Erwin McManus at CFC

Earlier this year [2006] Pastor Gary Gilley was our invited guest to speak at a series of meetings on the subject – ‘Today’s Church is Changing: What On Earth is Emerging?’ During his talk Pastor Gilley looked at what have come to be known as the ‘Purpose Driven’ and ‘Emergent’ Church Movements.

When addressing the topic of the ‘Emerging Church’ he listed a number of ‘churches’ that would be identified with this grouping and one went under the name of ‘Mosaic’ and is pastored by Erwin McManus.

As you will see from the following advert taken from the website of the Christian Fellowship Church [CFC] in Belfast, Erwin McManus is to be their invited guest speaker from 9-11 November 2006.


This visit by Erwin McManus should be a matter of grave concern to all true believers in and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ .

As a ministry we sound once more the warning to “Take Heed” and I am reproducing herewith two reports supplied by the excellent ‘watchman’ ministry of Lighthouse Trails Research Project.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 27 September 2006


September 26, 2006

Coming From the

Lighthouse Newsletter

David Jeremiah Proposes “Major Paradigm Shift” For His Church –   The Shadow Mountain pastor draws from Erwin McManus’ book, The Barbarian Way

If you attended Shadow Mountain Community Church on September 17th, then according to an email we received, you would have heard the second part of Pastor David Jeremiah’s series called Journey with Jesus. But the title of this series is a bit misleading – Jeremiah isn’t just talking about Jesus; he is discussing a book called The Barbarian Way. The book is written by Erwin McManus, who is pastor of Mosaic Church in California. In the email we received from Jeremiah, he stated:

This weekend, I will be sharing the second message in our Fall Journey With Jesus. The title of the message is “The Manliness of Jesus.” I am praying that it will fire you up as much as it has me. It’s a major paradigm shift from our normal thoughts about Jesus. This week, I have read a book by Erwin McManus called THE BARBARIAN WAY. In it, he says something that should prepare our hearts for the weekend message.

While the quote from the book is benign, the book is not, and if any mention of the book is made by Jeremiah, it should be one of warning. If you have been following Jeremiah’s slip toward what we might call contemplative/emerging Christianity, his promotion of McManus’ book probably won’t be too surprising…

So what exactly is this latest book Jeremiah endorsed about? In The Barbarian Way, McManus tells readers that the story of the Crusades “awakens within me a primal longing that I am convinced waits to be unleashed within everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ.” But McManus has an unusual definition of “follower of Jesus Christ.” He says: “When asked if they [Barbarians] are Christians, their answer might surprisingly be no, they are passionate followers of Jesus Christ.” This might sound OK on the surface, but it is part of the new missiology and the new evangelicalism that Rick Warren and others proclaim, “God doesn’t care what religion you are, just add Jesus to what you already have.” Thus you can be a Buddhist with Jesus, a Hindu with Jesus – that’s OK. McManus clarifies this when he states: “The greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity.” He elaborates more:

They [Barbarians – who he tries to convince readers they should be] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity,they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago (p.6).

While some may think McManus is talking about some kind of true revival, he’s not, not a revival towards the Jesus of the Bible anyway. McManus’ Jesus is all together different. And using the same lingo that most contemplatives use (and New Agers for that matter), he tells readers that they have been “recreated to live in a raw and primal spirituality” that listens “to the voice of the Spirit… Barbarians are not welcome among the civilized and are feared among the domesticated.” The book reads more like a primer to prepare for an anarchist war than instruction and exhortation on how to live the Christian life according to the Bible. He says: “The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities (those who are “civilized”)… Why a reckless call to awaken the barbarian faith within us at the risk of endangering this great civilization we have come to know as Christianity? … It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. Let the invasion begin.”

