44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
One of Manning's Best,
This review is from: Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God (Paperback)
Brennan Manning writes in Ruthless Trust that "trust is our gift back to God." Throughout the book, he identifies reasons why we may have problems trusting God and many more reasons why God is completely trustworthy.
Through autobiographical accounts, stories, quotes, and by drawing from his extensive learning and his tried and tested relationship with God, Manning targets the reader's relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Manning drives the point home that we are loved unconditionally and enormously by God. He emphasizes that we are loved as we are today with all of our weaknesses, imperfections and mistakes. He writes that what gives God pleasure more than anything in creation is a believer trusting that he or she is loved.
Manning's thrust encourages the reader to experience the presence of the Lord in the present. He affirms to us that we do not need to worry about the past or fret the future because our Soul's Sufficiency is with us in the now.
One of the obstacles to trusting God that people face, says Manning, is that we have a distorted perception of God. In this book, he presents a true image of the welcoming, gentle God who died on the cross to be with us.
Manning attacks some of the false images of God that have been presented by the religious over the years. At one point in the book, he summarizes his belief regarding this distortion of God's image:
Thirty-seven years of pastoral experience with Catholics, mainline Protestants, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Seventh Day Adventists, blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics tell me unmistakably that many a believer's perception of God is radically wrong. (72)
Manning effectively leads the reader to comprehension of a true image of our God. The God Manning writes about draws us into his presence daily with love and kindness.
Another problem that Manning addresses is the plague of low self-esteem among Christians. He argues that low self-esteem keeps Christians wallowing in guilt and shame and prevents the full acceptance of Christ's redemption. Manning also decries the tone of low self-esteem and insecurity that often underlies religious messages. He shares how such messages condemn listeners and push them from intimacy with the Lord:
From personal experience I can testify that the language of low self-esteem is harsh and demanding; it abuses, accuses, rejects, finds fault, blames, condemns, reproaches, and scolds in a monologue of impatience and chastisement. (16)
Unfortunately, many Christians, like Manning, have been the object of such assaults that lead to self-analysis and doubt in our righteousness in Christ. Manning writes that such messages are in sharp contrast to the words of life continually coming from God.
Manning doesn't imply that Christians should ignore sins; rather, he strives to help us acknowledge our flaws and brokenness, so that we can confess our sins and accept ourselves as Christ does-without condemnation or accusation but with gladness of heart.
He points out that in too many cases in the North American church our obsession with self has led to self-hatred. His words in this book lead us from self-consciousness to God-consciousness. As we turn to God and gain an accurate image of him, we learn that we can trust him through joy and through trials.
I think for all earnest readers, the end result of reading Ruthless Trust will be a stronger willingness and desire to trust God. Through the process of reading the book, readers will find themselves being drawn into the intimacy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that is an outcome to be celebrated.
Craig Stephans, author of Shakespeare On Spirituality: Life-Changing Wisdom from Shakespeare's Plays