Written by Erwin Raphael
McManus and called The Barbarian Way, this volume
packs quite a wallop... 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.
...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. ... 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....
Coming 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... to spurn actual intensive study of the
Scriptures in favor of easily-digestible anecdotes,
suppositions and downright flights of fancy by the popular
“apostles, prophets and teachers” of our time.... What that
does is make a man the final arbiter of truth.....
From the beginning, this book emphasizes the “barbarian way”
of doing things... and declares these ways superior by far
to traditional Christianity....
Since barbarianism is the
foundation of McManus’ book, we need to look at what the
idea of barbarian really means.... 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 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”. ... 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....
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....
McManus is enamored of the word “mystical”.... 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. ... 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
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! ...
...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.... What is McManus’
response? Why, he gives hearty permission, of course.... Not
sure he heard correctly, the son asks again if he can jump.
Again the hearty endorsement from dad....
The boy jumps....
...under the subheading “Primal Attire”, McManus tells of
being invited to a Christian retreat.... Called
“Highlander”, this retreat was also where the unveiling of
Christian manhood took place—in a most literal sense. ...
McManus happened to mention to his compatriots that the
ancient Celts fought with their bodies painted, and in the
nude.... Sooooo…we have a group of naked men grunting,
sweating, and pulling against another team, and eventually
getting pulled into a mud pit....
One thing is certain—this
incident really does portray the true barbarian way. No
clothes, no inhibitions, no propriety. ... 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 long-time members of a Toronto Blessing-like church, my
wife and I (along with the rest of the congregation) were
continuously encouraged to spiritually think outside the
“box”.... “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….
As long as the “power” was in manifestation, it just had to
be God. Or so we believed. ...
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
“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).