Top 10 Brennan Manning Quotes

brennan_manningBrennan Manning passed away last Friday at the age of 79. I only found out this morning and I’ve been thinking of him all day.

I never met Brennan Manning and I never heard him preach. Yet I would count myself as one of the millions who have been touched by his life.

Why? I’ve read The Ragamuffin Gospel, of course. Chances are, you have too.

I’ve also read some of his other books but for me Ragamuffin Gospel takes the cake. I consider it one of the grace standards. (You can read my review of it here.)

This week many who knew Brennan better than I did are writing obits better than I could. (I recommend this one by Ben Simpson.) I am not going pretend I knew him except through his stories. But, oh my, his stories were something else. They were like nothing I ever heard in church.

I was raised in a world where Christians were supposed to be shiny and victorious and overcoming-with-Jesus, but Manning was a bona fide ragamuffin – a raggedy believer barely keeping it together. As an alcoholic he had a raw and ravenous need for grace. As a Catholic priest who had a hard time keeping the rules, he met many who, like him, had been chewed up by life.

Manning tells the stories of real people and their great need for grace. Like the parables of Jesus, his stories are spin-free. “Here’s life, it’s dirty; now here’s grace, it’s amazing.” That sort of thing.

[If you have never read one of Manning’s stories, one of my favorites is “The Bishop and the Mystic.”]

Anyway, I suspect you want to go dust off your copy of Ragamuffin Gospel now (or download one from Kindle), so let me leave you with ten quickly-picked quotes that, insofar as quickly-picked quotes can, convey something of the man and his message:

1. How I treat a brother or sister from day to day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life than the antiabortion sticker on the bumper of my car. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

2. Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others. ~Abba’s Child

3. When a man or woman is truly honest, it is virtually impossible to insult them personally.

4. We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

5. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion. ~Abba’s Child

6. The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.~popularized by the 1995 dc Talk track “What if I stumble?”

7. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. ~Abba’s Child

8. The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. “They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.” “What are you complaining about?” said God. “They won’t let me in either.” ~Ragamuffin Gospel

9. Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last “trick”, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

“But how?” we ask.

Then the voice says, “They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” There they are. There we are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.” ~Ragamuffin Gospel

10. I have been seized by the power of a great affection. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

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24 Comments on Top 10 Brennan Manning Quotes

  1. chrisvanrooyen // April 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm // Reply

    Our only option is to view Gods grace with no limits , to take any other view you would be presuming to put your price tag on his Sons sacrifice.

    This post does a great job of reminding me of this.

  2. I’ll have to read Ragamuffin Gospel. It’s funny, I am currently reading my first Manning book that was his last called “All Is Grace” and it’s wonderful. I need HIS Grace everyday, it seems Brennan did to, despite all our shortcoming we’re not even “the chief of sinners”, a title reserved for one who “turned the world upside down”.

    All is Grace! I’m saved/delivered by it (alone) everyday as long as it’s called Today! Check out “All Is Grace” at Amazon if you’ve not read it Paul. Blessings, Rob

  3. Barry Grecu // April 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm // Reply

    Thanks for the quotes…praying each day that I may know Him who is grace as did Brennan Manning.

  4. I’ve heard Rich Mullins refer to #7 and I always loved #10.
    Thanks, Paul.

    • That quote – #7 – was actually Brennan quoting Thornton Wilder🙂 From the play “The Angel Who Troubled the Waters”. I love how Brennan used it, and he sort of “explained” Rich to us with that quote too. (Those guys are so well-read i always feel i should lock up my computer and pick up my books again! :))

      • Thanks for clarifying that Amy. I could’ve mentioned that Brennan was widely read and didn’t merely quote theologians. To read Brennan was to have your horizons widened.

  5. I had to tear up a little when I read number 9. When I was a child I remember people saying that the church is one of the most vile things to exist because it will turn and devour it’s own to give it an appearance of perfection. This same concept I heard over and over growing up and was always from people who had seen the aftermath of religion, fellow believers in Christ. I thank God and find great peace and joy in his unconditional love and it is good to know that no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in God will always receive us.

