A pensive debut work of Christian fiction that uses the story of a reflective father to explore how people grow toward, or away from, faith over a lifetime.
Thirty-year-old John Christian is content with his life when he receives a startling phone call: His childhood friend Derrick has unexpectedly died. As John recalls his friend’s life, he begins to wonder whether Derrick’s once-lost soul found its way to Christ. His death becomes the impetus for personal introspection. John, a man of faith, is grateful that, whatever disasters befall him, he’s headed toward a home in heaven. Subsequent chapters address various challenges to his faith during his lifetime, including the temptations of disobedience, sex and general carousing. John admits that as a youth, he was as susceptible as anyone to worldly temptations, but his occasional stumbles were outweighed by his overall commitment to saying “no” in God’s name. However, readers may find that John’s conception of a faithful life is somewhat sterile: Christians don’t, in his view, ever curse, use addictive substances, sass their parents, engage in lusty activities, or deviate from the conceptions in Epistles of Paul, and he offers New Testament verses to support these notions. As a result, the book may find a readership among conservative Christians but not among those who engage in more liberal theology. John is convinced that those who don’t live according to literal interpretations of the Gospels won’t make it to heaven, but he has no malice for those who fall outside of salvation’s bounds. Griffin’s book is a quick, involving read, and some will find John a comforting, familiar character. His storytelling manner is given to puns and colloquialisms (“[W]e would make plans to go out when our schedules would agree—or when we just made them agree”) which helps to lighten the delivery. Still, the book’s absolutism is sometimes discomfiting; for example, the idea that single people can’t support the concept of marriage “because they aren’t married” is otherwise unexamined.
A short, earnest novel which seeks to evangelize by example.