Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith” as Want to Read:
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  19,463 Ratings  ·  1,208 Reviews
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, he uses one of the best-known Christian parables to reveal an unexpected message of hope and salvation.

Taking his trademar
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Prodigal God, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Prodigal God

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jason Sixsmith
Mar 09, 2010 Jason Sixsmith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like many people, I assumed the word prodigal meant "wayward or wasteful." So when Timothy Keller's book first hit the book shelves, I remember looking at the front cover, noticing the "NY Times Bestseller" sticker on the label and thinking to myself, "Bah, this must be another self-help 'spiritual' book about a god who wants to be in a relationship with man in order to bless him but needs some help finding his way." But after noticing this book under the arms of men whose faith I admire and see ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Devin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "Good" Christians
Shelves: christian
Nearly every Christian knows, in an obvious way, that he most repent of his rebellious sin and loose living. But, repenting of good works? This is almost completely foreign. Good works are what Christians are supposed to pursue, right? How can they be a bad thing?

In this book, Tim Keller excellently demonstrates how good works without a proper gospel foundation are damnable before God. Keller elaborates on what he calls "Elder Brother-ness," referring to the elder brother in the parable of the P
Angela Blount

For such a relatively small tome, the impact it's left on me has been tremendous.


1. recklessly extravagant
2. having spent everything

(The duality of that definition never occurred to me before I got a hold of The Prodigal God.)

This book dissects one of the most oft-recited parables in all of Jesus' ministry: The Prodigal Son. Though the author is quick to point out that the story Jesus used as a teaching illustration wasn't named that by Him...he simply started out
Mike E.
It is hard to imagine a person who loves God, or a person considering the existence of God, not benefitting from reading this beautiful exposition of the parable of the two lost sons (aka, the prodigal son). The book is simultaneously short and simple, deep and profound. It is one that I will return to again and again. God used this book to penetrate my soul deeply resulting in personal confession and worship.


If, like the elder brother, you believe that God ought to bless you and help you
Quick read. Small book (both physically and in its 148 pp). Whole thing is based on the parable of the prodigal son. Most of us just think it's about forgiving Rowdy Roddy (#2 Son), but Keller spends 150 pp. telling us, "Nope. Wrong." Nicely, I mean.

For him, the parable is about equally bad bros -- both the prodigal who burns through Dad's money and then comes back as a penitent AND the elder, who resents the fact that his father welcomes Rowdy home. Guess who comes out smelling like a Biblical
Mike Knox
Dec 05, 2009 Mike Knox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, theology
A great introduction to Jesus and Christianity for moderns and postmoderns. Keller takes us deep into the heart of one of finest stories ever told by Jesus. The self-righteous will squirm as Keller points out that there are two prodigals, not one, in the story. But both kinds of people—religious and rebels—will feel the attractive pull of Christ when they discover what kind of elder brother He is.

Following Clowney, Keller has seen deeply into this parable. His skill and scope in applying its tru
May 05, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally read my first Tim Keller book! Excellent, very engaging. His main point -- there are two brothers in the parable, not just one. And thus, moralism is just as bad as the behaivour we normally call sin. Which means that both the 'sinful' person and the 'moral' person are both far from the Father, because neither is relying on his grace to meet their true need. I also loved the chapter on hope, where he presents the biblical theme of exile and homecoming. This chapter was where I most agr ...more
Jbb Lim
Mar 12, 2016 Jbb Lim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to come. This is what I like about reading the parable of "The Prodigal Son". A context which I'm yearning for.

I know of many who has heard Jesus's ever famous parable "The Prodigal Son". And I know of many who hasn't got the chance to hear about it too, which I think they might have a hint since many story's adaptation has minor hints of this parable. In my years of being a believer of Christ, this parable speaks to me in so many ways. It has so many dimensions that this can be a very go
Nov 26, 2013 Lyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would compare this book to the equal of 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis. This book is amazing and deals with the establishment of Christianity on the basis of its own merit. I found my understanding and faith renewed as I went through it.

