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What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,140 ratings  ·  169 reviews
Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in WHAT GOOD IS GOD? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by FaithWords (first published January 1st 2010)
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Cheryl Gatling
My husband read this book for a reading group at church. When he brought it home, I asked him, "So? What good is God?" He wasn't able to give me an answer Now that I have read the book myself, I know why not. Yancey doesn't actually answer that question. A more accurate title might have been "Travels With Yancey." Each chapter describes a different place he has visited, and includes a talk that he gave there. He has been literally around the world, often meeting with people in extreme circumstan ...more
Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
In this book, Philip Yancey presents his ideas about spirituality in an extremely realistic and practical way. He examines the concept of God's goodness and the value of faith in the troubled times we live in and does not mince words or give pithy pat answers. He honestly looks at some disturbing issues with a view to discovering if God is actually good in that specific situation. He is comfortable enough with ambiguity to avoid generalizing and giving advice not based on truth. As a committed C ...more
Holly Weiss
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"Sojourns of Journalist a Metaphor for Spiritual Journey of Believer”

Phillip Yancey is one of the most influential writers in the Evangelical world today. “I write books for myself,” he says on his blog, “searching for a loving, gracious God.” Yancey writes about God’s grace instead of the God he feared because of the hell and brimstone preaching he received from what he calls a “toxic church.”

Yancey brings us a new format in his book, What Good is God. He takes us on a global trek
Nov 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Yancey is my favorite Arminian writer. Thought provoking, genuine and original, Yancey never fails to send my thoughts in new directions. I am about half way through this one and it is formated into chapter pairs with the first one describing an extrodinary or unusual circumstance where Yancey has been asked to speak and the second giving the speach itself. He has covered so far speaking at the Virginia Tech Masacare, the Chinese underground church, a conference for recovering prostitutes, remem ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I don'’t think it was what I found, at least in terms of its structure. What Good Is God? In Search of a Faith That Matters is a collection of talks that Philip Yancey has given in various places around the world, each prefaced with a chapter reflecting on the circumstances under which they were given.

In some instances, Yancey addressed communities in the wake of traumatic events; in others, he spoke to groups who were marginalized and perse
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is Phillip Yancey’s latest book and the second Yancey book I’ve read. It’s very good, and I looked forward to reading a chapter each night after work. There are some wonderful stories that I hope to remember and share with others. The book is set up in a series of sections made up of two chapters: In the first chapter of the section, Yancey provides background on the situation, circumstances, invitation, etc., that led to him giving a talk at a particular place. Then in the second chapter, ...more
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, nonfiction
Got an advance copy of this from the bookstore where I work. Philip Yancey is one of my favorite Christian writers, and he had an interesting and effective format for this book. It was divided into 10 sections, each one about a place he had traveled where he had been struck by the faith of the people he met and the difference God had made in their lives. From Mumbai, shortly after the terrorist attacks in 2008, to Virginia Tech after a student went on a murderous rampage, to a convention of wome ...more
This was fine. Nothing earth shattering for me at least, but Yancey always has interesting things to say about faith and religion. In this book he visits 10 places where faith has been tested. Yancey gives the reader information about why he picks this place, why he visits these people and what he had to say to them. I will give Philip Yancey credit - I am not sure that all evangelicals would choose to visit the places Yancey does. And I don't think all conservative Christians would be open to t ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really like Phillip Yancey's books. He doesn't beat around the bush - bad stuff happens whether you are a Christian or not. The difference for Christians is that we have a companion on the journey and we can experience hope and grace despite out circumstances.
Buddy Draper
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book covers difficult places and issues and how God speaks and ministers to and through His people.
Francis Gahren
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
My Take

