Hope for the Prodigal: Bringing the Lost, Wandering, and Rebellious Home by Jim and Bill Putman speaks from the hearts of two fathers who have experienced the heartache of having a prodigal son and have firsthand experience of being a prodigal son. Given their experiences, the authors write from a position of empathy without guilt-trips yet also avoiding giving permission for simple blame-shifting.
The authors do a wonderful job of expanding the definition of prodigal away from just the imagery of a person living with abandon in sin by focusing in on the heart as well as the actions – drawing attention to potential prodigals who are around and maybe even serving in the church yet drifting from or far from the Lord internally though outwardly doing all the “right things” (like the older son in the parable of Jesus).
The book provides great tips for building a home and church worth staying for – preemptive actions to help prevent prodigals through healthy environments – yet don’t come close to promising that these are magic solutions or assurances. Though these elements may help prevent a person from choosing the life of a prodigal, if a person goes astray, these elements can also be healthy magnets that make it easier for a prodigal to return repentant and be fully restored.
Though I do not agree with all of the secondary theological elements of the book (e.g. the authors’ positions that a person who is a prodigal may have lost their salvation – instead of backsliding or not having been saved in the first place), the book is solidly biblical in the primary elements.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.