    • Thank you so much Thomas Myers for ur sincere warm encouragment and that statement you made, spoke to me. Just came off a 4 hr convo with a sweet dear friend Female Believer who was thinking of leaving our church cuz of the very words you said. The Pastor keeps preaching condemnation and rips up the people to get to those he wants to attack. and earlier, I just came off counselling a great Christian blog of many many true Believers who are thinking of walking away from Christ cuz they think they can’t do enough to please God and they can’t get access to their blessings. Dear Thomas, we of grace, have our work cut out. We have to spread the word of grace because there are millions of Believers who are trying and they still think God hates them. I could cry for what you wrote and the only way to combat satans lying words is to cover the deceiver with God’s words, rightly diving the word of truth. Its an epidemic but the gates of hell shall not prevail.

      God bless you

  6. John Huckle // April 20, 2013 at 4:18 am // Reply

    So what about the subject of mysticism in general? I am referring to practices of seeking spiritual experience for experience sake & getting off into error. I don’t have a settled opinion on the subject & would welcome referral to other posts or references.

  7. after 40 years of thinking I understood things,the Grace of God has been so freeing and I know there is more to come,because the freedom allows you to move around,challenge,and truly move into the kingdom.sometimes its almost painful to try to share it, we’ve been so programmed. that the almost to good to be true news,is to good to be true, it unbelievably simple.

    • Amen and Amen Earl Vordenberg

    • Amy Lynn (Again, yikes!) // January 2, 2014 at 7:11 am // Reply

      @Earl, that was beautifully said, brother. We sing “Amazing Grace”, but I wonder how many of us really truly know *how* amazing it is, that grace. When i started reading books by Brennan and also James Bryan Smith (they were buddies I believe, Jim quotes him too), grace…. it just changed my life. I bought one of those “name necklaces” that usually little girls wear for like $1.99, they had the name “Grace” left and I wanted that around my neck every day. 🙂
      I will be grateful to God for Brennan, who showed and shows me that God just wants me. Not perfect me or trying SO hard to be, He just loves me, period. And that is the Best News. Ever. Available for all!! I am back here today because a friend has been hurt badly and i want to share one of Brennan’s quotes with him. Hopefully I’ll find it soon, but how cool that he is still helping people know Jesus and that we get to use his quotes to direct others to Jesus.

  8. RIP, thank you so much Paul, the way you worded your post about him is amazing. He sounds like my kind a guy, imperfect as anything but loving the Lord and never giving up. Thank you for sharing your admiration of him and his uniqueness. I heard of him before but never investigated Brennan Manning.

    God bless his love ones and God bless you too. God bless you all

  9. I don’t think i will ever be able to thank Brennan with human words, so i will do it in heaven. I selfishly wish he were still here, but have rarely been so thrilled at the thought of someone being in the presence of God. I know he struggled so much here, while helping so many of us, and i *know* that he heard those words “Well done, good and faithful servant”. I love you, Brennan. Thank you for showing us who God really is, how beyond much He loves us. That God loves me as i am and not as i should be… and while i am not sure if we will have necks in heaven, i plan to hug yours when i get there🙂

  10. The ripples of Brennan’s life touched mine in many ways…Thank you Father for the revelation of your grace and love you revealed through his life…..

  11. kenneth dawson // May 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    in what book that he wrote did he talk about the second conversion experience?

  12. Those that have been forgiven much…love much❤ Jesus understood this more than anyone and spent His time with the broken, the abused, the rejected, the outcasts, the alcoholics, the crooks, the unclean and the worst of sinners….those most in need of His grace.

  13. I was introduced to Brennan Manning some five years ago at a homeless shelter by a fellow volunteer. We shared leadership with a group of homeless residents each Monday night for prayer and reflection, including Brennan’s writings. The Ragmufin Gospel probably impacted my life more than any other spiritual book, right up there with Rick Warren’s The Pupose Driven Life. Something (some One) prompted me this evening to check up on Brennan. I was, am, saddended to hear of his death last April. He is in a better place and I am in a better place because of him. Thank You dear Lord for bringing him into my life.

  14. I too am a Ragamuffin . Brennan’s understanding and his ability to share the love that God has for us through his son Jesus . When I read the Ragamuffin Gospel I feel I understand Jesus in a different, more profound way. I to want to rest my head on the empty chair beside my bed know that Jesus loves me for who I am with all my faults. I have seen Brennan’s lectures on U tube and to hear him speak caused my heart to swell and break at the same time. Thank you Brennan I look forward to seeing you some day and then I can thank you in person. You will be at the feet of Jesus with all the other children.

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