Yet again, I got another opportunity to review a book thanks to Mike Morrell and Speakeasy. This time, it was a book written by Daniel Meeter entitled Why Be a Christian If No One Goes to Hell.
I thought the premise of the book was cool, which is actually what caused me to pick it up. The whole premise of the book is that if there were no such thing as hell, then why would someone become a Christian? In many different sects of evangelical Christianity, people become Christians not because of a deep love for Jesus, but because they are scared to go to hell. While there may be some merit to this, it certainly doesn’t create the type of love-motivated faith that God desires. While I don’t agree with Meeter’s views on the existence of hell (or lack thereof; I hold a far more orthodox view on the issue), I still found the concept of this book very interesting, especially given the recent discussion on this topic thanks to works like Rob Bell’s Love Wins.
In the book, Meeter did a good job of approaching the reasons to become a Christian from a philosophical point of view. I think that this book would definitely be a great resource for more philosophical friends who might be considering Christianity. Meeter does a good job of not assuming that his readers won’t automatically just know the concepts he talks about, and the terminology he uses is friendly to those who may not have more than a cursory knowledge of Christianity (and when he does use some “Christianese,” he makes sure it’s defined). In this regard, the book is certainly good.
I personally struggled with this read, though. At points, I found myself losing interest. I felt Meeter was a bit verbose at points, though I will admit that it probably doesn’t help that I don’t enjoy more “philosophical” reads. Some of Meeter’s arguments felt a bit underdeveloped or seemed to ignore some obvious flaws, though on the whole he provided a good overall overview.
As a side note, Meeter proposes that hell does not exist in the beginning of the book. I found this argument to be exceedingly underdeveloped, but the point of the book is not arguing for or against the existence of hell. Obviously, many large books have been written on this subject, so to expect an exceedingly thorough treatment is probably unrealistic. If that’s what you’re expecting, there are some other books and resources that I’d suggest you pick up first.
To conclude, in spite of my own differences with some of Meeter’s arguments, I still appreciate his desire to provide a comprehensive “field guide” for those looking to explore Christianity. If you know someone who’s interested in poking a little more at the thought behind Christianity, this would be a good read.