All is Grace by Brennan Manning [a review]

This was the most difficult book I could not put down. This book was discovering that his or her alter ego anchors every soaring super hero. It was finding out Santa Claus pees and poops just like I do. Brennan Manning used to be my hero.

You are going to hate this book if you are looking for an account of the profound things done by one man in God’s name. You will not find here the account of a faith powerhouse who, with shear grit and discipline, followed God flawlessly.

You are going to love this book if can accept that God’s love for you is ridiculous and entirely impossible to comprehend or define. You will find here a beautifully broken picture of this love we all want to taste, but it is not an orthodox portrayal for you to study.

The writings and teaching of Brennan Manning have been a slow IV drip when my reliance and trust in Abba’s love have dehydrated. They have also been shock paddles to my heart in emergency moments when I am flat lining under the weight of shame, temptation, and failure.

I first heard the word ‘ragamuffin’ in 1999 in Brennan’s book The Ragamuffin Gospel. It ravished my aching heart. I came to understand God’s grace and furious love in a way I had never taken hold of in my life.

The ragamuffin is one with a singular prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Brennan explains further in All is Grace: “any additional flourishes to make that cry more palatable are pharisaical leaven.”

The ragamuffin is one who understands that he, along with every other person, is a beggar at the door of God’s mercy. She is the one who is bedraggled and beat up in life and faith, but have learned to take the hand out of grace without regret or allowing shame to hold them back.

Revealed in this book are all the brokenness and pride, the shame and the wounds, the arrogance and failures that lie behind all the books and accolades. Brennan takes large risks in a tell all memoir, but he would clarify in other books that trust is no trust at all without risk. The amount of risk taken in this book reveals with just how much trust Brennan has fallen on the love his Abba.

One of my favorite poets, Buddy Wakefield defines forgiveness as “the release of hope for a better past.” This book reveals the hope of forgiveness. You see a hero forgive the unforgivable others in his life, namely the unforgivable within himself.

Your heroes will do all they can to keep you from seeing the sad and broken realities behind the capes. Brennan Manning used to be my hero, but this book has made him far more of a hero than he ever was.