The book is hard to read because the theology alone is so poor. McManus continually twists things around such as saying that John the Baptist’s message of repentance (and Hell) was only for the religious leaders of the day, which isn’t true. Or when he suggests that Jesus didn’t like Israel, when Scripture tells us He wept for Jerusalem. This revolution that McManus would like to see is one that would eradicate Christianity off the face of the earth. He, like Rick Warren, insists that Christianity is thoroughly corrupt, and that a new movement is needed. McManus states: “Two thousand years ago, God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don’t ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name.” Here he erroneously states that God revolted against Judaism, which simply isn’t true. In reality, God established the Law and the Prophets through the Jew whom He refers to as the apple of His eye. Jesus came as a sacrificial Lamb to save, and He informed his followers that the time is fulfilled – he wasn’t overthrowing a religion – He came to fulfill prophecy. And now McManus’ confused thinking extends to Christianity, suggesting now God will revolt against it as well.

McManus’ use of words like barbarian, savage and other warlike terms are strange. Trying to make this look like a book on living radically for Jesus, while belittling anything that calls itself Christian, McManus wraps the book up by telling readers: “We need to find the courage and freedom to be ourselves. We need to let ourselves become the unique individuals that God created us to be. His exhortation is, ‘When an opponent beheads one barbarian, he better be prepared, for we will return in force….We need to move together as God’s people, a barbarian tribe …. There’s a future to be created.'”

Just what does McManus mean by all this talk of barbarians and beheadings and a complete rejection of Christianity? Is he really talking about living radically for Jesus Christ? The Jesus of the Bible? The answers to these questions can be found throughout McManus’ writings as well as his various ministries. For example, at Bethel Theological Seminary, McManus is a professor for the Doctor of Ministry of Emerging Leaders program. He teaches with his brother Alex McManus (Into the Mystic), who promotes mysticism. McManus makes his own claim for mysticism in The Barbarian Way when he says we need to exchange reason (doctrine) for mysticism and suggests we need to be “Mystic Warriors.” This sounds more like something out out of Star Wars or Shamanism. In an interview with Relevant Magazine, McManus explains what is the “core” of The Barbarian Way:

The Barbarian Way was, in some sense, trying to create a volatile fuel to get people to step out and act. It’s pretty hard to get a whole group of people moving together as individuals who are stepping into a more mystical, faith-oriented, dynamic kind of experience with Christ. So, I think Barbarian Way was my attempt to say, ‘Look, underneath what looks like invention, innovation and creativity is really a core mysticism that hears from God, and what is fuelling this is something really ancient.’ That’s what was really the core of The Barbarian Way.

McManus’ website, Mosaic Alliance, features some of his other works, including Awaken Humanity and International Mentoring Network (both registered under McManus’ church, Mosaic). One of the events McManus hosts is “yelo: an awakening of the human spirit,” which “focuses on unleashing your creativity, elevating your influence, challenging your character, and maximizing your leadership potential.” The Origins Project is another Mosaic creation, with “Wind, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth” terminology. McManus uses a lot of earthy sounding words in his writings such as ethos, organic, and cultural architect (his title for pastor). He is quick to devalue anything that looks too traditionally Christian for the sake of promoting his “revolution,” a revolution that is not called Christian. As Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries points out:

On McManus’ web site [it says]: “McManus offers a vision of the church taking its rightful place as an unstoppable force created to change the world . . . a church that is active and engaged with its community … An apostolic ethos is the key to a New Testament movement … To lead a church with movement requires the ability to create and shape ethos…” Erwin declares, “When we awaken the apostolic ethos, the heart of God begins to pulsate through the church of Jesus Christ.” Considering that ethos means culture, they are wanting to change the culture, something Jesus NEVER told us to do. He said his kingdom is not of this world. We are supposed to be preparing people for the kingdom … by being separate from the world while we are in it. (This book has a new apostolic and Dominionist view.) Community Connections

The concept McManus uses in his book, Seizing Your Divine Moment (and throughout his writings) is not a new one. The idea, seize the day (carpe diem) or the moment, was popular in 16th and 17th century poetry and has the connotation that life is short and you need to get all you can out of it. The cardinal sin would be to live an ordinary life. Rick Warren shares this concept throughout his teachings, as does Bruce Wilkinson [Comment by Cecil – author of the unscriptural and impractical book ‘The Prayer of Jabez’] in his teaching on “God’s Dream for Your Life.” In reality, this concept is anything but biblical and virtuous. Jesus taught that we are to lay down our lives in this world, knowing we will receive our rewards in heaven. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” ( John 12:25).

