The Ragamuffin Gospel

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Most of us believe in God's grace -- in theory. But somehow we can't seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet. Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we've done. We come to Him as ragamuffins -- dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His "furious love." Brennan Manning's now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it -- ...
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The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

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Overview

Most of us believe in God's grace -- in theory. But somehow we can't seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet. Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we've done. We come to Him as ragamuffins -- dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His "furious love." Brennan Manning's now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it -- simple honesty -- has changed thousands of lives. It will change yours, too.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781850785934
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004

Meet the Author

Brennan Manning is a Korean War veteran and former Franciscan priest who lives in New Orleans , Louisiana . A native of Brooklyn , Manning earned degrees in philosophy from St. Francis College and in theology from St. Francis Seminary. His books include The Signature of Jesus and Abba’s Child. Still traveling widely, Manning continues to write and preach, encouraging men and women everywhere to accept and embrace the good news of God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ.
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The Ragamuffin Gospel


By BRENNAN MANNING

Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2000 Brennan Manning
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-57673-716-0


Chapter One

something is radically wrong

On a blustery October night in a church outside Minneapolis, several hundred believers had gathered for a three-day seminar. I began with a one-hour presentation on the gospel of grace and the reality of salvation. Using Scripture, story, symbolism, and personal experience, I focused on the total sufficiency of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. The service ended with a song and a prayer. Leaving the church by a side door, the pastor turned to his associate and fumed.

"Humph, that airhead didn't say one thing about what we have to do to earn our salvation!"

Something is radically wrong.

The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper. The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness fastened. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.

Put bluntly: the American Church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice. We say we believe that the fundamental structure of reality is grace, not works-but our lives refute our faith. By and large, the gospel of grace is neither proclaimed, understood, nor lived. Too many Christians are living in the house of fear and not in the house of love.

Our culture has made the word grace impossible to understand. We resonate to slogans such as:

"There's no free lunch."

"You get what you deserve."

"You want money? Work for it."

"You want love? Earn it."

"You want mercy? Show you deserve it."

"Do unto others before they do it unto you."

"Watch out for welfare lines, the shiftless street people, free hot dogs at school, affluent students with federal loans; it's a con game."

"By all means give others what they deserve-but not one penny more."

My editor at Revell told me she overheard a pastor say to a child: "God loves good little boys." As I listen to sermons with their pointed emphasis on personal effort-no pain, no gain-I get the impression that a "do-it-yourself" spirituality is the American fashion.

Though the Scriptures insist on God's initiative in the work of salvation-that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase-our spirituality often starts with self, not God. Personal responsibility has replaced personal response. We talk about acquiring virtue as if it were a skill that can be attained like good handwriting or a well-grooved golf swing. In the penitential seasons we focus on overcoming our weaknesses, getting rid of our hang-ups, and reaching Christian maturity. We sweat through various spiritual exercises as if they were designed to produce a Christian Charles Atlas.

Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if it is only personal discipline and self-denial that will mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing. In this curious process God is a benign old spectator in the bleachers who cheers when I show up for morning quiet time. We transfer the Horatio Alger legend of the self-made man into our relationship with God. As we read Psalm 123, "As the eyes of the servant are on the hands of his master, as the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress," we experience a vague sense of existential guilt. Our eyes are not on God. At heart we are practicing Pelagians. We believe that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps-indeed, we can do it ourselves.

Sooner or later we are confronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficiency. Our security is shattered and our bootstraps are cut. Once the fervor has passed, weakness and infidelity appear. We discover our inability to add even a single inch to our spiritual stature. There begins a long winter of discontent that eventually flowers into gloom, pessimism, and a subtle despair: subtle because it goes unrecognized, unnoticed, and therefore unchallenged. It takes the form of boredom, drudgery. We are overcome by the ordinariness of life, by daily duties done over and over again. We secretly admit that the call of Jesus is too demanding, that surrender to the Spirit is beyond our reach. We start acting like everyone else. Life takes on a joyless, empty quality. We begin to resemble the leading character in Eugene O'Neill's play The Great God Brown: "Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?"

Something is radically wrong.

Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.

Our approach to the Christian life is as absurd as the enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumber's license and was taken to see Niagara Falls. He studied it for a minute and then said, "I think I can fix this."

