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on November 19, 2000
"How do I relate to a God who is invisible when I'm never quite sure he's there," Philip Yancey asks.
One of my favorite things about this man is that he shows no fear in asking the tough questions that many in Christian circles would prefer to pretend were non-existant. The enigma of how physical beings can know a spiritual God is one that has plagued humankind since the fall of Adam. In life's most difficult moments God more often than not still remains silent and apart. Why does this happen? Is this normal, and does the fact that I feel so distant mean that there's something missing in my relationship with Him? These are some of the hard questions that Yancey tackles in REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD. Some of the material here was reminiscent of DISAPPOINTMENT WITH GOD, since both deal with faith in the midst of hardship. But here Yancey elaborates and breaks new ground, emphasizing the journey and nature of a maturing faith in God.
Perhaps the most helpful thing for me about this book was how he dealt with that questions of "feeling" and intimacy, on a personal level. Most Christians usually have at least one "mountain top" experience in their life where they feel a deep sense of God and His love. But those feelings always fade and eventually the mountain top gives way to hills and valleys. Yet for some reason we tend believe that a person who is walking closely with God will also FEEL close to Him. And when we lose that feeling and live without it for some time questions can arise; especially in times of crisis. Yancey carefully peels back those misconceptions and replaces them with a realistic picture of what it truely means to know and walk with our unseen God. His words shatter the myth of feelings and I found an incredible sense of renewal and freedom, knowing that what I was feeling, or not feeling, was in no way abnormal or wrong.
In a modern culture of Christianity that too often emphasizes emotions, here is a book that will tear away the false conceptions and breathe life back into those who may be disillusioned. Here you will find insight and answers about the nature of God, man, and what true faith on our part consists of. While WHAT'S SO AMAZING ABOUT GRACE continues to be Yancey's high water mark, REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD is a powerful work that once again showcase's his incredible ability to summarize and present the profound in ways that anyone can understand and absorb. Five Stars.
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on August 20, 2000
This is a honest book of a honest pilgrim in this world. A lot of christian books seems to create a fantacy world for christians. This book picture a real christian life in a real world. It does not make God a lesser God but a real God. A God that never let us down, but also a God that does not deliver us from all kind of pain when we live here in this world. A God that does not play along with western cultures easy life thinking, bot a God that lead us through real life such as most of us experience it.
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on November 27, 2000
Rarely do I reread a book--there are just too many good books yet to read--but I am on my second reading of Reaching for the Invisible God. This is a tremendous book and Philip Yancey at what may well be his thought-provoking best. Not only did it encourage me, but it simultaneously challenged me in a very profound manner. I am planning to give this book as gifts to friends who are agnostics or seekers as I believe it presents a very real view of the hopes and fears of those who pursue a relationship with God, and an intelligent response to many common questions about the Christian faith. This isn't supposed to be a "scholarly work" in the sense of the one critical review found elsewhere here, but it is intelligent and well-written.
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on February 16, 2001
I am not surprised that some find this book hard to accept. Many writers seem to think it necessary to market Christ. Yancey tells it like it is - the every day struggles to follow Christ in a world where things don't work out the way we expect. So many Christians do well when life is smooth, health is good, and the economy is booming. The reality is that jobs are lost, health fails, kids rebel, friends and loved ones die. Yancey is not afraid to face the real issues and ask the tough questions. I have been blessed by several of his books - The Jesus I Never Knew, What's so Amazing About Grace, but this book really challenged me. If you don't want to face reality, skip this one, but if you want to really live for God in the real world, get it and be prepared to spend some time on your knees with God. It will force you to dig the foundations of your faith deeper and allow you to weather the storm that is coming in your life. I seldom have time to read a book more than once, but I read this one a second time and it was even better the second time around.
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on November 5, 2000
Philip Yancey is an expert in writing about the struggles, the doubts, and the uncertainties of the Christian life. In other words, he writes about reality. There is no sugar-coating from Yancey. No "Now I am happy all the day" type sentiment. But through all that gritty reality, he can still experience a deep faith in the God who is unseen, and often seems absent. Given that, there is not a lot about this book that distinguishes itself from his other works. This is familiar ground to those who have read some of his previous books. I do like his discussions of some of the non-traditional "attributes" of God (especially intriguing is the treatise on God's shyness). When I first noticed the chapters on the stages of faith as Child, Adult, and Parent, I cringed at the thought of the possibility of pop-psychology mumbo-jumbo being advocated, but these are some of the most valuable chapters in the book. His discussion of the strengths and "weaknesses" of the different persons of the Trinity is also very interesting.
Philip Yancey obviously reads a lot of books. Most of his ideas seem synthesized from the various things he has read. It takes a very alert, organized mind to bring all this together. I don't know how many of his ideas in this book are original, and how many are "borrowed", but Yancey remains one of the most interesting writers on the Christian scene today. Although this is familiar Yancey territory, few writers stake out that same territory with the same skill and near-brilliance.
