The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith   -     By: Timothy Keller
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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

Penguin Random House / 2008 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Using his characteristic intellectual approach to faith issues, Keller uncovers an unexpected message in the familiar---and often misunderstood---New Testament parable of the prodigal son. Seekers and believers alike will see Christianity in a whole new way when they learn how Christ's followers are supposed to love, so they can join him in heaven. 176 pages, hardcover from Penguin.

Product Information

Title: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
By: Timothy Keller
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 7.50 X 5.50 X 1.0 (inches)
Weight: 8 ounces
ISBN: 0525950796
ISBN-13: 9780525950790
Stock No: WW950790

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Publisher's Description

The New York Times bestselling author of The Prodigal Prophet uncovers the essential message of Jesus, locked inside his most familiar parable.

Newsweek called renowned minister Timothy Keller "a C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century" in a feature on his first book, The Reason for God. In that book, he offered a rational explanation of why we should believe in God. Now, in The Prodigal God, Keller takes his trademark intellectual approach to understanding Christianity and uses the parable of the prodigal son to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation. 

Within that parable Jesus reveals God's prodigal grace toward both the irreligious and the moralistic. This book will challenge both the devout and skeptics to see Christianity in a whole new way.

Author Bio

Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. His first pastorate was in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. He is the author of The Songs of JesusPrayerEncounters with JesusWalking with God Through Pain and SufferingEvery Good Endeavor, and The Meaning of Marriage, among others, including the perennial bestsellers The Reason for God and The Prodigal God.


There is an old saying which rings true as it states ‘familiarity breeds contempt’; and this is especially true about parts of the Bible which are very familiar, like Jesus parable of the prodigal son. Many of us have read this parable or heard it taught, preached and explained so much that it has lost it’s luster, and it’s power.

A new book by Timothy Keller is designed to reverse this trend. The book, released in October and titled The Prodigal God, takes this all too familiar parable (Luke 15:11-31) and opens it up in such a way so as to help 21st century readers grasp it in it’s power and point; and the result is a fresh understanding of it which recaptures the heart of the gospel message. I found The Prodigal God compelling for many reasons. Let me explain three of them here.

First, the title of the book is captivating in and of itself. Most of us understand what is meant by a ‘prodigal son’ or daughter. But Keller applies this term, which is usually understood in a negative sense, to God. Some readers may be put off by this, but don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. As the meaning of ‘prodigal’ is defined more clearly, I came to see how God is indeed prodigal, in the best sense of the term; and the good news of Jesus flows to us because he is. For more detail on that point you will have to read the book. This is only one of many gems found within the pages of this short work.

A second gem gleaned from this book is in the first chapter. Keller shows how, when Jesus was here on earth, his teaching and life consistently attracted those who were not religious at all while offending those who prided themselves on how religious and righteous they were. After showing this, Keller makes the point that “if the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did” (page 16). Being the pastor of a Bible centered evangelical church, this statement caused me to stop and think about the kinds of people we draw to our churches; and I concluded that Keller was onto to something important in his book. And desiring to see people know Jesus, I was compelled to read further.

A third gem, which was particularly helpful to me as I read Keller’s explanation of the parable was what he draws out as Jesus’ the main point. Having been a Christian for near forty years, I have heard the point of this parable explained as being the love of the Father for sons gone astray, the awesome forgiveness which the Father extends, and even the sacrifice the Father makes to receive his son back, after this prodigal son went so far astray. I have even preached this parable from one or more of these angles. But Keller shows, on the other hand, how all of these truths, true as they are, are only the back drop to Jesus main point.

And what was Jesus’ main point? Who was this parable really directed to? Jesus focus in the parable, according to Keller’s understanding, was not so much the younger son, nor even the Father and his forgiveness but rather the older son; and his purpose was to shock the Pharisees and anyone else who carries the attitudes of the older brother in the story into realizing that, as wrong as the prodigal was, they, too, are in a seriously bad position before the Father, which is made worse by the fact that, trusting in their own righteousness, big brother types do not even grasp their eternal danger. The parable is an appeal to ‘the righteous’ to grasp and grab by faith, the salvation even they need. Keller then expands this and makes relevant applications of Jesus’ parable to people and churches today.

When all is said and done, Keller’s book The Prodigal God is a home run in my view. The book is short and yet thorough; it is easy to understand and yet profound; and it carries a much needed message for the church, and for those outside the church today.

I recommend the book highly and see it as a ‘must read’ for anyone desirous of seeing the good news that is Jesus Christ spread to the masses or even to the neighbor next door. Often, we Christians make the faith complex. Timothy Keller, in The Prodigal God puts the heart of the gospel to the bottom shelf and makes it easy for anyone to grasp. May the Lord use this little book to draw many people to Jesus, for their good and for His glory. - Pastor Mike Burchfield,

Publisher's Weekly

Pastor of a Manhattan Presbyterian church that draws more than 5,000 weekly attenders, Keller (The Reason for God) reinterprets one of Christianity's best known parables, that of the prodigal son. While most understand "prodigal" as a description of the spendthrift son in the familiar story, Keller construes "prodigal" differently. The father who unhesitatingly and generously receives his son back into the family fold is in fact the prodigal, because his forgiveness and bounty is free, unconditioned and abundant. The father of the parable stands for the prodigal God of the title, and the father's true son—Jesus—will reconcile humans to the father from whom they are estranged and ultimately welcome them back home. Like a provocative sermon, Keller's short, easy to read book challenges received wisdom and reminds Christians that redemption has brought them hope. Keller's clarity and intelligence, manifest in a wide range of references from the Bible, but also literature, theater and film, adds to the persuasiveness of his original interpretation. He offers serious Christians food for re-thinking this familiar story. (Oct. 30)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Timothy Keller and The Prodigal God

"Thrilling . . . Brilliant. Keller elegantly explains the goodness of God, redefining sin, lostness, grace, and salvation." —

"An amazing, thought-provoking, illuminating work." —

"The insights Tim Keller has about the two individuals in the story, and about the heart of God who loves them both, wrecked me afresh. Tim's thoughts deserve a hearing worldwide." —Bill Hybels, founding and senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

"Explain, explode, expose, explore—all of these Jesus did by telling the parable of the prodigal son. In this book, Timothy Keller shows us something of how this story actually reveals the heart of God, and, if we read it carefully, our own hearts. This brief exposition is unsettling and surprisingly satisfying. Like seeing something as your own home, or your own self, with new eyes. Enjoy and profit." —Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

"When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Timothy Keller is simply brilliant." —Mark Driscoll, pastor, Mars Hill Church and president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

"Keller will be remembered as a pioneer of the new urban Christians." —Christianity Today magazine 

"I thank God for him." —Billy Graham

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