I just finished The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I really enjoyed the book. I read most of it in a day or two and then was away from it for over a month. Some of the good aspects of the book is the correction of my understanding of prodigal. Based on the parable, I assumed it meant sinful. Keller adjusts that view and explains that prodigal means abundantly giving, which actually makes sense with the actions of the younger brother. He was abundantly giving with his resources when pursuing sin, but the point of the parable is the abundance given from God. Though the father had no relationship with either son because of the disinterest of the sons, the father gave and gave when his son returned, desiring to do the same for the older son.

What Keller tries to get at is that the two sons represent two different kinds of people in the world. The older brother represents the legalistic, self-righteous and religious people. The younger brother represents the outwardly sinful. Both are separated from God and have no relationship with him. The father though wants to have a relationship with his sons, so as the father is representing God, we see how God made that possible through Christ. The sin of both kinds of people separates them from God and God wants to bring us back to himself because we were created for fellowship with Him. He accomplished that by clearing the sin away through Christ’s death on the cross, making it so nothing stands in the way so we could have fellowship with Him, like we were created for.

Keller ends his story with the feast. Jesus talks about a feast. The Old Testament ends with a feast. Why a feast? “There is no better way to convey vividly what it means to live out a life based on [Christ’s] saving work.” (p. 106) The feast in the new Jerusalem on the new earth, depicted by the parable, is where we get to “taste” an understanding of the grace of God purchased through the gospel of Christ.

I commend this book to people. I’ve read another review saying the opposite because he believes that Keller gets the emphasis of the parable wrong. What do I commend then? I commend using discernment. Have your Bible open with you when you read this book, when you read any book. Paul commends that.