"Well, you read the literature, and they all talk about how it is a disease," he responded. "Truthfully, there is always a nanosecond when I give in and take a drink." 

So I understand completely this phrase, "I ain't got to, but I can't help it."  I don't have to, but I can't help it.  That is who we all are.  We all face those times in life when we know, well, we shouldn't do this, but we can't help not doing it.  There are a lot of theological issues which I explore in that chapter that come out of things I have learned from addicts.

CW: Speaking of what you've learned, have you learned any more about What's So Amazing About Grace through considering What Good is God?

PY: Yes, I have.  I am sure if I wrote that book today, I would use some of the stories that I tell in this book.  For example, I have a chapter on prostitutes.  I was invited to speak to a group of prostitutes. There were over 100 of them and I tell some of their stories.  Some of them are very wrenching stories.  At the end of that meeting where I was interviewing them, I asked them, "Did you know that you are mentioned in the Bible?  Jesus talked about you, and Jesus said that tax collectors and prostitutes will go first in the kingdom of heaven ahead of the religious professionals. Why do you think he singled you out?  Why didn't He talk about peasants?  Why prostitutes?" 

This one woman from Eastern Europe who had already told her story in very halting English said, "Well, everybody has somebody to look down on, but we are as low as they get."  She used words like "slut" and "whore" that people use about them.  "Everybody is ashamed of us." 

Most of the girls and women in the group said, "We have not had any contact with our family for years.  We have been banned.  We are a shame."  She said, "Maybe when you are at the bottom, when you can't fall any lower, maybe when you are at the lowest, you cry for help."  I thought, "There is a beautiful picture of grace at the very bottom." 

I remember in my book on grace, I talked about the scene in John 8 where the woman is caught in adultery, and then the temple guards and the Pharisees come and accuse her, and they think they have got Jesus trapped.  I remember saying that they looked at that group, and said, "Well, there are two kinds of people here.  There are good people like us, and there are bad people like that slut."  But Jesus looked at that same group and said, "No, there are two kinds of people, those who are in need of grace but deny it, and those who are in need of grace and admit it." 

Grace is an absolutely free gift of God, but to receive the gift, all you have to do is have open hands.  So many of the Pharisees had their hands closed.  "I don't need it!  I am doing fine on my own!  I kept all 613 laws this week."  This woman caught in adultery said, "I am a miserable failure.  I have nowhere else to go.  My hands are empty."  And God responds to a person like that.  So these prostitutes, I had not met them when I wrote the book about grace, but they are a beautiful example of the kind of thing I was working through.