Whenever the name of an author appears larger than the title of the book, we're being told something. And that's this: This book is more about the author than the content- the voice rather than the words on the page.
That's not always a bad thing- pick up any CS Lewis book and you'll see the name in something like 150pt type and the title in something considerably less. And honestly- it won't matter- it's all the same: good. (Of course, you don't really need the name on the cover- the voice is so distinctive you could tell within a few paragraphs who was writing)
To a certain extent, that's where Brennan Manning is finding himself. The Furious Longing of God
is the latest Brennan Manning book first. It's a book about the love of God second. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but again…
Here's what it comes down to: If you love Manning, you'll love this book. Better written and a bit more cohesive than some of his others, it's still vintage Manning. Personal stories interwoven with theological insights- all centered around the love of God. At times overly simplistic, at other times stop-and-ponder deep, it's Manning doing what Manning does- pushing towards a simple just-let-God-love-you kind of faith.
Desperately needed for some.
But in some ways, as I read, I felt as though I read this before. I'm not saying that if you have read one Manning book you have read them all- but close. His voice and style is so distinctive, and his subject matter so narrow in scope that he runs the risk of leaving readers feeling as though they are reading the same books in different packages.
I also found myself thinking: "You know, IMHO, Brennan would benefit from reading someone like John Piper" – a great mental picture, btw. Also, I think Piper would benefit from reading Manning, but that's another post!
It's just that in the drive to reduce everything down to "God loves you!" I can't help but feel some important nuances are lost. There's a great, solid, Trinitarian perspective represented in this book, there's much about loving each other because of God's love for us… but I'm left wondering: what does a loving, worshipful response to God look like? Beyond loving others, how do I respond to God's love for me with love for Him? Is God jealous for His own glory at all? Or is He simply all about ME?
The big question for me these days: Will the book find its way onto my shelf or be given away/sold?
Verdict: On the shelf- but just barely.
Some links for those who would like to explore further: