Where you can read the relatively rational ramblings of a silly half-monkey, half-boy. This freak of nature is named Joel. He also responds to the name 'Bart Wang'.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

An insightful yet conflicted man - Brennan Manning

I'm reading a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, which Melanie bought me for my birthday. (Click here to read the first chapter.) I heard many good things about the man and read a few quotes that were great. A couple years ago, I bought Melanie his book called Abba's Child for Christmas, and she really enjoyed it. (Here's the first chapter.)

Anyhow, I'm just at the beginning of the book but there were a couple excellent passages that I needed to share because they hit home with me. I don't pray much. I have always struggled with it. The last line is a great metaphor.

My personal experience of the relentless tenderness of God came not from exegetes, theologians, and spiritual writers, but from sitting still in the presence of the living Word and beseeching Him to help me understand with my head and heart His written Word. Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of knowing Jesus Christ personally and directly. When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited. (p.45)

Here's another section too...

This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all.
The God of the legalistic Christian, on the other hand, is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him. Sunday worship becomes a superstitious insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts. When broken people with this concept of God fail - as inevitably they must - they usually expect punishment. So, they persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. The struggle itself is exhausting. The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God. (p.40-41)

Here's an interview with Mr. Manning from 2004. And here's a more recent one, interestingly enough I just found that Manning admits lying about his behaviour. Weird. That can't be good. I wonder how many Christians have written him off because he publicly failed. The world would be a different place if all our own private failures were in the newspaper the following day.