Newsweek called renowned minister Timoty Keller "a C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century" in a feature on his first book, The Reason for God. In that book, he offered a rational explanation of why we should believe in God. Now, in The Prodigal God, he uses one of the best-known Christian parables to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation.
Taking his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity, Keller uncovers the essential message of Jesus, locked inside his most familiar parable. Within that parable Jesus reveals God's prodigal grace toward both the irreligious and the moralistic. This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.
The story of the prodigal son is one of the most popular of Jesus's parables. But the usual accompanying sermon "No matter what you do, God is always waiting to welcome you back with open arms!" covers about....2% of the intended message. I had no idea of this until I read Keller's book a couple years ago. Then I forgot all that and relearned it this week upon rereading his awesome book.
Jesus is preaching not only to the self-seeking hedonistic "sinners". There's a crowd of Pharisees listening to him too, and it is to them that the story is chiefly addressed. The first son who runs away with his inheritance is only Part 1. The crux of the story comes when the father lovingly confronts his elder son about his self-righteousness. The elder son's response isn't given, meaning we have to answer for him from our on Pharisee hearts.
And that is what I got out of Keller's book. I am so often an elder brother. I look down on others (ironically, usually other elder brothers) and seek to control God's blessings by being so good he has to favor me. Keller deconstructs all those prideful thoughts, then gives hope by describing God's extravagant grace in bringing all people to Jesus.
This short book packs a wallop, and I recommend it to everyone.
Five out of five best coats.
Release Date: October 2008
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not yet in Dunlap's collection.