Friday, March 19, 2010

Book Review: "The Prodigal God."

Title: The Prodigal God
Sub-title: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Author: Timothy Keller
Publisher: Dutton
Book Type: Christian Living
Page Length: 135
Chapters: Introduction, “The Parable,” 7 Chapters, Acknowledgements, Notes
SRP: $19.95
Suggested Audience: I recommend this book to everyone who wants to know themselves loved greatly and recklessly by a Prodigal God.

Strengths: Keller is brilliant at communicating God’s love and grace for us. He clearly communicates how “reckless” God is in pouring His love out on us as He runs to meet us and take us into His house. The word prodigal means “recklessly extravagant or having spent everything.” Well, God is reckless in how He loves us and He has spent everything, even His life as Jesus, on us! The book is short and sweet—meat and potatoes all the way through. Keller quotes notable people that are relevant to people who will read this book. This book implicitly and yet, clearly displays how pastors in all denominations have been miss-teaching and miss-preaching parables—mainly the Parable of the Prodigal Son. They’ve been doing this for years and Keller makes the reader of this book aware of this and he reframes the parable for us and contextualizes the parable for us in a fresh and yet orthodox and biblical way.

Weaknesses: I really don’t see any weaknesses in this book over than it’s a little pricey, but well worth it if you get it from Amazon used rather than in the store new. It’s beautifully written.

My thoughts: Keller actually writes a better version of Chan’s “Crazy Love” but it’s just called “Prodigal God” and it’s twice as expensive and in a sweet orange-gold hardback. It’s also shorter. If Keller releases a paperback and sells it for $12 he could sell a bunch in the cheap PB. I recommend this book. If you can get Crazy Love by Francis Chan or Prodigal God by Tim Keller for the same price—like, if you had to or you could choose between the two...I would get Prodigal, instead of getting Crazy. Don’t get me wrong—I dig Chan and his books—but Keller’s book is better. Not by much mind you, but it is better. I’ll put it this way: if Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Prodigal God by Keller got into an octagon together to duke it out in the cage, Prodigal God would wear the belt at the end of the night. Hands down.

Notable quotes:
“When Christianity first arose in the world it was not called a religion. It was the non-religion...Romans called them atheists.”
“So there is not just one lost son in this parable—there are two.”
“The gospel of Jesus is not religion or irreligion, morality or immorality, moralism or relativism, conservatism or is something else all together.”
“He not only loves the wild-living, free-spirited people, but also hardened religious people.”
“As one of my teachers in seminary put it, the main barrier between Pharisees and God is ‘not their sins, but their damnable good works’.”
“The point of the parable is that forgiveness always involves a price—someone has to pay.”
“Jesus’s miracles were not so much violations of the natural order, but a restoration of the natural order.”
“Religion operates on the principle of ‘I obey—therefore I am accepted by God.’ The basic operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by god through the world of Jesus Christ—therefore I obey’.”


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