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The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  33,165 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews
A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail!

Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition--now with full appendix, study questions, and the author's own epilogue, ""Ra
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 8th 2000 by Multnomah (first published December 1st 1990)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  33,165 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews

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Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who isn't sure Christianity has a place for them because they aren't perfect
Recommended to Claire by: Rich Mullins

The best way I can describe this book is to quote from it:


"When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. To live by grace m
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every Christian
This book changed my life. Some people may have trouble getting through it because it really challenged a lot of things that you may have held onto tightly for so long. But even if you don't agree with everything (there are a few things here and there), there is a tremendous amount of wisdom that can be gleaned from the author's insight. Upon reading this wonderful book, my eyes were open to a whole new world that I wasn't even aware that they were previously closed to. It knocked me around emot ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this book (written in 1990) thinking, "Okay, author, what are you going to tell me that I haven't read in the authors pumping out books after you?" I had planned to zip through it as quick as possible to check it off the list and put it on the shelf.

It didn't take too many pages for me to realize that this was not that kind of book. This is the kind of book you put on your "I need to reread this every few years so I don't forget how important the message is" shelf.

Brennan Manning's m
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christian misfits
Recommended to Jen by: my sister
If you are interested in the Christian faith but find it self-righteous and restricting, this book might be a refreshing change of pace. This writer definitely refrains from judgement, and makes the case for self-acceptance of your own frailty and affirms that God eagerly takes on "special cases", and he proves we all somehow fall in that category. It is a humble book that gently puts it arms around those who have failed miserably in their faith and yet still want to try to find their way toward ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
I was first introduced to Brennan Manning when I read his Above All: He Took the Fall and Thought of Me which is basically an exposition on Michael W. Smith's song "Above All." In that book, I saw some serious problems in his thought, but people assured me that I was simply misunderstanding what he had to say and that Brennan Manning really is a good guy who is faithful to what the Bible teaches. I was told that reading The Ragamuffin Gospel would accurately represent Manning's teaching. If ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a bedraggled, beaten up, messy ragamuffin. I am a former ministry junkie with a bad habit of seeking to please almost everyone and desperately trying to hide my sins from those who expect me to be clean and white-washed as they are. I have fallen and fallen again. Mostly I failed myself. Thank God. It was time for that old life to disappear!

And it was time for me to read this lovely book. I stopped many times to wipe my eyes, to pray for forgiveness and acceptance of mercy and grace and to
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Such a good book! I really cannot believe it’s taken me this long to get around to it.
Barnabas Piper
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well, all the recommendations I received for this over the years were correct with a bullet. What a magnificent book. Some books teach. Some books inspire. Some books reveal. This did all that, but what it really did was help me love Jesus more and know the love of Jesus more. I loved Manning's bluntness and ability to incisively get to the heart of grace and God's love.
J.S. Park
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Here's a test for you: While reading this book, were you stirred with compassion or contempt? It will speak volumes about how much you get God's grace.

While not agreeable on every point, Brennan Manning has written one of the most down-to-earth classics of Christian literature. There is a lot to love here amidst some of the shaky theology, and though critics jump in through those cracks with plenty of complaints, there is no denying the wonderful power of the cross in Manning's work. He has dra
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: stoners who want to feel smug about it in a Christian way
This book did not pass my 100-page test. I desperately wanted to love it, and it started out seeming so promising. I was worried about the gimmicky 19-step program addendum tacked onto the end, true. And I was worried when I looked on Amazon and saw that the author seems to have made something of a cottage industry of spin-off volumes and workbooks and so forth. The profile of the author, too, seemed a little cheesy and weirdly evasive. Still I tried to put all of that aside and keep an open min ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have a confession to make. Sometimes when I sing songs of worship in church, I wonder why we do this. Is it necessary to tell God over and over how great He is? Isn't it better to go straight to the sermon and learn how to obey God and lead Godly lives?

Now I know why we sing. We sing because God is not just floating above us, He is in us and it is by his grace that we can sing. We sing because there is no point learning how to do good works when it is grace, not works, that saves us.

This book
Brian Eshleman
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm going soft in my reviews. This is my second five-star review in a row. But I think I stored more in my quote bank than I left behind and have got to find room for Brendan Manning at the table of people I want to have dinner with. That's an accomplishment for 240 pages. He would probably like that I made some new friends on Goodreads over statuses from his book that I was eager to share.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought that there were a lot of important messages and things to ponder in this book. Manning starts off the book by talking about faith.

He says "Most Americans would define faith as the belief in the existence of God. In earlier times, faith had to do more with one’s relationship with God and rather, if one trusted in God." The first is a matter of the head, the second is a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged, the second leaves us intrinsically changed.

He talked about a lo
Jenn Raley
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
I have no quarrel with the message of this book. For Christians who are weary of feeling judged and striving to be perfect, Manning's message that God loves us all, no matter what, is an important message.

I just wasn't very impressed with the writing. It was apparent to me that Manning is a really good speaker, and that most likely this book is a conglomeration of stories he would tell as he traveled around to various speaking engagements.

However, the way the personal stories and anecdotes were
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about the Gospel which has encompassed so many different faith traditions drawing all the threads together in one beautiful creation. The Ragamuffin Gospel has given me a lot to think about and work on in my spiritual life.

What I’m focusing on now is what Manning pointed out as, ‘the greatest sin: to do the right thing for the wrong reason.’* We are all sinners and ‘many of us even pretend to believe we are sinners. Consequently, all we can do is pr
Honestly, I teeter-tottered on this book.

