Brennan Manning: The Passing of the “Grandfather” of Grace
I was sad to learn this week of the death of Brennan Manning at the age of 79. He was the “grandfather” so to speak for an up and coming generation in the church who have looked for the Grace of God to be revealed in a fresh way.
I mentioned his passing to a Christian friend who is familiar with the “grace movement” and was surprised to hear she hadn’t heard of him before. How can you even know about Grace and not have read Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel?
…Ok, just kidding
It is important though that Christians know of those who have “plowed the ground” before us. Even here at Beyond the Pale I freely acknowledge that most of the views I share are the result of standing on others shoulders.
So who was Brennan Manning?
He was simply a man who desperately needed the Grace of God and having received it, desperately then wanted to reveal it to others.
Manning became a Franciscan priest in 1963 and worked with the poor throughout Europe and America living a “contemplative, uncloistered existence”. In Spain he delivered water to rural villages and even spent 6 months living in a cave in Zaragoza desert.
He left the priesthood and got married only to later divorce. He later fell into alcoholism whose six month rehabilitation process put him back on the road to recovery. It was then that he began writing on the Grace of God starting with The Ragamuffin Gospel.
When Tammy and I church planted in Boulder Colorado back in 2002 I started a little lending library. As you can tell from this blog I have a nasty habit of telling people what they should be reading 🙂 …and a couple copies of the Ragamuffin Gospel were always available there to read. I love the introduction to the book:
The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for
The bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.
It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.
It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.
It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.
It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags.
The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary along the Way.”
Brennan Manning – The Ragamuffin Gospel
The book had such an impact on singer Rich Mullins that he subsequently named his band after the book.
Manning went on to become a very much in demand writer and speaker. He was passionate that Christians understood that God had a “furious love” for them that was in no way dependent on their performance.
And he would know as he was an ongoing testimony to God’s Grace. Most speakers on the “teaching circuit” might have a testimony of some bad stuff before they were “delivered”.
Not Brennan Manning…
He struggled with alcohol throughout his ministry. He was brutally honest about his own dishonesty and about his short comings in a way that tends to scare off a lot of religious folk.
But for many others, he was the bruised believer who understood he was loved by his Father in Heaven and that nothing could separate him from that love. He was someone who really understood Grace in a way probably few really have. It was this assurance of God’s love and the security that he found in it that I think is what most attracted people to the teachings of Brennan Manning.
I know now Brennan is resting in his Abba’s arms because as he often said, “God is really quite fond of me”
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