The word itself, grace, has become trite and debased through misuse and overuse. It does not move us the way it moved our early Christian ancestors. In some European countries certain high ecclesiastical officials are still called "Your Grace." Sportswriters speak of Michael Jordan's "easy grace" and entrepreneur Donald Trump has been described as "lacking in grace." A new perfume appears with the label "grace" and a child's report card is called a "disgrace." The word has lost its raw, imaginative power.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky caught the shock and scandal of the gospel of grace when he wrote: "At the last Judgment Christ will say to us, 'Come, you also! Come, drunkards! Come, weaklings! Come, children of shame!' And he will say to us: 'Vile beings, you who are in the image of the beast and bear his mark, but come all the same, you as well.' And the wise and prudent will say, 'Lord, why do you welcome them?' And he will say: 'If I welcome them, you wise men, if I welcome them, you prudent men, it is because not one of them has ever been judged worthy.' And he will stretch out his arms, and we will fall at his feet, and we will cry out sobbing, and then we will understand all, we will understand the Gospel of grace! Lord, your Kingdom come!"

I believe the Reformation actually began the day Martin Luther was praying over the meaning of Paul's words in Romans 1:17. "In the gospel this is what reveals the righteousness of God to us ... it shows how faith leads to faith, or as Scripture says: the righteous shall find life through faith." Like many Christians today, Luther wrestled through the night with the core question: how could the gospel of Christ be truly called "Good News" if God is a righteous judge rewarding the good and punishing the evil? Did Jesus really have to come to reveal that terrifying message? How could the revelation of God in Christ Jesus be accurately called "news" since the Old Testament carried the same theme, or "good" with the threat of punishment hanging like a dark cloud over the valley of history?

But as Jaroslav Pelikan notes, "Luther suddenly broke through to the insight that the 'righteousness of God' that Paul spoke of in this passage was not the righteousness by which God was righteous in himself (that would be passive righteousness,) but the righteousness by which, for the sake of Jesus Christ, God made sinners righteous (that is, active righteousness) through the forgiveness of sins in justification. When he discovered that, Luther said it was as though the very gates of Paradise had been opened to him."

What a stunning truth!

"Justification by grace through faith" is the theologian's learned phrase for what Chesterton once called "the furious love of God." He is not moody or capricious; He knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods-the gods of human manufacturing -despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept. Nevertheless, the central affirmation of the Reformation stands: through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace.

With his characteristic joie de vivre, Robert Capon puts it this way: "The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two hundred proof grace-of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel-after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps-suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started.... Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case."

Matthew 9:9-13 captures a lovely glimpse of the gospel of grace: "As he moved on, Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his post where taxes were collected. He said to him, 'Follow me.' Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened that, while Jesus was at table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and those known as sinners came to join Jesus and his disciples at dinner. The Pharisees saw this and complained to his disciples, 'What reason can the Teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?' Overhearing their remark, he said, 'People who are in good health do not need a doctor; sick people do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, "It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice." I have come not to call the self-righteous but sinners.'"

Here is revelation bright as the evening star: Jesus comes for sinners, for those as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used car salesmen. Jesus not only talks with these people but dines with them-fully aware that His table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.

This passage should be read, reread, and memorized. Every Christian generation tries to dim the blinding brightness of its meaning because the gospel seems too good to be true. We think salvation belongs to the proper and pious, to those who stand at a safe distance from the back alleys of existence, clucking their judgments at those who have been soiled by life. In the name of Grace, what has been the verdict of the Christian community on the stained life of the late Rock Hudson? To the disclosure (the $4.5 million settlement to his lover Marc Christian notwithstanding) that he called a priest to his deathbed, confessed his sins, and cried out to God for forgiveness?

Jesus, who forgave the sins of the paralytic (thereby claiming divine power), proclaims that He has invited sinners and not the self-righteous to His table. The Greek verb used here, kalein, has the sense of inviting an honored guest to dinner.

In effect, Jesus says the Kingdom of His Father is not a subdivision for the self-righteous nor for those who feel they possess the state secret of their salvation. The Kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger, homelier, less self-conscious cast of people who understand they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.

These are the sinner-guests invited by Jesus to closeness with Him around the banquet table. It remains a startling story to those who never understand that the men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their imperfect existence. Perhaps it was after meditating on this passage that Morton Kelsey wrote: "The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners."

The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.