This book made me want to read more of Philip Yancey’s books (I have several of them on my shelf). I was immediately interested in his story of how he dealt with his car accident on a slick Colorado road. With a broken neck, strapped to a board because the doctors were afraid a bone fragment would puncture an artery, he was given a cell phone and told to contact his family because they were not sure how long he had to live. That would sober you up real quick, wouldn’t it?
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Philip Yancey’s books has become a reassurance of my faith in God. Much like the last book I read, Where Is God When It Hurts, Yancey travels to various parts of the world researching the basis of the Christian faith. It is inspiring to read or listen to stories of people from far and beyond who have come to faith rummaging through their hardships in life to find God, to find hope and to find someone to believe in.
Every time I read a Philip Yancey book, I learn about the power as well as the st
Ann Sam
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Philip Yancey is clearly one of the best Christian writers of our times. This book is a collection of his speeches in several parts of the world during a crisis, when this question, "what Good is God" arises in the suffering victim's mind. It was a journey to walk with him through the streets of China, the church transforming the wounded south Africa, recovering addicts, when the markets tumbled globally in 2008, grieving friends and family post the Virginia tech shooting and the life transformi ...more
Marion Abbott
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a tough read. Not because it was difficult to understand, but because it's so jam packed with stories, insights and information, it's a TON for the brain to absorb.

I had to take a break at the midpoint, just to ponder and regroup.

Yancey is a gifted (gifted!!) writer who has seen so much. We are lucky to have his voice.

Highly recommended, with 'reading breaks' alongside.
Mookie J
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A Good read. Enjoyable. Philip Yancy again proves to be one of my favorite authors. He just knows how to write, tell a good story and communicate important information. 1st book read of 2019 better than any book i read in 2018.
Nothing phenomenal, life-changing or big amazing quotes, so just 4 stars, likely 9/10. Good book
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lively writing about many of the times and places that God is at work in the world. It will not answer questions about why God does not step in and save bad happenings, but rather how God works in human hearts. And He may be doing more than we know. The sermons are a bit long winded and could use some editing.
Joni Leimgruber
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love the way Philip Yancey shares these important stories - even honestly talking about his own journey through undoing early racist beliefs. Yancey inspires me as a writer, to keep on telling the human stories and to never feel the need to hide the truth behind a facade. In What Good is God?, Yancey shows that the whole, raw story is truly the most powerful weapon in life.
Judith Read
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have read Philip Yancey before. He gives his take on those hard questions in life that perplex. He does not preach, but illustrates through his own and others challenges of faith. This book is no exception.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is Yancey's latest book and best ever! He shares his experiences travelling to and meeting with Christians from key countries whom we can really learn from! The Middle East, China, etc.--amazing and well worth the read. Very encouraging.
Rachel Rothwell
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book. Talks given on various difficult sitautions.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad read. I love Philip he writes in a way even I understand.
Rubie redd
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-challenge
I loved this book. Made me feel closer to God. He doesnt give you answers but gives you view points from himself and others so you can make a decision yourself
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read all the way through this time without the group. Lots of great references!
This book in no way answers the question posed in it's title. In fact that more I read it the more I thought it veered away from it. Nevertheless I found it be a very moving book that provided a lot of food for thought.

The book has 10 chapters and each is divided in 2 parts. The first part introduces the setting and situation. Mumbai during the 2008 terrorist attacks. An AA meeting in Chicago. China, the Middle East, and Cambridge to name a few. Yancey shares the stories of people he meets. Fro
In his latest novel, What Good is God?, Philip Yancey explores, through ten of his previous speeches, the impact God is having around the world. I have to admit that I was not familiar with Yancey before reading this book. I had heard of him, but this is the first book that I read by him.

The title of this book is a bit misleading. Inherently, the reader expects a definitive answer to the question – What good is God? And I don’t know that Yancey ever really answers the question. He gi
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Angi by: Goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from one of the Goodreads giveaways. I was very excited to win something, especially considering that I received it one month before the First Edition date :-)
Reading this book has really helped me to become more in tune with the world around me and even ignited a spark in my spirituality. The author, Philip Yancey, is a journalist and a public speaker, and usually with a christian overview. Reading this, I see how many amazing experiences he has been able to experience b
Georgia Herod
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once again Yancey asks the hard questions in the midst of hard circumstances—the title reflects the universal question, one that “occurs in some form to every person who experiences pain or death or poverty or unfairness—in other words, to everyone.” What good is God in a world where terrorists attack tourist sites in Mumbai, where women and children are sold into sexual slavery, where a gunman kills 32 students and staff on a college campus, and where six million people in South Africa alone su ...more
Eric Wright
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, church-issues
Yancey invariably writes in an interesting, readable, and highly uplifting style. To most of his books I would give a 5 out of 5. This one, however, I was tempted to give a 2 or a 3. Why? Let me explain.

