Reviewed by Philip G Samaan, Editor, Adult Bible Study Guide
Brennan Manning’s book, The Signature of Jesus, summons Christians to the purity of the gospel and the scandal of the cross (p 7). The book is transparently honest in its approach and relevant in its application.
The author summons us to radical discipleship that transforms our lives, giving our witness a convincing power. This happens only when we crucify self and follow the Crucified. In the introduction, the author tells us this is risky, but hopes that we will be daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, courageous enough to get burned in the fire (p 13). He progressively leads us to trust implicitly in God despite all things, placing our confidence more in the realm of the supernatural and less in the realm of the natural.
Manning beckons us to sojourn with Abraham in our own spiritual journey, trusting completely in God’s providence and not in human wisdom. He sums up this point when he asserts that the reality of a Christian is that of men or women who leave what is nailed down, obvious and secure and who walk into the desert without rational explanations to justify their decisions or to guarantee their future (p 16).
The author shows us how to be energized by God’s power and enlightened by His wisdom. He offers the following suggestions: First, the courage to take up the cross; second, the willingness to forgive; third, the discovery of where true wisdom lies, which is experiencing the love of Christ crucified; fourth, the surrender of the heart to reckless love, that is the love of Christ (pp 60-68).
In the fifth chapter, he captures what it means to live as Christ’s disciples by appealing to the Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, when he asked: What if I should discover that the least of the brothers of Jesus, the one crying out most desperately for reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance, is myself? ... that I myself am the enemy who must be loved, what then? Will I do for myself what I do for others? (p 105).
In his discussion of paschal spirituality in chapter six, the author gives its seven characteristics to help us understand what he means by the term.
Everyone who longs to have an authentic spiritual life transformed by Christ’s relentless love, needs to read this book. It will grip you to the core and challenge you to live by faith that transcends darkness of doubt and discouragement. It will help you to experience inner peace and joy that break through turbulence and suffering, marking you forever by the signature of Jesus.