Good News for Anxious Christians, expanded ed.

10 Practical Things You Don’t Have to Do

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A talented teacher unpacks the riches of traditional Christian spirituality for Christians burdened by the guilt and anxiety of introspective, in-my-heart spiritual techniques. Phillip Cary explains that knowing God is a gradual, long-term process that comes through the gospel experienced in Christian community. The first edition has sold over 17,000 copies. The expanded edition includes a new afterword that offers further insights since the first edition was published over ten years ago.

Introduction: Why Trying to Be Christian Makes Us Anxious
1. Why You Don't Have to Hear God's Voice in Your Heart
Or, How God Really Speaks Today
2. Why You Don't Have to Believe Your Intuitions Are the Holy Spirit
Or, How the Spirit Shapes Our Hearts
3. Why You Don't Have to "Let God Take Control"
Or, How Obedience Is for Responsible Adults
4. Why You Don't Have to "Find God's Will for Your Life"
Or, How Faith Seeks Wisdom
5. Why You Don't Have to Be Sure You Have the Right Motivations
Or, How Love Seeks the Good
6. Why You Don't Have to Worry about Splitting Head from Heart
Or, How Thinking Welcomes Feeling
7. Why You Don't Have to Keep Getting Transformed All the Time
Or, How Virtues Make a Lasting Change in Us
8. Why You Don't Always Have to Experience Joy
Or, How God Vindicates the Afflicted
9. Why "Applying It to Your Life" Is Boring
Or, How the Gospel Is Beautiful
10. Why Basing Faith on Experience Leads to a Post-Christian Future
Or, How Christian Faith Needs Christian Teaching
Conclusion: How the Gospel of Christ Is Good for Us
Afterword to the Second Edition


"Yes! No! Whoa! There are so many terrific, alarming, insightful zingers in this book that I agreed, disagreed, and, most of all, had to think about something on every page. Graceful and liberating, it is a word of wisdom and hope that just might convince anxious Christians that the gospel really is better news than we've yet imagined."

Andy Crouch, musician, public speaker, and author of The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place

"Evangelicals worry about lots of things, including the state of our spiritual health. Phil Cary is worried too: worried that evangelicals are suffering needlessly because they have imbibed a consumerist spirituality that offers much but provides little. Phil's prescription for spiritual indigestion? A turning away from the self to the one who continually speaks a healing, saving word to us, Christ himself. This is, quite frankly, one of the best books I've read on the spiritual life over the past twenty-five years. I heartily recommend it."

Christopher A. Hall, president, Renovaré

"Phillip Cary has clearly and convincingly explained why so many evangelicals are anxious and believe they may be failing at faith. I highly recommend this book to my fellow Christian counselors and self-doubting Christians because Cary richly explains the comforting good news of our identity in Christ. He thus provides a solid theological basis for correcting many deeply distorted beliefs about the self that propagate anxiety. This book provides the best treatment of this subject that I have ever read."

Christopher Doriani, licensed clinical social worker

The Author

  1. Phillip Cary

    Phillip Cary

    Phillip Cary (PhD, Yale University) is scholar-in-residence at the Templeton Honors College and professor of philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He serves as editor-in-chief of Pro Ecclesia and has written numerous books,...

    Continue reading about Phillip Cary


"Addressed to shepherds and their flocks, Good News for Anxious Christians features the admonishing, teaching, and comforting voice of a Christ-haunted philosophy professor at Eastern University. Its timely message is timeless: Servants of Christ grow through repetition of the gospel (which turns the heart outward), not through experimentation with techniques (which turns the heart inward). . . . His quiver contains ten arrows, one for each of the practical things that we don't have to do because they're not in the Bible. . . . Cary submits that the Lutheran doctrine of sola fide (faith alone) offers a powerful corrective to the strangely Catholicized and psychologized evangelicalism that oppresses us. . . . The gospel, Cary argues, gives us permission to ignore anxiety-producing techniques because Christ is enough, period."

Christopher Benson,

Christianity Today 5-star review

"Cary liberates persons enthralled by a god of spiritual techniques and practical sermons. . . . This is medicine for ministry."

Christian Century

"Tremendously rich and thoughtful and wonderfully written. . . . This book is written by a gentleman [who] is, well, a genius. . . . This is an anti-self-help book that takes historic and solid theology and uses that to counter the silliness--silliness that may become toxic--that is often found in popular level evangelicalism. This is solid pastoral theology, inviting deeper and more mature thinking about the slogans and clichés we too often hear. . . . There is a lot of goofy teaching out there, and a lot of books that pass for 'Christian psychology' or spiritual direction are well intended. Cary shows that we don't have to jump through these hoops to be closer to God, and that spiritual techniques or new theology can just make us more anxious, more frustrated, overwhelmed and narcissistic. . . . This is going [to] subvert some shibboleths and invite some honest, sane talk. . . . Very, very wise and very, very important."

Byron Borger,