Brennan Manning: Promoted by Christian Leaders But Resonates with New Agers

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In a June 3rd article called “NonDual Community: The Flowering of Intersubjectivity,” posted on a pro-mysticism, pro-New Age blog, the teachings of a woman named Beatrice Bruteau are discussed. The article states:

[S]he has been active in articulating her own vision of an evolutionary spirituality and ecological ethics which integrates the best of ancient contemplative and modern scientific perspectives…. she draws on mythical Trinitarian language to formulate a perspective which accounts for the mystical intuition of oneness without eviscerating the unique gifts of multiplicity and mutuality.(emphasis added)

Translated, this means that “evolutionary spirituality”(i.e., man is evolving into perfection because he is divine) which uses “ancient contemplative” (mysticism) leads to a “oneness” of all creation. This is exactly what Ray Yungen has been warning about for many years. You may be asking, “Well what does someone like Beatrice Bruteau have to do with the Christian church?” Unfortunately, quite a bit.

Brennan Manning is a popular and much read author of several books: Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba’s Child, The Signature of Jesus, and many more. You may have heard of some of these. His influence is widespread in the Christian world. Christian authors, teachers, and leaders speak of him highly. Beth Moore says that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel”1 and says Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” she has read. Christian pop singer Michael W. Smith wrote the foreword to Manning’s book, Above All, and Manning is often a speaker for Christian colleges and seminaries.

However, in spite of the fact that Manning and his teachings are so accepted by the Christian community at large, Manning resonates with Beatrice Bruteau and others with her same spiritual proclivities. Of Bruteau, Manning states that she is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness” (from Abba’s Child). And interestingly, in the article mentioned above “NonDual Community: The Flowering of Intersubjectivity,” another man is mentioned who Manning also resonates with. That man is Bede Griffiths, who wrote The Golden String (a book teaching that God is woven through all creation and He is in all people). Manning once told Ray Yungen that Griffiths was an author he had been reading for years. Listen to Yungen discuss this:

Behind Manning’s charisma lie some troubling connections. For example, Manning favorably quotes a Catholic monk, Bede Griffiths, in two of his books, Abba’s Child and Ruthless Trust. Griffiths, like Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” Griffiths also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions … bringing the church to a new vitality.”

A few years ago, Manning spoke at a church in my hometown. After the meeting, I asked him about his connection with Griffiths. He told me, “I have been reading him for years going all the way back to The Golden String” (the autobiography of Griffiths). This book has been around for about forty years, so it is clear Griffiths has influenced Manning for many years. When I also asked Manning which books on prayer he liked, he recommended Thomas Keating’s, Open Mind, Open Heart, a well-known primer on the practice of centering prayer, which projects a panentheistic view of God.

The June 2004 issue of Christianity Today had a four-page article about Manning and his influence. The first few paragraphs featured an impressive list of Christian luminaries and their quotes on the positive impact Manning had on their spiritual lives. Included were members of the rock super group U2 [and Dallas Willard and singer Michael Card]. This article backs up some of what I am saying here in this book, such as the following statements:

* “[‘T]he vast majority of my ministry is in the evangelical world.'”
* “In order to hear from God, Manning himself retreats to silence and solitude.”
* “It takes him about 20 minutes he says, to come to a state of inner stillness.” (A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 84)

In the article “NonDual Community: The Flowering of Intersubjectivity,” Bruteau is quoted as saying:

This is the divine life in Wholeness: realization as Absolute, formless Person-Community, the effusion of Love; and realization as relative, formed Cosmos-Community, the unceasing Birth in Beauty.

This belief that divinity is in all things, including all people, is contrary to the Word of God, which actually supports dualism, not “non-dualism.” Yungen elaborates on Satan’s plan and how it ties in with non-dualism:

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God* or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all-nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14) (ATOD, 2nd ed., p. 108).

This belief that God is in all of creation lines up with other New Age teachers too. Neale Donald Walsch, in his Conversations with God books says that even Hitler had this divinity and will not go to hell. And he takes it to a higher level by saying that since death is not really death, Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them (see For Many Shall Come in My Name, 2nd ed. p. 166).

A question we often ask ourselves here at Lighthouse Trails is this: If leaders like Beth Moore and Erwin Lutzer (who endorses contemplative Larry Crabb (Manning is a mentor of his) would actually take the time to look at the documentation on contemplative spirituality (and Manning’s teachings), would they still promote the practice and those who teach it? We may never know the answer to that question. But we often wonder.

For related information:

Beth Moore Gives Thumbs Up to Be Still DVD (and Brennan Manning)

Trusted Evangelical Leaders Endorse The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb!