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The online sale Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian online sale Faith outlet sale
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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.

Review

Praise for Timothy Keller and The Prodigal God

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

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

"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

About the Author

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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

This short book is meant to lay out the essentials of the Christian message, the gospel. It can, therefore, serve as an introduction to the Christian faith for those who are unfamiliar with its teachings or who may have been away from them for some time.

This volume is not just for seekers, however. Many lifelong Christian believers feel they understand the basics of the Christian faith quite well and don''t think they need a primer. Nevertheless, one of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. Sometimes longtime church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message that they feel themselves to have been essentially "re-converted." This book, then, is written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, both to those Jesus calls "younger brothers" and those he calls "elder brothers" in the famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I am turning to this familiar story, found in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of St. Luke, in order to get to the heart of the Christian faith. The parable''s plot and dramatis personae are very simple. There was a father who had two sons. The younger asked for his share of the inheritance, received it, and promptly left for a far country, where he squandered it all on sensual and frivolous pleasure. He returned home penitently and, to his surprise, was received with open arms by his father. This reception alienated and angered the elder brother greatly. The story closes with the father appealing to his firstborn son to join in the welcome and forgiveness of his younger brother.

On the surface of it, the narrative is not all that gripping. I believe, however, that if the teaching of Jesus is likened to a lake, this famous Parable of the Prodigal Son would be one of the clearest spots where we can see all the way to the bottom. Many excellent studies have been written on this Biblical text over the last several years, but the foundation for my understanding of it was a sermon I first heard preached over thirty years ago by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney. Listening to that sermon changed the way I understood Christianity. I almost felt I had discovered the secret heart of Christianity. Over the years I have often returned to teach and counsel from the parable. I have seen more people encouraged, enlightened, and helped by this passage, when I explained the true meaning of it, than by any other text.

I once traveled overseas and delivered this sermon to an audience through an interpreter. Some time later the translator wrote to tell me that, as he was preaching the sermon, he had realized that the parable was like an arrow aimed at his heart. After a period of wrestling and reflection, it brought him to faith in Christ. Many others have told me that this story of Jesus, once they came to understand it, saved their faith, their marriages, and, sometimes literally, their lives.

In the first five chapters I will unlock the parable''s basic meaning. In Chapter 6 I will demonstrate how the story helps us understand the Bible as a whole, and in Chapter 7 how its teaching works itself out in the way we live in the world.

I will not use the parable''s most common name: the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is not right to single out only one of the sons as the sole focus of the story. Even Jesus doesn''t call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but begins the story saying, "a man had two sons." The narrative is as much about the elder brother as the younger, and as much about the father as the sons. And what Jesus says about the older brother is one of the most important messages given to us in the Bible. The parable might be better called the Two Lost Sons.

The word "prodigal" does not mean "wayward" but, according to Merriam-Webster''s Collegiate Dictionary, "recklessly spendthrift." It means to spend until you have nothing left. This term is therefore as appropriate for describing the father in the story as his younger son. The father''s welcome to the repentant son was literally reckless, because he refused to "reckon" or count his sin against him or demand repayment. This response offended the elder son and most likely the local community.

In this story the father represents the Heavenly Father Jesus knew so well. St. Paul writes: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses" (2 Corinthians 5:19 – American Standard Version). Jesus is showing us the God of Great Expenditure, who is nothing if not prodigal toward us, his children. God''s reckless grace is our greatest hope, a life-changing experience, and the subject of this book.

