Book Review: All Is Grace
By: Brennan Manning ISBN: 9781434764188
Publisher: David C. Cook
All is Grace… and indeed it is.
I’ve read works from and listened to talks of Brennan Manning for quite a few years now. I’ve never heard this much of his “early” story as is shared in this memoir. I knew from his personal testimony there had been difficult and challenging points in his life, but I never realized to what degree he had been haunted by the early years of his childhood. This is an amazing story of God’s grace, faithfulness, forgiveness, and fulfillment. I was engrossed in the story from the moment I opened the cover. I literally could not put the book down and read it almost cover to cover on a four hour flight
One of the points of the book that “hooked” me so solidly came early in the story (chapter three; pg.50) when Brennan talks about an “imposter self” that was born in him at the age of eight. There are others I have read, M. Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating are a couple, who talk about this insidious monster of the “false self” that affects so much of who we become as we live out our lives attempting to live in to and become these “wrong” identities. It is from this perspective the rest of the book unfolds. I found this heart-wrenching.
At the other end of the spectrum was God’s unfailing grace and holy providence. In the midst of self-consuming destructive behavior, God’s relentless love for Brennan and the wonder of God’s work through Brennan’s life shines through over and over. In the midst of so much heartbreak in this book there remains the light of hope that is never, ever extinguished.
In the end, we find what God does best as the culmination this story, or so it seems to me. I loved this quote of Manning that seemed a fitting summary and realization for so many of us. He writes; “God strips away those falsehoods (false identities) because it is better to live naked in truth than clothed in fantasy” (pg.182). I spent much of my time reading this book pushing away tears between breaks of enormous smiles of grace. I think you will find yourself with a similar experience.