The Prodigal, The Profligate, and The Puritan
(Reflections on the Parable of a Prodigal God)
David N. Ashton
Table of Contents
- The Greatest Short Story Ever Told.
- A Story About The Story.
- The Value of Things Lost.
- How Things Are Lost.
- A Parable About a Father.
- The Prodigal Father.
- The Folly of a Father?
- The Missing Mom.
- Give me my Share.
- The Far Country.
- Dissolute living.
- In the Pigpen.
- The Awakening.
- A Questionable Confession.
- The Atonement.
- Hugs and Kisses.
- Clothing and the Kingdom.
- Rings on his fingers & Bells on his Toes.
- The Way of Salvation.
- An Audience of “Sinners”.
- An Audience of “Saints”.
- The Accusation.
- Luke’s Audience.
- The Angry Son of a Sad Father.
- Green With Envy.
- The Sins of Two Sons.
- Servants of All Sorts.
- Staying Home.
- The Return to the Far Country.
Instructions to the Reader
The book you are about to read has an unusual structure.
The first part of each chapter re-tells the story, usually referred to as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with an appeal to the imagination and the heart. It contains little that is contentious.
The second part, however, is filled with matters that may prove divisive. This second section usually deals with theological discussions that arise out of something said within the first section of each chapter.
The first section can be read as a personal reflection on the story for both enjoyment and inspiration. But the second section is best used for discussions among friends, or, if like me, you are an introvert, a discussion with yourself inside your own head. This section is intended to further our thinking about matters that often trouble the wider church.
The first section might be described as “conservative” in its treatment, and the second section might be seen as “liberal”. You have my permission to ignore the second section of each chapter as you read. It is intended primarily for those who want to dig a bit deeper.
As Tennyson writes in his great poem, Ulysses, “I am a part of all that I have met”, so all that I have read over the past 70 years is also part of me, and “will out” in unsuspecting ways. As I write I often query whether these are my words, or words that have remembered themselves in me.
But this I do know; insights have been stirred in me, by many writers about this story who preceded me. And like St. Luke who says “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you…” (Luke 1:1-4) I too decided, grateful for the things written about this story, to write my own version of the story, fully aware that I have stood on the shoulders of giants.
One of those giants is F. W. Boreham, pastor, author, and essayist. Over the years I have read the 40 plus volumes of his writings with relish. Some I have read more than once. He gave me encouragement to use a sanctified imagination in my own writing and speaking. I refer to him early in my own development of this story as an act of “homage” to him and to inspire others to pick up his volumes and read the words of one of my mentors.
And most of all I thank the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, when I was lost and confused, helped me come to “come to myself” and to “come home”.