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4.8 out of 54.8 out of 5
2,685 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Manny
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A totally different take on the Prodigal Son teaching in ...
Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
A totally different take on the Prodigal Son teaching in the Scriptures than I''ve seen previous to this. It was convicting and reassuring, both. Caused self-examination in me. Timothy Keller, from all indications, seems to be a biblically oriented teacher. Refreshing. I... See more
A totally different take on the Prodigal Son teaching in the Scriptures than I''ve seen previous to this. It was convicting and reassuring, both. Caused self-examination in me. Timothy Keller, from all indications, seems to be a biblically oriented teacher. Refreshing. I think his position on Grace is on point for the most part. I am not aware of any deviation from Scripture in this book.
34 people found this helpful
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Donise
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent!
Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2018
I had to read this book for a masters class and can I tell you how wonderfully enlightened is this author! Besides having an easy writing style the critical message is so truthful there''s no need to force feed the reader. The Bible'' truth can be received by children and go... See more
I had to read this book for a masters class and can I tell you how wonderfully enlightened is this author! Besides having an easy writing style the critical message is so truthful there''s no need to force feed the reader. The Bible'' truth can be received by children and go over the heads of so-called intellectuals because truth doesn''t emanate from man''s wisdom. This book highlights God''s wisdom and announces how very wrong some of us are with regard to how we view who is our brother and who is our neighbor. Those young in the faith will get an insiders perspective of a Christian who walks the talk. Those long in the faith should be jolted from sleepwalking. Well done Mr. Keller!
15 people found this helpful
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Cynthia
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Simple and Profound
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2019
Short treatise on the parable of the prodigal son. Excellent points about not only what we often think of as the point of the story, the son who goes astray ''the prodigal'', but also a great point about the dangers of being the ''elder son'', but the best thing of all about... See more
Short treatise on the parable of the prodigal son. Excellent points about not only what we often think of as the point of the story, the son who goes astray ''the prodigal'', but also a great point about the dangers of being the ''elder son'', but the best thing of all about the book is a short look at the word ''prodigal''.
It is God who is the lavish giver in this parable. He lavishly gives to his undeserving sons, both of them.

prod·i·gal
/ˈprädəɡəl/
adjective
1.
spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
"prodigal habits die hard"
synonyms: wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, improvident, imprudent, immoderate, profligate, thriftless, excessive, intemperate, irresponsible, self-indulgent, reckless, wanton
"prodigal habits die hard"
2.
having or giving something on a lavish scale.
"the dessert was crunchy with brown sugar and prodigal with whipped cream"
synonyms: generous, lavish, liberal, unstinting, unsparing, bountiful; More
noun
noun: prodigal; plural noun: prodigals
1.
a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.
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STEPHEN L FOREE
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book, buy in bulk elsewhere
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2020
Tim Keller is a gifted author and pastor. This book takes a look at both brothers as well as the father, in the parable known as The Prodigal Son. Wonderful unpacking of scripture as always by Timothy Keller. I purchased the copy I first read for $7.99 here on Amazon which... See more
Tim Keller is a gifted author and pastor. This book takes a look at both brothers as well as the father, in the parable known as The Prodigal Son. Wonderful unpacking of scripture as always by Timothy Keller. I purchased the copy I first read for $7.99 here on Amazon which is my go-to for pretty-much everything. I''ve even bought toilet paper on Amazon. With that said, I found bulk prices on christianbook.com to be a good savings over the single item price I paid here. For a group study, I was able to purchase three-packs.
6 people found this helpful
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Matthew Morine
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Good Read and Good for Sermons
Reviewed in the United States on May 19, 2015
A lot of the books I read on here are for my personal study, and my personal interests, hence the chess books, but this book was for a sermon series that I have developed on the Prodigal Son parable. I have planned a years worth of sermons, so before I start a new series... See more
A lot of the books I read on here are for my personal study, and my personal interests, hence the chess books, but this book was for a sermon series that I have developed on the Prodigal Son parable. I have planned a years worth of sermons, so before I start a new series of lessons, I begin to read about the topic. This was why I selected to book. I wanted to blend something that was popular level with some scholarly reading on this parable. This book was insightful, and practical, and easy to read. I have never read any of Keller''s material before, and left this book impressed. He is a good author, and does his homework in the text. The book tells the story of the Prodigal Son, though he notes that this is perhaps not the best title for the parable. The book looks at the major characters of the parable, which was helpful because that was the way I developed the series of lessons. He does a good job of highlighting the point of the parable within the attitude of the older brother, and using some of Willimon''s material, of preaching to the baptized, this created a lot of connection to the text. A lot of the people in church will agree with the sinner coming home, but demonstrating the attitude of the older brother is the common sin in numerous church pews. The book does a good job of bridging the ancient social context with the modern world. This book helped with the sermon series and it would be a good book just to read on its own. It is short, interesting, and good.
18 people found this helpful
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Vantastic!
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The subject matter is captivating!
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2021
Ever heard of an easy read? Well this is it, and it’s not. Confused? Get this great book! It’s easy to read, because the words effortlessly cascade into one another making an easy to understand message. BUT where it becomes a hard read is when you have to start “own its... See more
Ever heard of an easy read? Well this is it, and it’s not. Confused? Get this great book! It’s easy to read, because the words effortlessly cascade into one another making an easy to understand message. BUT where it becomes a hard read is when you have to start “own its message.”
Think you know the story of the “Prodigal Son?” Trust me. You don’t! But you will if you read this short book. Think you know the definition of “prodigal?” You don’t! But you will when you read these pages. Never thought God could be described as a “prodigal?” I didn’t either— until I read this book!
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Dorcas Santos-Oliva
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A great read!
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2021
My very first read by Tim Keller and it did not disappoint. It is a very short book but it took me a while as I kept on re-reading each chapter as I wanted to really understand and for the message to marinate inside of me. This is a book for me, the... See more
My very first read by Tim Keller and it did not disappoint.

