Yesterday, I received in the mail, that which was delivered unto me. A brand, spankin’ new copy of Tim Keller’s fantastic little book The Prodigal God. I’m not going to do a full blow review. I’ll just say you should get a copy and sit and read it until you finish (it will take about 1.5-2 hours depending on your reading skills). Our thought for the day comes from Mr Keller’s book:

Elder brothers base their self-images on being hardworking, or moral, or members of an elite clan, or extremely smart and savvy. This inevitably leads to feeling superior to those who don’t have those same qualities. In fact, competitive comparison is the main way elder brothers achieve a sense of their own significance. Racism and classism are just different versions of this form of the self-salvation project. This dynamic becomes exceptionally intense when elder brothers pride themselves above all for their right religion. If a group believes God favors them because of their particularly true doctrine, ways of worship, and ethical behavior, their attitude toward those without these things can be hostile. Their self-righteousness hides under the claim that they are only opposing the enemies of God. When you look at the world through those lenses, it becomes easy to justify hate and oppression, all in the name of truth. [...] Elder brother self-righteousness not only creates racism and classism, but at the personal level creates and unforgiving, judgmental spirit. (53-54, 55)

As a bonus, I’ll share this thought from his book also. From the introduction, page xi-xii [,y emphasis]:

Many lifelong Christians 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 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.’

Have a great day everyone. May God’s grace and Peace rest upon you and yours this fine Lord’s Day.

Soli Deo Gloria!

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 11:41 am and is filed under Legalism, quote. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

6 Comments(+Add)

1   Pastorboy
January 29th, 2009 at 11:52 am


2   Phil Miller
January 29th, 2009 at 11:55 am

Have you read Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son? It’s a short book, but it’s on this same subject matter. The parts you quoted from Keller’s book sound like they were influenced by Nouwen. I know Nouwen is considered a heretic by our ADM associates, but I really appreciate his stuff.

3   Neil    
January 29th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I understand the sentiment… I was never so sure of my understanding of God as I was when I was young and right out of seminary.

The longer I study the Scriptures, the longer I experience God, the more fellowship I have with Christians from other cultures (which is a privilege of my ministry position) – the more I discover how naive I was to have all the answers.

4   Jerry
January 29th, 2009 at 1:08 pm


Why the sigh? Keller is a good reformed guy isn’t he? I would think you would be applauding my reading of such a stalwart of the faith…


5   Jerry
January 29th, 2009 at 1:11 pm


The only nouwen I have read is The Wounded Healer and maybe one other. The one you mention isn’t familiar to me. I will look for it though and read it. Thanks for the tip!

6   nc    
January 29th, 2009 at 7:27 pm


You’re talking to people who can find something wrong with…well…anything and everything.

Good luck, though.

You get an A for perseverance.