McManus’ and Warren’s theology might work to some degree with affluent young middle to upper class single emerging “Jesus seekers.” But how is it going to work for an African man in Rwanda who has several children (some dying with AIDS or malaria), and he lives in a small hut? Won’t he be considered a Purpose Driven failure if he doesn’t rise above his earthly barriers and find his purpose? And won’t he be considered a failure in not becoming a McManus barbarian because he lives an ordinary life?

And how about when Bruce Wilkinson teaches that if we believe hard enough we can achieve our dreams if we will just dream big enough? This earthy, sensual spirituality that Rick Warren, Erwin McManus and Bruce Wilkinson proclaim from the rooftops is exactly that.

These ‘Christian’ leaders have missed the point. While they are selling their ideas to an unsuspecting church, and convincing multitudes that this new awakening is from God, believers in Christ, yes I’ll call them Christians, are serving their Lord in ministries, as missionaries, as neighbours, as parents – and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, and remembering what He said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

“My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

On September 17th, David Jeremiah said he read McManus’ book, and he is going to use that book to help his congregation transition toward a “major paradigm shift.” In the meantime, countless Christian leaders, publishers, seminaries and ministries are racing towards this shift as well. It is a shift that is indeed earthly, mystical, demonic and sensual, and it is going to deceive a lot of people. Is this really what David Jeremiah wants to offer his church and those who read his books? We hope the answer is a resounding no!

Christendom is being hijacked right before our very eyes. But while this is taking place, God is opening the eyes of discerning believers around the world. The Bible says the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church.As this paradigm shift unfolds, let us cling to that which we know to be good and true, the biblical message of the One who is the only way to God, Jesus Christ. And in doing so, may those who have not yet heard this message be able to hear and be saved. The time is short – let us work while it is yet day.

Additonal comments by Cecil – One of those mentioned in the CFC advert is ROBIN MARK. His role is ‘worship leader’ at CFC in Belfast and on the CFC website there is an item about ‘worship’ part of which reads –


Revival In Belfast

 In 1999 Integrity Music came to Belfast to record a CD that became known as “Revival in Belfast ”. It featured the songs of Robin Mark, and the voices of the congregation gathered in our 400 seater church on the Holywood Road in the east of the city. This CD has become one of the world’s best selling church based worship CDs ever

In August of this year [2006] I had occasion to speak to a number of Christians in America and when they discovered I was from Northern Ireland they asked me if I knew of Robin Mark. I confirmed that I was familiar with his name and musical ability and then they asked me to tell them all about ‘the revival’ that had apparently taken place in Belfast through the ministry of CFC and through the music of Robin Mark. It gave me no pleasure to inform them that no genuine, biblical ‘revival’ had taken place but rather much spurious ‘spirit’ activity [E.G. ‘Toronto Blessing’] has been claimed and that CFC is very much to the fore in promoting false ‘ecumenical unity’ through initiatives like ‘The Alpha Course’ etc.

The Christian Hordes?

A review of “The Barbarian Way”
by Erwin Raphael McManus

By Kevin Reeves
October, 2005

There is an interesting little book on the Christian market, which, although not very well known at the moment, has the potential to impact the Church in a mystical sideswipe that many may not be prepared for. Written by Erwin Raphael McManus and called The Barbarian Way, this volume packs quite a wallop in its 148 pages. Its compact size enables the reader to get through it in a sitting, and the fact that the author is an international consultant and was spotlighted in conferences put on by such mega-church groups as the Willow Creek Association makes its wide distribution almost a foregone conclusion. The Willow Creek Association, composed of more than 11, 000 member churches, sells a video entitled “Leadership Summit 2003: The Barbarian Way Out of Civilization”, so the impact of McManus’ teachings will be spread over a wide swath of the confessing Church.

It needs to be said at the outset that there are some good points in this book. It speaks of an unyielding trust in God, the courage to follow Christ, and the uncompromising stance of the genuine believer. It speaks against spiritual complacency and ritualistic formula in the church sphere, and encourages an intimate, personal walk with the God who saved us. It speaks quite correctly to the need to be whom God has made us, and for us not to try to fit into a preconceived mould that stifles our creativity, gifts, or love of life. We are all individuals, and that is a wonderful thing. Expanding our horizons, spiritual and otherwise, is part of the warp and woof of our human makeup. So far so good.

