Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Mike Gendron On Wolf,  Brennan Manning  -

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The Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheepʼs clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). The warning was important because Jesus later said to them: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). The apostle Paul, with tears and a deeply troubled spirit, penned a similar warning: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Throughout church history these warnings have seldom been taken seriously. Christians continue to be deceived because they can not discern truth from error.

According to Websterʼs Dictionary “deceive” means “to lead astray or to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.” Could it be the church has not only lost its ability to discern truth from error but also to discern wolves from sheep?

Consider Brennan Manning, an inactive Roman Catholic priest, who has some obvious characteristics of a “wolf,” yet goes mostly undetected. In the last ten years, he has become a popular speaker in many “evangelical” churches. Manning was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood after graduating from St. Francis Seminary in 1963. Later he was theology instructor at the University of Steubenville (a Catholic seminary and catalyst for Mary to be named co-redeemer). After being treated for alcoholism and leaving the Franciscan Order in 1982, he married Roslyn Ann Walker. The marriage has since ended in divorce but his popularity as a writer and speaker continues to grow despite his proclamation of “another” gospel.

The teachings of Manning are charming, seductive, cunning and dangerous as he takes advantage of his undiscerning audiences. He teaches that you can overcome fear, guilt and psychological hang-ups, even alcoholism, through meditation. His meditation techniques are drawn from a mixture of eastern mysticism, psychology, the New Age Movement and Catholicism. Manning gives the impression that he has a very intimate relationship with God and reports having many visions, encounters and conversations with Him. He assures his audiences that if they apply his teachings, they too can become more intimate with God.

I first met Manning at the Christian Booksellers Association in New Orleans. As he was signing autographs for his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, I asked him if his “ragamuffin gospel” followed the Catholic plan of salvation or the biblical plan of salvation. He responded, “Read it and find out for yourself.” Still trying to gain insight into his theology, I gave him a tract I had written called Roman Catholicism: Scripture vs. Tradition and asked for his comments. After looking at it for a couple of minutes he tore it into pieces and threw it in the trash.

The next time I saw Manning was January 21st at Hillcrest Church, a congregation of over 5,000 members in north Dallas. Manningʼs message was about our need for a second conversion, a conversion that can only take place when one overcomes self-rejection and gains esteem through self-acceptance. After the service I asked two elders of Hillcrest Church how they could allow a Roman Catholic priest speak to their congregation. Their response—”we welcome everyone who loves God.” This was indeed a fulfillment of Paulʼs prophetic words: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

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