The book of Jonah is obviously more than a child’s fairy tale. It is a mysterious book, a highly structured and challenging yet open-ended story, written to explain God’s universalism to the Israelites, in a time when they thought God was exclusively their God, and it has the same implication for us in the Church. Building on the work of French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul, Timothy Keller writes that at the heart of the book of Jonah is tough education on the nature of grace, with parallels to both the story of the Prodigal Son and Jesus’s death and resurrection. With theological depth but an easy style, Keller states that social justice and preaching the Gospel are inseparable but also that we must move beyond feelings of righteousness and a wagging finger to recognising that everyone is broken and in need of rescue. In criticising Jonah as a ‘patriot’, Keller has a blunt message for his fellow Americans who think of the US as God’s country. However, Christians should heed Ellul’s warning that the Bible always points to our own failings first, and that it is only when we are empty of our self-sufficiency that God can accomplish his work through us.
Four doves out of five.
Reviewed by Nick Mattiske