Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment.
In this new edition - now with a foreword by Michael W. Smith, testimony by Rich Mullins and the author's own epilogue, "Ragamuffin Ten Years Later," Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a "furious love" that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God's grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock - the "ragamuffins."
©2005 Brennan Manning; (P)2009 christianaudio.com
Retired teacher. Hometown: Eden, NY.
“Manning is a former Roman Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry. He has recently divorced his wife. He is a recovering alcoholic who lapses every so often. He is a product of pop-psychology and Roman Catholic mystics rather than Scripture. He is on the cutting edge of the contemplation prayer movement which is steadily leading evangelicals toward Eastern mysticism. He is questionably a universalist who has nothing good to say about the church but adores AA. Yet somehow he is all the rage among many evangelicals.”
Wait a minute. What’s wrong here? I just finished reading THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL, Brennan Manning’s intensely intimate sharing about God’s unconditional love for “sinners” – the broken, the lost, the bedraggled, the hopeless, the burnt-outs and the cast-offs – and found myself wondering why he is the target of such attacks. After all, I consider RAGAMUFFIN as a life-changer, and am anxious to reread it and experience chapter 19, “Mercies: A Spiritual Retreat.” Surely this man is not the heretic portrayed by Dr. Gary Gilley.
A click quick to Wikipedia, and I found a more objective perspective:
“Born and raised in Depression-era New York City, Manning finished high school, enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Korean War. When Manning returned to the United States, he enrolled at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Upon his graduation from the seminary in 1963, Manning was ordained a Franciscan priest.
“In the late 1960s, Manning joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, a religious institute committed to an uncloistered, contemplative life among the poor. Manning transported water via donkey, worked as a mason's assistant and a dishwasher in France, was imprisoned (by choice) in Switzerland, and spent six months in a remote cave somewhere in the Zaragoza desert.
“In the 1970s, Manning returned to the United States and began writing after confronting his alcoholism.”
Oh … so Manning does seem to be hornless, responsible, even loving. Apparently Dr. Gilley is one in an opposition army that sees Manning as a threat to the stale Christianity of business as usual. But the former priest’s impressive bibliography of twenty-two bestselling books is, perhaps, indicative of a militia sustaining the same if not greater strength. People don’t buy books simply because they are decorative.
The thesis of THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL is that God’s love for all of us is relentless … intensely raging through Jesus Christ who unabashedly loves us ragamuffins. This Jesus accepts us just as we are – sins, warts, blemishes, ugliness, sexual darkness, disobedience, and every other brokenness to which mankind is prone. He invites himself to our dinner table, and in turn insists on eating at ours. He calls the worst of us to accepting the truth that we are his beloved, and fanatically insists that nothing can ever change that. He tells us that the source of this immense and accepting love is the grace of his Father and not the man-made country club rules that stink of rejection. He is constantly throwing dinner parties for us, seating us at the best places … and he never stops saying, “I love you. Do you love me?” He urges us to lay our head on his shoulder.
Yes, the Jesus of the four gospels is the Jesus who can do all things- all things except one: stop loving his ragamuffins. He says to us, “My grace [love] is sufficient for you,” and we respond to this transforming love by developing a passionate need to be just like him, giving away healing love without charging for it, sucking up the reality of our acceptance and newness in him, and loving every single minute of it.
The country club set – those walking refrigerators who insist on strict adherence to their admission rules before outsiders can even darken their doors – have more need of a ragamuffin gospel than anyone. Open those refrigerator doors and you will see shelves neatly packed with containers of food and drink. Sadly, most of them are stamped with an expiration date long past.
Saint Brennan closes THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL in thoughtful and profound appreciation of the grace that has consumed him:
“Sitting in bold relief on a navy-blue sofa in my office is a little polka-dotted rag doll. Over the last ten years, the ragamuffin mystery has laid hold of me with uncommon power. After long hours of prayer and meditation on the Scriptures and reflections on the nagging question ‘Who am I?’ a gracious God has given me the light to see myself as I really am. I now have a primary identity and a coherent sense of myself. It affects my intimacy with God, my relationships with others, and my gentleness with myself.
“Thus I want the epitaph on my tombstone to read:”
I would listen to Ragamuffin Gospel again because it challenges the mind to process why someone live a Christian life and how it really affects one's character by pondering the magnificane of the love of God.
I would compare Ragamuffin Gospel to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. These books have a clear, strait forward, message that is very captivating for the analytical mind. God becomes more alive and real than in any other book a part from the Bible. All the fluff has been cut out and one is left to read direct thinking.
Nothing the content needed someone who could covey this strait forward thought without a listener getting lost is a sappy tone of voice and vocal inflections.
Yes, I could not turn off the player. I almost listened to it in one setting. It is some good insightful stuff!!!
I'm one of those people who hates reading but on the contrary I have my iPod glued to my hand. Having this audible book was/is amazing! I would have missed out on a lot if this weren't available due to my laziness! I recommend this book to anyone; Brennan Manning is awesome and gave me a new and greater meaning of God's grace.
It was a favourite of a late pastor friend so as I listened I sensed his presence.
He read very well and I would listen to him again.
The main point is that each and every one of us is special to God. I think it's something one can't hear enough which is why I've listened to this twice already!
My brother gave me a 2nd hand paperback copy of this book years ago. It sat on my shelf dusty for at least 5 years before rediscovering it and finally reading it, at a time wouldn't you know, where I was thinking about letting God be somebody more in my life that someone I may or may not visit on Sunday if I didn't feel a really strong need to sleep in. I could write at length about this book and other works Brennan gave us but to keep this short I would like to relate my favoirte thing about this book.
The phrase "Jesus loves you as you are and not as you should be" is permanently engrained into my awareness because of the Ragamuffin Gospel. That truth all by itself makes this a great book. Accpting this unlocks doors.
I have given dozens of copies away to people and the response is usually "that was weird" or "I never thought of it that way". I hope you read this and say the latter.
First, this is an awesome book--fantastic and important message. I highly recommend it in book (not audiobook) format. Unfortunately, the narrator sounded smug and arrogant, which dramatically decreases the effectiveness of the message, which really has to do with having a humble, servant-like attitude towards faith.
If the print format does not work for you, definitely get the audio format, you'll just have to try to overlook the narration..
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