The Prodigal God: A Review

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

There is something about the Prodigal Son story that seems to captivate people. Even non-believers seem to know this quick parable of the Bible.  Some people can relate with the young son, the "prodigal", who leaves his father's comfortable home only to hit rock bottom before crawling home for forgiveness. Others align with the older son, who stays with his father in order to earn his share of the estate. Many believers grasp onto the love of the father as an example of the Father's love for all of His sons and daughters who have lost their way...

As a result of it's popularity, it's a parable that gets taught in church often, even to young kids. So you can imagine when my small group landed on this book as a group study this past spring.  I really was not thrilled.  I mean how much more could possibly be in this story?

Yeah, I know, never act like you know everything from the Word of God...



The Prodigal God: a review on Reading List



Story Overview 

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith is written by Timothy Keller, so I knew it would be a worthwhile read, I just figured there wouldn't be much new to ponder. So wrong... so very wrong!

This is a super quick read, there isn't anything totally complicated discussed. Keller's writing style is easy to comprehend even while being interrupted numerous times by little kids. Also, each chapter flows nicely into the next, so if you have to walk away mid-chapter you don't have to worry about having to reread in order to understand again.

Keller goes through and discusses each brother, and points out why he sees each of them as a prodigal son. He uses the actual scripture to defend his stance, which is greatly appreciated. Most of the book looks at how God is truly merciful towards all people, including those who chose to walk down a destructive path and those who become moralistic on religion.  This is the kind of book that will shake you, and make you really examine how you look at sin, God, mercy and faith.

Keller does have some videos that go along with this study - which was nice because there were some in the group that simply didn't have the time at all to read the book.  But the videos helped them to stay caught up.

Here's the intro video for the series. Now he talks about preaching this story as he has focused on the leaders of the church, but the message is important for all believers...




Personal Likes

I really liked the ease of Keller's word.  While the points he made challenge every one of us, I didn't feel like he was beating guilt into the reader.  Keller does an amazing job of gently pointing out the truth of the story, relating it to today's reality and society, and guiding us back to Truth.

The chapters were quick reads, and honestly when you're chasing three kids around and trying to keep up a house and work... well there is no need for a complicated read.

Also, this book does allow for some great discussion starters in a group study.  It is rich of topics to discuss, and as each person's life is different, so will each person's initial grasp on this book will be. And that makes for wonderful discussion, and a chance to see a more colorful reality.

Gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ. From The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.  Reviewed on Reading List



Personal Dislikes

As much as I thought the videos were helpful... they really did seem to be a repeat of the book. Yes there is more in the book, but if you just watched the video, you probably wouldn't need the book... And well Keller has the speaking voice of a college professor who almost always put me to sleep... so you see where this is going...

Since I used this as a study for a group, I wish there would have been questions at the end of each chapter. Granted, I realize there are many study guides online for this book, but there is just something about having some discussion questions directly following a point that really allow some critical thinking.


Reasons to Read

I honestly hadn't spent much time really considering where Jesus fit into this story, and this book made sure I put him in his proper place in the cast, so to speak.  And that does make a world of difference when reflecting on this parable. So if you haven't looked at this story to see where Jesus is, this is the book for you.

Also, this helps Christian who have been the church for a while reevaluate their stance. Often Christians get busy in the church doing good stuff, and stop interacting with the world... not really where we need to be...



Reading List Rating

I have to give this book five hearts, because it truly surprised me in a wonderful way.

five heart rating from Reading List





My Suggested Audience

This is a great book for all Christians to read. No matter if you're new to the faith, or decades into your journey.  This is also great for those who are the fence for Christianity.  As far as ages go... it's a fairly easy to read, so teenagers could certainly handle this one. And if you do bible studies as a family, you could probably use this book for kids as young as ten, since you would be walking through it with them in case they need extra guidance at parts. 



Who in the Prodigal Son parable to tend to align with? Why?

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a little note!

Marissa @ Reading List






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