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Disappointment with Philip Yancey

Posted by Daniel Edwards on July 12, 2009

Following my summer reading list, I recently finished the book Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. While I was encouraged by much of what Yancey had to say, I felt that some of the material he dealt with has been dealt with in better ways by other writers. Ultimately, I found the book itself a little disappointing.

In the book, Yancey deals with three questions: 1) Is God unfair?, 2) Is He silent?, and 3) Is He hidden? Of course, Yancey answers each of these questions with a resounding “no!”, but he explores why even strong Christians must, at some point, deal with these questions. His main answer is that God requires faith and that He wants to see that grow in us.
My main problem with this book is that Yancey (in my opinion) takes anthropomorphism (or giving God human attributes to communicate truth) too far. He speaks of God taking risks (Chapter 6 is entitled “Risky Business” and of God having an “inner conflict”(pg. 141). I believe that Yancey is not being unorthodox, I only wish he would have been more careful in his wording and theologizing. In addition, as I said before, I simply think that there have been others (such as John Piper) who have done a better job in dealing with these questions that Yancey proposes. I do not mean to beat up Philip Yancey or his writing (other books of his are wonderful reads, such as In His Image, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and What’s So Amazing About Grace?), I simply would not recommend this particular book.

2 Responses to “Disappointment with Philip Yancey”

  1. Todd Stanfield said

    I myself rejoice when I am reminded of God's complete understanding of our humanity (Hebrews 4:15). I am comforted when I am reminded of how Jesus expressed his own "inner conflict." He asks the Father if there was another way (Matthew 26:39) and wonders why the Father has forsaken Him (Matthews 27:46). The enemy often condemns me for my being human. These attributes of God help me understand that acknowledging what we are feeling is not necessarily sinful. God created us as emotional creatures. I am so glad he loves us with such passion.

  2. Daniel said

    That is a point well taken. I certainly would never deny the full humanity of Christ and I am thankful that He has experienced the totality of the human experience.However, I felt that by Yancey expressing that the Father had an "inner conflict" he was connoting (not intentionally) that God was somehow in a state of disagreement with Himself or somehow not completely sure of what He was doing.Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you pointing me to the Scriptures on this matter. Perhaps I should be more careful with my wording next time.In Christ,Daniel

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