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Posts tagged "Kingdom Grace Judgment"

Turnips, Kiddies, and Icons

Turnips, Kiddies, and Icons

This reflection comes to us from Kim Kaufmann, part of the team at StoryMakersNYC (our awesome new children’s ministry initiative). Hold up an old, dried, brown, and knobbly turnip to a kid, and what do they say? “That looks like Gramma!” “It smells like poop!” “I bet there’s a fairy living inside!” “It’s a tree for […]

Lucid Absurdities: The Gospel and a Life of Meaning

Lucid Absurdities: The Gospel and a Life of Meaning

This one comes to us from the Rev. Aaron Boerst. Have you ever been on the receiving end of the kind of inquisitive gaze that makes a person look like a confused puppy? I have. Everybody has at least one friend who, without warning and without frame of reference, bursts into a conversation with some […]

Faith of Thrones

Faith of Thrones

There are already scores of recaps of Game of Thrones season finale readily available online (see this fine one from NPR for starters). I feel no compulsion to add to the already abundant list. But there was something that stuck out to me that is worth a little reflection. It’s something that has characterized the […]

More Robert Farrar Capon & Less Thanksgiving Turkey

More Robert Farrar Capon & Less Thanksgiving Turkey

Like many people who are fans of Robert Farrar Capon, my introduction to him and his work was through The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection. I first read the book over ten years ago when it was being passed around a small group of women in my (at the time) small church who […]

To Tide You Over: Capon Closes Down the Religion Shop

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Hopefully you’ve all heard the big news by now: Mockingbird has been given the wonderful privilege of bringing back to life 5 out-of-print books by our favorite salty lamb, Robert Farrar Capon, beginning with a previously unpublished manuscript to be released around Christmastime! To support this endeavor click here. Meanwhile, our greasy fingers are flipping through the texts as we speak.

To help tide you over, here’s an excerpt from Capon’s chef-d’œu·vre Kingdom, Grace, Judgment (still in print), a study on the parables of Jesus. The excerpt below responds to hypothetical objections to Capon’s emphasis on death and free grace: “Grace works only in those who accept their lostness,” he writes on page 204. “Jesus came to call sinners, not the pseudo-righteous; he came to raise the dead, not to buy drinks for the marginally alive.” In an interlude on pages 252-253, he continues:

“What ever happened,” you want to object, “to the positive idea of Christian living? If all we have to do to be saved is drop dead, why bother even trying to live–especially, why bother to be good, loving, or moral? Why not just go out and sin all we like? What role have you left for religion in the world, if everybody is going to get home free for nothing?” …

167935703_200acd7747_zWhat role have I left for religion? None. And I have left none because the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leaves none. Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion. Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshiping, sacrificing) the human race has ever thought it had to do to get right with God. About those things, Christianity has only two comments to make. The first is that none of them ever had the least chance of doing the trick: the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (see the Epistle to the Hebrews) and no effort of ours to keep the law of God can ever succeed (see the Epistle to the Romans). The second is that everything religion tried (and failed) to do has been perfectly done, once and for all, by Jesus in his death and resurrection. For Christians, therefore, the entire religion shop has been closed, boarded up, and forgotten. The church is not in the religion business. It never has been and it never will be, in spite of all the ecclesiastical turkeys through two thousand years who have acted as if religion was their stock in trade. The church, instead, is in the Gospel-proclaiming business. It is not here to bring the world the bad news that God will think kindly about us only after we have gone through certain creedal, liturgical and ethical wickets; it is here to bring the world the Good News that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” It is here, in short, for no religious purpose at all, only to announce the Gospel of free grace.

The reason for not going out and sinning all you like is the same as the reason for not going out and putting your nose in a slicing machine: it’s dumb, stupid and no fun. Some individual sins may have pleasure still attached to them because of the residual goodness of the realities they are abusing: adultery can indeed be pleasant, and tying one on can amuse. But betrayal, jealously, love grown cold, and the gray dawn of the morning after are nobody’s idea of a good time.

On the other hand, there’s no use belaboring that point, because it never stopped anybody. And neither did religion. The notion that people won’t sin as long as you keep them well supplied with guilt and holy terror is a bit overblown. Giving the human race religious reasons for not sinning is about as useful as reading lectures to an elephant in rut. We have always, in the pinches, done what we damn pleased, and God has let us do it. His answer to sin is not to scream “Stop that!” but to shut up once and for all on the subject in Jesus’ death.

Grace in <i>A Most Violent Year</i>

Grace in A Most Violent Year

2015’s cinematic rendition of the Rich Young Ruler comes to us from J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, which opens with the lead man, Abel, running—fast. Abel later explains that only cowards run, because they are too afraid to face the truth; Abel himself, however, firmly believes that he’s running towards something, not away from […]

A Breakfast Toast to Father Capon

A Breakfast Toast to Father Capon

Well, I must admit, I woke up this morning early, knowing it was time to get to work on this little tribute, and began fussing around the house like most mornings, in a complete torrent, running up and down the stairs, forgetting one thing, grabbing the wrong thing, going back, talking to myself. I don’t […]