Why Be a Christian (if No One Goes to Hell)?
By Daniel Meeter
153 pp. Shook Foil. $9.99. Ebook only.
Meeter’s was not the first ebook I’ve ever read, but it is the first ebook I’ve ever reviewed, so do bear with me, O reader. I’m used to coming out of a book-for-review with a couple index cards filled with scribbles, but as it turns out, there’s no place to hide an index card in my iPod. So I’m going largely from memory here.
Believing that no-one goes to Hell is not a prerequisite to enjoying this book; really, the doctrine receives treatment only in the opening couple chapters, and the book presents a fairly conventional annihilationist view of the afterlife: the faithful live eternally with the Father and Son and Spirit, and those who do not seek the true God simply pass from existence. There’s no universalism here, not even the purgatorial openness of C.S. Lewis. Just a denial that the flames of Gehenna last beyond the present evil age. So here’s the short version for those concerned with the title: not everyone goes to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ brings anyone to the Father. And there is everlasting communion with God for the faithful.
The relative merits of annihilation aren’t really the point of this book, so I won’t dwell on that here. I will say that the rest of Meeter’s book is an accessible, friendly introduction to some of the positive appeals of the Christian faith. Meeter’s roots are clearly in the historical Reformed tradition: he’s concerned at every turn with human sinfulness, with unmerited divine revelation, in the form of the Scriptures, as the only way to know the God of Abraham and Israel and Jesus, with eternal enjoyment of God as the chief end of human beings. That said, he mixes those strong Reformed concerns with a sense that his readers are coming from a place, historically and culturally speaking, where inter-Christian polemics just aren’t as interesting as they are for those who never leave the walls of the seminary or the pastor’s office. Thus he keeps in view throughout the book the possibilities that readers are not as familiar with Christian theological jargon as he is; that readers might be just as familiar with Islam as with Christianity; and that people’s spirituality is always a matter of story.
In short, Why Be a Christian is a good little book to transmit (does one “hand off” an ebook?) to one’s friends who are curious but not thoroughly familiar, interested but not invested. For a brief ebook, it makes its appeal quite well, and for the sake of conversation, I can recommend it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.