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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith Paperback – March 1, 2011
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Praise for Timothy Keller and The Prodigal God
"Thrilling . . . Brilliant. Keller elegantly explains the goodness of God, redefining sin, lostness, grace, and salvation." —HeartsandMinds.com
"An amazing, thought-provoking, illuminating work." —Examiner.com
"The insights Tim Keller has about the two individuals in the story, and about the heart of God who loves them both, wrecked me afresh. Tim's thoughts deserve a hearing worldwide." —Bill Hybels, founding and senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
"Explain, explode, expose, explore—all of these Jesus did by telling the parable of the prodigal son. In this book, Timothy Keller shows us something of how this story actually reveals the heart of God, and, if we read it carefully, our own hearts. This brief exposition is unsettling and surprisingly satisfying. Like seeing something as your own home, or your own self, with new eyes. Enjoy and profit." —Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
"When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Timothy Keller is simply brilliant." —Mark Driscoll, pastor, Mars Hill Church and president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network
"Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians." —Christianity Today magazine
"I thank God for him." —Billy Graham
About the Author
Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. His first pastorate was in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. He is the author of The Songs of Jesus, Prayer, Encounters with Jesus, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Every Good Endeavor, and The Meaning of Marriage, among others, including the perennial bestsellers The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.
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Top Customer Reviews
Keller's book, as the provocative title suggests, is built on one of Jesus' most famous stories: the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15). Keller consents that "on the surface of it, the narrative is not all that gripping." But, he contends that "if the teaching of Jesus is likened to a lake, this famous Parable of the Prodigal Son would be one of the clearest spots where we can see all the way to the bottom." Keller has taught from this passage many times over the years, and says, "I have seen more people encouraged, enlightened, and helped by this passage, when I explained the true meaning of it, than by any other text."
The book is laid out in seven brief chapters which aim to uncover the extravagant (prodigal) grace of God, as revealed in this parable. Keller shows how the parable describes two kinds of "lost" people, not just one. Most people can identify the lostness of the "prodigal son," the younger brother in Jesus' story, who takes his inheritance early and squanders it on riotous living. But Keller shows that the "elder brother" in the parable is no less lost. Together, the two brothers are illustrations of two kinds of people in the world. "Jesus uses the younger and elder brothers to portray the two basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment: the way of moral conformity and the way of self-discovery." Both brothers are in the wrong, and when we see this, we discover a radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. "Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors may be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life." As these quotes hint, Keller's exposition of the two sons lays the groundwork for a penetrating analysis and critique of both moral relativists on the liberal left and religious moralists on the conservative right, showing that the latter are just as lost as the former. What both need is Jesus, whom Keller presents as "the true elder brother," the one who comes to our rescue at his own expense. Through his grace, we are given hope and invited to the great feast of the Father.
As with Keller's preaching, this book is intelligent and winsome, combining thoughtful reflection on both text and culture with searching heart application. Keller's book is effectively illustrated with a liberal use of stories and quotations from literature, movies, and the arts. Most imporantly, the book orients the reader's heart to the hope of the gospel of God's grace revealed in Christ.
One more note: for readers who may have felt intimidated by Keller's recent book The Reason for God, don't shrink away from The Prodigal God. It is probably only 1/3 of the length and much easier to read. I highly recommend it to unbelievers, seekers and established Christians.
This book was good for me. I struggle with being an elder brother, with being a Pharisee. I think a lot of people in the church do. For those of us who struggle with being Pharisees, Keller has important words for us. Our self-righteousness will never get us anywhere and in fact, may serve as a barrier. You see, when we think that if we are just good enough, we won't depend upon grace and will then refuse to go into the feast.
If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishoners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did (18-19)
The father is saying, "I'm not going to wait until you've paid off your debt; I'm not going to wait until you've duly groveled. You are not going to earn your way back into my family, I am going to simply take you back. I will cover your nakedness, poverty, and rags with the robes of my office and honor." (26)
The prerequisite for receiving the grace of God is to know that you need it. (52).
Perhaps the clearest symptom of this lack of assurance is a dry prayer life (72).
Jesus came to bring festival joy (120).
What makes you faithful or generous is not a redoubled effort to follow moral rules. Rather all change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out the changes that understanding creates in your heart (133).
The Prodigal God is a really good book. Keller writes clearly about the message that I seek to understand and tell others about every day. We are saved by God's sheer grace, not by any goodness of our own. I would definitely recommend this book.