Book Review: The Furious Longing of God

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

“In times of persecution, theoretical Christianity will collapse.” Brennan Manning

furiouslonging2I really liked this book. It was a very quick read, but deeply spiritual in content…don’t let the size of the book or the speed of reading it fool you for a minute. Brennan’s got the gloves off in this one and I feel like I have a couple of “shiners” after reading it (Probably exactly what I needed). At the same time that it was convicting to me, I found it delightfully affirming and I come away encouraged and invigorated to press on in the ministry and teaching that I feel God as called me to.

I’m not going to give you any summary or synopsis; instead, I’m going to say here’s another that’d be good to add to your library. I’ll shoot you a few quotes from between the covers and let you decide, but after reading the quotes that follow I’m sure you’ll be looking for a copy.

“I was speaking to the Navigators not long ago and they asked, ‘Do you have a word for us?’ I said, Yes I do. Instead of being identified as a community that memorizes Scripture, why not be identified as a community of professional lovers that cause people to say ‘How they love one another!’ Why do we judge Jesus’ criterion for authentic discipleship irrelevant? Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange. If we as a Christian community took seriously the sign of our love for Jesus is our love for one another, I am convinced it would change the world. We’re denying to the world the one witness Jesus asked for: Love one another as I’ve loved you. (John 15:12)”

Here’s another:

“Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.”

And you ought to read the rest of what he writes following the above paragraph…I don’t want to tell it all to you, but I’ll share this last quote and then you’ll need to read it yourself:

“Because we approach the gospel with preconceived notions of what it should say rather than what it does say, the Word no longer falls like rain on the parched ground of our souls. It no longer sweeps like a wild storm into the corners of our comfortable piety. It no longer vibrates like sharp lightning in the dark recesses of our nonhistoric orthodoxy. The gospel becomes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, ‘…a pattering of pious platitudes spoken by a Jewish carpenter in the distant past.'”

Have you decided you need to read this book yet? No? Okay…one more quote:

“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.”

Okay, I know this last quote seems somewhat random, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it means for “perfect love to cast out all fear” and wondering about the implications of Jesus as Perfect Love. If I have fear? Do I have Jesus? If I have Jesus, shouldn’t I be fearless…at least where it boils down to my trusting Him? So, as I’m contemplating these thoughts, I run across this quote that Brennan puts in his book Furious Longing:

“The one thing we owe absolutely to God is never to be afraid of anything.” Charles deFoucauld

Uhhhhmmmm… Yeah

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