Book Review: Quit Going to Church, by Bob Hostetler

Quit Going to ChurchAs noted in the brief, final chapter, one may not doubt Bob Hostetler “[has] prayed for everyone who reads this book” (215). Throughout Quit Going to Church there is an evident pastoral concern and desire for growth; however, prayer, concern, and desire do not necessarily yield a well-articulated argument. Hostetler plays a game of semantics that some may find more than ruffles a few feathers (13)—it’s likely they won’t even finish the book—and seems to defeat his purpose. It is not very helpful to tell one’s audience to “quit” doing something (in most absolute terms) and, instead, do something that arguably encompasses that said action; and when trying to change how others perceive an idea or phrase, it may not be very helpful to use other phrases that would require a new perspective before using them (e.g., describing Jesus as a “party animal” [151] and “the kingdom of God” being “synonymous with a wild and crazy good time” [152]). Some may find the semantic acrobatics appealing and refreshing, while others may find the forced shock value off-putting and unnecessary.

It is often self-implicating when an author writes something like, “It’s just not there. Honest. Go ahead, get your Bible. Look it up. See if you can find a passage that says . . .” (202). Hostetler is narrowly selective in his use of Scriptural support for his arguments, often relies upon his insertion of quite speculative details as he narrates a passage—again, some may find this helpful and others offensive—and makes claims (and certainly tells his audience to “quit”) that simply cannot be found in the Bible—anywhere. Of course, all interpret, extrapolate from, and claim implications of Scripture, but it is counterproductive to make such claims in the same book wherein refutation against such claims are made, and vice versa.

If one were to generalize, one may appropriately place the work among other “too little on too much” books attempting to convince and encourage readers to stop going through motions and be genuine in their walk with God, something we certainly ought to stress; however, the suggestions of “quitting” are not all accompanied with convincing examples and reasons, thus, the work may not prove to be as influential and/or helpful as intended. Regardless, one may benefit from reading the final chapter (215-16) for a concise recounting of the “quits” and “dos” argued in the book, as well as Hostetler’s prayerful closing statements.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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