My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(note: I’ve made the decision to supplement my regular reading with a few audio books this year. This is the first in that list. I highly recommend Audible.com for this purpose.)
I’ve read Brennan Manning before and I will read him again. He unapologetically makes grandiose statements about the love of God. He’s notorious for this. He writes about the the embrace of the Father in such sweeping and epic terms that He seems to believe that even if you don’t believe you’re surrounded by His love you’re probably holding His leg like a shy child in a crowded room.
I cannot read Manning’s work with dry eyes or barren heart. He has a way with language and stories that utterly convinces me that he knows God. Not only that, but when I immerse myself in his work I am convinced, once again and over and over, that God knows me.
I was a bit surprised, but duly impressed, in this book that Manning let his theology squeeze out in a few places. His understanding of the roles of the Godhead, particularly the intimate function of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, would allow him to pass for an honorary Pentecostal. He never pushes his theology, but it organically flows through the content.
One more thing that impresses me about Manning’s writing is his undefended confidence. I don’t know that I would have articulated this idea as well had I not read someone else talking about Manning, but I’ve always gotten the sense of it through his work. He does not write as an apologist, feeling constrained to prove everything he says. He does not write like a historian, trying to piece together a fully built-out picture of his point. He writes like a pastor, like a friend. He writes in such a way as to make grand claims about God that he is not interested in explaining to the reader. He whets the reader’s appetite for the same feelings, gives enough information to set them on the trail, and then leaves to talk about something else. It is brilliant, inspiring, and altogether worth the time it takes to move through it.
“Because we approach the Gospel with preconceived notions of what it should say rather than what it does say, the Word no longer falls like rain on the parched ground of our souls. It no longer sweeps like a wild storm into the corners of our comfortable piety. It no longer vibrates like sharp lightning in the dark recesses of our non-historic orthodoxy.”
– Brennan Manning