Brennan Manning, featured speaker for Orlando Christian Missionary Alliance's Life Impact 2007, fraud exposed
from James Sundquist
June 24, 2007
I note that you also exposed Warren regarding Orlando, so I thought you should know about Brennan Manning speaking there next week (also promoted by Warren).
Based on the following revelations, you should be alerted about Brennan Manning who will be a featured speaker at LIFE IMPACT 2007 CM&A Conference in July next month in ORLANDO...which the Christian & Missionary Alliance is promoting.
A good barometer of the Evangelical Church today are the popular magazines, such as "Christianity Today" and "Charisma." To see how far off Evangelicalism has gotten from the truth of Scripture, just peruse the pages of the latest CT or "Charisma" and see what ministries are being promoted or what conferences are advertised.
For instance, CT published an article about controversial Catholic author Brennan Manning, whose writings present a New Age ecumenical mindset. Although many apologetics ministries have exposed this fact, CT ignored this and referred to his book The Ragamuffin Gospel as a "spiritual classic" in an October 6, 2005 interview, though that book is full of very dangerous teachings. The recent article, "A 'Coward' Who Stayed to Help" was Manning's story of his heroics helping victims during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. In a twist of events, CT had to publish a correction to the story some five days later. It turns out that Manning made the whole thing up and CT editors put an addendum to the story that reads:
"From the Editors: We regret to inform our readers that, following this on-the-record conversation, Brennan Manning called our office to apologize. He reiterated that he had been "disoriented, confused, and depressed" lately and that certain details he provided were not true. He did not help identify a child from his apartment complex. He did not help an elderly woman get a ride. And while he was the last one to leave his apartment complex, "the truth is that there was nobody around here for me to help," he said in a voice message to Christianity Today. "The essential truth: I lied."
In spite of the lies, CT kept the interview up unedited and linked to a former story on Brennan Manning from the June 2004 issue of CT that pointed to all the evangelical leaders who embrace this former Franciscan priest. The list of Manning enthusiasts are a who's who of evangelical leaders such as Eugene Peterson, who wrote "The Message" paraphrased bible and popular Christian counselor Larry Crabb. He is also endorsed by many popular musicians like the late Rich Mullins, Michael Card, Michael W. Smith, and members of U2. These endorsements have given this heretic entrance into evangelical circles and magazines.
Brennan Manning has popularized the idea that the Bible is not to be taken literally and any who do uphold Bible standards are Pharisees and hypocrites. The Bible has to be demoted from the Word of God to a book that only contains the words of men mixed in with the words of God so that ecumenical unity can be achieved between Catholics and Protestants. Both CT and Charisma magazines promote that agenda.
Proof that Brennan Manning is a false teacher?
Brennan Manning is a New Age/Christian mystic who used to be a Roman Catholic priest. In the last ten years he has become a popular author and speaker among the "evangelical" church, yet he shouldn't have even gotten his foot in their door. His teachings of "spiritual contemplation" are filled with unbiblical ideas, Eastern mysticism and dangerous New Age meditation techniques, and yet Manning is so charming, seductive and cunning that he easily takes advantage of undiscerning Christians.
Manning overemphasizes the love and grace of God while ignoring His attributes of justice, righteousness and holiness. He teaches that Jesus has redeemed all mankind. (Beware of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing by Mike Gendron, from Reaching Catholics for Christ website.) In Manning's best-selling book, The Ragamuffin Gospel he writes: "False gods - the gods of human understanding - despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept." (my emphasis.) Of course, Manning doesn't point out that God's word thinks it is too incredible to accept, too: "Thou dost hate all who do iniquity." Psalm 5:5
It's obvious, however, that Manning has little use for Scripture and he shows his disdain for those who do. He says, "I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word - bibliolatry... I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants." (The Signature of Jesus, Manning)
Unfortunately, Manning's answer to ascertaining God's thinking is by using occult meditation practices instead of Scripture. In his book The Signature of Jesus, Manning teaches his readers how to pray by using an eight-word mantra. He says, "the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer" (p.212). (WHAT?) The second step is "without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often." If distractions come, "simply return to listening to your sacred word" (p.218). He also encourages his readers to "celebrate the darkness" because "the ego has to break; and this breaking is like entering into a great darkness" (p.145). Manning's direction is in direct conflict with Jesus who said, "He who follows me shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12), and is a practice that sets people up for serious deception and demonic influence.
