Philip Yancey on Brennan Manning on the day of his passing

Philip Yancey on Brennan Manning on the day of his passing April 12, 2013

I love the work of Brennan Manning. His books The Ragamuffin Gospel and The Signature of Jesus made a profound impact on my spiritual journey. Tonight I learned that he passed away. Although I never met him, he taught me much about the grace and love of God.

Brennan Manning’s homepage reports the following message:

It is with mixed emotions that we must tell you that on Friday April 12, 2013, our Brother Brennan passed away.

While he will be greatly missed we should all take comfort in the fact that he is resting in the loving arms of his Abba.

Art & Gerry Rubino

More information will be posted soon. Please check back. Condolences are being accepted on Brennan’s Facebook page. Thank you.

***Update: This homepage has now been updated with Brennan’s Obituary.

Tonight, I came across some reflections from Philip Yancey about Manning’s memoir All is Grace. I think this excerpt gives a personal glimpse into the life of Brennan Manning:

We did not see each other often over the years, but each time our paths crossed we went deeper, rather than tilling the same ground of friendship. When he visited a monastery in Colorado for spiritual retreats, he would sometimes get a temporary dispensation from the rule of silence and meet my wife and me at an ice cream parlor (one addiction he doesn’t disclose in these pages). Our backgrounds could hardly have been more different— Southern fundamentalism vs. Northeastern Catholic—and yet by different routes we had both stumbled upon an Artesian well of grace and have been gulping it ever since. One glorious fall afternoon we hiked on a carpet of golden Aspen leaves along a mountain stream and I heard the details of Brennan’s life: his loveless childhood, his marathon search for God, his marriage and divorce, his lies and coverups, his continuing struggles with alcohol addiction.

As you read this memoir you may be tempted, as I am, to think “Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t given into drink.” I urge you to reframe the thought to, “Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t discovered grace.” More than once I have watched this leprechaun of an Irish Catholic hold spellbound an audience of thousands by telling in a new and personal way the story that all of us want to hear: that the Maker of all things loves and forgives us. Brennan knows well that love and especially the forgiveness. Like “Christian,” the everyman character in The Pilgrim’s Progress, he progressed not by always making right decisions but by responding appropriately to wrong ones. (John Bunyan, after all, titled his own spiritual biography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners).

At one point Brennan likens himself to Samson, that flawed superman whom God somehow found a way to use right up to the day of his death. Reading such stories in the Old Testament, I’ve come up with a simple principle to explain how God can use the likes of such imperfect men and women: “God uses the talent pool available.” Again and again, Brennan made himself available. In the last few years, nearly blind, subject to illness and falls, at an age when he should have been enjoying retirement on a beach in Florida, he kept getting on airplanes and flying places to proclaim a Gospel he believed with all his heart but could not always live.

“All is grace,” Brennan concludes, looking back on a rich but stained life. He has placed his trust in that foundational truth of the universe, which he has proclaimed faithfully and eloquently


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