It needs to be said, however, that all these things are already quite plainly spoken in the Bible. It has always been the fashion of the laid-back believer to get most of his spiritual sustenance from a popular “Christian” book, and these days of “cutting-edge” authors make that route all the easier and the more tempting. The fact is—and it is barely mentioned these days—as Christians we don’t need any other book to tell us of spiritual living. The Scriptures are complete in themselves, a living Word from the Living One.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (1Timothy 3:16-17). There is no book on the shelf that has the power to transform the life of everyone who takes its words to heart—except one. The Bible alone is God-breathed, living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and containing all that is necessary for anyone who wishes to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. No other book ever written can do that. While some other books can be good in their own way, helping to explain things certain aspects of the faith more clearly, the God of the Bible recognizes no addition to its pages. That addition, unfortunately, is what many books about the Bible have a tendency to do, and the net result is to render biblically illiterate the majority of their reading audience.

Having come from a hyper-charismatic background of many years, I can well attest to having gotten a large part of my spiritual diet from questionable and often heretical authors. It was standard form—and indeed it is today within the hyper-charismatic camp—to spurn actual intensive study of the Scriptures in favour of easily-digestible anecdotes, suppositions and downright flights of fancy by the popular “apostles, prophets and teachers” of our time. When a serious question about doctrine inconveniently raised its head (during my twelve years with that cultic group), we were told by our overseers to simply read a particular book by a particular author. What that does is make a man the final arbiter of truth. And that flies in the face of everything God in His holy Word has told us about Himself and his written record of the Bible. While hating to belabour the point, it is necessary to reiterate that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). And you won’t find the living Word in any other book but the one He has given us.

It is evident from the contents of The Barbarian Way that McManus has a fascination for old Celtic lore. The ways of the Celts in battle, their commitment to cause and their loyalty to their king seem to be a recurring theme. From the beginning, this book emphasizes the “barbarian way” of doing things and walking through life, hence its name, and declares these ways superior by far to traditional Christianity. McManus declares that the apostles, the early Christians and people like the reformer Martin Luther were all of the same raw, barbarian faith and practice, rough-edged and without the polished veneer of civilized Christianity. Anyone reading this book would think that the Church has really muffed it in its civilizing influence of the past two thousand years and churned out little more than ‘cookie-cutter yes men’, wimps who really know nothing about true spirituality or the guts to live it out.

We really need a definition of terms here. Since barbarianism is the foundation of McManus’ book, we need to look at what the idea of barbarian really means, and the life that was lived by these kinds of people. The essence of barbarianism, and the true barbarian way, is certainly spiritual—but not in the way in which it is presented in this book. McManus’ presentation, however well intentioned, is faulty from the get-go. By linking the idea and lifestyle of the barbarian with biblical Christianity, he redefines what “the barbarian way” really is. It is crucial that we understand that barbarianism is a way of life and thought rooted in paganism. It is not merely courage, fortitude and devotion to cause. The entire foundation of a barbarian’s life is a spiritual pagan worldview that worships the creature rather than the creator. It is a worldview steeped in false worship, violence and superstition, and is in no way compatible with biblical Christianity. The two are complete opposites.

Over and over in Paul’s epistles he makes the point that “you were like that, but now you are like this”. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. He said so himself. A Gentile in Paul’s day was anyone other than God’s chosen people. These others were pagans, worshiping idols, engaging in sexual perversion and violence, and completely shut out from the presence of God. Paul’s before and after contrasts between pagans and Christians make for a lot of reading time in the Scriptures. For McManus to try to assimilate back into the Christian walk some of the things that comprised the pagan way is to attempt to purify that which God calls unholy. Sure, some barbarians were courageous, but some were cowards. Yes, some were devoted to king and country, but some were opportunists who couldn’t care less about integrity. Yes, some seized life by the throat and lived their time the fullest they were able, but many, many others simply eked out a starvation existence that was colourless and bound up with frustration, worry, and an overriding sense of uselessness.

