Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The Prodigal God, Book Review
Recently I finished the book "The Prodigal God" written by Tim Keller. Keller is a pastor at Redeemer in New York City. He has written one other book, "The Reason for God"It is also a very good book.
"The Prodigal God" was written by Keller after hearing his seminary professor give a sermon/lecture on the parable of the prodigal son years ago. It is a short book, and one could read it in a night or two. Keller analyzes the parable from three different perspectives. First, the lost and repentant younger son, second, the proud elder brother and lastly, the loving father. I'm not going to go into detail about the contents of the book because I don't have it in front of me right now. I will say that Keller turned my understanding of this parable upside down. He says that most people will see this as a story of a father forgiving his son for rejecting him. (I would be one of those people before reading this short book.) Keller claims there is more to what Jesus was saying then meets the eye.
Jesus was telling this parable while discussing/arguing with the pharisees about various issues. It is among a couple of other parables. The context Jesus gives this parable and his audience deepens the meaning its meaning two-fold. First, Jesus is using it to reprimand the Pharisees for being "elder brothers." They are not willing to go into their father's house to celebrate the return of their lost younger brothers. Second, look how deeply the younger brother has offended the father and the father's response to this offense.
My general feeling about the book: if you haven't read it, read it! It's short and easy. It deepend my understanding of this parable and helped me better understand myself in relation to fellow Christians. This parable has special power for evangelicals today. We are often the elder brother in this story who aren't willing to step in the house of God with those who have spit in our father's face. We won't worship with them. Why not? Keller gives a poignant and very critical answer that we need to hear.
So read it if you have not already. It's worth two-three hours of your time.