This dangerous technique, however, is just one of the many New Age mind-emptying methods that Manning teaches in The Signature of Jesus. Some of the unbiblical techniques include: centering prayer, paschal spirituality, the discipline of the secret, mineralization, practicing the presence, inner integration, yielding to the Center, notional knowledge, contemporary spiritual masters and masters of the interior life.
Is it any wonder that Manning practices these techniques and claims to have had visions and so-called encounters with God? No doubt Manning has truly had these experiences, and so will his followers who try his techniques, but they will not find true intimacy with God. Yes, they may have special feelings and experiences, and they may "feel" closer to God. However, in the process they will actually move away from Him as a result of a counterfeit spirituality.
For example, one of Manning's dreams was about judgment day. In his dream, Manning describes how everyone from Adolf Hitler to Hugh Hefner are seen going before Jesus to be judged, as is Manning. When Manning comes forward, however, God does not really judge. Instead, says Manning, "He takes my hand and we go home." The implication, of course, is that everyone from Hitler to Hefner will be similarly treated. In Manning's teaching, God is a Universalist who accepts everyone. (The Signature of God, p. 239-242.) In an earlier book, Gentle Revolutionaries, Manning recounted the same dream and wrote that God told him, "I am not your judge." This part was strangely omitted from his later accounts.
Brennan Manning, then, is a dangerous influence on the Christian world. His books promote the use of psychology, New Age/occult meditation, ecumenism, and universalism, and yet he is still popular in Christian circles. One of his popular books written for children, The Boy Who Cried Abba, is a mystical parable about the journey of a boy who must go into a dark cave called Bright Darkness to find acceptance from God. Again, Manning is leading his readers to embrace darkness and error. Even worse, he is targeting his message to kids, too.
Worse still, these Manning books are accepted by the Willow Creek organization, which proudly sells them in their bookstore. In fact, Manning's book Ruthless Trust is currently #9 on Seeds Bestseller List. (Willow Creek website, July 2001.) So why does (our church) lean on the expertise of a Manning supporter and New Age propaganda machine like Willow Creek?
BRENNAN MANNING: PRAYER CENTERING
A Review by Jackie Alnor
As mentioned above, the key to spirituality, according to Manning, is a special type of prayer which he calls "contemplative prayer" or "centering prayer."
For the uninitiated, this may not seem ominous. It may sound like what God calls us to do in His Word. It is not. It is ominous. It is a practice derived from Eastern mysticism.
In The Signature of Jesus, Manning writes, "The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me" (p. 211). He also says, "What masters of the interior life recommend is the discipline of 'centering down' throughout the day" (p. 94).
Manning attempts to head off the charge that centering prayer comes from Eastern mysticism and the New Age movement by saying: A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called "centering prayer" in our time and anchored in the Western Christian tradition of John Cassian and the desert fathers, and not, as some think, in Eastern mysticism or New age philosophy) has four steps (p. 218).
He instructs the reader in the practice of centering prayer, which is a type of contemplative wordless "prayer" a technique that involves breathing exercises and the chanting of a sacred word or phrase. Manning begins "the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer" (p. 212)! What biblical support is there for this idea?
The second step, according to Manning, is to "without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often" (p. 218). Once again, where is the biblical support for this practice? None is cited, because none exists.
The third step concerns what to do when inevitable distractions come. The answer is to "simply return to listening to your sacred word. Gently return your mind to your sacred word" (p. 218).
