Gerard Kelly is an artist; he paints with words on the canvas of life. He uses lots of colours, so at times you’ll need dark glasses to cope. But this is a book well worth reading, and – better still – giving to a friend who struggles to believe.

The Prodigal Evangelical is the story of the Prodigal Son but newly told with heart-touching clarity. Kelly takes four keynotes from the familiar story; Beauty, Brokenness, Forgiveness and Invitation. He then sets these against the backcloth of God’s universal, big picture plan. He paints grace, and shows why the cross must stand at the centre of the Christian faith.

This book addresses questions that need answers. It’s theological and ducks shallow thinking. It’s accessible and uses imagery brilliantly. It challenges wrong assumptions about the gospel. It points to the love and mercy of God and breathes hope. It tells the old, old story with fresh words. It’s warm and welcomes you in.

This is an important book. The emphasis on relationship, the immanence of God and the language of the living room rather than the courtroom are in tune with where we sit today. This is a superb portrait for our time.

IAN COFFEY is vice principal and director of leadership training at Moorlands College