Excerpts from Escape to Reality (Paul Ellis' blog) post on "Abba's Child" by Brenning Manning.
...People sometimes ask me, Where do legalists come from? Why are there so many who are obsessed with dead religious works? I can think of no better answer than the one Manning provides:
Suppose a child has never experienced any love from her parents. One day she meets another little girl whose parents shower her with affection. The first says to herself: “I want to be loved like that, too. I have never experienced it, but I’m going to earn the love of my father and mother by my good behavior.” So to gain the affection of her parents, she brushes her teeth, makes her bed, smiles, minds her p’s and q’s, never pouts or cries, never expresses a need, and conceals negative feelings. This is the way of pharisees. They follow the law impeccably in order to induce God’s love. Their image of God necessarily locks them into a theology of works. (p.83)
When you see it this way you realize that Pharisees aren’t evil people. They are just those who have not received the love of God and hence are trying to earn it. The child of grace is free to love and enjoy life but the pharisee edits his feelings and represses his emotions. The child is uninhibited but the pharisee is guarded, always watching his words and monitoring himself for “right” behavior. What a miserable existence.
To deny the pharisee within is lethal. It is imperative that we befriend him, dialogue with him, inquire why he must look to sources outside the kingdom for peace and happiness. (p.86)
Brennan Manning passed away recently but his legacy of promoting honesty to ourselves and affirming God’s love for the broken and hurting is one that will endure. It is a legacy that is brilliantly portrayed inThe Ragamuffin Gospel and this, his other classic, Abba’s Child."
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