grace.

  9. Bev Heazlewood says:

    In 2004 the Holy spirit convinced me that God was real .after walking away from Christianity in my early 30
    Whats so amazing about grace was the book that somehow I bought , at a conference because itwas cheap .
    Since then and reading all your books and.of course the Bible Jesus has been the centre of my life .

  10. Michèle Gyselinck says:

    I find the colours of your country’s political parties so counter-intuitive. Everywhere else the Conservatives paint their platforms in shades of blue, whereas Liberals colour themselves red. It may seem trivial to you, but it’s a shock every time I look at a political map of the USA.

  11. Jay Allen says:

    Thank you, Philip Yancy, for your emphasis upon the importance of God’s grace!! Grace that is available to all who embrace Jesus and the Holy Spirit, instruments of real change in our lives! Thank you for sharing your heart, your life, your ministry of grace to me, to us!!
    Jay Allen
    Oklahoma City

  12. Mike Mueller says:

    Great news about the rebirth of my wife and my favorite book. We have tried to encourage many folks to read it.

    You are our favorite Christian writer because you’re real and says things about Christianity that we all think about. You make us think and search our souls and we love that in your writings!

    Keep it up,


  13. Anne says:

    A neighbor has a bumper sticker that says Grace Happens. As I walked today I pondered why I do not think it is a good statement. Then I opened your blog and read of the revision soon to be released. I agree that Grace is needed; Should be extended, and must be received from God. Will look forward to reading your new revision. Thanks for writing and challenging us to live what we believe.

  14. Carol Taylor says:

    While recovering from a total knee replacement with a dear friend staying with me the first couple of weeks, I was reminded of your original from a reflection by John Ortberg who used your opening reflection on grace found in Babette’s Feast. I announced to my friend that her new middle name is “Babette”.” We then watched the original movie, read the book, and I pulled my 1997 edition of your original What’s So Amazing About Grace off the shelf where I have most of your books. This past summer I reread it, and now have ordered your new edition and eager to read it. Our world is desperate for His Grace, and much of the church needs to rediscover the power of a message and a life lived in such grace. Thank you!

  15. Don Stecher says:

    I have read all of your books and you are one of 5-6 of my favorite authors. I’ve given away many of your books to HS kids and non-Christians.

    I’m a former career lobbyist, and as slowly I advanced in my walk with Jesus, and my career I realize that the only lasting, permanent answers come from the Gospel.

    Perhaps because I’ve “seen too much on both sides of the aisle” I’m opposed to the polar extremes. Neither party has a corner on “crazy”.

    I pray and work for rational Biblical Believer engagement and have become jaded, but I try hard not to despair.

    That said, abortion is killing. Ignoring the destitute is sin. Both sides should deal with their wanton disregard for their “giant boards in their eyes” first.

    Simple, right?…

  16. Ralph says:

    I’ll need to get my copy of the new edition. I first read it (borrowing my dad’s copy) more than twenty years ago and I’ve been wanting to read it again. One of my favorite funny movies “School of Rock” was co-written by Mel White’s son Mike. Never thought I’d connect the dots years later and find out you’re friends with that guy’s dad!

    Today (10/1) happens to be my 12th wedding anniversary, truly a signpost of God’s amazing grace!

    Thanks for your inspiring words about the message of grace that is so easily missed. (Hebrews 12:15)

  17. Richard says:

    I started re-reading the original a week ago, unaware that an update was imminent. It remains my favourite and most influential Christian book, and am still bowled over by it.

  18. Ann-Elise Grosser says:

    Really looking forward to this updated version, and I pray God will use it to refine His people.

  19. Scott La Point says:

    As I sit around a group of my son’s teenage friends “being real” with them about how I feel about my Luke emerging from a coma that has robbed him of his mind, my language is peppered with a few expletives along with a message that God is the only One who knows whether Luke will ever be himself again. We share communion, me with grape juice and Saltine crackers, speaking about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for these kids, many of whom spent countless hours in my home but have never been to church. Now, hours removed from this sacred scene, reading Philip’s blog, I’m reminded of his brother’s brain injury journey and the grace he extended to him after his stroke and continues to reveal in his and other’s lives. Grace is what I hope these teenagers see in me as I deal with my boy’s tipsy-turvy post-TBI life, and Philip’s writings continue to guide me on an unconscious level into territory I never thought I’d be traveling. Thank you, Philip, and thank you God for giving me my son and this newfound grace to give to his equally bewildered friends.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      God bless you in this excruciating time, Scott. You’re exactly the right person to convey reality to Luke’s friends–even as you grieve what happened to your son.

