Brennan Manning's Messy Faith

I can’t tell you how I discovered Brennan Manning. No one introduced me to him. I, in fact, have never met him. But I don’t recall hearing about him during my years at First Baptist in Corvallis. Or on any of those retreats I attended over the years at Warner Pacific or Ridgecrest, Cannon Beach or at Mt. Baker.

No one I know walked up to me and said, I have this friend you need to meet.

No one said to me, You should read this book by this Manning fellow.

I didn’t stumble across Manning until late in life.

Mine and his.

I think it happened in a bookstore in Nashville, of all places.

I was already a Rich Mullins fan. Had been a fan of his for sometime. So I think when I came across the book titled Ragmuffin Gospel, I was immediately drawn to it because of Mullins. It was one of those powerful discoveries. You know the sort. When you read a book in one sitting and the whole time inside you are jumping to your feet and shouting Amen like a Pentecostal?

I gave copies of that book to several people. It’s that kind of book.

So is his latest, and very likely his last — ALL IS GRACE.

Written in concert with John Blase, a fellow ragmuffin I know from Burnside Writers, ALL IS GRACE is a sober look back at Manning’s spiritual journey.

It’s been a messy one.

Manning is the first to admit to that.

But then, I’m the sort of girl who thinks God is a trenches kind of fellow. I don’t envision God in white robes. I see him in combat boots. So messy is something I’m comfortable with.

If you are the sort who thinks of God as the button-down, Wall Street CEO, then you for sure need to read this book.

When John Blase contacted me earlier this year about possibly endorsing Brennan’s book, I was gobsmacked. I never once entertained the thought of endorsing a book by Brennan (& John). Finding that Brennan had a connection to Point Clear, Alabama (Fairhope) made me love the book and him all the more.

The other day I received a note from a reader/friend who came across my blurb on Brennan’s book:

Hi Karen,

Oh, the company you keep, dear.  🙂  I read your on-target endorsement in All Is Grace and thought, “well of course, Brennan has touched her life too because that’s the way she is.”  Which is probably why I connect with your work.

Brennan’s books have hugely impacted me through the years and now this one is like the ultimate.  I’m still speechless about it. Just wanted to say it was fun to see your name on this significant book


ALL IS GRACE is indeed a significant book.

You should read it.

Because here’s the thing I am realizing more and more — we spend too much of our time debating things that really don’t matter and not enough time contemplating the one thing that truly matters — Grace.

Some of you are going through tough times right now. I’m praying for you and I’m trusting that God’s Grace will be all sufficient for you, especially in times such as these.

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  • I’m looking forward to reading Manning’s latest book. Ragamuffin Gospel was certainly a life changer for me.

  • You posted a coupla pics recently of Point Clear/Fairhope and it made me smile…I didn’t know that place is special to you as well.

    Thanks for your words here, Karen…
    Grace in all times, but as you said ‘especially in times such as these.’

  • Tarry

    Beautiful. Can’t wait to read it, and YOUR next book.

  • Drowning in tears. And wow, don’t you think Heaven’s GOT to look a little like Fairhope? I’m almost sure of it, now. You, sister, are perfect to endorse this.

  • Sharon O

    Challenging me now to read the ragamuffin book first then his second. Thanks

    • Connie

      Don’t miss Abba’s Child. It changed my world.

  • i came earlier today and i ‘liked’ your post when i read what you wrote about my friend brennan.

    and then my friend donna sent me back here because i hadn’t noticed the video.

    i have known brennan since i was a child. he came to my family’s conference center before he was ever Brennan Manning, and continued to come when he was Brennan Manning, when we maxed out at 80 people (which meant people were sitting on the floor).

    he was the one person who, after years and years and years and years of praying, crying out to god, and unsuccessful convincing, was able to look at my dad with sheer love and say, ‘i’m just a drunk who loves jesus’. my dad went to rehab the next week.

    and when that didn’t work, brennan came at mine and my sisters’ bequest and saw him again.

    never has my family had a more sincere friend, more grace-filled minister, more compassionate pastor and honest teacher.

    the last i spoke to him, a few months ago, he was living with his brother and wasn’t seeing well. i saw him last in 2006 at our conference center before we sold it.

    i didn’t know…this…what this video shows of him, our brother. i am so thankful this book has been written, so glad to see this video of my friend.

    and thank you for your post. all that you said is true and real. i look forward to reading the book and your endorsement for him, too. he is one very special man who has touched many lives, my own only one.

    blessings to you, karen. thank you again.


    • MKT:

      Thank you so much for sharing this tender story of Brennan with us. I am so thankful that there are ministers like Brennan among us. People who don’t use their faith as an excuse for their failures but people who recognize that we are in deep need of a God who loves us, no matter what.

      As I listen to Brennan on this video reminding me of God’s grace and love, the words fill in the dry cracks of my own soul.

      How blessed you and your family have been to have been such an important part of Brennan’s life.

      • yes and amen to all that you said.

        {As I listen to Brennan on this video reminding me of God’s grace and love, the words fill in the dry cracks of my own soul.} perfection.