Yancey’s book is divided into 10 parts, each with a description of his experience in diverse places where people had endured, in most cases, great suffering or injustice. Each part also contains the substance of a message he gave to groups in such a situation. Throughout he seeks to a
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
Yancey was/is a journalist - so his writings come across as long Magazine articles. Possibly to sell magazines?

I attempted this on audiobook. Philip Yancey did all the reading himself, which was kind of fun. He's a very nice reader.

So what good is GOD? Which god? Who's asking, For what?

Sadly, Yancey does not come across as a theologian or Bible scholar. He's simply a journalist looking for a story. And he's great at finding many of them - all from his own jour
Berk Rourke
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, with the caveat that it grew a bit too long. This is a slow ready set of tales, with speeches by the author to the various groups he was visiting. The book became a little repetitive and was a little too long in my judgment. Half of the stories told would have suffice for the illustration of the theme of the book concerning grace. I should say there were many items of interest, many pieces of information or scripture citations which were helpful at the least. But agai ...more
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book because it addressed many recent tragedies around the world in a way that knocked my heart. Many times when I heard of something happening far far away from where I live, I might not so worry or care about it. But Philip Yancey brought those tragedies right in front of my eyes, showing me that those are real problems, and things that me too, as a citizen of earth and a Christian, need to care for.

When those tragedies happened, we might feel pain. But Philip said the pain is act
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the second book I've read by Philip Yancy. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as his book about grace.

What we have here is ten chapters of ten trips Mr. Yancey took around the world- paired with ten talks/sermons he gave at each site. Some of the trips involved destinations involving tragedy while others were more about the author's past.

The title was supposed to be the unifying general question and the ten chapters a variety of answers. I did not feel that this
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Yancey has many good insights. But the question "What good is God?" is not answered in a way that many would probably expect. He raises the issue in the very beginning of the book and then the rest of the book is spent describing Christians overcoming difficulties and the need for them to continue to overcome difficulties, mostly by being gracious. It isn't explained how any of this answers the question "What good is God?" but I'm sure most readers will figure out about half way through that the ...more
This book was not what I was expecting. The jacket made it sound like a series of interviews with people who have experienced difficult things who speak about why their faith did (or did not) matter. Instead, it was the author's description of a series of speaking engagements he did. He would describe through his own eyes, rather than the participants, the situation. Then he would include the sermon/talk he chose to give to these people.

In different hands this might have been a terrible book, b
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Philip Yancey likes provocative titles ("Where is God When it Hurts?" "Disappointment With God"). We know before we start that Yancey thinks that God is very good indeed, but that he won't shy away from hard questions in searching for his answers.
"What Good is God" also might have been titled "Travels with Philip." The book chronicles 10 places Yancey went to speak in recent years, with two chapters per place. The first gives the background, the second an edited version of Yancey's talk. I
Rebecca Jo
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I've never read any of Philip Yancey's books but came across this one in the library.

It was an up & down read for me. It came to points where I was thoroughly interested, but then it would go to just streams of boredom to me. Some wonderful stories of faith that people have had in awful times, & then stories that seemed to not even connect & left me confused.

The book talks about some of the tragedies that has happened lately & how it causes people to question where G
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, read-2012
Philip Yancey travels to ten very different regions of the world - from Cambridge (in the UK) to Mumbai (in India); from China to South Africa. He visits a conference for former prostitutes in Wisconsin (in the USA) and a Bible college (also in the USA). In each of these places, he describes why he is there, what he observes, and how he hopes to be able to reach out in some way to the people concerned. The second part of each of the ten chapters is a transcript of the a he gave in the situations ...more
A great book, Yancey tells the stories of real people handling real problems and events in a manner that answers the question "What Good Is God?" Most of the stories in this book take place outside of the U.S. and give good insight to the world outside the typical suburban existence of Americans like me. One fascinating point discussed was the cycle of oppression and suffering which contributed to a people's realization of their need for God. Then as spiritual awakening and revival took place, p ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
For me this book is a book that counter-culture of post-modern that expose sorrow, pain, and sin way too much so sometimes people do not see grace to sinful world. But Phillip elaborate with his experience that inside those sorrow, pain and sinful reality, God works unexpected.

