Reviewed by Dale Lewis
The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning
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"Manning’s words are personal, powerful and poignant."
The Signature of
Jesus calls the church to radical discipleship by challenging the gospel of "cheap grace.” With passion and boldness, Brennan
Manning, bestselling author of The Ragamuffin Gospel invites readers to
risk living life as Jesus lived—committed to simplicity, purity of
heart, and obedience to the gospel. It sounds pretty straightforward until
you realize these three things conflict with our culture’s influential
formula for consumerism, hedonism and nationalism.
This is not an easy read unless you are just skimming the words and not allowing the Spirit to do an examination of your heart and soul. I felt “unclean” like King Uzziah did in Isaiah 6 as I read Manning’s biblical insights. It was a personal imperative to read one chapter at a time so as not to become overwhelmed! Manning speaks not from guilt as a motivator but as one who exhorts, challenges and leads by example.
He’s not ashamed to share his life experiences in order to solidify an insight, offer another’s quote to clarify his thought, or reference scripture to reinforce these words came from deep reflection. Manning’s words are personal, powerful and poignant.
“If Christian men and women are to live the gospel today in our post-industrial American culture, if we are to be in the world and not of the world, then we must be willing to assume personal responsibility for the ways in which our faith has been accommodated to possessiveness, pleasure and domination.” --in chapter titled Fools for Christ
When I think of spirituality, I envision ethereal, experiential, and maybe highly individualistic approaches. The six characteristics of “paschal” (resurrection-centered) spirituality were a gentle hand slap on the backside of my head indicating I clearly needed to adjust my understanding.
“We have gotten so used to the ultimate Christian fact—Jesus naked, stripped, crucified and risen—that we no longer see it for what it is: a summons to strip ourselves of earthly cares and worldly wisdom, of all desire for human praise, of greediness for any kind of comfort (spiritual consolations included).” --in chapter titled Paschal Spirituality
Throughout the book, Manning mentions different scenarios starting with “If you . . .” or “When you . . .” followed by “then you . . .” These were indicative of a life reflecting the signature of Jesus in practical and understandable terms.
The personal retreat guide is an added bonus. Provided at the conclusion, it offers words and work to fully understand what it means for one’s life to be marked by holy passion and relentless faith. Now that I’m done reading the book for review, I will return to this section often and reread certain chapters to deepen my spiritual growth and faith walk.
If you’ve spent more time studying God, i.e. theology and viewing scripture, more as a map rather than actually living in the kingdom of God, then it is time to passionately pursue becoming an authentic, cross-bearing, self-denying, joy-filled disciple. Slowly reading and reflecting on The Signature of Jesus would be an excellent place to start. It was for me!Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.