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Fierce Mercy

August 25, 2016

“In the past year, I’ve grown increasingly uneasy with the state of contemporary spirituality in the Western world. It has, to put it bluntly, the flat flavor of old ice ream and the insipid taste of tame sausage”. With these words Brennan Manning best selling author of 11 best selling books like THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL and ABBA FATHER begins his book THE WISDOM OF TENDERNESS (2004, Harper Collins). Brennan’s dissatisfaction with both the programmatic methodologies  and fuzzy current teaching on Christ and the gospel shines through every one of the books 179 pages.  This is not to say the book is depressive indeed it is full of hope but moving forward involves accurately understanding the issue surrounding where we are now as a church. The diagnosis on page 14 is reminiscent, “Words without poetry lack passion;words without passion lack persuasion; words without persuasion lack power. When the language of should and must predominates, both the preached and written word are a barren wasteland void of passion, persuasion and power…Solitude is the furnace of transformation and stoking the inner fire is the wisdom of silence”. Throughout the book Brennan utilizes powerful word pictures and a host of impactfull quotations from both the Scriptures, theology, literature, and his personal experience to drive home the need to use the dissatisfaction with the low levels of experienced Divine Grace to motivate a search the fierce mercy of God that transforms human life. The chapters on Christ in Others and the Ring of Truth are fairly straight forward but the chapters titled Pain and Tenderness as well as Fierce Mercy are challenging invitations to an experience of Christ that many younger followers in the faith might not recognize for the intensity and high calling of what it may mean over the course of ones life to follow Jesus by taking up ones cross. The book closes with a very creative parable featuring an exchange between “Daniel and Paul” as they seek to correct the failings of the church in North America. It can be hard to read but overall has the ring of truth. This book is not for the faint of heart it is not for someone just needing a simple dose of encouragement, it is demanding and challenging but well worth the reading and reflection if you are seeking a course correction of refreshment from an over familiar, stale view of Christ’s call on our lives.

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