Finally, "after a twenty-minute period of prayer [which Manning recommends twice daily] conclude with the Lord's Prayer, a favorite psalm, or some spontaneous words of praise and thanks" (p. 219). While he doesn't say how long this concluding recitation or spontaneous words might last, it seems he only expects this to be a minute or two, since the Lord's Prayer and most of the Psalms are short and easy to read in a minute or so. This concluding recitation seems to be an afterthought, something put in to make the "prayer" seem Christian. Yet even this fourth part is biblically suspect. Jesus said, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions (babblings) as the heathen do" (Matt 6:7). Any routine prayer repeated each prayer session will soon fall into the category of "vain repetition," even if it is Scripture. The Lord's Prayer is a sample of the way we should pray, and not some prayer we should memorize and repeat back to God daily.
The instruction utilizes odd jargon such as the "false self" and "crucifixion of the ego" and a curious mix of spiritual and psychological terms. To understand his language one would need to have a more candid overview of centering prayer, which I found in an unusual - for me, not for New Agers - non-Christian source called Gnosis Magazine. The following is a condensation of the article titled "From Woundedness to Union" (Gnosis, Winter 1995, pp. 41-45). The author is a Ph.D. who was tutored by the inventors of centering prayer:
Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington [who Manning credits for teaching him this prayer form] were exploring how to achieve a more concentrated experience on the general model of a Zen sesshin, having been quite experienced in sesshins. During these experiments they came upon a form of meditation from which tears, repressed memories, deep intuitions all came to the surface in a jumble, along with a sense of catharsis and bonding among the participants.
From his years as abbot, Keating recognized that this technique accelerated the sensitizing of the unconscious which is the goal of the contemplative life. He recalls, "I saw people going through in ten days what it might have taken twenty years to go through at a monastery." He believes that this unloading of the unconscious is a purification process at work to which he attaches traditional Christian terminology as the struggle against sin. This is called "Divine Therapy."
The main goal is to dismantle the "false self," the needy, driven, unrecognized motivations behind untransformed human behavior. They suggest the false self as a modern equivalent for the traditional concept of original sin. The "true self" is buried beneath the accretions and defenses. A huge amount of healing has to take place before our deep and authentic quest for union with God is realized. This, in essence, constitutes the spiritual journey.
The most fruitful connection here [for the author of the article] is the linking of the "dark night" of the traditional apophatic path and the psychological process, the "darkness" of the psyche. If psychoanalysis represents "cataphatic therapy"-using words, concepts, and awareness to illuminate the darkness of our inner ground-centering prayer presents a kind of "apophatic psycho therapy" ("apophatic" meaning that which points one towards the ineffable, beyond all words, concepts, and forms).
Periods of psychological ferment and destabilization are signs that the journey is progressing, not failing. The results can often be horrifying to ourselves. As trust grows in God and practice becomes more stable, we penetrate deeper and deeper down to the bedrock of pain, the origin of our personal false self. In response to each significant descent into the ground of our woundedness, there is a parallel ascent in the form of inner freedom, the experience of the fruits of the spirit and beatitude.
By interweaving the contemporary language of psychological healing with the traditional language of Christianity a new synthesis is born.
Chapter seven is entitled "Celebrate the Darkness" (a title that is decidedly not only un-biblical, but even anti-biblical; darkness is always presented negatively in Scripture, see, for example, 2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:8, 11; 1 Thess 5:4-5; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 John 1:5-10). Manning writes "the ego has to break; and this breaking is like entering into a great darkness. Without such a struggle and affliction, there can be no movement in love" (p. 145). He goes on: 'With the ego purged and the heart purified through the trials of the dark night, the interior life of an authentic disciple is a hidden, invisible affair. Today it appears that God is calling many ordinary Christians into this rhythm of loss and gain. The hunger I encounter across the land for silence, solitude, and centering prayer is the Spirit of Christ calling us from the shallows to the deep (p. 149).
In centering prayer the word sin becomes a religious word attached to a method of psychological therapy, and the biblical presentation of true moral guilt is omitted. It is a system completely open to the manipulation of the inventors who feel the liberty to use the biblical language any way they see fit. Manning attempts to give it the validity of tradition by saying that it is has been rooted in Catholic monastic practices since the 5th century: "It is a comfort to know that this is a path that others have tracked before us" (p. 149).
The practice of centering prayer is expanding in many parishes and is now moving beyond Catholic boundaries as many are coming to it from the Recovery Movement. The Catholic Church does not have an official position on this form of prayer, but some Catholic scholars refute the mind-emptying techniques. They also call for psychological studies because of the reported occurrences of depression among practitioners of New Age type meditation.
The result of this mystical practice is that the practitioner becomes less interested in objective spiritual knowledge found in the Bible and more interested in the subjective experience which is found through centering prayer. This may account for the antagonistic attitude toward traditional forms of faith. Manning speaks of "several local churches I have visited, [in which] religiosity has pushed Jesus to the margins of real life and plunged people into preoccupation with their own personal salvation" (p. 193). Of course, centering prayer requires no interest whatsoever in one's own personal salvation since it presupposes that all are already saved. That is what we discover when we "center down." Manning's attitude toward the Bible seems to be markedly different from that of Calvin and Luther, for example, or of anyone who has a high regard for it as the very Word of God:
I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word - bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants (pp. 188-89).
In The Signature of Jesus Manning rarely cites Scripture. Why should he, when the truly important knowledge of God comes from his experience of centering down and not from the Bible? Remember "God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book." While Manning would acknowledge that some elementary truths of God can be found by reading the Bible, intimate knowledge of God only comes through centering prayer.
Would you trust Brennan Manning's seminars with Richard Foster?
Manning does extensive seminars with Richard Foster. Here is another excerpt of Brennan Manning's teaching:
In Discipleship Journal, Issue 100, 1997, page 78, in an interview, Brennan Manning recommends William Shannon's book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating's book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, Shannon blasts the Christian, Biblical God. Page 109, 110: "This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people …He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger. This God does not exist."
Beware of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
By Mike Gendron
The Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). The warning was important because Jesus later said to them: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16). The apostle Paul, with a deeply troubled spirit and in tears, penned a similar warning: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). Throughout church history these warnings concerning professing Christians who deceive even the elect have seldom been taken seriously. How can the church be so easily deceived? According to Webster's Dictionary "deceive" means "to lead astray or to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid." Could it be the church has not only lost its ability to discern truth from error but also to discern wolves from sheep?
Consider Brennan Manning, an inactive Roman Catholic priest, who has some obvious characteristics of a "wolf," yet goes mostly undetected. In the last ten years, he has become a popular speaker in many "evangelical" churches. Manning was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood after graduating from St. Francis Seminary in 1963. Later he was theology instructor at the University of Steubenville (a Catholic seminary and catalyst for Mary to be named co-Redeemer). After being treated for alcoholism and leaving the Franciscan Order in 1982, he married Roslyn Ann Walker. The marriage has since ended in divorce but his popularity as a writer and speaker continues to grow despite his proclamation of "another" gospel.
The teachings of Manning are charming, seductive, cunning and dangerous as he takes advantage of his undiscerning audiences. He teaches that you can overcome fear, guilt and psychological hang-ups, even alcoholism, through meditation. His meditation techniques are drawn from a mixture of eastern mysticism, psychology, the New Age Movement and Catholicism. Manning gives the impression that he has a very intimate relationship with God and reports having many visions, encounters and conversations with Him. He assures his audiences that if they apply his teachings, they too can become more intimate with God.
I first met Manning at the Christian Booksellers Association in New Orleans last summer. As he was signing autographs for his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, I asked him if his "ragamuffin gospel" followed the Catholic plan of salvation or the biblical plan of salvation. He responded, "Read it and find out for yourself." Still trying to gain insight into his theology, I gave him a tract I had written called Roman Catholicism: Scripture vs. Tradition and asked for his comments. After looking at it for a couple of minutes he tore it into pieces and threw it in the trash.
