49 thoughts on ““The Prodigals Return””

      1. With R.C. Sproul Jr., some of that might also be a case of who he was hanging with dragging him down (the younger Sproul worked closely with Doug Phillips before Phillips shut down Vision Forum after he was caught in a sex scandal).

  1. Would the fatted calf be killed in Fundystan for someone who has gotten divorced? Or had been living a gay lifestyle for a while? Or still insists on reading one of the Satanic modern Bible per-Versions? Apparently, while it’s good to have Standards, Double Standards are twice as good.

    1. “Would the fatted calf be killed in Fundystan for someone who has gotten divorced?” Don’t bet on it, especially if the divorcee is a lady whose adulterous husband left her, since it would be her fault and all.

  2. Dear SFL Reader:

    The irony is that it never occurs to our fundy friends that the obstinate, older brother was Israel that slaved over sacrifices, offerings, tithes, washings, fastings, etc., etc., for the father all those years in the hope that it would make them right with God. But the younger brother — that would be the sick, untaught, unclean, divorced, adulterers and adulteresses, childless and other marginalized persons who knew they were sick and needed a physician.

    The older brother was offended when the father received and honored the younger son, and refused join the celebration that was offered freely as a gift.

    The father assured the older son of his love and assured him that everything which the father had was there for him all along. But the older son would NOT receive it as a gift, believing that it should earned on the basis of merit and service.

    This is another way of saying that the older brother rejected the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

    Why any fundamentalist would preach this text is beyond me. Oh wait I do know. They pour their own content into the story and give it their own meaning. But try preaching it as Jesus preached it and see if you’re invited back to THAT church again…

    Christian Socialist

    1. I can identify with both brothers. Growing up in a fairly strict Christian home, I was very much the Older Brother, constantly pissed off when Bad Sinners did not always get the Come-uppence they deserved. I heard about this strange concept called “Grace” but somehow I missed the point. Then in my late twenties I rebelled against God, and went into that Far Country for about 8 years, almost killing myself several times in the process. It was when I “came to my senses” and started the long journey back Home that I started to understand what Grace meant.

      1. I still struggle with the story. I feel for the older brother. I feel for the guys in the field who labored all day but got paid no more than the guys who only worked one hour at the end of the day.

        My problem is that I see myself as the “good child”, the worker who worked all day. When I recognize my failures, my inability to actually live for Christ the way I should (since all the silly rules about avoiding rock music or not raising hands in worship were POINTLESS), I begin to see myself as a rebellious child or as a last-minute worker and can appreciate God’s love and grace.

    2. Dear Big Gary and Paul Best …

      I’ve also heard this expounded from the perspective of the prodigal God, whose love, patience and readiness to receive both brothers is always present. What a beautiful reminder that the gospel is not that we get to invite Jesus Christ into our lives, but that in the second person of the trinity, we have been accepted already into the life of God.

      Christian Socialist

    3. I read once that this is a typical Rabbinical fable, just with a one-eighty twist ending.

      The normal ending would be the older brother, because he kept Torah and the Commandments. But Jesus retells it and turns the expected ending completely around.

    4. I am probably an older brother type. I try to follow the rules, do the right thing, work hard, avoid too much frivolity, etc. While I am willing to give grace, I usually want the person receiving it to not act as if it is his “right” to be forgiven, but that it is actually grace, and that excludes both merit and boasting.

      What I do not like is for people to act as if forgiveness means complete restoration of all things lost, including trust and prominence and position. Yes, the younger brother was accepted as a son. That did not mean he ran the home or had preeminence over others. It didn’t mean he could rob the place blind and continue his wanton practices.

      And frankly, I consider IFBism in particular and fundamentalism/conservatism in general to be wanton and riotous, especially by the chief scribes and pharisees (MoGs). Not all of them, but many. If forgiveness and grace were accompanied by the least bit of actual humility, it would at least have the pretense of being real. As it is, there is no real repentance at all.

    1. Considering someone should be starting a take-a-number system for the MoGs involved…

      Josh Duggar was just first, mostly because he already had CELEBRITY Name Recognition.

      1. I read an article that made the argument that there might not be that many Fundy mannogawds on the Ashley Madison list because they are most successful “fishing off their own dock”. They are very adept at manipulating relationships within their membership.
        Still it would be interesting to see if any fundy pastors or staff appear on that list.

        1. I don’t know if interesting is the right word. I think ‘tragically sad’ woudl be a better fit . I personally don’t take any delight in watching people fall, and I’m sure you don’t either.

        2. It is not delighting in the sin, but wanting to see the bad guys exposed for the wolves they are. Fundies need to do some serious housecleaning. Secret keeping has caused much damage. These bad pastors/staff shouldn’t be able to find new jobs in other churches.
          Delight in truth.

        3. It’s a bit like getting a boil on your butt lanced. Painful and embarrassing but better for you in the long run. Or like going to the dentist. I hate going there but I hate toothache even more.

  3. I love the line “time’s hope’s great undoing.” So sad but true. I always expressed happiness to any individual person making a commitment of salvation or repentance, but extravagant public displays proclaiming victory were never my thing. I tend to be more cautious, wanting to see if the plant that springs up takes root or withers and dies.

  4. The workers disappointed murmur “Did he do it? is it true?”
    “we’re not perfect, still sinners” says the son to save face
    “I told Jesus I was sorry, he forgave me, and so should you.
    The people who relax on Sundays, they’re the real disgrace”.

  5. Sproul did it the right way. Made a mistake, owned it. Accepted the consquence. I have no loss of respect for him and his efforts over this. There is a difference between looking at a picture of bosoms while unmarried, and scheduling multiple and frequent meetings with the owner of the bosoms while married. The former, you’re a dude. The latter, you’re a piece of garbage.

      1. I don’t know what he said about Duggar in that post, but was he criticizing for being on it just long enough to realize it was a mistake or was he criticizing incorporating infidelity into your lifestyle?
        Seems like different things to me.

  6. Thank you for this. The poem is beautiful and helped me to nail down one of the reasons this particular parable has always irritated me. As always, Darrell, your content is fabulous.

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