Some parts stirred my soul even to tears with the truth of the Gospel. Others furrowed my brow, leaving question marks in the margins. Sometimes this was all within the span of a single page.

Upon reflection, I've come to this conclusion:

FOR BELIEVERS (for sons and daughters of God), the essence of this book should strike a beautiful chord in our hearts and minds. I like Manning's words:

"He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners... Through
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
It is Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out. And, I don't care what anyone says, ALL OF US are ONE of those at one point or another in our lives. If you are shaking your head "not me" then please read this book to have the rose washed off your frames. :)

I was reading this book when I read The Shack and there are element and themes that are similar in both books, but this one is not listed as a work of fiction (be cause it is not).

Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-it
I must first say that I agree with some of what Manning says and the underlying premise that we are all filthy, wretched sinners and there is nothing we can do to change that. The issue I take is that you can take this and go two ways:
1. Christ's blood removes my sins and the Spirit dwells in me to give me power for victory in sin, a desire to do battle with sin, and freedom in failures because I know that it was due to my reliance on self rather than Christ.
2. Christ's blood removes my sins and
Anne Marie
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This may be one of the best books that I have read on the grace God. It is like reading the Book of Romans where the Apostle Paul skillfully presents salvation by faith through God’s grace. Manning says he wrote the book “for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out,” the marginalized folks to whom Jesus ministered: the children, the ill, the tax collectors, the adulterers and extortionists. In other words, the ragamuffins. Manning understands better than most that behind our facades of order and ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
FIRST TIME READING: I absolutely loved this book. It's true that he says a lot of controversial things, but it's very thought-provoking. It caused me to take a long hard look at my spirituality. For a long time I felt like I didn't measure up to God's expectations and I was constantly frustrated because I never felt like I was good enough. Now I know I'm not good enough -- and it's okay! I am loved anyway. :) Brennan Manning does a beautiful job illuminating God's love.

Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While I'm typically not a fan of the "Christian Living" books, this one I've held onto and re-read (and passed along) because it is unique in its purpose and message. It's not for someone who thinks they "have it all together"; it's for the jaded, broken, wandering & wondering. I don't think the "average Christian" is open to or even capable of truly understanding its message.

This book "gave a body" to this abstract, difficult-to-grasp concept of grace and the part it should play in our daily li
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I probably would have eaten this book up in college. Would have given it 5 stars and raved about it. But, then, I didn't actually read that much of my Bible back then. Now I read it. All if it. Not just the pretty parts. And I've discovered a multidimensional God who is bigger and more complex than Manning's half-realized sweeping claims at logic and truth. I'm grateful for a loving God. I'm grateful to be saved by grace. But Manning's version of God is a 2 dimensional fairy tale.
Daniel Tackett
May 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biblical
A feel-good gospel. Many of the points put forth in the book are unbiblical and contribute little towards the discipleship of God's people. Beyond these things, the book gets incredibly redundant after the first couple of chapters. I read this as a part of a small group bible study. While it did provoke discussion, it was generally to refute something Manning had said.
Heidi Archer
Feb 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Typical evangelical nonsequiturs: you’re radically loved but also totally depraved and dark with sin, wrapped around the subtle mind fuck of “if you don’t get you’re loved, you’re doing it wrong, so just GET IT.”

A few quotes and stories were ok, but hard to put it all together. It was clear Manning would like get away from the “totally depraved sinner, you deserve nothing” idea, but it’s really hard to change this belief that evangelicalism thrives upon without radically changing what you belie
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-life
4 stars. Brennan Manning seems to be one of these authors who is not concerned with theology (in fact he seems to be anti-theologians in general), which makes him quite difficult to read for someone like me who values theology! He can be vague and imprecise, he doesn't guard against misunderstandings, or explore the theological implications of his statements. He's also very reactionary, against all forms of legalism. I suspect I have significant differences with him on significant issues - but I ...more
Jim Dressner
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
"In these pages, I have stuttered and stammered in a halting attempt to hint at the shattering reality of the furious love of God." So the author describes his intent and provides an apt, one-line summary of the book.

Written against the backdrop of the author's legalistic upbringing (as well as all-too-frequent encounters with judgmental Christians), this book effusively champions the grace of God. Sometimes the writing soars; occasionally it stumbles; but it always retains its sincerity and its
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartfelt encouragement to rest contentedly in the love, hope, and peace that is the gospel of grace.

Frankly, this book didn't meet my rather high expectations, but I'm not too surprised that it fell short of the mark. Simplistic and unorganized at times, that still doesn't diminish its power to portray grace in beautiful ways.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
A solid book with a much needed, grace-filled message. I highly recommend it.

At the same time, the pithy stories got on my nerves a little bit. I think my expectations might have been a little too high. See Kris's review.
Emily Sampson
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book through and through. It felt similar to a C.S. Lewis type novel in that it was so eloquently written and full of deeply insightful views on Christianity and Gods incomprehensible love for us. I would absolutely recommend to anyone!
Rachel Harp
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
“If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not, total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet; if He laid out the real state of your present discipleship with the hidden agenda, the mixed motives, and the dark desires buried in your psyche, you would feel His acceptance and forgiveness.”
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Richard Francis Xavier Manning, known as Brennan Manning (April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013) was an American author, friar, priest, contemplative and speaker.Born and raised in Depression-era New York City, Manning finished high school, enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Korean War. After returning to the United States, he enrolled at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania ...more

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It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...
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“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” 591 likes
“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last 'trick', whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

'But how?' we ask.

Then the voice says, 'They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'

There they are. There *we* are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
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