Phillip Yance tell us he world reality that has fallen into sin and the only people that really understand God's grace is the people who have realize that they have live in sinful world and totally despair. ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This book, among several other Yancey titles, has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I finally felt it was time to delve into it. I enjoyed the book and, as is my custom with non-fiction, made copious notes while reading it. Perhaps, as several reviewers have pointed out, it did not answer the question "What good is God?" but I enjoyed the book nonetheless. It was interesting to read about major events in various cultures and touched on a lot of questions on various topics that have been ...more
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Insightful book. The format is interesting, two chapters per section, one with background information on the location and the other with Yancey's speech that he delivered there. He doesn't explicitly state the answer the to title's question: What good is God? Rather, he lets the situations speak for themselves, showing rather than telling, an answer. And the answers are not definite, not cut-and-dry if that is what you are looking for. The reader must do some digging of their own and offer up so ...more
Yancey is always worth your time to read; however, this book is not up to par with his previous titles. In fact, I would say it is my least favorite. It seemed disjointed to me. Ostensibly the unifying theme is: What good is God in the really tough situations of life. Each section consists of two chapters. In the first chapter, Yancey sets the stage. Why was he invited to travel to such-and-such a place and give a speech. E.g. Memphis, the Middle East, Cambridge, his alma mater, South Africa, Vi ...more
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Philip Yancey never stops asking the most difficult questions about how we can see God working in our lives and through terrible circumstances around the world. How do we see God at work in the Virginia Tech campus massacre,in Mumbai where five year olds are sex trafficked, or even in Bible College where God is difficult to find? He writes in a style that I can relate to in my everyday life. He takes ten circumstances and talks about where God is in the midst of each. Without simplifying these s ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
An excellent book in which Yancey takes the reader on a journey around the world to seek evidence that God is worth some good in this world because of His grace.

Divided into ten parts that each feature two chapters - the back story of the setting and then Yancey's remarks in that setting, Yancey takes us to the steeply intellectual atmosphere of Cambridge and Oxford to present his thoughts on how the life of CS Lewis extolled grace. But he also takes the readers to the tense days and
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book takes a broader, "big picture" focus to events of our world and examines the overall Christian response, he shares his struggles,even with his education in Christianity, and as a writer, to the balance, the "tension" from the secular (response),as our culture evolves and any reliance to God and expressed in religion, could be seen as a weakness, especially in any extremes.Focus to Christ,his love and compassion, that is the heart of Christianity, as I understand it from this writing, th ...more
Amy Young
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
How not to read this book: quickly in two days.

How I read it: quickly and in two days.