As C. S. Lewis says in The Four Loves, "Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependence. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need they have produced."

As the gospel of grace lays hold of us, something is radically right. We are living in truth and reality. We become as honest as the ninety-two-year-old priest who was venerated by everybody in town for his holiness. He was also a member of the Rotary Club. Every time the club met, he would be there, always on time and always seated in his favorite spot in a corner of the room.

One day the priest disappeared. It was as if he had vanished into thin air. The townsfolk searched all over and could find no trace of him. But the following month, when the Rotary Club met, he was there as usual sitting in his corner.

"Father," everyone cried, "where have you been?"

"I just served a thirty-day sentence in prison."

"In prison," they cried. "Father, you couldn't hurt a fly. What happened?"

"It's a long story," said the priest, "but briefly, this is what happened. I bought myself a train ticket to go into the city. I was standing on the platform waiting for the train to arrive when this stunningly beautiful girl appears on the arm of a policeman. She looked at me, turned to the cop and said, 'He did it. I'm certain he's the one who did it.'

Continues...


Excerpted from The Ragamuffin Gospel by BRENNAN MANNING Copyright © 2000 by Brennan Manning. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 6
Foreword 9
Testimony 11
Acknowledgments 13
A Word Before 14
1. Something Is Radically Wrong 17
2. Magnificent Monotony 34
3. The Ragamuffin Gospel 51
4. Tilted Halos 72
5. Cormorants and Kittiwakes 88
6. Grazie, Signore 104
7. Paste Jewelry and Sawdust Hot Dogs 122
8. Freedom from Fear 140
9. The Second Call 157
10. The Victorious Limp 172
11. A Touch of Folly 188
A Word After 201
Notes 205
A Guide for Reflection and Prayer 215
The Scandal of Grace Ten Years Later 223
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 72 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    A feel good Gospel

    At the request of a friend whom I respect I delved into the Ragamuffin Gospel with my typical 'teacher's attitude' regarding a new author, movement or dogma. I found much that many will like about this book, especially those whose commitment to the teachings of The Christ is superficial. There is much to make one feel good about themselves and little to encourage one to strive for a deeper relationship with our Lord. While reading I was taken with memories of one of my previous pastors who stated unequivocally that just because my Mom and Dad were saved, my salvation wasn¿t automatic that just because I attended church my salvation wasn¿t assumed that just because I read the Bible didn¿t mean I was ¿born again¿. I have difficulty with the concept that forgiveness and grace comes before repentance. I have even more difficulty with the concept that God is neither a disciplinarian nor a judge of man¿s actions. This is contrary to New and Old Testament scripture. When combined with Manning¿s clear lack of understanding of scripture (which must be taken in context as opposed to single verse examples) which is demonstrated on many occasions, I must reject the philosophy presented. This is another of those ¿feel good¿, Universalists manuscripts that attempts to convince us that if we accept ourselves as we are, God will also. Unfortunately for those who praise this book, the truth is that either the teaching is all true or it¿s false. Salvation is not composed of accepting the sacrifice of Jesus plus anything else. Repentance must come before forgiveness or salvation is a farce and we all have missed God.

    7 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    Captures the hardest part of Christianity to accept

    The Raggamuffin Gospel grapples with the hardest part of the Gospel message to accept: the idea that we cannot earn our salvation, and that it is always a gift of grace by God. &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 Brennan Manning addresses how this is counter cultural, how our human tendency to require earning our salvation makes it difficult to accept the Gospel and God's grace. &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 Mike, the previous reviewer, discussed the difficulty of reconciling repentance with Brennan Manning's writing. Must we repent before God gives us his grace?&#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 Brennan Manning would say that God gives us his grace all the time. Our humanity has so many limits 'sinful tendencies' that we wouldn't be able to do anything worthwhile without it.&#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 The role of repentance as per Brennan Manning is to allow us to accept God's gift of grace, 'not to trigger God giving us the grace'. &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 It is when we are living outside of God's grace 'and thus outside ofrelationship with God' that we are not living in God's will.&#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 The message of grace was attacked by the Pharisees as well when Jesus discussed what was necessary to please God. The Pharisees believed it was actions that pleased God. Brennan Manning addresses that when you find freedom in God's grace, then His grace frees you from the power of sin on your life. It is counterintuitive, it is supernatural. It is dependence on God. Therefore, it is faith in God that pleases God, not actions. Faith in God produces life changing actions, through God's power in one's life. Actions alone produce only self-dependence. If we could do it alone, we wouldn't need God.&#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 &#13 &#10 Even 'repentence' can be used as an action to try to earn God's favor. B

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Should be required reading!

