In many ways, I found this book interesting. The idea of the conversation over dinner is a good one, and trying to present Jesus in an accessible, personable and personal way. However, as I read through the details, it seems that, unless one starts from the standpoint of having faith, this won't be too convincing. I would hate to think that faith rests primarily on the simple lack of ability to ask more penetrating questions.
This is a book that those with a conservative, more fundamentalist outlook on Christianity will find enjoyable, and perhaps even useful in crafting their own arguments and points for discussion amongst themselves and with their friends. It is not a book that is likely to convince those who don't already have a predisposition toward sola scriptura Christianity.
There are a few things that disturb me a bit in this book. The first is that Gregory seems to take a high-school debate approach to many of the conversational pieces. In fact, Gregory admits through the speech of his character that some of the conversation is likened to that. Gregory hopes that it will go farther than that, and in some cases, it does, but in others, he uses very traditional argumentation, both in substance and method, in an attempt to prove his case.
One such example of this deals with the resurrection itself - Gregory has Jesus asking, in different ways, what the disciples would have to gain or what motivation they might have in perpetuating a falsehood, that Jesus was raised from the dead. Unfortunately, the discussion ends with a topic-shift into some of the worst bits of Christian history (Crusades, Salem witch trials, Inquisition, etc.) before coming to a conclusion. In fact, even the gospel writers knew that there were tales circulating about the resurrection being a fraud; hence the inclusion of the stories about the Temple hierarchy being worried about this possibility. The truth is, the resurrection is not a matter for logical proving, but rather a matter of faith. There is something of a disservice here in trying to make it something one can rationally prove.
One other item that disturbs me somewhat is Gregory's portrayals of other religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are presented almost as straw-man characters to be pushed aside quite readily. While Gregory's Jesus argues the Second Law of Thermodynamics to disprove the Hindu concept of an eternal universe, there are two problems that arise - one, that modern science might ultimately settle on another theory of cosmic origins and maintenance than what we have at present, and second, that the idea of a non-eternal universe simply shifts the question from 'what is the origin of the universe?' to 'what is the origin of God?' To then simply say that God is self-sufficient begs the question. To point out the faults of other religions to then be able to dismiss them, but then not dismiss Christianity over its own difficulties (even when they are freely admitted) again raises the issue that this is written by a writer who is already so much in the faith that his objectivity cannot be engaged in this regard. He misses his own assumptions in this regard.
This is not an impartial meeting - the Jesus Gregory's diner meets with is a decidedly fundamentalist Jesus. Gregory betrays his more fundamentalist interpretations of the bible in subtle ways - that Gregory has Jesus stating that the Bible had over 40 authors, all of whom had a consistent message, speaks to a more fundamentalist interpretation of the bible in several ways. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with this view of the bible necessarily, but it does make one wonder if a person is trying to present a conversation as not being tied to a particular religious framework, why he makes these kinds of statements that clearly place him in certain interpretative camps.
The book reads a bit like a play, or perhaps a kind of performance-play sermon. I could see it easily being used for adult study groups as well as for individual reflection and reading. Gregory's writing style is engaging, and he gives a good dialogue and good descriptive narrative throughout this tale.