And as for a “civilizing” Church taking the spiritual life out of Christ’s followers, it needs to be remembered that it was largely the civilizing influence of the Church that protected a world from a complete breakdown into chaos in the first few centuries after the resurrection of Christ. Wherever real Christians have taken the Gospel, conversions guaranteed an end to the mistreatment of women and the less fortunate. Slaves were freed by Christian masters, aid to the poor was a priority, and love toward all was a foundation stone. On the other side, history tells us that it was the barbarian hordes that raped, pillaged, and destroyed the homes of simple God-fearing folk, made them slaves and railed against the true God and His Son Jesus. They were blood-drunk, managed their affairs with brute force, and were largely unlearned. Not much to recommend them to the modern followers of Christ.

McManus uses many words in reference to his barbarian way. “Primal”, “raw”, “untamed” all serve to highlight his teaching. He enjoyed the “R” rated movie Braveheart (page 14) and uses it as an example in his book.Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, was one of the most violent films ever made. It utilizes sexual imagery and profanity, including the “F” word. How anyone can even cite this film in reference to a spiritual subject is beyond my understanding.

Much was made of this movie years ago in Toronto Blessing circles, which also speaks volumes of the spiritual discernment and understanding of holiness of this Latter Rain group. Funny thing was—the movie was bogus. It’shistorical inaccuracy capitalized on the ignorance of the average moviegoer…and, it would seem, of the average hyper-charismatic Christian. When supposed born again believers go around in Scottish Highland dress and speak with a Gaelic brogue while preaching the Gospel (or their version of it), when they are “handed” an invisible sword and told, “You are the Bravehearts of the world now”—both of which actually happened—then something is very, very wrong.

On page 32, McManus tells of the “civilized” version of the gospel preached by the contemporary Church. He states that it basically entails just believing in Christ for salvation, and your life will be free and easy from that point on. Well…I’ve never heard that gospel. It’s not the real one. Anyone who’s read the first four books of the New Testament can never come away with that interpretation. McManus does mention that some of the traditional preachers talk about the forgiveness of sins and eternal happiness in heaven, but for the true believer, these things do not make for complacency but overwhelming gratitude. When I received Christ, I knew my sins were forgiven. What a relief! I wanted to serve Christ with my whole heart. Are you kidding me? I was going to hell and I knew it. Suddenly Jesus comes into my heart and I’m a new creation! Now that’s something to get excited about.

On the same page McManus says that Jesus’ call is barbaric.

On page 34, McManus again changes definitions by saying that love and sacrificial serving of one another is what the true barbarian way is all about. Wrong! Again, the true barbarian way is violent, self-serving, and egotistical

On page 63, McManus notes that a measure of insanity is inherent in the barbarian way, and while he is certainly right, on the next page he blames this form of madness on God! The Lord, he says, is the one who makes us “passionately” unbalanced in the spiritual sense. McManus says on page 65 that John acted insane. No, he didn’t! A quick check of the Bible’s hall of faith in Hebrews 11 shows that many of God’s true servants “…went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:37-38). Anyone familiar with the Old Testament writings in John’s time would certainly have remembered those heroes of the faith. Certainly they did not act like madmen. Even many of their enemies recognized that they were sent by God! They were not followers of some mystical “barbarian way”.

On page 70, he says he finds the Scriptures full of people who were “driven out of their minds” by God. Yet, it states in the fifth chapter of Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul chides the Corinthian church for speaking in tongues all at once, thereby giving the appearance to unbelievers that the whole lot of them belonged in a padded room. Paul told them to calm down and retain self-control. That is not insanity. I know the world may think we’re crazy, and that is probably what McManus is really saying, but we are in full possession of our faculties when we are in Christ.

