The pastor at my old PCUSA church loved "The Ragamuffin Gospel" and other works of Manning.
Brennan Manning is an author born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
After high school, Brennan enlisted in the US Marine Corps, where he ended up fighting overseas in the Korean War. When Manning returned to the states, he enrolled at St Francis seminary in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Upon his graduation from the seminary in 1963, Manning was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood.
In the late 1960s, Manning joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, an Order committed to an uncloistered, contemplative life among the poor. Manning then spent time diversely, transporting water via donkey, as a mason's assistant, a dishwasher in France, a prisoner in a Swiss jail (by choice), and spending six months in a remote cave somewhere in the Zaragoza desert.
In the 1970s, Manning returned the US and began writing.
My last pastor grew up Roman Catholic and graduated from a liberal seminary. I do not believe he has any inclination to be true to Presbyterianism. In fact, one of the reasons I left that PCUSA church was because of the heresy that was being projected from the pulpit by him. He exclaimed several times to the congregation that he didn’t hold to a very literal interpretation of the bible and that the bible “contained the Word of God.” Of course, people in that church don’t have any idea what he means when is says this.
Looking back with what I know now, I’m not surprised that he liked Brennan Manning. Growing up Catholic and being neo-orthodox and liberal in his theology, it just makes sense that he would embrace this type of faith teaching. Without accepting the bible as “the Word of God” and it’s authority as being such, you then have to rely on a faith of feelings. This is going to naturally lead one down the path of mysticism. Prayer and meditation becomes the focus of ones private spiritual life and emotional humanism becomes the standard for public worship.
Brennan Manning teaches contemplative praying, which is basically eastern meditation, “Looking inward.” Yes the bible and scripture is mentioned, but the rightful use of scripture isn’t taught. Again we look at the neo-orthodox view of scripture as “containing” the Word of God. It’s completely subjective. This way of using scripture which also includes the more Catholic way of using scripture ( small 1 or 2 verse devotionals or homiletic type of devotionals ) strips it from it’s proper interpretive meaning.
Here’s a web page on Manning’s teaching on contemplative praying.BRENNAN MANNING AND CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
Here's a few problems with "The Ragamuffin Gospel."
"Manning calls the gospel of Jesus Christ "folly" (p. 209); he teaches an eastern-type meditation (pp. 43, 205-206); he uses vulgarity (pp. 46, 137); he twists scripture (pp. 23, 173, 73, 28); he says that everyone, but the self-righteous (who are those that obey God), will go to heaven, even those who receive the mark of the beast enter in (pp. 17, 26, 29); he promotes worldliness (pp. 80, 94, 98); and he says that repentance is not a prerequisite for forgiveness (p. 73)."
It’s apparent also that Manning’s works also lean towards homosexuality and universalism. Another author that my old pastor quoted from often was Tony Campolo.
In this PCUSA church, ecumenism is a really big focus because they have a “sister church” a block down which is a Catholic church. So anything that is “anti-catholic” is pretty frowned upon in the church because it is viewed as intolerant. So of course, this leads to a “no-doctrine” approach to teaching and preaching. So you have now a non-denominational church that doesn’t approach scripture seriously and leans heavily on emotional humanism, mysticism and social functions as it’s core.
This church also has an ordained women pastor and of course any type of biblical teaching against feminism is also viewed as “intolerant.” Sad to say, the gospel isn’t preached from the pulpit either, so I don’t even consider these pastors evangelical. So I’m wondering why the PCUSA is continuing to use “Presbyterian” in its title. It’s obviously there only to specify its form of government, because it doesn’t resemble classic Presbyterianism at all.
What’s really crazy about the whole situation is the adult studies. It is a situation where it becomes totally confusing and subjective, where truth is only relevant to the individual. Because at the table you have Pentecostals, charismatics, ex-Catholics, liberals, evangelicals and conservatives all sharing their view points without any type of scriptural references. This is where the term “I feel” this or “I feel” that, really starts to be used a lot because it’s not kosher to say “I know this” and to proclaim objective truth. It makes people uncomfortable even when you say “I think” this, because how does anyone truly “know” true truth? Without the bible being the Word of God, then you really have no objective standard to base truth on, which at the end of the day leads to a very charismatic and chaotic church life.
So, thanks be to God that I have found reformed orthodoxy and biblical truth. It’s been a real blessing to be members of a PCA church now where everyone is on the same page and where worship and education remain Christ centered.
Soli Deo Gloria,