Book Review: The NIV Ragamuffin Bible

NIVRagamuffinBrennan Manning is one of my go-to authors when I need to be reminded of the unfailing, unchanging love of God. Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel helped me understand that, despite my many failings, I am completed loved by God. When you feel like a failure, that’s a very important concept to hold close!

The NIV Ragamuffin Bible is a standard NIV Bible with footnotes, but interspersed throughout with quotes from Manning’s books. The quotes selected for inclusion in this Bible reflect Manning’s sheer joy of being loved by God. As he says in the Introduction:

What you have in your hands is God’s personal memoirs. There are some of my thoughts sprinkled throughout as well, but they serve only to highlight God’s extravagant love. Because as the French Easter liturgy says, “L’amour de Dieu est jolie,” the love of God is foolishness, and it demands a joyful response from us.

If you have made Bible study into a cold, dry science, one that misses the heart and breadth of God’s love, then this Bible will be revolutionary for you. If you have been struggling to remember how to accept God’s love, you will find the encouragement you need to abandon yourself to the waves of God’s love crashing over you. Manning writes to remind us that we don’t bend God to our needs or whims, but are instead called to pour out everything we are, dream and want to God. The pretentiousness of posturing Christianity has to go! As Manning says,

Substituting theoretical concepts for acts of love keeps life at a safe distance. This is the dark side of putting being over doing. Is this not the abstraction that Jesus leveled against the religious elite of his day.

The Christian commitment is not an abstraction. it is a concrete, visible, courageous and formidable way for being in the world, forged by daily choices consistent with inner truth. A commitment that is not visible in humble, service, suffering discipleship and creative love is an illusion. Jesus Christ is impatient with illusions, and the world has no interest in abstractions.
-from Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging (Colorado Springs; NavPress, 1994), 142-143.

My only reservation about this book is that the version chosen (NIV) uses male-gendered language where it is not necessary. (“Man” for human, etc.) However if you can overlook that and let it wash, then the quotes and insights from Manning’s books do their work. It will make a good devotional Bible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the publishing agent, TBBMedia. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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