The Ragamuffin Gospel (by Brennan Manning)

I first heard of Brennan Manning about six and a half years ago, when I was given this book. When I read it shortly afterwards, I found it inspiring and encouraging - and went on to buy a couple more of the author's books.

Since it was six years since I had read 'The Ragamuffin Gospel', I thought it time for a re-read. I took it slowly - just ten pages or so per day, over a couple of weeks.  I knew what to expect this time - a focus on the many ways God expresses his love for us, and the need for Christian believers to accept and live in that love. But I found it thought-provoking and also encouraging, all over again.

Manning was a Catholic priest who struggled with alcoholism for some years; he left the ministry to get married in the 1982, when he was nearly 50. So he has quite an experience of life from different perspectives. He remains Roman Catholic. However this book is appropriate for - and relevant to - all believers from all denominations or confessions. It looks not at doctrine or even morality, but at the overwhelming love God has for his creation.

Critics have said that Manning does not describe a clear conversion experience on his website - yet his writing is an incredible testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. He fails - as we all do; but he acknowledges it, and that God continues loving him anyway.

The books has anecdotes, Scripture thoughts, suggested meditations, and more. And the overwhelming message is that God is committed to our welfare - that he loves us, and will never stop loving us.

Definitely recommended.

Note that this is not currently in print in the UK, but it's available on Kindle, and can also be obtained relatively inexpensively from the US. It's also often available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 8th June 2012

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