    There are very few books that I have read in my lifetime that have had such an impact upon me. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning is one of those books. The gospel of grace is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Christian faith. So many Christians say they believe in God’s love and grace but do not live under God’s love and grace. Brennan writes about this grace in his book. The thing that stands out to me the most is the sheer honesty and rawness with which he writes. Some Christian books sound like the author has it all together and is a complete expert on their subject (and maybe they are). Brennan writes as a man still on a journey of discovering God’s grace. The only thing that Brennan seems to be an expert on is being a ragamuffin. Within the pages of this book you will go on a journey of discovery. You will see humanity as God sees them….the very objects of His great love and affection. You will not read about perfect people, only real people on a journey. You will read about broken lives and the God who longs to fix them. You will discover grace and love in a down-to-earth style. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you struggle with feeling like you are on a treadmill of performance or like you just can’t please God, then read this book. If you feel like you are a failure and just can’t get it together, then read this book. If you feel that you have it all together and you understand God’s love and grace, then read this book. This book should be required reading for every pastor and seminary student. It should be on every “should-read” list. The Ragamuffin Gospel is one of those books that should be read once a year, or anytime someone begins to feel beat up by life. God loves ragamuffins and is in a furious pursuit of them. I have gotten plenty of material for sermons, blogs and articles from this book. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2006

    Telling It Like It Is!

    Do I like to read a book that has something to say, you bet I do! This book does not waste my time with wasted words and ideas and was hard to stop reading until finished. I give it a five star.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2008

    Truth, finally!!!

    Brennan Manning is one of the few Christians I have encountered who has a wealth of theological knowledge, evangelistic experience and also the body, heart and soul of a real human being. There is absolutely no show here. No preaching. Just a man telling it like the Gospel was meant to be told- with love, grace and simplicity. This book changed me and I will never stop giving it to everyone i meet!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    Grace changes lives

    I found this book to be so life changing that I have given copies to my best friends, grandparents, mother, sisters, and bible study leader. This is a MUST read and has a permanent place in my library. Brennan Manning has a wonderful grasp of Grace. This is a good book to use for a Bible Study as there will always be topics for discussion and debate.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Perfect

    It wouldn't be an understandment to say how much this book changed my life. I had felt beaten up, bedraggled, and tired. The Brennan Manning writes makes you want to give the man a hug. I loved how comforting this book was to me. I would suggest this book to just about everyone! You'll understand grace in whole new ways!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2008

    The pure gospel¿

    The Ragamuffin Gospel<BR/>Brennan Manning<BR/>ISBN: 9781590525029<BR/>Multnomah, 2008<BR/>Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 12/08<BR/>5 stars<BR/>The pure gospel¿<BR/>No one is worthy of standing in the presence of God. We are all broken, tattered, and torn. It is only through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved. The Ragamuffin Gospel offers the gospel in a plain and simple manner. It is easy to understand and heartwarming. This is a book that just keeps on giving. The message of this book will shake your world. Brennan Manning tears down the legalistic teachings of so many churches and returns to the basics as taught by Jesus Christ.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2012