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on October 23, 2000
Philip Yancey writes this book as an exploration of what we can expect from our individual relationships with God. "One partner is invisible, overwhelming, and perfect; the other is visible, weak, and flawed. How can the two possibly get along?" He explores this question thoroughly (albeit rehashing and many times inserting sections of his previous works) and there are many points to ponder and paradigm shifting ideas. He examines what our attitude towards God should be (worship) and why that often isn't the case. He also writes about how we are to deal with God even when things in our life are not going well, or at least not according to our plans (his answer to this question is more beautifully answered in his book Disappointment With God, but it's good in this book as well).
Yancey is one of the best writers EVER at honestly pointing out how struggles, pain, and everyday problems can be used as tools of growth in our lives if we see their value and use them to draw us to dependence on God. He helps us move out of the realm of blame (e.g., "Why did God do this to me?") and into a life of dependence (e.g., "I know that God redeems bad situations--so let me use this trial as a way for me to grow and gain more faith and depth of character.")
If you have read all of Yancey's other works, you may find this one repetitive of themes and stories you have already heard; but they're worth hearing again. And if you haven't read any Yancey yet, I'd start off with The Jesus I Never Knew or What's So Amazing About Grace instead. But this book is solid, and carries on the deep questions and themes that all of Yancey's books have had to this point. It is worth your time.
[And, as a response to the reviewer who submitted their review (10/19/00) entitled "What am I missing?" I would like to say that what you are missing is the fact that Yancey is not a philosopher. He is a practical Christian writer who writes about following God in the real world--and his books are written mainly for Christians about the reality of the Christian life, not for skeptics who are looking for proof for the existence of a good God. But if that is something you'd be interested in, I recommend God and Other Minds by Alvin Plantinga.]
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on October 10, 2002
I would like to use this forum to personally thank Yancey for another great and challenging book that left me asking more questions when I was done reading it than when I started. Bravo, Phillip! Christian authors continually bombard us with ways to live a better life, three easy steps, or prayers, and here is Phillip Yancey telling us that the stages of development in a life as a follower of Christ get more difficult as you mature to the point where God will leave you on your own to help your faith grow.
I read this book during a time of immense personal trial. This book taught me to have ambidextrous faith, able to take the good with the bad, equally. I cannot say that I have mastered this concept, or if I ever will, but thanks again to the author for challenging me to do so.
Yancey never gives "easy answers." That is why he is so good. In an era where postmoderns are not satisfied with "easy answers," Yancey is forcing anyone who reads his books, if they are honest, to ask tough questions and journey towards an answer, rarely do you see authors do this with as much skill as Yancey.
I look forward to the next book by Yancey, it is always a good and challenging read for anyone.
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on June 2, 2001
I would like to use this forum to personally thank Yancey for another great and challenging book that left me asking more questions when I was done reading it than when I started. Bravo, Phillip! Christian authors continually bombard us with ways to live a better life, three easy steps, or prayers, and here is Phillip Yancey telling us that the stages of development in a life as a follower of Christ get more difficult as you mature to the point where God will leave you on your own to help your faith grow.
I read this book during a time of immense personal trial. This book taught me to have ambidextrous faith, able to take the good with the bad, equally. I cannot say that I have mastered this concept, or if I ever will, but thanks again to the author for challenging me to do so.
I look forward to the next book by Yancey, it is always a good and challenging read for anyone.
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on March 8, 2001
Faith is not easy when it concerns trying to believe in something or someone whom you are never completely certain is really there. Through stories, illustrations, reflections, and biblical investigation, this book works through some of the problems and solutions Yancey and others have found in trying to come to grips with a real, lasting Christian faith. This is not a book of systematic theology or one that struggles with the thorny issues of textual criticism or canonization. Yancey is aware of these problematic areas, but purposefully limits his work to a Christian's existential angst involved in a life of belief, doubt, and faith in God. My favorite illustration was Yancey's driving down the Colorado highway at night; out of the blackness he suddenly saw Pike's Peak off in the distance as fireworks lit up the mountain. Pike's Peak had always been there, but the fireworks made the invisible become visible. Yancey draws the parallel with the spiritual world, citing the Genesis account of Jacob's encounter with God at Bethel, exclaiming afterwards that surely the presence of the Lord was in that place and he did not know it. So, too, the divine is present in our world - yet we often don't detect it. Don't expect an orderly, confident chapter-to-chapter traducing of religious doubt. This book is a meandering musing on faith, an honest conversation from someone who claims no more than that he is a fellow pilgrim making a spiritual journey.
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on September 29, 2000
This book, believe it or not, is even better than "What is so Amazing About Grace," which was the best religious/spiritual book I ever had read. "Reaching for the Invisible God" is the most profound book I ever have read. All persons should read it, especially non-believers. Christians will have their faith and their personal relationship/encounters with God become as real as touching a loved one. Even Philip, God's servant, outdid himself in this one. He raised the bar almost too high for any other author to come close. AWESOME!
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