Philip Yancey and Dangers in Christian Bookstores

January 13, 2011 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article)

Philip Yancey, one of the most popular evangelical writers, illustrates the spiritual dangers in the typical Christian bookstore today.

Yancey promotes the Catholic contemplative movement in his book
Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? (2006, updated 2010). He quotes the Buddhist-Catholic monk Thomas Merton, goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd, pantheist Meister Eckhart, David Steindl-Rast (who denies the substitutionary atonement of Christ), and Richard Rohr (who worships as New Age “cosmic” Christ). Yancey also quotes Catholic “saint” Teresa of Avila and the heretical Catholic contemplative text The Cloud of Unknowing, which promotes a mindless communion with “God.” (For documentation see our books Contemplative Mysticism and The New Age Tower of Babel, available from Way of Life Literature in print and electronic formats.)

Yancey also promotes the non-judgmental attitude toward homosexuality. In a 2004 interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge for
Whosoever, a homosexual publication, Yancey said,

“When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people (“Amazed by Grace,” Whosoever online magazine).

If one stands on the Bible alone, there is nothing to be confused about. The problem is that Yancey is not standing strictly on Scripture, and this is typical of popular evangelical writers today. As Gary Gilley observes:

“Yancey has a fundamental flaw that runs throughout all of his writings. He doesn’t always draw his thoughts and principles form Scripture. His sources are more likely to be great saints from the past (occasionally from the present), his own reasoning, and experience. He surely quotes C.S. Lewis as often as the Apostle Paul or Jesus. ... This serious flaw of not basing his concepts squarely upon the Scriptures eventually leads Yancey astray. Yancey does not know the difference between tolerance and arrogance, between grace and license (a study of 1 Cor. 5 would be helpful to him), between boldness and harshness. By Yancey’s definitions John the Baptist and Elijah would be men of ‘ungrace,’ but God did not seem to think so. Yancey also does not know the difference between ministering to sinners and condoning sinful lifestyles. Certainly Jesus loved and spent time with prostitutes, but he did so to call them to repentance, not to accept their way of living. Yancey’s method of dealing with a homosexual, who is also a church leader, may seem like grace to him, it may seem like what Jesus might do, but it is clearly out of sync with the teachings and examples of Scripture” (Gilley, Review of Yancey’s “What Is So Amazing about Grace,” Southern View Chapel, resources, n.d.).

Yancey promotes his confused view of homosexuality in his bestselling book
What’s So Amazing about Grace. Yancey describes his close non-judgmental relationship with Mel White, who left his wife, breaking his solemn marriage vows, to pursue a homosexual lifestyle. Yancey has more to say about alleged “Christian hate” toward homosexuality than he does about the sin of homosexuality itself. Yancey even accompanied White on a “gay pride” parade in Washington D.C. in March 1987. While he was shocked by the behavior of Christians who were protesting the event, Yancey commended the response by the “gay Christians” who proclaimed, “Jesus loves us.”

Yancey is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Gay Christian Network’s annual Mountain Top Experience in January 2011. The other main speaker is “Rev.” Ann Phillips who “has been married for four years to her soulmate, Heather Wayne.” Obviously Yancey will not be condemning their unrepentant sin.

Bible believers don’t have to “wrestle” over the issue of homosexuality, because God has already settled the matter in His Word. To take this dogmatic position is not a matter of pride or hate. It is not a phobia; it is a matter of obedience to the Almighty, of fearing God more than man, of building one’s worldview on biblical truth rather than cultural whims, of living by faith rather than feeling.

Homosexuality is described in Romans 1:24-28 in the plainest manner. It is called “dishonour” (1:24), “vile affections” (v. 26), “unseemly” (v. 27), and “a reprobate mind” (v. 28).

Those who are born again are taught to repent of and put away such things (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In this passage we see that some of the members of the church at Corinth had been guilty of this particular sin as well as many other sins, but they had been converted.

According to the Bible, the only legitimate place for the sexual relationship is holy matrimony (Hebrews 13:4). Anything else is condemned as fornication, which is a grave sin. And nowhere in Scripture is marriage defined as anything other than the union of one man and one woman in holy covenant before God and man.

The blood of Christ is sufficient to save any sinner, regardless of what sin he is guilty of, but God demands acknowledgment of and repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s cross work. Jesus twice warned, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13;3, 5).

Homosexuals are as welcome to attend our churches to hear the Word of God preached as any other sinners, but they cannot be church members or serve in the ministry unless they repent and give evidence thereof. The same is true for adulterers and thieves.

This is not a complicated issue. It has only become complicated by the attempt of some to justify their sin and by the deep spiritual compromise of “evangelicalism” in our day.

Evangelicalism has been corrupted by its non-judgmental philosophy and its 60-year-old “repudiation of separatism” (to use the words of Harold Ockenga).


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