"The word prodigal does not mean “wayward”, but according to Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary: “recklessly spend thrift”. It means to spend until you have nothing left. This term is therefore as appropriate for describing the father in the story as hi
Tracy Duggan
Aug 22, 2012 Tracy Duggan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Tracy by: Simon Genoe
Within our book group this threw up lots of topic for conversation. We spoke about serving the Lord. How we should feel about that service. We spoke about religiosity. How going to church no more makes you a Christian the same way as a mouse that lives in a biscuit jar doesn’t become a choco-chip cookie! What should a proper elder brother have done? Wouldn’t he have searched long and hard to find his brother and try and bring him back to the family? How far do we go as individuals to bring peopl ...more
Ernest Wamboye
Feb 25, 2016 Ernest Wamboye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't understand the gospel, this book is for you! I was humbled and repented for my elder-brotherliness! Humility and love echoes in this book. This is the gospel.
Dec 25, 2015 Marcel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Espetacular!!! Penso que todos deveriam ler esse livro!!!
Marie Notcheva
Aug 24, 2015 Marie Notcheva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Savior from Both "Spiritual Dead Ends"

Tim Keller sheds light on his paradoxical title, "The Prodigal God", in his introduction: "prodigal", (a term usually applied to the wayward younger son in the parable of Luke 15), literally means "recklessly extravagant" and thus applies equally well to the Father's great love for sinners. "Ahh," we say - "a great treatment of grace...for seekers and new Christians!"

"The Prodigal God" is that, but Keller goes much deeper. While not justifying or condon
Apr 14, 2015 Jkanz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read, 2015
Yesterday I read The Prodigal God by Tim Keller (2011). Centering upon the parable of the prodigal son, Keller seeks to help his reader understand more deeply the meaning of the parable. Too often, he surmises, commentators have focused on the younger son--the prodigal, but that in reality, the story focuses not just on the younger son, but also on the older son and particularly upon the father. Keller rightly points out that this story shows that both the licentiousness of the younger son and t ...more
Feb 17, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I quite enjoyed this author's take on the parable of the prodigal son. I hadn't considered at the time that the elder brother was at fault just as much as the younger brother. The author goes on throughout this (brief) book to draw modern day parallels with our society. One quote which I think is particularly relevant (and lengthy) is as follows:

"The most common examples of this I saw were the many young adults who had come from more conservative parts of the U.S. to take their undergraduate de
Havebooks Willread
This book was simply outstanding and is challenging me to look at things through different eyes. It is an examination of the parable in Luke 15 commonly called The Prodigal Son, but his analysis is different from any other I've ever heard.

I think I will forever after call this parable "The Two Lost Sons" as I now see the two sons as manifestations of the two ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment: "the way of moral conformity and the way of self-discovery" (34). Both the elder and the
Joel Pinckney
Jul 14, 2016 Joel Pinckney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"This world is not simply a theater for individual conversion narratives, to be discarded at the end when we all go to heaven. No, the ultimate purpose of Jesus is not only individual salvation and pardon for sins but also the renewal of the world, the end of disease, poverty, injustice, violence, suffering, and death. The climax of history is not a higher form of disembodied consciousness but a feast. God made the world with all its colors, tastes, lights, sounds, with all its life-forms living ...more
Katy Sammons
Aug 27, 2016 Katy Sammons rated it it was amazing
If I could assign only one book to every Christian and to every person interested in learning what Christianity is all about, this would be the one. Christian theology, doctrine, and ethics are all covered in a concise presentation that is a pleasure to read. In addition to reading the book, I also listened to the audiobook read by Keller, and it is wonderful. I anticipate giving away many copies of this book to people within my sphere of influence.
Apr 22, 2012 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an explanation of the biblical parable of the prodigal son. The perspective is different from the traditional one most of us are familiar with. Keller points out that all of us fall into two categories the moralist son or the prodigal. Each of us needs Christ, but in a different way. The Gospel transforms both in radical ways. This book was transformational in my view of the Gospel. A must read for anyone!
Luke Miller
Jun 09, 2016 Luke Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This short book explores the parable of the lost son, or more accurately, the two lost sons. It's on a very short list of books that I read every year. This book will explode your categories for thinking about the gospel, and it will stir your love for a God who lavishly demonstrates His love toward us. Everyone should read this book. Probably more than once.

