Guest post from Philip Yancey, author of What Good is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters.
God’s Talent Pool: Part 1
Over the last several months I’ve been traveling in connection with the release of the book What Good Is God? I made a visit to the 700 Club television program, hosted by Pat Robertson’s son Gordon, as well as to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Those two demonstrate quite a contrast: like most Christian television, the 700 Club has seen a slow decline from its heyday while megachurches like Saddleback are still growing and exuding energy and creativity.
I’ve also done radio interviews from my home in Colorado and written blogs for the likes of CNN.com and The Huffington Post. I don’t mind the radio interviews unless they open up the phone lines; you never know what questions you’ll hear from people sitting at home listening to Christian radio stations. In contrast, the two assignments for well-known secular outlets gave me a window into just how much hostility the topic of religion stirs up.
One impatient interviewer said to me, “I don’t really have time to read your book. Could you just answer the question for me—What good is God?” Thinking fast, I responded that I see positive benefits on three levels.
- On an individual level, faith can help transform the lives of the needy, such as prostitutes, alcoholics, Dalits (Untouchables), and leprosy victims—the stories I tell in my book.
- The community of faith also responds with comfort and practical help to those in need: both in natural disasters, such as an earthquake in Haiti or a hurricane in New Orleans, and in human ones such as the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Mumbai.
- Finally, the gospel spreads like yeast in bread, as Jesus predicted, affecting whole societies.
I remember my first trip to Sweden, soon after I had read historical accounts of the Vikings. For 250 years many prayers in Europe ended with the line, “Lord, save us from the Vikings. Amen.” Yet modern Swedes are known for charity, cleanliness, honesty and hospitality. What happened to change a culture from warring and pillaging barbarians to this admirable society?
Christianity happened. It took several centuries, but gradually the moral principles of the Christian gospel percolated through all of society.
Stay tuned for more from Philip Yancey — Part 2 of God’s Talent Pool.
Philip Yancey, a journalist by profession, is a bestselling writer and speaker. He is known for his honest, thoughtful explorations of Christian faith, particularly in areas of questions, struggles, and mystery. His devoted readers have bonded with him on his own journeys through doubt and faith, and they count on him as a trusted companion in the search for a faith that matters amid the world’s deepest problems as well as its shining joys. Visit Philip online at PhilipYancey.com.