unconditional positive regard, THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL and scriptural mandates



            Imagine interactions with others in which no judgment happened, but only pure care for the person’s wellbeing happened. Although it sounds mythical in a world focused on self-advancement, a type of loving understanding persists in many counseling sessions and should be happening with the Church at large as well. This blog will begin to explore some of the meaning around unconditional positive regard and scriptural mandate. It will incorporate some ideas on the grace of God based from Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel.


Unconditional positive regard refers to a way of being in the doctor client relationship. Carl Rogers first used the term to connote a warm[1], nonjudgmental acceptance of a person “no matter the condition of his behavior or feelings.”[2] The therapist values the client as a separate individual[3], devoid of an “evaluating attitude,”[4] or personal agenda of gain and accepts he/she no regardless if the “attitude”[5] of the client seems positive or negative. The counselor views the client with respect, granting the client “permission to experience their own life”[6] separate from societal norms or the counselor’s own experience.

Carl Rogers theorizes that in this genuine loving atmosphere personal change will happen.[7] Rogers believes that at the time each person becomes self-aware the need for acceptance appears.[8] When a person discloses personal information, feelings, or sacred experiences and it is not received with acceptance or understood the individual suffers a violation which can result in psychosis.[9]  When one practices unconditional positive regard, personal change may occur[10], and a client feels free to move ahead in the process of becoming.[11]Rogers believed in the practice and recommended it to those outside of psychology.[12] The practice benefits pastors, educators, and social workers as well.


               The notion of unconditional positive regard sounds very Christ-like indeed. A type of Namaste proclamation goes from one soul to the other, saying I recognize the God, divine, full-potential, or ultimate good in you while practicing unconditional positive regard. Scripture appears to back up this statement fully, as Jesus Christ said “the Law is summed up in this: Love your God, and Love your neighbor.”[13] Christ also mentioned that humans should not judge one another, but rather judge their own actions, motives, and thoughts.[14] If Jesus is the central figure in Christianity, than why have his words not be considered deeply when practicing interpersonal relationships in the American Church?

Many have wrongly used scripture to butcher other. Well-intending Christians assume that calling out sin or character defects in a brother can be iron sharpening iron. Usually those irons bludgeon eyes out, leaving the supposed sinner in a more wounded and vulnerable state previous to the encounter with the so-called Christian.  Many use scriptures like 1 Corinthians 5 to limit who can be in community. Unfortunately, Christians fail to realize that Paul wrote to a particular church about a specific situation. The same applies for similar verses of rebuke found in the epistles of Paul, John, Jude, Peter and perhaps Priscilla’s letter to the Hebrews.[15] Not every scripture should be applied in the modern context, but rather it should be researched in order to understand its meaning in its historical setting. Brennan Manning notices the incongruence in the message of Grace of Christ’s words and the Church’s refusal to practice it.

“Something is radically wrong when the local church rejects a person accepted by Jesus: When a harsh, judgmental, and unforgiving, sentence is passed on homosexuals, when a divorcee is denied communion, when the child of a prostitute is refused baptism, when an unlarciel priest is forbidden the sacraments.”[16]

Scripture reiterates over fifteen times in the New Testament that judgment is reserved for God alone. Too long the church has looked down the slope of her nose on those she deemed not well enough to enter her ranks. She became a whore, leaving her first loved, and flirted with world systems that set themselves against the love of God that throws down every system of human separation.[17] The best chance the church possesses for being instrumental in evangelizing the world is Love. Brennan Manning said the best possible evangelism to a person “is to say to him or her, you too are loved by God in the Lord Jesus.”[18] Rogers believed that unconditional positive response would facilitate personal change and growth. It is very much like Romans 2[19] in which Paul quotes the prophets about God loving-kindness bringing change. More Christians should read Romans 2 instead of being so fast to quote Romans 1 when encountering the sexuality of another. The church must listen to the god truth found in other streams of study besides theology if she desires to move ahead in her mission to love.



Who better to emulate than Christ?  Counselors, lay ministers, educators, pastors, social workers, and every person in the community should consider the way of being in interpersonal relationships as presented by Carl Rogers. Unconditional positive regard does not negate scriptural mandates, but rather it fulfills them.

               having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.[20]




               Perhaps Christ followers will love others the same way Christ, and Carl Rogers suggested to do.












Manning, Brennan The Ragamuffin Gospel: Embracing the Unconditional Love of God. Multnomah, Publishers, Inc. Sisters, Oregon, 1990.

Rogers, Carl. On Becoming a Person: A Therapists View of Psychotherapy Boston: Houghton

Mifflin, 1989.

Rogers, Carl Ransom. “The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality

Change.” Journal of Consulting Psychology 21 (1957): 95-103.
Rogers, Carl Ransom. “A Theory of Therapy, Personality, and Interpersonal Relationships as

Developed in the Client Centered Framework.” In The Carl Rogers Reader, edited by

Vittendersen and H. Kirschenbaum. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Rogers, Carl Ransom. A Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.

[1]      Carl Ransom Rogers, “A Theory of Therapy, Personality, and Interpersonal Relationships as

Developed in the Client Centered Framework,” in The Carl Rogers Reader, ed. Vittendersen and H.

Kirschenbaum (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), 225.

[2]       Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person: A Therapists View of Psychotherapy (Boston: HoughtonMifflin, 1989) 34.

[3]       Rogers, “A Theory of Therapy…,” 225.

[4]       Ibid., 225

[5]       Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 34.

[6]       Rogers, “A Theory of Therapy…,” 226.

[7]    Carl Ransom Rogers, “The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality

Change,” Journal of Consulting Psychology 21 (1957): 95-103.

[8]      Rogers, “A Theory of Therapy…,”239.

[9]      Carl Ransom Rogers, A Way of Being (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980), page #s., 14.

[10]     Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 47.

[11]     Ibid.

[12]     Rogers, A Way of Being, X.

[13]     Luke 10 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

[14]     Matthew 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

[15]   Scriptures viewed as almost judiazing slant in relation to the grace spoke of in Galatians by Paul:

Hebrews 6: 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Jude Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[e] 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

[16] Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, 30.

[17] Galatians 3:27-28, NIV. shatters the world systems of classification. Social Darwinism, Nationalism, Sexism, Ageism, and any other hierarchy of humanity do not linger in the Kingdom of God.

[18] Brennan Manning, 120.

[19] Romans 2, NIV. You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

[20] Phillipians 2, NIV.


2 thoughts on “unconditional positive regard, THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL and scriptural mandates

  1. Bec, thanks again! Unfortunately those we serve and we ourselves apply conditions to the unconditional love of GOD and our love of others and especially self~it is the self love and my twisted ego that I deal with the most~I am a shadow that swims in the dark~discovering people who don’t know how to swim in the darkness; I am learning how to be a living absorber of the darkness; a stigmata of being. Blessings, you are surrounded by the light!

  2. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to grasp a lot about this,
    such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you just could do with
    a few p.c. to force the message house a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog.

    A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

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