Philip Yancey is the author of 20 books that have sold more than 15 million copies in 35 languages. Thirteen of his books have won Gold Medallion awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) and two, The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace? were selected as ECPA Book of the Year. Yancey worked as a journalist for 20 years. He was editor and eventually publisher of Campus Life magazine. For many years, he wrote a monthly column for Christianity Today and still serves the magazine as Editor at Large. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado, but travels internationally in search of compelling faith stories. The High Calling interviewed him about his vocational calling and his latest book, What Good Is God? Here’s a bit of the interview:
Christine Scheller: What Good Is God? seems like a different book to me than your previous books. I don’t recall you ever doing a collection of speeches with commentary before.
Philip Yancey: I couldn’t find a model of a book that had combined journalism and related speeches in context. So, it may be a different book, period.
Christine Scheller: How did you come up with the idea?
Philip Yancey: It came about after my wife Janet and I were involved in the Mumbai situation that I wrote about in the last chapter. I was scheduled to speak downtown the night of the terrorist attacks in which 175 people died. Our meeting was canceled, of course. Instead, a smaller group of people spontaneously came together in a church and asked me to speak to them. I looked out over that shocked and grieving audience—what could I say?
It was such a traumatic experience. When we left, I realized that I’ve been in all sorts of interesting situations. It actually reflects what has happened to my career apart from my desires. I feel most comfortable as a journalist taking notes, interviewing people and writing. I’ve done it for so long and have had so many books published that people started seeing me as a content person, as someone who could guide them. This was an identity crisis for me about ten years ago. One way I resolved it was to accept overseas assignments, because I just don’t like the celebrity culture in the United States. Internationally, people are very grateful to have someone come and speak. Because of the conditions in the places I visit, I generally don’t feel like I’m being pampered. So, it seemed like a healthier way to handle the success I’ve found in writing. …