I was on a trip and there's a chapter on China so a friend lent it to me ...I enjoy Yancey's writing and his take on living out faith. I having read one, I wanted to read all ten and plowed through it. This book contains ten talks Yancey has given in recent years and a chapter introducing the context and what lead to him giving that talk. So, I reeled from professional sex workers, to pe
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution. At each of the 10 places he visited, his preparation for the visit and exactly what he said to the people he met each provided evidence that faith really ...more
Dianne Davidson
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At ten junctures of faith in tragedy, Yancey explores answers to the question of his title. He doesn't distill a how-to list from these events. He does, however, woo the reader (myself included) that God is real, available, and loving even in the midst of tragedy. I find Yancey's approach respects my dignity as a person. He doesn't offer a hoop for me to jump thru but his testimony makes me want to seek the God he represents.
The guy must have something worthwhile to give people. He is routinely
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I didn't like this book quite as much as some of his other books. Further into the book however, I enjoyed it more. I felt that the strongest part is the personal stories that he told but there aren't as many as I would hope. It was an interesting format having each chapter end with the transcript of a talk he gave to the audience he describes at the start of the chapter, but I found the transcripts to generally be my least favourite part. I liked them, but I think the book could have been bette ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
Solid Yancey.
Some quotes in the book I liked (there were more but I lazily didn't note them)
- "in grief, love and pain converge"
- "to love means to hurt, to grieve. PAin manifests life"
- compassion: Latin " to suffer with "
-" in truth, pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed"
- Dallas Willard: nothing irredeemable has happened or can happen to us on our way to our destiny in God's full world. "
-"grace, like water, flows downwards"
Debbie Mcfarlin
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was inspired and moved while reading this book. Philip addresses the question of "What good is God?" in different ways through adversity and trials of life. Not necessarily by a clear cut, cut and dry answer! There aren't any! But by the faith and trust of those who experience the bitter atrocities of life and find that God is good. Period. He is there. The peace-speaker. The grace-giver. The Almighty is ever present throughout every danger, grief, evil, devastation, as well as every celebrati ...more
Bob Price
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Phil Yancey is one of my heroes. He not only talks about subjects that, for most Christians are taboo, he does it with grace, hope, humor, and compassion. Yancey reminds that that the Christian life is not roses and sunshine, and I appreciate that he spends more time dealing with substantial issues than most of the pop-psychologize 'how to have a better family in 10 days' that most Christians seem to spend their time reading.

What Good is God developed out of Yancey's experiences in the wo/>What
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Philip Yancey is an amazing writer. He is constantly challenging us as Christians to look at faith and grace differently. He asks us to remember those who have nothing and because of that seek out Jesus. Because here in the west we have so much (even when we say we are poor) we often find it harder to seek Jesus because we "think" we have it all. It's only when that all falls away do we realise how helpless we humans can easily become.

The book is basically a set of talks he gave around the worl
Michael Blackmer
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book off and on for several months. Bad habit of mine (I guess). Yancey shares about several trips he made around the world and various issues that he encountered on these trips. He has a background as an investigative reporter. The trips described in this book revolved around studies and investigations he did into issues but also how these issues were being addressed by various faith-based organizations, groups and individual people of faith.

The closing comments of the book sum up
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was really disappointed with this book. It is a collection of speeches that Yancey has made over several years which have been artificially cobbled together in an attempt to produce another book. It doesn't work. There is no progression through the book, with each chapter sitting uncomfortably with its neighbours. The book title promises much, but sadly the content never delivers. Yancey never actually seems to ask the pivotal question of the book "What Good is God?", much less answer it.
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
A collection of Mr. Yanceys speeches, along with commentary of each situation (usually a speaking engagement) that lead up to the talk. I loved the introductions, and I loved that they weren't all talks to hurting and persecuted people. My favorite chapter was when he spoke about C.S. Lewis, simply because I can connect with the troubles and concerns of a college intellectual more than I can an alcoholic. One of the reasons I love Yancey - he can speak about God to anybody.
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A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Philip Yancey earned graduate degrees in Communications and English from Wheaton College Graduate School and the University of Chicago. He joined the staff of Campus Life Magazine in 1971, and worked there as Editor and then Publisher. He looks on those years with gratitude, because teenagers are demanding readers, and writing for them taught him a lasting principle: ...more
“I go to church as an expression of my need for God and for God's family.” 19 likes
“Where is God when it hurts? We know one answer because God came to earth and showed us. You need only follow Jesus around and note how he responded to the tragedies of his day: large-scale tragedies such as an act of government terrorism in the temple or a tower collapsing on eighteen innocent bystanders; as well as small tragedies, such as a widow who has lost her only son or even a Roman soldier whose servant has fallen ill. At moments like these Jesus never delivered sermons about judgment or the need to accept God’s mysterious providence. Instead he responded with compassion – a word from Latin which simply means, “to suffer with” – and comfort and healings. God stands on the side of those who suffer. (pp.27-28/What Good Is God?)” 10 likes
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