by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett
Anyone who has read The Ragamuffin Gospel or other works by the late author Brennan Manning knows that his core message was the abundant and irresistible grace and mercy of God. In his words, “The work that God has given me to do is helping people to enter the existential experience of being loved in their brokenness.” His last project before he passed away this past April was the novel The Prodigal (Zondervan), coauthored with Greg Garrett.
A contemporary version of the parable of the prodigal son, The Prodigal tells the story of a man who falls from grace, only to run right smack into it. Protagonist Jack Chisholm is a wildly successful pastor and author whose success is built on his favorite slogan, “We have got to do better.” Jack’s determination to earn God’s love through charitable acts and exemplary behavior is a powerful motivator for his congregation, and He seems to have it all — good looks, a beautiful family, wealth and the adoration of thousands.
The Bible verse “pride goeth before destruction” comes to life as Jack gives in to an evening of debauchery, which quickly becomes public knowledge. He finds himself in unfamiliar territory — abandoned, penniless, hopeless—and crawls into a bottle. As he flounders, his long-estranged father appears, welcoming his disgraced son with simple words, “I’ve come to take you home.” Home he goes to his tiny hometown, beginning a long and difficult road to redemption. As Jack experiences a roller-coaster ride of humiliation, forgiveness, acceptance and rejection, despair and unexpected joy, this broken man discovers true acceptance and a God who has loved him all along — who, in Manning’s words, loves us “just as we are, and not as we should be.”