Definition of False Teacher: One who presumes
to teach in the Name of the Lord when God has not sent him.
False Teacher - Philip Yancey
Condemned by Man's Grace
A neighbor left me with a book with which he was impressed. It was Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? It is helpful to point out that my neighbor has no desire for, or interest in, the Scriptures, true faith, and least of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth. He and his wife, who are Catholic, aren’t the least interested in anything I have to say concerning God. Yet apparently they esteem Yancey’s book as inspiring and godly. I red it; Yancey in all his delusion has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, except to misrepresent Him and give the common vile definition of grace we see abounding everywhere in nominal Christendom.
Philip Yancey publishes a shining example of “Christian” contradiction.
He claims to believe in grace and to have faith in a “Jesus.”
So what is grace? Grace has been defined as unmerited favor, something
man does not possess in his own right or power, something the Bible
says is quite foreign to him outside of God.
So what is the presumed source of the grace Yancey espouses? He would
say the source is God, yet he criticizes nominal Christendom and expects
it to have that which is not possible to have...but by God’s
He expects an egg to lay a chicken, and a serpent’s egg at that.
We need the grace of God not only because we don’t deserve anything
other than condemnation from God for our ways, but because we are
as powerless to find favor with Him as we are to
sprout wings and fly.
Yancey’s error is that he condemns, in hypocritical “Christian,” “non-judgmental” form,
nominal Christians who fail to have and to demonstrate the grace of
God to the world, as though they don’t need God to provide that
The Bible is clear that when man receives that gift of grace from
God, he receives both the desire and the ability to bestow grace upon
his fellows. That gift of grace becomes his nature.
If one is able to dispense grace, it is only because he received it
in the first place. If he cannot have grace to give except it is freely
and undeservedly given him, how then should Yancey be able to condemn
him for not having or giving it? Is this not the height of contradiction?
says true things. For example, he allows that repentance is the gate
to grace; however, where does one find it in his power to
enter that gate? Jesus declared:
“No one can come to Me unless the Father Who has sent
Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the
Prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Therefore
everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me” (John
Grace must reach to the very beginning of man’s need for goodness,
of which he is entirely bankrupt. Even repentance comes by the grace
of God. I look around and I see multitudes in unrepentance. Of those
who are repentant, I perceive that it is only by the grace of God.
Certainly I did not repent except by the grace of God; this I know
and this is what the Bible clearly teaches:
Ephesians 2:4-10 MKJV
(4) But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He
(5) (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with
Christ (by grace you are saved),
(6) and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies
in Christ Jesus,
(7) so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding
riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
(8) For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God,
(9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
(10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works,
which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
The apostle Paul said that it was God Who caused us (believers) not
only to do good, but to even want to do good:
“For it is God Who works in you both to will and to do of His
good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 MKJV).
Yancey describes grace as manifest mercy, forgiveness, and goodness,
such as expressed in the parable of the “good Samaritan” helping
the beaten, left-for-dead traveler, or in the parable of the father
gladly receiving his prodigal son back with no strings attached. All
this is true, but Yancey fails to see God as the sole Author of that
He also fails to see the grace of God working in the negative. For
example, when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, what was
God up to? He was sending Joseph into Egypt and preparing him to rule
in the future so as to save his father’s family, Egypt, and even
the nations round about from a coming terrible famine, which God also
engineered. It was all grace, both the need and the supply.
As well, by grace, God would be forming a nation out of Jacob’s
family. That nation was formed through bondage, in the iron furnace
of Egypt, through suffering over centuries. Apparently, Yancey thinks
suffering to be a crime.
Where does Yancey get off chastising the churches for not extending
grace to others, just because they don’t do what he thinks they
ought? Yancey’s idea of grace, if he were to live true by it,
would have compelled him to build many arks in Noah’s day, to
save as many as possible from the Flood. And Yancey would condemn Noah
for not bringing aboard as many as possible. I almost suspect that
he would even try to save the fish.
While Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord, the rest of humanity
did not, at that time. Was God lacking grace or power? If not, Yancey
condemns God Himself for not exercising more grace. My reply to him
Grace is God’s business, and He is faithful and sure to dispense
grace when, how, and through whom HE sees fit; all judgment is in HIS hands.
Yancey presumes that grace is exercised by man in man’s wisdom,
and thus he judges (and condemns) men according to his perceptions.
His problem is that he only knows Christ after the flesh, with limited,
carnal understanding. He fails to attribute goodness to God alone and
thus condemns the righteousness of God as not being unique and sufficient,
by supplanting it with man’s righteousness and his own. This
is something for which the Lord reproved the rich young ruler:
“And behold, one came and said to Him, Good Master, what good
thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And He said to him,
Why do you call Me good? There is none good but one, that is,
God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the Commandments” (Matthew
As the one who came to Jesus was looking to man as good because trusting
in his own goodness, so Yancey errs, expecting and even demanding goodness
from man. So doing, he dismisses God’s righteousness, which is
the only righteousness there is, as Jesus said.
