A fairly well known story in the Bible is the story we call the Prodigal Son. It is found in Luke 15:11-32 and tells the story of a wasteful son who rudely asks his father for his share of the inheritance, and goes off to spend in on wine, women and song. This story or parable is the focus of Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God:Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. Despite the subtitle’s reliance upon using the fairly cliched idea recovering of the heart of Christianity, this book will most likely challenge and change the way you read the parable of the Prodigal Son.
I’ll try not to give too much away, but the premise of the book is that Keller believes the title of the parable would be better titled, the Prodigal God, hence the name of his book. This seems to be for two reasons. The first is that God is recklessly extravagant (which is the meaning of the word prodigal) with his love and possessions. The second reason is that this parable is not just about one son, but both of them.
What follows is a look at how both sons in the parable may be disconnected from the father. Most of my experience with this parable was focusing on how lost and wayward the son who wasted all his money was and how God’s love is so great that he forgave him, but most of the time the older son was either ignored or glossed over. Keller doesn’t necessarily change this view of the younger son, but adds a focus on the older son that I had not really thought about and had never really heard articulated before this.
Without giving more away, I’ll end with saying that I highly recommend this book. It is an easy read with everyday language that any level of Christian and most non-Christians would probably be able to understand. It also is not a long book clocking in at a deceptive 133 pages (it is deceptive because the book is a smaller sized book). I also doubt that this will be the last Timothy Keller book that you’ll see recommended by me.