Wendy Saddler reviews Dean Hartwell’s St. Peter’s Choice


I was recently given an online copy of a rather interesting book called “St. Peter’s Choice” by Dean Hartwell, from a friend, which I proceeded to read. I was curious about this book, especially about the overall theme, about the existence of God, Heaven, and Hell. In short, it questions everything about the Christian faith, in an attempt to cast it as just another falsehood. The story centers on the following characters:

Peter: a man who God used, despite his shortcomings to be a mighty minister of the gospel, who is now at the pearly gates admitting believers. 

X, Y, and Z: Three non-believers with whom Peter has an in-depth conversation with, concerning God and the afterlife.

This conversation delves into the very foundation of Christianity, with X, Y, and Z openly challenging everything God says and does throughout history, thus proving that IF God exists, He is mean, capricious, and heartless. They also poke holes in theological facts, such as the existence of Hell. When they’re banned from Heaven, they are in a place of darkness, and can’t feel anything negative, such as the fire, heat or pain they expected. From this, they decide that God must be some type of liar. Therefore, everything else He has said in His word is useless fiction. In the end of the book, Peter refuses to enter Heaven out of protest with the other three, and stays with them, wherever they are.

The problem with this is that the writer cherry-picks Scripture, and takes it out of context, to support his views. He uses old, tired and superficial arguments against God and His Word, such as claiming that the Old and New Testaments contradict each other, when in reality they can be shown to support each other. The writer also fails to see that Hell is also described in the Bible as “the lake of fire burning with brimstone”, a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”, of “outer darkness” and torment (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, Luke 16:32, and Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 14-15) which will last for eternity. Not the mere emptiness Hartwell describes. 

The writer apparently has issues with the truth of God’s word, as well as with God, so he spouts what can only be the tenets of atheism, in ways that are not internally consistent. As I also looked into the other works of this author, it was very clear that this person is deeply into conspiracy theories, (9/11 hoax, etc) that have been easily debunked. 

While very thought-provoking and entertaining, this book is a work of pure fiction. It’s based on the atheistic influences of philosophical and scientific author Richard Dawkins, whose ideas are contradictory and confused at times, and the works of Dan Brown, whose assertions have been proven to be false. If one is unsure of their faith, needs affirmation of it, and wants to see “both sides,” I would recommend this. However, I would strongly caution that they carefully read God’s Word, examine history in every aspect, and seek out godly counsel. If one wants to read this to get an idea of what an atheist thinks, then go for it, but this in no way is something for a Christian to read as a devotional book.

Wendy Saddler is from Bensalem, Pennsylvania and may be reached at blondetrekkie@comcast.net