What Good is God? In Search of a Faith That Matters by Philip Yancey
Published by FaithWorks, an imprint of Hachette
Journalist Philip Yancey has always been one to question certain aspects of the Christian faith. In What Good is God?, he seeks to determine how God works for those Christians dealing with difficult situations. In his quest to answer this fundamental question of faith, he visits many parts of the world including Virginia Tech soon after the massacre, the motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and a conference for former sex workers.
What Good is God? was the second selection for the Faith and Fiction Roundtable, the brainchild of Amy, in which a group of bloggers read and discuss a faith-based book and then post about our discussion and our feelings on said book. This particular book didn’t generate a ton of discussion, as it seemed that many of us didn’t much like the book. Personally I thought it had good points and bad but overall I enjoyed the experience of reading it and I found it to be a relatively meaningful discussion on the power of faith – and more specifically, faith in God – in difficult times.
The book was set up somewhat awkwardly, and most of us in the Roundtable agreed that it wasn’t the best format. Basically what Yancey did was talk about a place or people or experience for a chapter, and the next chapter would be a speech he gave in that particular situation/event/place. It felt like he was recycling previous works – republishing speeches he’d given already – and most of us didn’t like that. But most of us did agree that the chapters preceding the speeches were much better than the speeches themselves and most of us got a lot out of those chapters.
For me, I think the main question the book addressed was “Where is God when life gets painful?” rather than “What Good is God?” What the book reinforced for me is the fact that regardless of the circumstances, God is there. God shows His face through his Christians, through His missionaries, through His churches and the individual people who care enough to spread His word and His love throughout even the hardest hit parts of the world.
The other thing that I was reminded of, thanks mostly to our discussion, is the fact that Christianity doesn’t look the same for everyone, and that the way we practice and show our faith isn’t necessarily going to be the best fit for someone else. In places ravaged by disease, poverty, prejudice, and other realities of life, faith may need to be expressed and felt in different ways. A group of people doesn’t need to do Christianity our way for it to still be faith in and love for God. And God shows up, no matter the details of the faith – if you love and trust in Him, He is there, regardless of the specifics of your situation.
I can’t say that I found one concrete message to inspire me in this book, but throughout the book I felt inspired and lifted up by the faith of the people Yancey came into contact with. I think everyone needs a reminder sometimes that God is here, even when it hurts, even when it seems that He has abandoned us. And I think that’s a starting point for many people, and a good one too.
Please check out what the other participants thought of What Good is God?
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