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November 17, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Summary of “Soul Cravings” by Erwin McManus

Erwin Raphael McManus is an interesting character. He’s the pastor of Mosaic, a congregation located in Los Angeles and nationally respected speaker (its not suprising then that he has his share of critics as well). I recently read his book “Soul Craving” after watching an interesting video from the Veritas Forum (Gods Value for Human Uniqueness). Here is a quick summary of the book along, including some of the streams of though McManus speaks to as well as some insightful quotes for all the truth, meaning, and purposes seekers out there….

Why do we need to know?
What drives us to search for answers?
Where does the ‘ask” come from?
Every one of us is on a search for meaning.
We are on a quest(ion).
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

“We need both to aspire and accomplish. Without a vision for your life, without a sense of purpose, you will begin to die a slow death.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

“Your soul craves truth, beauty, wonder, love. Your soul craves to dream, to imagine, and even simply to understand. Your soul craves to connect, to commune, to create.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

Summary of Erwin McManus’ Soul Craving:

1) We crave truth
2) We crave meaning
3) We crave love
4) We crave purpose & significance
5) We crave progress
6) We crave dreams
7) We crave real community, real relationships, and real communication.
McManus calls these “intrinsic evidences” for the existence of God. This is echoed in the scripture in Solomons declaration that “God has written eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

Other themes advanced in “Soul Cravings”

1) We’re built for all these aspirations. We need hope, love, community, purpose, direction, and truth to really live & to live as fulfilled human beings
2) Jesus was a nonconformist and a rebel
3) World values money, sex, relationships, and ethics–but all in a warped way.
4) Scientific materialism is incapable of answering our most important questions (why? and who?)
5) Everyone has faith or belief in something.

Interesting Quotes from Erwin McManus’ “Soul Craving”

“You are a unique creation make by God to live and not simply exist. You soul longs to find its ultimate purpose. It will not rest until you do. Your soul craves its destiny. Your soul desires. It always will. You were created as a creative being. You were made to grow, to dream, to achieve. Your soul is letting you know you come from God and your life is intended to be God-sized and God-inspired.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

You were created with an insatiable thirst for truth. You will always crave it, even when you run from it. It is always God’s desire to move you toward truth. He created you with a drive and to pursue it.
From your first breath, you have been on a journey, and a significant part of it has been a search for meaning. Contrary to what you may have been told all your life, God is not offended by your questions, even questions about his existence.
He made you inquisitive and curious and has placed within you an unquenchable thirst for knowledge–not for information, but for meaning. We need to know.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

“The more perplexing questions, the ones our souls long to find answers to who and why. The scientific method depends on objectivity and detachment. While these are essential for good service, the shortcoming is that science, no matter how advanced it may become, cannot even begin to engage the most profound questions of who and why. At the same time, science can’t seem to help itself. Science seems to continually stumble awkwardly into philosophy and religion.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

“Our greatest danger is living for whatever we can take and devour now and destroying our future in the process. Sometimes we find ourselves seething in anger because our desires cannot be satiated. When our dreams seem out of reach, it is easy to simply choose apathy. Our worst-case scenario is that we become enemies of hope.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

“At the same time we must heed the warning of the Sith (in Star Wars), that unrestrained passion, passions lacking a moral compass, will lead us to a life that is self-destructive and will hurt anyone who chooses to come.”
Erwin McManus, Soul Craving

Quick Book Review of “Soul Cravings” by Erwin McManus:
I think the book has interesting insights. McManus has revived some compelling narratives from CS Lewis and other and adapted it to 21st Century narratives. Some may decry his work as post-modern, but I don’t see how that description is an accurate description or criticism of this work (its a strawperson and caricature of his work in “Soul Cravings” at least. Probably 25% to 30% of that could be labeled overly critical punditry in one form or another rather than legitimate book review). It may have post-modern elements, but it not drenched in post-modern ideology like he has been portrayed. While this book is not without valid criticism (I think its a little hyperbolic in places and his use of “soul” may or not be right in all the places he uses them. And in other places its possible he conflates interpersonal truth and ultimate Truth.) However, I think he writes well and in a way that potential new Christians or those who are returning to the faith can be inspired and intellectually and spiritually enriched by. If you want to check out “Soul Cravings” there is a decent preview you can read by clicking on this link.

