After comparing relics in Indiana from an 1800s “Utopian” Christian community to 20th-century church proliferation of recovery philosophies and 12-step programs, and noting the prevalence of the latter, Yancey had this to say:
I confess my preference for this modern trend. I observe far more human fallibility than perfectibility, and I have cast my lot with a gospel based on grace. p. 219
Yes. Me, too. I’m not so sure the Wesleyans (or any other Christian movement that was touched by 19C pietistic fervor) would agree, though; see the notion of “entire sanctification” at “Articles of Religion” #14, at this link. To see the gospel as “based on grace,” by the way, does not necessarily implicate one in crimes of cheap grace. I find Yancey to have a more balanced, appropriate concept of grace, and I think what he means is that he finds the gospel to speak to our perpetual, human state of imperfection more than to some concocted, pie-in-the-sky notion (these are my words, not his; he would probably be more gracious) of perfection in this life.
Yancey also speaks on the topics of fundraising, direct mail, and mass marketing of religion:
My neighbor, Popeye’s Chicken, gets some letters addressed, “Dear Mr. Chicken.” The Assembly of God headquarters once got a letter with the greeting “Dear Ms. God.”
One Christian television station promised a miracle…. A friend of mine wrote the station with the suggestion they they send him the contribution and let God reward them instead of him with the large multiple blessings they had promised. (pp. 228-9)
I’ll have to try that!! Fortunately, the appeals we get are typically less charismatic (and, well, less stupid).
I’ve read a couple other Yancey books in my time and have always been glad I did. This particular book might not have the most apt title: not every chapter seemed to be about finding God, although it usually meandered back around to something directly related. All in all, I’m once again glad for Philip Yancey. Thank you, Mr. Yancey, for your honest heart, your capable pen, and your insights.