The next time I saw Manning was January 21st at Hillcrest Church, a growing congregation of over 5,000 members in north Dallas. Manning's message was about our need for a second conversion, a conversion that can only take place when one overcomes self-rejection and gains esteem through self-acceptance. How contradictory were his words with the words of Christ! "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). After the service I asked two elders of Hillcrest Church how they could allow a Roman Catholic priest speak to their congregation. Their response - "we welcome everyone who loves God" - was a fulfilment of Paul's prophetic words: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
All Mankind is Redeemed
As with many such teachers who gain popularity by tickling ears, Manning overemphasizes the love and grace of God while ignoring His attributes of justice, righteousness and holiness. He teaches that Jesus has redeemed all of mankind. His "good news" is that everyone is already saved. Among those Manning believes he will see in heaven is "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." 1 Manning's theology opposes God's word again and again: "those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21). "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). Accordingly, the only faith Manning thinks sinners need is to "trust the love of God."
This is a major theme of The Ragamuffin Gospel, "trusting the love of God," because God loves you no matter what you do. There is no call to sanctification or holiness. Instead Manning excuses sin as human weakness that God will tolerate regardless of whether the sinner is repentant or not. In saying this, Manning has turned "the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Jude 4). He writes: "False gods - the gods of human understanding - despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept." 2 Yes, too incredible because it violates God's word: "Thou dost hate all who do iniquity" (Psalm 5:5).
Stop Thinking About God
In The Signature of Jesus, another one of Manning's books, he teaches his readers how to pray, using an eight-word mantra. 3 He says, "the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer" (p. 212). The second step is "without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often." If distractions come, "simply return to listening to your sacred word" (p. 218). He also encourages his readers to "celebrate the darkness" because "the ego has to break; and this breaking is like entering into a great darkness" (p. 145). Jesus said, "He who follows me shall not walk in the darkness" (John 8:12).
The Spirit of Antichrist
Manning often cites Catholic saints, humanist philosophers, heretics, monks and medieval mystics. Some of the monks he quotes maintain that salvation is really a transformation of consciousness to be awakened to the oneness of all creation. Possibly the most dangerous practice and teaching of Manning is his New Age mind-emptying method of meditation. This is an open invitation to satanic activity. Many of the expressions and techniques Manning employs in The Signature of Jesus are not found in the Scriptures such as: centering prayer, paschal spirituality, the discipline of the secret, contemplative spirituality, mineralization, practicing the presence, inner integration, yielding to the Center, notional knowledge, contemporary spiritual masters and masters of the interior life. Extra-biblical spiritual practices can only produce confusion. They originate from the father of lies in whom there is no truth. What a contrast Manning is to the way Paul described the first century teachers. He said: "We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Cor. 4:2)
Manning rarely uses Scripture and shows his disdain for those who do and for those who believe "The Word was God" (John 1:1). He writes: "I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word - bibliolatry. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants" (p. 188). He criticize several churches he visited, where "religiosity has pushed Jesus to the margins of real life and plunged people into preoccupation with their own personal salvation" (p. 193).
Although Manning believes and teaches the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, The Signature of Jesus is not a guide to follow Jesus, but to follow "the masters of the interior life." Paul wrote, "For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting" (Rom. 16:18).
Manning reinterprets some of the most essential biblical truths in the light of psychological healing. He looks upon "human nature as fallen but redeemed, flawed but in essence good" (p. 125). His instruction to meditate on nothingness instead of God's Word is an exercise of modern occultism. This practice invites demonic influence and contact with the spirit world. Manning's Catholic mysticism has no place in the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Christian leaders should warn others about Manning and all "deceitful workers who masquerade as apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11:13). They must be exposed (Eph. 5:11). We all live in days of great deception. May God give His church the gift of discernment as we take Paul's warning seriously: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:8).
1. Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990, page 33.
2. Ibid, page 22.
3. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996, pp. 94, 219.
Kindest regards in Christ,
Rock Salt Publishing