Book Review – How Good Is Good Enough?

It takes a brave man to write another book geared towards convincing unbelievers that being good simply isn’t enough to earn God’s favor. There are so many similar books available and most unbelievers have heard the arguments so many times that they simply fall on deaf ears. Andy Stanley, though, wrote How Good Is Good Enough? to cover this topic one more time and he covers it admirably.

The book is based around the premise that every religion other than Christianity is based on the premise that good deeds can earn us a favorable place in the afterlife. This, the world’s most popular theory about heaven, falls flat when examined in depth, and Stanley examines it thoroughly. He asks the usual questions (“if you were to stand before God and He were to ask why He should let you get into heaven, what would you say?”) and uses the familiar arguments (“Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or exactly who He said He was”) yet somehow avoids making the book fell like it is filled with nothing but cliché. Perhaps the fact that it is written conversationally, almost as if Stanley was sitting in a room with you and just sharing his faith, makes it feel different. It is filled with examples from his own life and ministry, giving it a sense of genuineness.

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The book is divided into two sections. The first speaks about common understandings of God, the afterlife and how we can secure a place in heaven. The second section presents the Christian alternative to the arguments of other religions. Stanley shows, for example, how a common objection to the reality of heaven and hell is that sending people to hell is not fair. To counter this, he presents God as merciful rather than fair, for fairness would condemn us all to hell.

How Good Is Good Enough? concludes with a prayer and the author is careful to point out that faith, not a prayer, is what saves. The prayer covers sin, the fact that we deserve punishment and the reality of Jesus’ substitution.

Theologically this book was solid, and examining it from my Calvinist viewpoint I found no significant shortcomings. Especially noteworthy was that the author used a solid Bible translation throughout and did not “dumb down” the message of the gospel and neither did he rob it of its power by giving only half the story. This is the good ol’ fashioned gospel presented honestly and powerfully.

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