The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story by Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett ~ A Book Review

Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett
Contemporary Fiction

Back of the book:

From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Jack Chisholm is “the people’s pastor.” He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, “We have got to do better.” Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn’t know is anything about grace.

This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already---on the news.

After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books.

Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter.

But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: “Come home.”

A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably.

Jack Chisholm lost everything---his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing---but he found grace. It’s the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.

My thoughts:

The Prodigal is the last written work of Brennan Manning and as such it becomes an important legacy to his life work. I personally think it does him justice. Greg Garrett has done a masterful job of putting to paper the words that we have come to know and love from Brennan Manning.

The book is obviously based on the infamous prodigal son from the Bible. The story of Jack Chisholm could belong to any of us. Jack is at the pinnacle of a successful ministry and yet a seemingly momentary decision leads to the destruction of his life and those around him.

Through a very humbling and gritty tale we watch the love of a father rescue his son. This is a father that was always there just waiting for Jack to turn to him. We get to see redemption and restoration but we also see consequences to the sin that destroyed so much.

The story ends but the reader is left contemplating the truths that are contained within the work. You just can't help but do some self reflection and evaluation when you turn the last page. The reader is not only left knowing that we are all in need of salvation but the Source of that salvation is clearly pointed to.

I would be remiss if I didn't point you to the beginning of the book and the 'Note From The Author'. Greg Garrett's very moving tribute to Brennan Manning is not to be skipped. In fact I found it to be as uplifting as the book itself.

Let me leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"What do I know about people who don't have it all together?" Frank fixed him with his gaze. "Only that I am one. But there is grace, Jack. Amazing grace. When we acknowledge that we are all just beggars at the door of God's mercy, God can make something beautiful out of us."
". . . broken and worthless as we are, we are nonetheless loved beyond all reckoning."
 "God is not some customs officer rifling through our moral suitcases to sort out our deeds. He sees through the smoke screen, through the deeds good and bad, to our deepest selves."

Connect with the authors:

Brennan Manning
April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013

Greg Garrett


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