    A Classic Worth Reading with Caution

    Brennan Manning has a bag full of luggage in his background. He is a veteran of the Korean War, a former Franciscan priest, and much-respected author and speaker in many Christian circles. He’s also a battling alcoholic and an embattled preacher of the word. He’s embattled because of the movement that rose out of the book we’re reviewing today. It has become a classic of modern Christian literature; it touched the hearts of several Christian artists—to name a couple, Michael W. Smith and the late Rich Mullins who was so inspired by the book that he formed the “Ragamuffin Band.” With that background, I’ve wanted to get hold of a copy of this book and read it for quite some time. And I’m glad I did. I can see the draw to this teaching book, but I also found some of it a bit disconcerting. As a matter of fact, as with anything that one reads, I found parts of the book with which I could not agree. The author is thoughtful and well-read as well as a superb communicator. He points out the need for God’s grace in the life of everyone, reminding readers that our unworthiness is not at issue (after all we’re all ragamuffins, even if we don’t think we are), but His love and mercy. In this, Manning has a wonderful grip on the concept of Grace. So much so to the point that he shares in a more recent response to the original 1990 book that one Roman Catholic scholar accused him of “out-Luthering” Luther (see p. 212). Even so, the reading of the book becomes a little lop-sided. Not knowing any more of Manning’s faith walk than I do, I understand that the Love of God (through Christ) rushes at him through the lens of telescopic need. And I would also argue right along with Manning that we need to swim longer in the deep end of the Love of God pool. However, the view of God’s righteousness, justice, and even His wrath gets crowded out and even talked down, bringing readers to a touchy feel-good approach to the Throne that flatlines faith. (In response to this let me add that this Lovefest reaction is natural for people who see nothing from the community of Christian faith but red-faced condemnation). A couple of other issues that I have (personal issues because of my background juxtaposed to the author’s) with the book are the Church teachings that move beyond the discussion of personal response to God and His love, and with which my faith calls me to disagree (commentary about the Eucharist and the ideology of Trans-substantiation – look it up – that are common in some Christian communities, for example). He also leans heavily on a “getting away” type of Christian life that tends to say that spiritual growth only happens when we are by ourselves. (To which end the new edition includes not only the essay “The Scandal of Grace: Fifteen Years Later” but also “19 Mercies: a Spiritual Retreat” which can guide the reader into some excellent devotional reading and reflection.) Admittedly, we all need times of retreat and reflection, but not at the exclusion of community. Relationship with Christ includes relationship with His Bride, His Body—the church. The question that always arises at the end of the day in reviewing books is: would you recommend this book? Sure. It is probably the best response to the God is out to get us teaching that so saturates our church culture today. I’d also recommend the book to people (and preachers in particular) who have bought into the idea that God is up in the Heaven’

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    Great read!

    Very encouraging in my relationship & journey with God. A "gotta read" especially if feeling doubt or guilt.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2011

    A refreshing reminder

    I recently finished reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It was a timely read for me as I've been struggling with constant fear of failure, and never-ending reminders that I'm not good enough. Manning's book reminds the reader of a pivotal truth - that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of grace, not works, available to each and every ragamuffin that will choose to accept it.
    Manning begins with an anecdotal response to a sermon - "that airhead didn't say one thing about what we have to do to earn our salvation". He explains how our culture's "work your way to success" mentality has sculpted in us an incorrect view of salvation - that we have to be good enough so that we are pleasing to God and can thus be saved. While, as a Christian I know this is not a biblical teaching, it is something that I tend to fall prey into to believing. I found the book to be a refreshing reminder of truth, and an encouragement for my soul.
    Manning contrasts the true God of grace with the invented god of legalistic Christianity. He explains how viewing God incorrectly compels us towards works at appeasing him, and gives us great fear when we fail, as inevitably we must. This is exhausting, frustrating, and ultimately prevents us from knowing and loving God for who he is. Manning continues to explain the true gospel (which he calls the "Ragamuffin gospel") and invites Christians to "loosen their halos" and live in freedom, with adoration, repentance and thanksgiving, as a result of the grace they have been given, not because of a checklist or as an act of duty.
    I thought the author did a thorough job addressing an issue that is common to Christians who have grown up in church, with lists of do's and don'ts. He reminds us that the gospel that leads to the salvation of souls is not based on performance or merit, but is about grace given to the least of these. I loved the way he used the story of the prodigal son to make the point that Christ loves us as we are. Luke 15:2o says, "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Manning reminds his reader, throughout the book, that God loves us and runs to us with grace - even when we are a long way off.
    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    highly recommended

    Simply put, the best book of spirituality I've read in recent years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Life-Changing

    Brennan puts it all out there. I was finally able to see how perfectionism hurt instead of helped me. I understand the true meaning of grace, and how the message Jesus delivered was so different from anything before then. So many people still live by the old ways of thinking. They think that they have to follow the "rules" (usually thought to be the Ten Commandments and other regulations) perfectly in order to get into heaven, but that is just not the case. So many people think that God wants us to carry our burden of guilt - - so not true! The author makes a strong case for the reader to understand that God is a patient and loving parent who wants nothing more than to love us, and for us to love others of our own free will. One reviewer I read was upset because he felt cheated; he couldn't stand the idea of being in heaven with people who had "broken the rules." That's not what God is all about. Jesus pointed out to us that ALL of us are sinners, and that's part of what makes us who we are. So hang it all out there. God wants you just the way you are. If you choose to live a better life, it is because YOU want to NOT because you HAVE to for an E-ticket into Heaven. God loves you, no matter what.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2005