Which leads me to another point—an author, teacher or pastor must make himself completely clear, both in terms of language and meaning. If he does not, the resulting confusion among those he influences is laid squarely on his shoulders. James said, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

For all McManus’ references to the Celtic barbarian, he never quite gets around to telling the reader what they were really like. I am of pure Celtic descent. My mother was born in Scotland of an Irish father and Scottish mother. My own father likewise had one Scottish and one Irish parent. My roots go back into those two Celtic countries further than any in my family can tally. You can’t get too much more Celtic than that. I speak a moderate amount of Scottish Gaelic and read the language fairly well, and have studied to learn the bagpipe chanter and the Irish tin whistle and some traditional Scottish Highland dances. I am a student of history and well know the belief system of my Irish and Scottish forebears. Believe me, if there was anything in the spiritual lives of my ancient forebears to brag on I would most certainly make it known. But before Christ they were pagans (barbarians) who were enemies of God by nature. Decapitation of their conquered foes, ritual human sacrifice and worship of any number of woodland or other gods all made up part of the life of the barbarian Celt. That’s it. No sugarcoating here.

The fact is, you can’t have a barbarian heart and the heart of Christ. The two are completely incompatible. They always have been, and no amount of redefining one or the other will make it otherwise.

McManus is enamoured of the word “mystical”, and uses it repeatedly in his book. Again, he changes definitions. The word “mystic” in the Greek refers to someone who is involved with secret rites—i.e. a hidden way to God that is only for the initiated. Now, I understand that McManus probably does not mean this when he is speaking of a closer walk with God and intimate communion with Him. But it is important to use words corresponding to their actual meanings. That is what we have language for! To call a true follower of Jesus Christ a “mystic”, and his communion with God “mystical” is to mislead by wrong definition. Hinduism, Buddhism, and many world religions are mystical, but following Christ is not.

On page 100, McManus quotes Joel 2:28-29:

“I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.”

He then goes on to tell the reader that, as barbarians, we can dream big and have the courage to live them out, that the Holy Spirit puts these dreams and visions in our hearts and empowers us to make them become reality. But—that is not what the Scripture is saying! Remember, this Scripture refers specifically to the last days, and on the day of Pentecost, forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, Peter said in Acts 2:16 “…but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.”

What Peter was referring to was the supernatural dreams and visions brought by the Holy Spirit. These are completely different from McManus’ interpretation. In my former church group, we often spoke of the “vision” of our lives that God had given us, or the “dreams” we had for our life. We even spoke (and this is as ridiculous as it sounds) of “Jesus’ vision of Himself as the Son of God.” There is a big difference in the way those terms are used. Anyone who wants to know what a real biblically defined dream or vision is simply needs to look at the prophets in the Old and New Testaments. Joseph’s encounter with the angel (Matthew 1:20 and 2:13,19), Paul’s being “caught up into heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), Peter’s “trance” (Acts 10:10), and John’s description of heaven and the end time events chronicled in the book of Revelation all mark true biblical visions and dreams.

Beginning on page 117, under the subheading “Jump School”, McManus tells of an incident involving his son, who climbed out the second story window of their home, stood on the roof and excitedly yelled to his dad for permission to jump. Okay, let’s reiterate—the kid is two stories off the ground and wanting permission from his father to jump. I just needed to say that twice to eliminate any misunderstanding. What is McManus’ response? Why, he gives hearty permission, of course, even remarking (in the book) on the pride he had in his son at the moment of his rooftop conquest. McManus’ wife, who is standing beside him, is (understandably) thoroughly alarmed and (understandably) shoots him a look that questions his sanity. Not sure he heard correctly, the son asks again if he can jump. Again the hearty endorsement from dad. McManus suggests the boy jump soon, for in the event of broken legs, a convenient trip to the hospital can be taken. McManus’ only other suggestion is that his son try to avoid the concrete when he lands, and hit the grass instead. The boy jumps.

For the life of me I cannot figure this one out. I have never before heard of this kind of behaviour from a parent. Two stories is a long way to fall. Broken legs, slipped disks, cranial injuries can easily result from this kind of fall. It happens all the time. One pastor I know once fell only eight feet from a ladder, resulting in a fractured shoulder that needed to be surgically repaired. But—and this is the point—McManus was proud. He was proud of his son’s daring, and later in the chapter equates his attitude with a desire to let his children enter the barbarian way. No stultifying, civilized “Christianity” for them. He won’t raise them in the “cocoon of a domesticated faith”. He equates taking wild chances as a youngster with a faith that is truly lived to its fullest.