I think this quote from 1 Corinithians 13 which McManus reference in another talk:

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Ultimately, like McManus points out: “Nothing satisfies but faith hope and love”



Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Nov 17 2010 7:34 pm

    McManus also points to imagination as uniquely human. (as well as a liking for light vs. dark as a kid)

    McManus says “faith, hope, and love” are at the core of great movies & the story of humanity. “You can’t satiate these…without God.”

    McManus further argues they are more important than spiritual gifts. I don’t see that as true and I don’t really see them as mutually exclusive (perhaps he means more at the core of humanity).

    McManus in other spots speaks to the notion that the objective/subjective truth division is a Western construct. All truth is internal. I think there is some truth to this statement, but
    1) I think the scripture above is objectively true
    2) I can know I objectively exist (and can believe others can subjectively exist)
    3) Math is objectively ture. 2 + 2 always equals 4
    4) The laws of the universe are “objectively true”–the universal constants.
    But I think his definition of “objective” may color what he’s saying and he may just be pointing to the limits of objective truth.

    For McManus, moving to truth is the point.

    McManus, “Before you move into apolegetics…the beginning point is humility. Maybe I’m not right. Maybe I am really created in the image of God. Maybe I am created for a purpose.”

    (More mcmanus from elsewhere: why does purpose haunt us? why hasn’t the evolutionary? are we trying to be alive and feel alive. our perception of our purpose changes–its easy 2 to 3 times…but gets harder. what creates life inside of me?
    what i appreciate about my mom is she was always open, honest, and struggling. human beings are environmental. can tell health environment of plant via growth/thriving. what environments make a human being health? what causes us to thrive? to dream/growth/etc?
    were all unique and so much the same. we have an intrinsic need to be loved–giving and recieving love–why do we want to GIVE love? why do we NEED to love? typography of the human spirit = alive & love—friendship, relationship, community, and intimacy
    Confesses own OCD–its giving meaning to meaningless.
    Cohesive understanding
    We are more alive when we are searching for truth–we’re more alive)

  2. Mick Turner / Nov 29 2010 1:56 am

    Thanks for the great review. I am generally a fan of McManus’ writing, both in style and content. I haven’t read Soul Cravings, so I found the review quite helpful. I have read three books by McManus including Chasing Daylight, Wide Awake, and Uprising. Each one is a bit different yet highly relevant, at least in my view. I agree with you that to use a broad brush and paint him as “post-modern” would be a mistake.

  3. Dave N / Jan 29 2012 7:37 am

    Pretty much every quote on this page is pure poppycock.

    McManus likes to write this philosophical nonsense to make himself seems smarter than you, smarter than everyone else.

    Go ahead. Value this junk if you want to end up a purveyor of eastern mysticism or new age humanism like McManus is.

    Notice how many scriptures made it into McManus’ philosophy presented here.(Zero) That should tell you something. Just because he talks about God or Jesus doesn’t mean he’s talking about God of the bible. It’s clear from his writings that his “Jesus” or “god” (small g intentional) is not from the bible.

    • Nathan Ketsdever / Jan 29 2012 8:09 pm

      I think McManus should be read with care, but I don’t think you should out of hand reject him. I don’t think you should hold McManus’ books or any book for that manner to the standard you might hold your home preacher (assuming he preaches to a non-seeker type audience). McManus provides insights that I hadn’t fully thought of myself.

      Unless you have specific passages from McManus that you think contradict scripture…I think using him as a spring board for gettting into scripture or as a way to help awaken the curiosity of seekers can be potentially helpful.

