Wineskins Archive

February 11, 2014

Book Review: “Ruthless Trust” (Jul-Aug 2002)

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By Timothy Berry
July-August 2002

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There is no end, according to Solomon, to the making of books.Yet, sometimes a book is written that becomes a classic; a book to be enjoyed by generations.Brennan Manning’s, Ruthless Trust , is such a book.

Manning’s book is subtitled, The Ragamuffin’s Path to God .A ragamuffin is someone who doesn’t have it “all-together”.He is dirty: torn and tattered.(As he prays, he’s the publican and not the Pharisee.)The ragamuffin knows that he will continually fall, and stands in need of God’s mercy.

Manning tells us that the ragamuffin’s path to God is trust.According to Brennan, what the Bible calls faith, is not “mindless assent to a dusty pawnshop of doctrinal beliefs”, but rather trust in God.Trust is “an utterly ruthless act.”He suggests that a heart that trusts it is loved, gives God more joy than all other earthly splendors combined.Indicative of the value of trust, is the book’s inscription:

To Jesus of Nazareth, who so longs for our trust that he diedfor love of it.

A ruthless trust exudes a sense of gratefulness for “the all” of a person’s life (the good as well as the bad).While acknowledging that pain, suffering, and evil pose obstacles to trust, Brennan insists that the only place left to take them is the “vast unbounded ocean of the glory of God.”

Brennan next tells us about the God we trust.He is totally other, unknowable in his essence (but not in his character).He is unapproachable and infinite, who approached us and entered time in the person of Jesus.Trust arises out of our relationship with Jesus.Jesus gives us “the presence of his promise” and ”the promise of his presence.”In these two things we take comfort.

The real value of Ruthless Trust is found in the chapter entitled, “”The Geography of Nowhere.”Trusting God allows ragamuffins to live in the “now” and “here”.(Manning’s nowhere) Unfettered by the guilt of the past or anxiety for the future; ragamuffins live fully in the present.(The present is the only place where God can be experienced.)

A statement from Irenaeus, quoted by Manning captures the essence of the book:

“The glory of God is the human being fully alive, and the life of the human consists in beholding God.”

In Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning points us to a God who incomparably loves and invites us to trust him.

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