Brennan Manning: The Furious Longing of God

Manning.jpgSeveral days ago, I read Brennan Manning’s new book, The Furious Longing of God (David C. Cook, 2009).  The book is vintage Brennan Manning.  Manning is candid, forthright, and passionate about God’s love.  As in his other books, Manning reveals keen insight into humanity as well as God’s grace.  Ever self-aware, he describes himself as "a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions" (p. 33). 

The title, The Furious Longing of God, has its origins in G. K. Chesterton who spoke of "the furious love of God."  Manning says in the beginning of the book that all of his books have basically been "facets of the same gem," that the transcendent God seeks intimacy with us (p. 24).

I read this book (131 pages) in about two days.  I found it difficult to put down.  Perhaps it was good to simply be reminded once again of God’s love.  Over and over Manning affirms the incredible love of God in statements such as "the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state — grace or disgrace.  And why?  For His love is never, never, never, based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods — of elation or depression.  The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable. And always tender" (p. 35). 

Repeatedly, Manning affirms not only the love of God but also exposes various inadequate pictures of God such as "God as a small minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy" (p. 77).

Let me encourage you to read this book…

  • … if you need to hear afresh that God deeply loves you.
  • … if you spend much of your time working with churches and need to hear of God’s love again.
  • … if you are burdened by a faith that is heavy and which offers little hope.
  • … if you feel as if you just don’t measure up.

Part of the value of this book comes from knowing Manning’s story.  Recovering alcoholic.  Divorce.  Much, much personal struggle.  Yet, his story is about one who seeks God through it all.

Hear Manning’s closing words:

"When the night is bad and my nerves are shattered and the waves break over the sides, Infinity speaks.  God Almighty shares through His Son the depth of His feelings for me, His love flashes into my soul, and I am overtaken by mystery.  These are moments of kairos — the decisive in-break of God’s fury into my personal life’s story.

"It is then I face a momentous decision.  Shivering in the rags of my seventy-four years, I have two choices.  I can escape below into skepticism and intellectualism, hanging on for dear life.  Or, with radical amazement, I can stay on deck and boldly stand in surrendered faith to the truth of my belovedness, caught up in the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.  And learn to pray" (pp. 130-131).

(You can find this book here.)

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17 thoughts on “Brennan Manning: The Furious Longing of God

  1. Jim- Thank you for your fine review and referral. I was not aware that Manning had written another fine book. One of his earlier works, “Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of God” was a life-changing blessing to me. God has used Brennan Manning’s journey of faith to bless and guide so many of us. God bless him.

  2. Thanks Jim! I had this book in my hands today and put it back on the shelf. I did that not out of doubt, for Ragamuffin Gospel is my favorite book of all time … but just out of consciousness of the many books waiting to be read. I’ll add it to the list for sure.

  3. Sounds like a great book and I look forward to reading it. I am currently reading 3 books. (this drives my husband crazy) I do this frequently and manage to not get lost among them. It probably comes from years of multi-tasking.

  4. jim,
    it sounds like a great book! i can’t wait to sit down and read it! i recently read a book called ‘the shack’ that reminds us of God’s love for us and how special we are to him. i know you like to read books, so you should check out ‘the shack’ if you haven’t already read it.

  5. Ages and ages ago FATHER Brennan was the campus chaplain at Broward Community College near Ft. Lauderdale. He would celebrate Holy Mass every week in one of the class rooms. Quite often there were no others attending the Mass besides myself and this dear priest who gazed into the cup as he recited the words of consecration with such love and devotion. People may object that Brennan throws open the gates of heaven a little too wide. I think he says much of what we need to hear about the depth of God's passionate love for each of us, no matter who we are or what we have done. God hates our sins. They remove us from the experience of His love. But His arms are ever open to us. If you don't believe that, just look at a crucifix. Look at one long enough and you will find yourself crying out in the night "Jesus, you must be insane to love me that much." just as Brennan did in the cave in Spain.

  6. Kristie,
    What a wonderful memory for you. I have great respect for B. Manning and have been very blessed by his books. My favorite is THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL.

    I am thankful for your comment as a person who has experienced his ministry up close.

  7. This is a worthy read. What a wonderful concept. Simplify and energize our faith through understanding the basic tenets. We belong to God…we are his childen. And, it is indeed a privileged birthright. Our debt is simply to love him back with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love each other the same way. Churches, families and individuals that get this are thriving.