Home » Brennan Manning » Unsettling The Settlers
Unsettling The Settlers

Unsettling The Settlers

Watch this Video: Brennan Manning illustrates two paradigms found in the church.

“Many men and women fear the responsibility of being free. It’s so much easier to let others make the decisions for us, or to find refuge in the letter of the law.

I say this with tears in my eyes, but many christian men and women want to be slaves. After enslaving themselves to the letter of the law, these people always go on to deny freedom to others. They will not rest until they’ve imposed the same oppressive burdens on everybody else.

Jesus described them this way. “They tie up heavy burdens, lay them on men’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to lift them.”

Jesus Christ came as liberator; to set His people free from laws – from all law. Under His word, we become free people of the Spirit… ” – Brennan Manning


“There are two visions of life, two kinds of people. The first see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are called settlers. The second see life as a wild, fantastic, explosive gift. They are called pioneers.

These two types give rise to two kinds of theology: Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. According to Wes Seeliger in his book, Western Theology, the first kind, Settler Theology, is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of Supreme Being, establish the status quo on golden tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life. The Wild West is the setting for both theologies …

Read the full excerpt from Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, Chapter 3, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986.3

In Settler Theology, faith is trusting in the safety of the town: obeying the laws, keeping your nose clean, believing the mayor is in the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, faith is the spirit of adventure: the readiness to move out, to risk everything on the trail. Faith is obedience to the restless voice of the trail boss.

In Settler Theology, sin is breaking one of the town’s ordinances.

In Pioneer Theology, sin is wanting to turn back.

In Settler Theology, salvation is living close to home and hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, salvation is being more afraid of sterile town life than death on the trail. Salvation is joy at the thought of another day to push on into the unknown. It is trusting the trail boss and following his scout while living on the meat furnished by the buffalo hunter.” – Brennan Manning

More about Brennan Manning >>

“Youth is not a period of time. It is a state of mind, a result of the will, a quality of the imagination, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort. A man doesn’t grow old because he has lived a certain number of years. A man grows old when he deserts his ideal. The years may wrinkle his skin, but deserting his ideal wrinkles his soul. Preoccupations, fears, doubts, and despair are the enemies which slowly bow us towards earth and turn us to dust before death.

You will remain young as long as you are open to what is beautiful, good, and great; receptive to the messages of other men and women, of nature and God. If one day you should become bitter, pessimistic and gnawed by despair, may God has mercy on your old man’s soul.” – General Douglas MacArthur