Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book review: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Isn't it interesting how often we hear the word "grace" float around Christian communities, yet so few of us really fully grasp what that word actually means? Not in a seminary definition kind of way, but in a very real, tangible, practical way? Like when we're completely beaten up by life, messed up big time, and ready to quit everything? And then Jesus steps in and offers the comfort, support and guidance that is the true definition of the word.

A little over 25 years ago, Brennan Manning wrote the first release of The Ragamuffin Gospel and the book has sold more than a million copies since. My copy, that I read just out of college more than a decade ago has gone on a missions trip somewhere (I often send my books out with no expectation of return, but with prayers they reach the exact right hands at the exact right times to do God's work) and I was totally excited to see the book's publisher release this anniversary edition.

I expected to re-read the copy and have it feel a little dated. I was so wrong. The truths in this book ring as true today, as they did two and a half decades ago 

The truth about fellowship: 

"Through table fellowship Jesus rightly acted out His insight into Abba's indiscriminate love - a love that causes His sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and His rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike (see Matthew 5:45). The inclusion of sinners in the community of salvation, symbolized in table fellowship, is the most dramatic expression of the ragamuffin gospel and the merciful love of the redeeming God." 
p. 47

The truth about knowledge: 

"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." 
p. 30

The truth about faith: 

"Evangelical faith is the antithesis of lukewarmness: it always means a profound dissatisfaction with our present state. In faith there is movement and development. Each day something is new. To be Christian, faith has to be new - that is, alive and growing. It cannot be static, finished, settled. When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead." 
p. 153

I could go on and on, but I think you'd be better served, friend, by buying your own copy rather than continuing to read my quote posts! 

The language in the book is approachable and it reads like a conversation with a trusted mentor, as indeed the author was to many, including the Christian singer Rich Mullins, who struggled with alcoholism throughout much of his career. Side note: if you haven't seen it yet, the movie based on Rich's life is very well done. I don't tend to like much in the Christian movie genre (the acting is just usually not up to par!), but I really liked this one. 

Anyway, back to the book.

I highly recommend it to any person who is: 
Stuck in a bad habit rut
Avoiding the church because of past hurt
Living the consequences of past mistakes
Feeling stagnant in faith
Looking for the real Jesus

If you're perfectly comfortable with your faith, have no problems and haven't ever experienced conflict, you can skip The Ragamuffin Gospel. You don't need it! 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

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