    Healing for brokenness

    Brennan Manning writes from brokenness and humility. His writings bring me into the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. I heard him speak and he is a dear, caring soul, frank and open, not hiding himself, because Jesus is his all in all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    Reflections of a College Freshman

    Brennan Manning has opened a can of worms, so to speak. He has profoundly uncovered the gospel in a way that I did not even know was possible. What some critics call a book with heretic views, I call a Christ-centered commentary on what the Christian life is really all about. Throughout this book Mr. Manning seemed to be challenging the reader to better know Christ through personal experiences and observations. He also challenges readers to give up mundane living and to live the life that Abba had originally meant for us. Although the entire entire book was fabulous one chapter in particular stuck out to me, I believe that the chapter was entitled, Grazie, Signore. In this chapter Mr. Manning addressed the issue of wanting physical assertions from others in order to know that the relationship is real. He also addressed through a quote how a Christian¿s need to have a relationship with Jesus should be different and how our view should be changed, in both circumstances. I believe that Mr. Manning knew what he was saying. He brought up many strong arguments over how we live our lives and how we should be living them. He brought up many evidences to back up his writings; not only did he use scriptures, but he also used his own personal experiences and that of others. He was very clear on his views and perceptions of the Christian Life. His view has not changed in the past ten years either. In the 2000 edition of this book he wrote a note in the back telling of how things have been since he originally wrote it. I read approximately ninety-nine percent of the Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. The ninety-nine percent would have to be the actual text, and the one percent would be the footnotes, and prayer/reflection guidelines. Overall this book was an amazing help for me in my walk with Christ. It has helped me to pinpoint and begin to work on some of the issues that I didn¿t even know that I had. I believe that this book would be a very big help to anyone who has ever struggled or marveled with God¿s amazing love and grace. I emphatically recommend this book as a five star read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2013

    Highly Recommended - Good to distribute

    We like this book because he is talking to ordinary people who deal with struggles - not the super spiritual people. We hand a lot of them out and others appreciate it too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    .

    .

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2004

    I agree with PJ and Tom

    Who is Brennan Manning to title a mortal book 'Gospel'? He cons you into paying to read or listen to his life's testimony without mentioning an attempt to change for the better, and garnering all the attention for himself. The advocation of lighting a few candles and Ohm some meditations for peace in your heart wasn't taught by Jesus in either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    'We are beggars...this is true!' -Martin Luther

    Martin Luther's dying words echo in this book. We are beggars, or 'ragamuffins' to use Manning's terminology. I literally stumbled on this book in much the same way I did Roland Bainton's Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. It caught my eye in a bookstore because I noticed that Rich Mullins, whose music I have listened to for many years, was on the cover. I associated the Ragamuffin motif with Mullins and his 'Ragamuffin Band' but did not know the origin of it. Mullins built many of his songs on Manning's concept of the sinner who comes to God as a ragamuffin, not only beaten by his\her own sins, but often by the church as well. Manning presents a well-written exposition that is both personal and perceptive. I think it is essential for Christians to realize the real basis of our acceptance, our 'right-standing' before God. It is not in us, or our works, good or bad. It is in Jesus Christ. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book, however, because Manning does not go far enough, failing to provide the reader with the rest of the 'truth as it is in Jesus,' namely that we not only are made right with God through Christ but also that as His life becomes manifest in our own lives, we become more like him. It is the age-old balance between 'justification' and 'sanctification' that again gets lost. There are also some parts of the book I found questionable and even inappropriate for a book that may be read by female as well as male readers. A better choice would be Billy Graham's Peace With God or How to Be Born Again. For more depth on the subject read John Piper's Counted Righteous In Christ.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2003

    Manning overated

    Brennan Manning spends this book describing a grace which he refuses to have with those he disagrees with he is offensive towards anyone who holds positions different to his and appears to forget the latter half of the story, yes sin is overcome (Rom 6) but shall we go on sinning, by no means (Rom 7). Manning is one sided. I honestly learned a lot about grace in this book but think it is an unbalanced perspective.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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