Home > Reviews > Review – ‘A Glimpse of Jesus’: Brennan Manning

Review – ‘A Glimpse of Jesus’: Brennan Manning

I first came across Brennan Manning as the author of The Ragamuffin Gospel. I came quickly to the conclusion that it was worth reading anything by him. I rate him highly.

In my view, his writing is up there with Richard Foster, Philip Yancey and Henri Nouwen, helping us make sense of the complexities and yet the utter simplicity of the spiritual life.

This little book, A Glimpse of Jesus is no exception. This is a small book and it should be easy to read through in one sitting. It’s not. It’s hard-hitting and therefore tough to read. Each paragraph requires thought and invites action. Spiritual writing of this quality is often quite unsettling, challenging as it does our preconceptions and long-held views.

Brennan Manning is a Franciscan Catholic but his understanding of the major Christian traditions is pretty wide-ranging although somewhat centred on his North American roots. He is clearly no fan of the moral majority nor of right-wing Evangelicalism!

Richard Manning came from a dysfunctional family. He became a monk and then took the name Brennan. His life is full of what many would consider to be failings; he was an alcoholic and he experienced divorce. But it is these very ‘failings’ that give his writings both humanity and compassion and which have led him to his main message: ‘God loves you as you are – and unconditionally’.

Read some of it here for yourself, in this, a small flavour of the book:

‘The habit of moralising spoils religion. Personal responsibility to an inviolable moral code replaces personal response to God’s loving call’ p9

‘Salvation cannot be earned or merited but only humbly and gratefully received as a loving gift from the Father’s hand’ p13

‘Christian freedom is the joyful acceptance of (an) unprecedented and scandalous reversal of the World’s values’ p27

‘Christianity is not about ritual and moral living except insofar as these two express the love that causes both of them. We must at least pray for the grace to become love’. p29

‘The love of the Father for His children plunges us into mystery, because it is utterly beyond the pale of human experience’. p45

‘There is a beauty and enchantment about the Nazarene that draws me irresistibly to follow Him.  He is the Pied Piper of my lonely heart. It is not pious prattle to say that the only valid reason I can think of for living is Jesus Christ’. p49

‘It’s a tired cliché, a battered bumper sticker, an overused and often superficial slogan but it’s the truth of the Gospel: Jesus is the answer’. p50

‘The Christian’s warmth and congeniality, non-judgemental attitude and welcoming love may well be the catalyst allowing the healing power of Jesus to become operative in the life of an alienated, forlorn brother or sister’. p65

‘Whatever else it may be, prayer is first and foremost an act of love … born of a desire to be with Jesus … to really love someone implies a natural longing for presence and intimate communion’. p83

‘Why the symbol of the crucified Christ? Because it is an icon of the greatest act of love in human history …the Christian should tremble and the whole community quake when contemplating the cross on the Friday we call Good’ p90

‘With time slipping away like sand in an hourglass, the church has no more urgent priority than proclaiming the values of Jesus, preparing the way for Him, and restraining panic when He appears on the scene’ p101

‘When we ‘put on Christ’ and fully accept who we are, a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing and human respect develops. Christ’s preferences and values become our own’. p111

‘When the Crucified One says, ‘I’m dying to be with you’ and then whispers, ‘Will you die a little to be with me’? my sluggish spirit is stirred’. p114

‘The cross of Jesus will ever remain a scandal and foolishness to discriminating disciples who seek a triumphal Saviour and a prosperity Gospel. Their number is legion. They are enemies of the cross of Christ … Jesus ministry was a seeming failure, His life appeared to have made no difference. He was a naked, murdered, ineffectual, losing God. But in that weakness and vulnerability, the world would come to know the love of the Abba of the Compassionate One. p139

‘The Glory of Christ lies in this … He has called forth disciples to come after Him … they are ‘marginal’ people, not part of the scene, irrelevant to ‘the action’. In their ministry of quiet presence they do not need to win or compete. The world ignores them. But they are building the Kingdom of God on earth’ p139

‘If you call Jesus Goodness, He will be good to you. If you call Him Love, He will be loving to you; but if you call Him Compassion, He will know that you know’. p145

In so many ways, this is a beautiful book – in sentiment, content and sheer grace.

Here is the contrast between authentic faith and legalistic religion. If you too have failed, in whatever way, then this is the book for you, pointing you to experience God’s ‘lavish, indiscriminate and unconditional’ love.

A Glimpse of Jesus

Brennan Manning

HarperOne : 2004 : 145pp

ISBN 978-0-06-072447-4

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