It is a very short book but it took me a while as I kept on re-reading each chapter as I wanted to really understand and for the message to marinate inside of me.

This is a book for me, the older brother, the seasoned christian. A good wake-up call for me to step up in faith and look to my Loving Father’s example and be repentant than drown in comparison and self righteousness.

You might be familiar with the Prodigal Son but this is just oh! so good! Grab your copy now it will never disappoint you!
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DKC
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2017
fine
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Charles Soper
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
At enmity to the Law of God - a honeyed manual in antinomianism
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 26, 2018
Like fellow New Calvinist John Piper, Keller so deeply misconstrues the Divine Law, (Is John Piper an Antinomian? see E S Williams on ''Is John Piper Antinomian?'' Amazon''s link unreliable) that he repeatedly describes the elder son in the parable as keeping all its precepts...See more
Like fellow New Calvinist John Piper, Keller so deeply misconstrues the Divine Law, (Is John Piper an Antinomian? see E S Williams on ''Is John Piper Antinomian?'' Amazon''s link unreliable) that he repeatedly describes the elder son in the parable as keeping all its precepts well, despite harbouring self righteousness and a proud superiority that feeds both judgement of others and a bitter, critical spirit. It''s quite true the elder son is the focus of the parable and the pharisees, scribes, and their modern counterparts of all shades the Lord’s target for gentle reproof. However read Ps. 19 or better Ps. 119 to see the ugly and antichristian* spirit of this book exposed. The author has wickedly conflated loving Divine Law with self righteousness. This is a common charge levelled by the ungodly at the saints, Job’s three Satanic ‘counsellors’ did the same. Only Elihu knew how to justify Job by exposing his utter vileness, vindicate God''s Law and remind of His gift of a sinner’s ransom, Keller on the other hand has chosen to undermine and disqualify the Law severely. Elihu was angry with Job & the three counsellors for their inept & harmful remediation, so was God, he''d be angry with this companion too. When Paul explains free justification without works, he adds, ‭''Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law'' (Rom. 3.31). Never does the Lord endorse the pharisees as wholly, properly or fully keeping the Law. The author however continually chooses to differ describing them as ‘extremely good’, ‘living very moral lives’, as ‘virtually faultless regarding the moral rules’, ‘ethical’ or exhibiting ‘careful obedience to God’s law’. On the contrary the Saviour exposes them repeatedly for misuse or mishandling of the Law’s probing, convicting & spiritual character, and for hypocritical pretence that harbours a deep hostility to the commands of God''s kindness. Isaiah writes of such religious hypocrites, ‘From the sole of the foot even unto the head ‭there is‭ no soundness in it; ‭but‭ wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.‭’ Keller however has constructed a wholly false dichotomy between lovers of Law and lovers of sin, in the guise of the two sons. He thus violates the Lord''s Law, not honouring it, as is the common task of those at enmity with it. By eschewing the instrument of diagnosis, he has also rejected the kernel of its root remedy, and the means of validating cure. He is opening the gate to freer sexual licence, the public practice of homosexuality, easy divorce and a multitude of worldly snares within the church, in express opposition to apostolic teaching. He has, as Jude warned, subtly turned grace into licence (v. 4). He is sowing tares which will be quickly evident in the tragic congregations that follow this pernicious doctrine. This is of a piece with the Christian hedonism of his school, (see Christian Hedonism by E S Williams Christian Hedonism?: A biblical examination of John Piper''s teaching Amazon link unreliable). The cross delivers us from sin and into not from purity and holiness, it writes the Law in our hearts and does not in the least efface it. Real disciples love & delight in the heart, spirit and letter of the commandments far more than the scribes and legalists. It is the cherished manifesto of their Lover (Matt. 5.17-19; Jn. 14:15,21; 15.10; Rom. 13.12-14; Gal. 5.21; 1 Jn. 2.2-3; 3.22-24; 5.2-3; 2 Jn. 6; 3 Jn. 11). The Gospel makes us cheerful servants of righteousness, not shifty excusers of sin. It shatters the chains of our depravity, not merely explaining them away. Ultimately the cross serves as a strong barrier to the impenitent fornicator, adulterer or homosexual, thief or extortioner, just as much as it serves as a door to the brokenhearted forsaker of his wickedness, for it removes all our excuses (1 Cor. 6.9-11). As well as proposing to redefine sin, the estate of the lost, and the character of their hope, it is no wonder the telling original subtitle for this work, since withdrawn, was ‘redefining Christianity.’ This is a heretical and a poisonous book, for all its sweet expression, read it if you must with care, go back often to the prophets, psalms and Gospels to see just how widely it errs. Isaiah predicts the Messiah will ''magnify the law, and make ‭it‭ honourable''.(Isa. 42.21) Mr Keller has done quite the opposite. ‭ Hear Psalm 112, ‘Blessed ‭is‭ the man ‭that‭ fears the LORD, ‭that‭ delights greatly in His commandments.‭’ Here is the character of real joy and communion. *(ἀνομία = without law, a key characteristic of enemies of the Lord, 2 Thess. 2.7)
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Penguin
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Imprecise theology only leads to unhelpful confusion
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 17, 2018
This book starts off promisingly, with a fresh look of a well-known parable of the "prodigal son" that has been taught with the wrong focus. Keller is right in pointing out that there is not one lost son but two in this parable. The sting in the tale is really on...See more
This book starts off promisingly, with a fresh look of a well-known parable of the "prodigal son" that has been taught with the wrong focus. Keller is right in pointing out that there is not one lost son but two in this parable. The sting in the tale is really on the elder brother''s reaction and the parable ends in a cliff hanger, without telling us if the elder brother turns and joins the feast. In terms of lostness, the elder brother''s kind is probably more deadly because while the younger brother knows that he is lost, the elder brother does not. In the context of the passage in the Bible, the sinners were drawn to Christ while the Pharisees'' attitude towards Jesus was vitriolic. The parable was told to them about their pernicious situation as encapsulated in the elder brother. As the story ends, the younger brother was inside while the elder brother was outside. After the scene is set, Keller goes on to redefine sin and lostness. This is when I feel Keller may be less then his best in expounding the root cause of our common sinfulness. The focus is still too much on the outward appearance - the wrongdoings or not. He mentions nothing about our original sin. Our original sin means that there is no righteousness in us. This is why when the elder brother uses God''s laws to earn his own righteousness by "never disobeying" them, his self-righteousness turns out to be hideous - more detestable than the waywardness of the younger brother because at least he is saying openly he is sinning. This is why the elder brother is hypocritical, bitter, resentful, loveless, joyless, judgemental - but above all, he serves his father grudgingly, and he hates his father rather than loving him. Keller does not say that there is only one kind of righteousness acceptable to God which is through Christ (Phil 3:8-11) because as soon as we try to get right with God by ourselves, we are our own saviour, as we worship ourselves, breaking the first commandment. Keller also uses the term ''pardon our sins'' but Christ does not just die to pardon our sins. How does he wash our guilt away? It is not teased out, and can be confusing. When talking about the difference that salvation makes to us, I am quite shocked by what he implies with what he writes. ''Jesus not only preached the word, but also healed the sick, fed the hungry, and cared for the needs of the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus describes Judgement Day. Many will stand there and call him "Lord," but Jesus says, stunningly, that if they had not been serving the hungry, the refugee, the sick, and the prisoner, then they hadn''t been serving him (Matthew 25:34-40). There is no contradiction to what we have heard from Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He is not saying that only the social workers get into heaven. Rather, he is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor. Younger brothers are too selfish and elder brothers are too self-righteous to care