      I do, however, appreciate your concerns. Thanks for commenting.

    • Christian H. / Dec 14 2012 3:46 pm

      Dave N. ~ Maybe you need to read Soul Cravings yourself…it sounds as though you need a hug. Unless you can show direct instances where you claim he is sac religious….I suggest you take your words like “poppycock” elsewhere. Most of us are tired of the square box, holier than thou approach to Christianity these days…The facts are the facts and we as a people are full of egotistical sin and above all else, heavy narcissism. Understanding our needs will allow us to form a deaper, more meaningful relationship with God ( capital intended!)

  4. commpassioninpolitics / Dec 27 2012 6:26 pm

    Gary E Gilley on Amazon took a critical slant on “Soul Cravings” although the overall reviews on “Soul Cravings” are quite favorable:

    Soul Cravings is sort of an apologetic aimed at the postmodern generation. Rather than persuade his audience with biblical proofs, scientific evidence or logical arguments, McManus has chosen a philosophical approach. His reasoning is that our souls crave three things: intimacy, destiny and meaning. The fact that all human beings have these cravings is evidence for the existence of God.

    The big question is, if these cravings do point us to God, just where and how are we to find Him? The underlying theme throughout the book is that we will find Him in ourselves as we allow our cravings to lead us. In the introduction (it should be noted that McManus “creatively” does not use page numbers, rather he has 68 “entries” of various lengths) he writes, “This is not a book focused on empirical evidence for God. It is about coming to know ourselves…It is about our story; and if God exists, we should be able to find Him there.” To this end we are told to “follow love and it will guide you to God” (part 1, entry 4). Soul Cravings ends where it begins. In the conclusion we read, “All the evidence you need to prove God is waiting within you to be discovered.” And, “If you pay attention to your soul, it will guide you to God.” Again, “Explore nowhere else except deep within yourself…you will come face-to-face with God.”

    Rather than take the reader back to Scripture (which describes and points the true way to God) or to Jesus, who most fully explains Him (John 1:14, 18), McManus would have us look inside ourselves to find God. And while Romans 1 and 2 would agree that God has planted evidence of Himself within our souls, the Scriptures are equally clear that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). One of the problems with pointing people back to themselves to find God lies in the wickedness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) and the inadequacy of our souls to comprehend God unaided by the Spirit using the Word. This is the fatal flaw in McManus’ system. At no point does he explain to his reader the gospel message. It is as if such information will get in the way. Rather, we follow our cravings and our cravings lead us to God. The Scriptures do not agree.

    An interrelated problem found in Soul Cravings is the insistence that God’s love is unconditional. “What in the world would happen,” McManus asks, “if people actually began discovering the actual message of Jesus Christ–that love is unconditional…that Jesus was offering His love freely and without condition?” (part 1, entry 10). What does McManus mean by this? Is faith not the human condition for receiving saving grace? McManus never speaks of the cross as necessary for our atonement or redemption or for propitiation which satisfies the righteous wrath of God. Instead, the cross “is God’s declaration of love for you” (conclusion). So the cross is gutted of its full meaning and replaced with the gospel of unconditional love.

    Soul Cravings has its high moments. McManus’ ability as a motivational speaker and writer are evidenced in the many inspirational stories and pep rally feel. But McManus substitutes philosophical and psychological ideas for biblical ones. In the end he succeeds in identifying the true longing of our heart (cravings) but fails to point us in the right direction. He does focus us on God, but it is the God found within our souls. He talks about Christ and the cross but reduces their meaning to nothing more than unconditional love. He does not explain man’s great problem as being sin, and his solution found only in Christ. And he does not talk to us about repentance or faith. He has opened the door in Soul Cravings to explore the true God but he has not taken his reader beyond the threshold.

    I found this criticism of McManus’ the Barbarian way:

    I think its easy to conflate mysticism with Christian mysticism. I think both sides of the fence may ultimately be challenged by this.


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