Book Review: The Prodigal God

Take that Winter Reading List. Down goes Prodigal God by Tim Keller. A very quick read by one of my favorite authors; he’s even one of my more consistent podcast listens. Prodigal God has been on my list for a while (it’s even a carryover from my summer reading list) am I’m glad to have finally gotten around to it.

In The Prodigal God, Keller sets out to recover the heart of the Christian Faith. He does this by taking a deeper look at the story of the Lost Son in Luke 15. However, Keller doesn’t want to call this the parable of the Lost Son as it is about more than just the son who leaves home, but it’s also about the elder brother. The two sons give us a vivid picture of the wrong paths that we can take when it comes to our own lives, and our own faith in Jesus.

So, not only is the parable about more than just the lost son, it’s about everyone, especially post-modern Americans. Are we the younger son, who seeks to find fulfillment in joys and passions and living the life that we want? Or are we more like the elder son, the one that does everything “right” and deserves to get whatever we want in return?

I don’t know about you, but I related to the elder son much more than I did the younger one. I found it particularly striking that Keller points out that the parable was spoken to a group of “elder brothers,” the Pharisees. I had heard that we should look past the younger son before, but I had never heard why, other than allegory. It was a powerful realization. And it made the parable make more sense as to why it ends without the elder son coming inside. It would have stood out to the listening Pharisees, and they have had to make a decision. Come inside or stay outside with bitterness and the “sense” that they were “right.”

Then, in typical Keller fashion, he tells us who the true “elder brother” is. Of course, it’s Jesus. The best elder brother anyone could have.

I found the book to be fast paced and a good read. I enjoyed it. I would recommend it, but it’s probably at the bottom of my list of Keller books. I would recommend his other books before this one unless one of the two brothers really sticks out to you…

Also, one thing I noticed through reading this book is that Keller really doesn’t share much of himself in his books or his podcasts. A lot of his examples are plays that he has seen or read and books that he has read. They’re good stories, it’s just not the same. I may carry this thought further in a future post later.


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