Phillip Yancey Quotes

Untitled

Biography:

Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as “a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time—in order to squash them.” Yancey jokes today about being “in recovery” from a toxic church. “Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbor’s house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity—if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn’t experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.”

For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. “I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.”

Ever since, Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He coauthored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. “No one has influenced me more,” he says. “We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.” More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.

Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. “Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.”

“I write books for myself,” he says. “I’m a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.” Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.

So, just how does a man who’s been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him “align” himself with God for the day. “I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don’t know a more honest book,” Yancey explains. “I can’t think of any argument against God that isn’t already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, ‘Then maybe you shouldn’t be reading them.’ Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They’ve been burned by the church or they’re upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.”

Quotes:

My brother left the faith, and never returned- in large part because he did not observe truth setting people free and never found a church that makes room for prodigals.

-Phillip Yancey

Churches that leave room for mystery, that do not pretend to spell out what God himself has not spelled out, create an environment most conductive to worship. After all, we lean on God out of need and not surplus

-Phillip Yancey

The only thing more difficult in having a relationship with an invisible God is not having one.

-Phillip Yancey

If only our churches could communicate grace to a world of competition, judgment, and ranking—a world of un-grace—then the church would become a place where people gather eagerly, without coercion, like desert nomads around an oasis.

-Phillip Yancey

To follow Jesus, I learned, does not mean to solve Every human problem—Christ himself did not attempt that—but rather responded as he did, against all reason to dispense grace and love to those who deserve it least

-Philip Yancey

“I have come to see prayer as a privilege, not a duty. Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

Prayer helps correct myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget. I keep reversing roles, thinking of ways in which God should serve me, rather than vice versa.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“There was a time Genesis informs us, when God and Adam walked together in the garden and conversed as friends. Nothing seemed more natural for Adam than to commune with the One who had made him, who gave him creative work, who granted his desire for a companion with the lovely gift of Eve. Then, prayer was as natural as conversation with a colleague, or a lover. At the moment of the fall, for Adam and for all who succeeded him, God’s presence grew more remote, easier to doubt and even deny.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“Prayer and only prayer, restores my vision to one that more resembles God’s. I awake from blindness to see that wealth lurks as a terrible danger, not a goal worth striving for; that value depends not on race or status but on the image of God every person bears; that no amount of effort to improve physical beauty has much relevance for the world beyond.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“Prayer is fundamentally a position, a placement of oneself…a way of life of attentiveness”

-Phillip Yancey

“Truth hurts. Yet I cannot receive healing unless I accept God’s diagnosis of my wounded state. God already knows who we are; we are the ones who must find a way to come to terms with our true selves. Psalm 139 cries out, “Search me, O God…See if there is any offensive way in me.” In order to overcome self-deception, I need God’s all-knowing help in rooting out hidden offenses like selfishness, pride, deceit, lack of compassion.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“In truth, what I think and feel as I pray, rather than the words I speak, may be the real prayer, for God “hears” that too. My every thought occurs in God’s presence.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“God alone knows the selfish motives behind my every act, the vipers’ tangle of lust and ambition, the unhealed wounds that paradoxically drive me to appear whole. Prayer invites me to bring my whole life into God’s presence for cleansing and restoration. Self-exposure is never easy, but when I do it I learn that underneath the layers of grime lies a damaged work of art that God longs to repair.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“I realize that my image of God, more than anything else, determines my degree of honesty in prayer…the most important purpose of prayer may be to let our true selves be loved by God.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

It is strange—those of us who involve ourselves in places where there is the most suffering, look back in surprise to find that it was there that we discovered the reality of joy.” Happy are those who bear their share of the world’s pain in the long run they will know more happiness than those who avoid it.

-Phillip Yancey ‘Soul Survivor’ p86

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s