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Posted By: J_Edwards THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:40 PM
I noticed "some" Protestant churches beginning to add this to their small group and Sunday School curriculum and wondered what you thought. Catholic mystic Brennan Manning is the author. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bingo.gif" alt="" /> Though the book has been out for a long time it seems evangelicals (jellies) of all types (PCA, Baptists, etc) are walking down some dangerous roads.

What is becoming of the Church when it cannot discern error from truth?
Posted By: John_C Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:49 PM

I have never heard of the book. What's it about?
Posted By: J_Edwards Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:00 PM
John_C said:

I have never heard of the book. What's it about?
Brennan Manning, a recovering alcoholic, is the author. The Ragamuffin Gospel is endorsed by Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins ([/i]A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band[/i]), Max Lucado, Eugene Peterson and Philip Yancy. Besides attempting to harmonize the Bible with/to Zen philosophy and other humanistic writings, he positively quotes new age leaders as Joseph Campbell, Francis MacNutt, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and humanist Carl Jung. He confuses “loving sinners” with “accepting their sin” (p. 33) and believes that forgiveness precedes repentance (pp. 74, 167, 181). He sees God as loving and forgiving but never a judge or disciplinarian (p. 75). Here is Christianity Today’s take on it: Ragamuffin

Here are some quotes (The Ragamuffin Gospel, forward by Michael W. Smith , published by Multnomah Press):

Manning cites Matthew Fox (heretic),

Remember that 15 billion years of the universe loved you and brought you forward. And it loved you unconditionally...We were loved before the beginning...God is a great underground river, and there are many wells into that river. There's a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a Christian well, a Goddess well, the Native wells-many wells that humans have dug to get into that river, but friends, there's only one river; the living waters of wisdom ….. 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 understanding-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 (p. 18).

Speaking of the mark of the beast;

And he [Christ] 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’ (p. 21).

To evangelize a person is to say to him or her: you, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus (p. 120).

God is a kooky God who can scarcely bear to be without us (p. 165).

The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything... Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly (p. 196).
In The Signature of Jesus, Manning teaches his readers how to pray, using an 8 word mantra. He says, "the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer" (p. 212). The second step is "without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often." If distractions come, "simply return to listening to your sacred word" (p. 218). He also cheers his readers to "celebrate the darkness" because "the ego has to break; and this breaking is like entering into a great darkness" (p. 145).
Posted By: CovenantInBlood Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:40 PM
J_Edwards said:

What is becoming of the Church when it cannot discern error from truth?

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children" (Hos. 4:6).
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Mon Jan 09, 2006 8:42 PM
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,

Posted By: J_Edwards Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Tue Jan 10, 2006 12:53 PM
Thanks for the links and the information. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/cheers2.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: janean Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Thu Jan 12, 2006 4:31 AM
I've read this one. This was quoted and promoted at our church (which we have officially left now finally). I remember one of the first red flags picking up the book was a statement of something like this - That the book is not intended for those who sit on their ivory tower of exegesis. This statement right here told me the guy must not think too highly of theology. As I progressed I realized that this was true - that those people will quickly realize (like me) that this isn't from God (and I certainly do not sit on any tower of exegesis, I've simply know my Bible!). What I remember that bothered me too is the lack of holiness portrayed in the book. He basically is saying that you can have your cake and eat it too. Sin and repentance seem to take a back seat.
And then to find the connections with contemplative prayer and some of the people he quotes (I think he might quote Thomas Merton too - I know Richard Foster does).

Well without reading criticisms until later, the book just didn't sit right with me from the get go. That's what I remember. The criticisms just cleared the air for me. Made me wonder about the discernment of those who endorse it too.

From someone who's been there it's sad to see this stuff in churches promoted as for our good. I am grateful to the Lord and discipleship and teaching of the true gospel from my Mother that I am able to see this stuff for what it is.

There was an associate pastor who we had a few years ago who quoted Manning and Yaconelli and promoted Richard Foster's Renovaire conferences. I didn't know at that time the error of these authors, but what I did know is that I did not like the associate pastor. I did not feel he was from the Lord - and his sermons were not. So interestingly my discernment was kicking in right there. Then after I started reading the authors I then remembered all the times he had quoted from them and I was bothered even more. By that time though, he was not at our church any more, but the authors were still promoted by the other pastors.
I have learned that reading and evaluating books and materials is very important, and to check out who the pastor is quoting!!!

I think it's easy for someone to just "trust" the leadership and what is put out for them to read or listen to. That's exactly what has happened at our prior church. The stuff just kind of crept in over time.
Posted By: Tom Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Thu Jan 12, 2006 5:05 AM
That the book is not intended for those who sit on their ivory tower of exegesis. This statement right here told me the guy must not think too highly of theology.

