The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller sheds new light on the familiar parable of the prodigal son. Keller points out that generally we have focussed on the first son to the exclusion of the second, whereas both sons are lost to their father.

By concentrating on the first son we have lost the impact of what Jesus is saying about the true nature of Christianity. Both sons were trying to finding happiness and fulfilment outside the father’s house. The younger son found living with his father restrictive (plus his other brother was probably obnoxious to live with) and the older son thought his father was a slave driver but both boys were wrong about their father.

As Christian we tend to gravitate to one of these positions. Either we are like younger sons who want to find pleasure outside of God’s protective boundaries or we are like older sons who are slaving away trying to earn our way into our Father’s good graces. Both have a distorted view of God’s grace.

Keller then does a good job of applying his argument. He points out that our churches are often full of older brothers who haven’t really grasp hold of God’s grace and are still trying to earn their way. This tends to make them self-righteous and critical and not attractive to younger brothers.

A challenging and thought provoking read.