for the poor.'' (p.111-112) This sounds great but when we think deeper, it is wrong. Having broken down elder-brotherness in the book, it is surprising that Keller gives us another yardstick to meet in order to be recognised by Christ on the last day - service to the poor. No, the sign that we are saved is not a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor. Our response to the costly grace is obedience in taking up our cross. Our cross is assigned by God, whatever it might be for his kingdom. The citation of Matthew 25 is inaccurate. Verse 40 actually reads, ''Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'' It sounds to me that Christ is talking if we cares for his sheep, not social welfare in general. For me, I find Keller in this book is not theological precise. As the book develops it gets more confusing. When the application goes broader from the parable, I cannot agree with all that he is saying. For this reason I will not recommend the book, especially non-believers in their formative age.
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TheUnseendimension
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Another great book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 15, 2020
Wonderful insight into the parable of the prodigal son that many of us would never have thought about unless through revelation. As you read through, you find yourself asking which brother you are most like but csnt also help to think about the big brothers and younger...See more
Wonderful insight into the parable of the prodigal son that many of us would never have thought about unless through revelation. As you read through, you find yourself asking which brother you are most like but csnt also help to think about the big brothers and younger brothers that you know of and must read this book :-). I didn''t give the book 5 stars only because I think it''s missing what I think is a vital chapter that talks to the consequences of both the brothers choices. So what if you continue to be a big brother or even a young brother?
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ShanePB
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Challenging In Parts, Questionable In Others
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 5, 2019
I like to read about very familiar passages, so I can consider what I''ve missed over the many years of reading them time and time again. There wasn''t really anything new for me in this book, but it would be a good book for those that haven''t considered the elder brother''s...See more
I like to read about very familiar passages, so I can consider what I''ve missed over the many years of reading them time and time again. There wasn''t really anything new for me in this book, but it would be a good book for those that haven''t considered the elder brother''s perspective. I felt uncomfortable with Keller stressing so much that obeying the law can be as bad as disobeying the law. Keller does say that it''s only if that makes you feel like you''ve earned the right to demand anything from God that it''s a problem, but the bias in this book may make some feel like doing good makes you the elder brother. The nugget in this book was the emphasis placed on pure grace and mercy... "God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself. The younger brother knew that in his father’s house there was abundant “food to spare,” but he also discovered that there was grace to spare. There is no evil that the father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace." Not that we should sin so grace abounds, but for those that feel they are not good enough for God, his grace is enough. I am glad I read this book.
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June Proudfoot
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 22, 2017
It tells the truth about ourselves as human beings. Not one of us can read this book without feeling something. It certainly makes you question yourself. I have never heard this angle of the lost son before. It is a book that must be read by both believers and unbelievers....See more
It tells the truth about ourselves as human beings. Not one of us can read this book without feeling something. It certainly makes you question yourself. I have never heard this angle of the lost son before. It is a book that must be read by both believers and unbelievers. I couldn''t put it down and was spoken to on my own life as a Christian. Thank you Timothy Keller. GOD has spoken to me through your book. God bless you in your ministry.
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