Wow! If you have correctly interpreted his statement, I would say that you have understated the point of him not thinking too highly of theology.

I would say that one of Satan's best tools is from the teachers with in the doors of the Church.

Posted By: Relztrah Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:46 PM
Well, I'm going to get myself in some hot water here, but I enjoyed Abba's Child by Brennan Manning. I have not read Ragamuffin Gospel. Now, before you start burning up they keys on your keyboard with a retort, let me clearly state that I DON'T read such literature for theological insights. For understanding of salvation, justification, redemption, atonement, the character of God or any other theological proposition, I'm going to look to a Reformed writer who is a theologian. But I read Brennan Manning with the same filter in place that I would use when reading John Eldredge, Larry Crabb, William Backus or a host of other "Christian psychologist" writers. I am not seeking knowledge of God or his attributes but rather self-knowledge. (Yes, this can become sin when self becomes the focus instead of Jesus Christ. I am aware of this and guard against it.) Tim Challies criticized Eldredge's book Wild at Heart on theological grounds and I would fully agree that he is no theologian. (Perhaps somewhat more orthodox than Brennan Manning, however.) Still, I find understanding into human emotions and motives with such authors. What Manning says about the "false self" in Abba's Child really struck a chord with me. And Wild at Heart helped me understand some of my fear of masculinity and how it's OK to take risks. Could I have learned this elsewhere? Probably.

And yes, I'm going to exercise some discernment. I don't read the fruitcakes like Joyce Meyers, T.D. Jakes or Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now. Not because I'm afraid I'll be led astray but rather because I only have so much time and I don't think they're saying anything new.

And secondly, I'm not preaching these ideas from the pulpit and would disagree with any minister of the gospel who does so. (FYI I am not a preacher.)

Someone will ask, "With so much good Reformed and Puritan literature out there, why do you waste your time reading this fluff?" And in fact I spend less and time with the mainline evangelical authors and more time reading the deeper works.

Undiscerning and uneducated readers are susceptibe to error, or those who sit under the authority of a pastor who follows the latest fad whether it's Brennan Manning, John Eldredge, Promise Keepers, 40 Days of Purpose, Sonship or whatever. If these ideas become the topic of Sunday's sermon, you might start looking elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. That said, I'm not going to dismiss Manning out of hand. Test all things; hold fast to what is good.
Posted By: janean Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Fri Jan 13, 2006 2:20 AM
Hello Relztrah
Yes you just might get yourself into hot water. Well at least thanks for your honesty. After being under pastors and leaders who have embraced, promoted and taught Eldredge, Manning, McLaren and others your response is not that bad in comparison.

Well I've always had this discernment when it comes to reading books. I consider it a gift from God. Years ago as a newer believer I remember reading Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled". It was so obvious to me that this was a different gospel packaged with some psychology too. I saw right through this stuff. Also saw the error with Prayer of Jabez and Tommy Tenny's book (can't remember the title).
As far as Manning is concerned he is preaching somewhat of a different gospel also, he probably very well holds one and this I think comes out in his writings. That goes for Eldredge too. I've read Manning's "Ragamuffin Gospel" and Eldredge's "Wild At Heart". Personally I think any "good" that you might find in these is a deception. There probably are some good things these authors may have to say. Joel Osteen says some very good things also. But when they claim to be Christian's and are teaching as pastors and Christians this puts them in a totally different boat IMHO. I find it very difficult to accept or learn from these kind of people. The wrong theology they hold or teach pretty much throws these folks out the window for me.
Well that's all I can say and there's probably not much more to say. One either sees it or they don't.
While I have really tried to have an open mind in reading the error that was embraced at my church, it was my firm conviction that these authors are a cancer in the body of Christ and I suspicion that they may not be of God at all. Why glean anything from such people?
Well enough said. That's just where I'm coming from and I would guess many others here would say about the same thing as I.
Posted By: Tom Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:46 AM
Admittedly I have not read anything by Manning, nor do I plan to. But my first impression after reading this thread and the article in Christianity Today is that he seems to subscribe to the opposite view that James 4:10 tells us.

Humble yourselves in the site of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Do you think my first impression has merit?


Posted By: J_Edwards Re: THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL - Fri Jan 13, 2006 3:21 PM
Tom said:
Admittedly I have not read anything by Manning, nor do I plan to. But my first impression after reading this thread and the article in Christianity Today is that he seems to subscribe to the opposite view that James 4:10 tells us.

Humble yourselves in the site of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Do you think my first impression has merit?


janean, above does an excellent job of having drawing lines between Manning and some others in this "new wave" theology. In each they begin by concentrating on "man" first and then attempt to look for God "somewhere" and how He will answer their questions. So, yes, these authors fail to humble themselves first, fully, and finally to God. They offer a look at God through depraved eyes.
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