And this is what "The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith" is all about: the gospel. Keller lays out the gospel using Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. Keller points out that this parable has been misused and misinterpreted throughout the years primarily because, as the commonly used title suggests, most only focus on the actions of the first son. Keller points out, and rightfully so, that the story isn't just about the first son, the prodigal son, but also about the other son. Both are guilty of wronging their fathers, and both represent two ways of sinning against God. Through these two sons, in this infamous parable of Jesus, we are given a clear description of what it means to be lost and what it means to be saved.
There are a couple of things that I really appreciated about this book. First, Keller took the time to discuss the background to this story. Throughout the book Keller explains why certain details where important and how the original readers would have reacted to it. This is important. Too often we want application for today so much that we ignore the original purpose of the text. Therefore, we read into the text things that aren't there or we read the text as if it were being written in today's culture. Rather, we must, as Keller illustrates here, understand the original hearers, what the author originally intended, and from there gain application. Although at times I felt that Keller left out needed details of the story, he nonetheless illustrates the power and importance of looking into the historical background as part of accurate exegesis.
The second thing I enjoyed was his emphasis on an active gospel. Sadly, too many Christians think that being a Christian is nothing more than saying "I do" and yet never do. In other words, many Christians believe in Jesus they just haven't repented. Keller stands against such a tide. He does not suggest that we are saved by works, he in fact is very much against such a notion. Rather, he makes it clear that unless there are clear signs of repentance, we are not truly saved and he uses this story as a launching pad for such a discussion.
Tim Keller, and I would add Mark Driscoll and others with them, is everything that I wish movements like the Emerging Church were. They understand the culture and are able to adapt to the culture without compromising or diluting the gospel. For fans of Keller, you will not be disappointed with this book. Although it is not as deep as his previous book, it is an important addition to your book shelf nonetheless.