Brennan Manning was a Franciscan priest who struggled with alcoholism. Eventually, his alcoholism led him out of the priesthood. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that a Christian can believe fully in Jesus and yet still have problems with sin. Years later, Manning addressed this quite profoundly when he wrote, “Often I have been asked, ‘Brennan, how is it possible that you became an alcoholic after you got saved?’ It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus. Because the Christ-encounter did not transfigure me into an angel. Because justification by grace through faith means I have been set in right relationship with God, not made the equivalent of a patient etherized on a table” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel [Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 1990], 30). Too often, we forget that while we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we are still human. We have not been transformed into robots or etherized patients. We have been given a fresh start through a new birth but that does not mean the old ways have fully disappeared. And that is why it is important for the church to talk about both the continual need for grace in the life of a believer as well as the continual generosity of our God.
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