A Christian Classic: Recommended
I discovered the music of Rich Mullins on Christian radio in the early 1990’s through a song called Allrightokuhuhamen. In 1993 he released an album called A Liturgy, A Legacy and A Ragamuffin Band. I’ve only now, twenty years later, understood the reference: to The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning, first published in 1990.
In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning speaks of God’s amazing grace, of how God loves us based on His standards not our own, about how Christianity is a grace-laden mystery. Manning’s theme is that we underestimate grace, we fail to understand that God loves us no matter what. It’s The Ragamuffin Gospel, “written for the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out”, for those who are weary and discouraged.
Manning’s message hasn’t been universally accepted. Many churches preach what has been called a “Jesus-Plus” gospel: to be a proper Christian, you have to have Jesus and tithe your 10%. To be a proper Christian, you have to have Jesus and attend church three nights a week and twice on Sunday. To be a proper Christian, you have to have Jesus and pray for an hour a day. This is wrong.
This is a church that preaches the grace of Jesus but doesn’t always practice it, and it’s bringing Christians under condemnation for never being good enough. That’s what Manning is saying: we will never be good enough on our own, but we are all good enough in Jesus. All we need is to accept God’s grace. It’s not that tithing, attending church or praying are bad—they’re not—but they don’t affect our salvation. God loves us unconditionally, and can’t love us any more or any less.
And that’s The Ragamuffin Gospel. Jesus, and his grace extended to me and you. It’s not what you do; it’s Who you know. Recommended.