I wonder if McManus would have felt the same had his child been seriously injured. That the boy was not hurt is irrelevant. The point here is that, by his own admission, McManus risked his son’s safety. If nothing else in his book can persuade the “barbarian” devotee that McManus’ theology needs a major revamping, this incident alone should.

On page 131, under the subheading “Primal Attire”, McManus tells of being invited to a Christian retreat in the mountains. Called “Highlander”, this retreat was also where the unveiling of Christian manhood took place—in a most literal sense. Prior to a tug of war, the men were divided into two opposing groups. McManus happened to mention to his compatriots that the ancient Celts fought with their bodies painted, and in the nude. What he meant, he says, was for the men to cast off all doubts and uncertainties, but one of the opposite team took him seriously…by showing up for the competition without his clothing. He thus earned the nickname “Nature Boy”. It being a Christian retreat, he was told to cover up, and he complied with a shirt that did grave injustice to everything below the waist. Of course the team opposite him could see this, and jokingly McManus was wondering what one of his more distinguished friends was thinking while pulling a rope against a young rival who openly displayed his manhood in the effort.

It gets even more interesting. Seeing their team-mate’s daring, all the members of the team opposite McManus decided to strip as well, having chosen “the barbarian way”.

Sooooo…we have a group of naked men grunting, sweating, and pulling against another team, and eventually getting pulled into a mud pit. We can only assume that, because the game went on after the men removed their clothing, it was seen light-heartedly. One thing is certain—this incident really does portray the true barbarian way. No clothes, no inhibitions, no propriety. This incident is characterized by all these things, and is marked as well with a glaring lack of scriptural foundation. Can you imagine the apostles or early disciples of Christ engaging in something like this? History records that the early Christians routinely avoided the athletic spectator sports because wrestling and the like were done in the nude. The followers of Jesus knew it was indecent, shameful, and in direct violation of the scriptural commands to maintain purity of body and heart.

But McManus goes further. In apparently attempting to justify the incident, he quotes from 2 Samuel 6, where David danced before the LORD with all his might. While David certainly took off his fine outer clothing, the Bible says that as he danced he was wearing a linen ephod, a garment associated with worship. What he did can in no way be compared to the disrobing debacle at McManus’ retreat setting.

As a possible aside, all this fits in quite nicely with the Toronto/Pensacola mindset. As long-time members of a Toronto Blessing-like church [Comment by Cecil – CFC in Belfast where Mr McManus is coming to were one of the main ‘distributors’ of the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’], my wife and I (along with the rest of the congregation) were continuously encouraged to spiritually think outside the “box”, or the supposed restrictions we placed on God as to how He should manifest in our midst. In fact, the limits, if there were any, were abandoned. “Holy” laughter, spiritual drunkenness, indecent displays of flesh during “carpet time” all were hallmarks of our inability and unwillingness to distinguish between the works of God and the works of man…or worse. Carnality was suddenly sanctified. As long as the “power” was in manifestation, it just had to be God. Or so we believed.

The fact that it is necessary to point out the immoral behaviour of McManus’ retreat incident demonstrates the deplorable lack of discernment in today’s Church. How far we have fallen! How many will read this book and be led to put into practice its contents—not just the part about seeking God and being in close communion with Him, but the other parts that have already been mentioned? How can the mixture of flesh and spirit be so blatant, so unhidden, yet so easily accepted?

The bottom line is that Jesus Christ doesn’t want barbarians. The barbarian heart is the one from which He has delivered us.  That “primal”, sensual, I’ve-got-to-be-me attitude that casts off restraint has no place in the Christian congregation.

As romantic as that distant era of warfare and wild living might seem, we can’t go back, and we don’t really want to. There’s nothing back there for us anymore. We need to be satisfied with Christ alone, as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. That is enough, and more than we can possibly live out in this short earthly span. The true barbarian way—brutal, self-serving, violent—needs to remain in the deep past where it belongs, where my own Celtic forbears are buried with their swords and superstitions.

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD, His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:3).