Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller explores the reckless abandon with which God loves this world. He shows how this story, which is traditionally referred to as The Prodigal Son, is not really told for the sake of the younger son. Instead the story is told with the elder brother in mind as the main audience. He demonstrates that the sins of the elder son are as much an affront to the Father as those of the younger son. The only difference is that at the end of the story the younger son is participating in the banquet, but the elder remains outside and we are not told his response.

We are not told the ending because it is up to us to decide how this story ends. This story picks up a concept that I originally read about in CS Lewis. It is the idea that those most in danger of eternal separation from God are those of us who think we have it all together. We think that it is merely by doing enough religious activities or refraining from licentiousness that we will enter the banquet. Without realizing it we sit on throne of our own hearts as our on savior, which is the most precarious way to live. I'll leave you with a few quotes that I found powerful:

"The bad son enters the father's feast but the good son will not. The lover of prostitutes is saved, but the man of moral rectitude is still lost." (pg. 34)

"The people who confess they aren't particularly good or open-minded are moving toward God, because the prerequisite for receiving the grace of God is to know you need it. The people who think they are just fine, thank you, are moving away from God." (pg. 45-46)

"Everyone knows that the Christian gospel calls us away from the licentiousness of younger brotherness, but few realize that it also condemns moralistic elder brotherness." (pg. 67)
The Prodigal God comes out later this week and is definitely worth the read. I especially recommend it to those who have grown up in the church or who have been hurt by church people.