  20. Kim Rau says:

    My husband and I lead a home group using What’s So Amazing About Grace as our book for the study. We had both read it and been profoundly moved. It resonated with us so much. We were already readers of Disappointment With God and others and had heard Philip speak at First Presbyterian church in San Diego. Big fans! We just recently re-ordered the book to read again having given away our other copies. We are thrilled!!! to read the revised book and will order right away. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 50 years now and I refuse to let evangelicals rob my faith. Thank you, Philip Yancey, for being our voice and for humbly emulating our Savior.

  21. Great Phllip, can’t wait to read your update. THANKS. I’ve read most all you’ve written in the past. I always said you took all the book titles I would have used. I relinquished them. glad you are staying at it. God’s grace to you too!

  22. Amy Newman says:

    The book is among the classic of Christianity and “nothing you can do to make God love you any more and nothing you can do to make God love you any less” is the capstone. Thank you! I look fwd to requesting the update from my library system.

  23. The Vicar says:

    Twenty five years later, after reading “What’s so amazing about grace?” I am still amazed by the grace of GOD. So looking forward to getting the updated version of the book.

  24. stephen says:

    I wanted to order a copy of Undone but it was going to cost me $40 in postage making the price of the book $58.
    I wanted to get it on kindle but it isn’t available.
    Unsure of what other options I have??

    • Philip Yancey says:

      A digital version and an audiobook should be available in the next few months. US mail sends book as airmail, at exorbitant rates.

  25. James Morris says:

    YES! More than ever is correct! Applying grace has always been my go to, and always appreciated by family, friends, and work colleagues. I’m currently reading “Reaching for the Invisible God.” I’ve asked myself numerous times, how does he (Yancey) know me so well? I love reading Buechner and Lewis too – at least they are not rewriting and updating. Looking forward to rereading “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” For me, the title basically answers your question because I’m continually amazed! Thank you for your insights and for writing exactly what I desperately need.

  26. So excited to share this new edition of one of my favorite books. The recovery community, I believe, needs to read, embrace, and share a message of grace now more than ever, too.

  27. Chriss Pruim says:

    i can’t wait to read the updated version! i read the first 21 years ago while i was pregnant with my first daughter, and i named her grace because the book had such an impact on me.

  28. Scott Bolinder says:

    Thank you for investing in this update, Philip! You are correct that we need a massive infusion of grace in the church as we seek to share Light in a Dark world. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

  29. W says:

    I am so thankful for this. I just read your memoir and Soul Survivor and I was just remarking that your writing could be more applicable now than ever since I can’t believe some of them were written 20 years ago. The pondered, unanswered questions, living with acceptance and pain-your writing speaks from my own mind and calms my soul and somehow still has me holding onto Him.

  30. Nora H Lasher says:

    I read the original ‘What’s so Amazing About Grace’ years ago, and have always appreciated it. I’ll be forwarding this blog to my teenage daughter, now a freshman in college (and a strong democrat) and getting her the new edition for Christmas. Thank you for consistently being a voice of calm, grace and reason for Christians who want to follow Christ’s example. Take care and God bless.

  31. Geisse Tim says:

    I look forward to reading the updated edition. I couldn’t agree more that we need grace and need to exhibit it more than ever.

  32. Martin I Clementson says:

    Your book started a process that allowed the Spirit to start a process that led me from legalism to Grace.

    Praise the Lord, and thank you, Philip.

  33. Cathy says:

    Thank you for writing this book, and I will buy the new edition when it comes out, hopefully sharing it with others who have not read it. Grace is so needed today, and I pray that God’s grace will be shown to all who read your book.

  34. CarolABCA says:

    I’m excited to read an updated What’s so amazing About Grace! I need more of it myself!

  35. Kenn Beckwith says:

    My all-time favorite book by my all-time favorite author!

    Looking forward to reading the new version!

  36. Bob DuDonis says:

    Thank you Philip!

  37. Dorothy Bethel says:

    What’s So Amazing About Grace is on my top 5 favorite books list and a book that changed me. I have now been a follower of Jesus 50 years (although I read the book several years ago) and I thought I was a grace oriented person. When I read that book I realized that I wasn’t very gracious at all. If I could legislate anything (haha), it would be mandated that all Christians read that book! May the Lord continue to use it in our world today.

  38. Karl Crawford says:

    This book and “The Jesus I Never Knew” are significant books that deserve a refresh to speak to a society and a church that have lost their way. Thank you for your work and your passion to hold us to the truth of the Word.

  39. Evelette. Fourniller says:

    I was introduced recently to the writings of Phillip Yancey. I received What’s So Amazing About Grace and The Jesus I Never Knew and Where The Light Fell as gifts.
    I am definitely blessed by the inspiration from these books.
    I am looking forward to the revised version . May God continue to inspire and bless you, your family and your ministry.

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