Also read in June of 2015.
Apr 30, 2011 Luke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life-changing. Keller's treatment of the story of the prodigal son as being as much about the judgmental legalistic older brother as the rebellious younger one was truly eye-opening. You will recognize yourself in this story and not in a positive way. A great gift for someone who has been around the block with the Christian faith for a long time.
Jul 17, 2016 Dustin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y-2016, audiobooks
Simple, yet profound. This little book examines the story of the Prodigal Son in new, deep ways. Not focusing simply on the younger brother, he also focuses on the older brother, the father, and discusses how this relates presently to the church and how we can connect with Christ.

This little book is worthy of multiple reads and contemplations.
Sameh Maher
الكتاب رائع والكاتب اروع فى تعرضه لنوعا الحيا اللتان نواجههما فى حياتنا الابن الاصغر والابن الاكبر
وكل منهم له طريق ينعكس على نوع من الفكر السائد الان
فهناك محب اللذة وهناك محب القوانين
تناول المثل الاشهر بطريقة جميلة وعبر عنها بسهولة
كتاب رائع استفدت منه كثيرا
Yo Leo Ficción Cristiana


“La parábola del hijo pródigo” no es la historia que creías saber.
Jun 08, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very helpful book. The author gave me a fresh understanding of this most familiar of Jesus' parables and how it is key to understanding Jesus' ministry as he proclaims God's intentions.

Ampat Varghese
May 12, 2014 Ampat Varghese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
The Book: THE PRODIGAL GOD - Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Published by: Dutton (the Penguin Group) 2008


Two things tempted me to read 'The Prodigal God' by Timothy Keller. One, the title! Few Evangelical books have intriguing titles but this one did. Two, the inner sleeve read: 'Newsweek called New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller a "C S Lewis for the twenty-first century'. And that Keller is surely not!
And then I want to get to the marrow of the b
Ryan S. Parsons
May 04, 2016 Ryan S. Parsons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Celebrated pastor and author Tim Keller identified a perplexing problem in the American Church, a particular discrepancy between belief and behavior. Churches do not appear to be drawing the same crowds that Jesus Himself drew. Rather, Keller noticed, churches are actually drawing flocks of people who resemble those who were most offended by Jesus' message (18-19). Even among lifelong churchgoers, there seems to be a lack of understanding as to how the gospel should shape everyday life (xv-xvi). ...more
Oct 20, 2016 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2016 Update: Worked through this one with some of the Podlings over the course of the last week. Just as good and just as convicting the second time around.
Weston Durrwachter
In this book, Keller uses the parable of the prodigal son to communicate the good news of the Gospel. Keller provides some fantastic insights on the parable and brings out some very important themes within the story.

This was a very short and well-written book. It could easily be read in one day.
Jan 24, 2011 Jelinas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About two years ago, there was a "gospel revelation" at my church. We'd always been a faithful, Bible-believing church, and we thought that God was blessing us because of that. Tim Keller's book, Counterfeit Gods, played a huge role in showing us our legalism; showing us that we were counting on our own good works to earn God's blessing instead of trusting that He would bless us by His grace alone. We believed that we were saved by His grace and faith alone, but we secretly believed that, after ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Christian Fiction...: February/March - The Prodigal God 26 55 Mar 26, 2013 07:12PM  
  • A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ
  • Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love
  • A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission Around the Table
  • The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life
  • Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
  • Jesus + Nothing = Everything
  • When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man
  • The Mark of the Christian
  • Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
  • Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God
  • Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
  • Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
  • Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World
  • The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness
  • The Trellis And The Vine
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeem
More about Timothy J. Keller...

Share This Book

“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.” 37 likes
“Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. 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.” 33 likes
More quotes…