Would you still hold to your faith in the face of tragedy? Risk death, injury, or imprisonment for the sake of your beliefs? Would you still continue to trust God when your world has been pulled apart at the seams? These are some of the questions Philip Yancey pursues in his book What Good is God?  Crosswalk had the opportunity to sit down with Yancey, and learn more about how he believes it is the difficult points in our life that truly shape our faith. 

Crosswalk.com: In the first few chapters, you talk about this book being born out of intense times and extreme situations that you had experienced, the kind that really get people questioning and searching for God and meaning.  Are these types of qualifying events that get us thinking - these tragedies - on the rise, or is that just perception from enhanced media? 

Philip Yancey: Hmm.  I don't know how to answer the question about if they are on the rise.  I have started kind of looking over my shoulder.  I tell the story in one chapter of being in Mumbai, India, the night of the terrorist attacks and then, just a few months later, we were in the Middle East having tea at a coffee house in Cairo.  And then I read that the very next week a terrorist blew up that coffee house in Cairo. 

And just this year, a month ago, we returned from Bangkok, Thailand, and a week after we left there, the army moved in and started killing all of these protesters.  They actually cordoned off the area where our hotel was and where our meeting had been held, so I am kind of looking over my shoulder these days.  It is true that terrorism is certainly on the rise, at least in public perception.  I don't know.  You would have to research whether the number of events are, but it certainly is a lot closer to me as I travel internationally.  

CW:  Can we possibly define these tragic situations as "good" if legitimate searches for, as you phrase it on the cover, "a faith that matters" are what result? 

PY: Oh yes.  In the introduction, I use the phrase "tabletop test," and it is something out of Silicon Valley where they invent new iPods, iPhones, or iPads. It can be the greatest machinery in the lab, but what really matters is how it is going to be used in real life. So, they literally do this tabletop test where somebody will just come and knock it off the table and watch it crash on the ground.  Does it still work?  Because if I have written a book on an iPad, then I happen to knock it off an airplane tray and I lose my book, that is not a good machine.  I am not going to buy that machine.  That is the tabletop test. 

These extreme situations, I think, are the tabletop test of faith and of the question, "What good is God?"  It is one thing to say, "Well, God is good because I live in a nice suburban home and my children are all Olympic athletes and making all As in school."  But what good is God if you are in a prison being persecuted for your faith?  What good is God if you are on the Virginia Tech campus, and this rampage breaks out?  That is to me the tabletop test of faith.