And if one condemns the righteousness of God, he condemns man for
his unrighteousness. This may seem like a contradiction, but if God’s
righteousness is not enough, then someone must do something to take
up the slack; if man doesn’t do it (and Yancey is right in saying
that he hasn’t), then Yancey criticizes him for it. But man can’t do it – it has to be God’s doing.
So hear your own words, Philip Yancey; hear your own words! Where
is your grace? And are you dispensing it as you say others ought to
do? Do you have enough to go around for those you think lack it?
And if you obtained it, how did you manage to do so? Did you buy it
with all your hard earned money? Did you get it by your own virtue
somehow or because you deserved it? If so, then it is no longer the
true Biblical grace of God that you received, is it? At least, not
according to the Bible:
“Even so then, also in this present time a remnant according
to the election of grace has come into being. But if by grace, then
it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it
is of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more
work” (Romans 11:5-6 MKJV).
Ironically, Yancey writes: “Nietzsche
gave this warning, which applies to modern Christians: ‘Be careful, lest in fighting the
dragon you become the dragon.’” In other words, one is
liable to become that upon which he focuses. Yancey has set himself
up as judge after the appearance. His book is all about chastising
men for lack of grace. He becomes that upon which he has focused; he
judges without grace.
Yancey has focused on the lack of his concept of grace - lack of grace
on the part of men; thus is he self-righteous and judgmental, concocting,
and walking in, his own grace. It is the perspective not of a prophet
who tells people their sins and shortfalls, but of the “well
meaning” accuser of the brethren, who finds fault because attributing
virtue and righteousness to the flesh.
The proof in the Scriptures of this is where Jesus spoke of suffering
death, and Peter rebuked Him saying, “God be gracious to You,
Lord. This shall never be to You.” Jesus replied, “Get
behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, because you savor not the
things of God but the things of men” (Matthew 16:21-23).
Men hate the thought of suffering and evil; they hate the thought
of correction and judgment. Therefore, Yancey is very popular, because
he chooses man’s way and righteousness, sparing the rod. But
suffering, evil, judgment, and correction are needed and dispensed
by the grace of God, whether through human agency or otherwise, to
bring forth good. And those who think like, and follow, Yancey will
Yancey’s message is one of hypocrisy and self-righteousness,
attributing to man powers he does not have and condemning him when
he fails to exercise those powers. Yet Yancey allows himself to escape
the judgment he foists on others, by having a double standard. In declaring
we are all in need of total grace, he salves his wicked conscience
and justifies his own shortfall before God.
Here is the crux of Philip Yancey’s problem: He knows enough
of the Bible to know there is such a thing as grace. He knows Christians
are supposed to experience and practice grace, but he doesn’t
see that grace in the Christian Church; that is, he doesn’t see
that grace in what he thinks is the Christian Church.
Not knowing God’s grace himself, and not having experienced
the true life in Jesus Christ by a new birth, he has mistaken the false
church for the true. Those he calls Christians are Christians in name
only, and that is why he finds no grace; hence the confusion.
Not having experienced God’s grace, he does not know that only
God can grant it to any man. Not knowing this, he assumes (albeit I
think he would deny it) that professing Christians must produce that
grace. Finding that they do not do so, he condemns them in what he
presumes to be a gracious way.
Mr. Yancey would do well to stop writing and begin seeking after the
Lord for grace.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with
the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just
as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us come boldly to
the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help
in time of
need” (Hebrews 4:15-16 MKJV).
Judging by our site and the things we have to say to, and about, nominal
Christendom, one might ask, “Who are you to criticize Yancey?
Do you not find fault with those who profess faith in Christ, taking
them to task for their unbelief, doctrine, and practice?” To
which I reply, “The difference is that while Yancey is
trying to get blood from a stone and beating the stone for not producing
it, we are calling a stone a stone, exposing it for what it is, and
casting it off as something pretentious and illegitimate, expecting
nothing from it. We preach Christ and repentance so that people may
obtain grace from Him, rather than trying to walk by their own light.”
But God must give Philip the true grace in His time and way, and one
day, He will. Yancey will receive it, repent, and entering that narrow
gate, will have something to talk or write about, something that will
minister reality to others. The grace of God will flow through him
to others, so that they will be edified toward God and not turned away
from Him instead.
By the grace of God, those who read his present literature will be
kept from deception, escaping the harmful effects of that which parades
as essential truth and godly counsel.
And by the grace of God, we are also tried, proven, and victorious.