There were a few things that, obvious as they really are, had never actually occurred to me. The book deals with an issue that has bothered me for a long time. The current church is too safe. McManus encourages his readers to embrace a barbarian faith.
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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 made its wide distribution almost a foregone conclusion. The ways of the Celts in battle, their commitment to cause and their loyalty to their king seem to be a recurring theme.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. He said so himself. These others were pagans, worshiping idols, engaging in sexual perversion and violence, and completely shut out from the presence of God. 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 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 colorless and bound up with frustration, worry, and an overriding sense of uselessness.
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. Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, was one of the most violent films ever made. 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. He states that it basically entails just believing in Christ for salvation, and your life will be free and easy from that point on. 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. 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. 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!
McManus says on page 65 that John acted insane. Certainly they did not act like madmen. Even many of their enemies recognized that they were sent by God! 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.
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 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.
The two are completely incompatible. They always have been, and no amount of redefining one or the other will make it otherwise. Again, he changes definitions. 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! Hinduism, Buddhism, and many world religions are mystical, but following Christ is not. But—that is not what the Scripture is saying! 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. 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. 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. 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 lightheartedly. 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. In fact, the limits, if there were any, were abandoned. Carnality was suddenly sanctified. Or so we believed. 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 barbarian heart is the one from which He has delivered us. 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.
Posted with permission.
The Barbarian Way
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 made its wide distribution almost a foregone conclusion. The ways of the Celts in battle, their commitment to cause and their loyalty to their king seem to be a recurring theme. 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.
The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within