I was introduced to the writings of Robert Farrar Capon via Brennan Manning. In The Ragamuffin Gospel (which I cannot recommend strongly enough) there is a phenomenal quote by Capon. It was such a phenomenal quote that I had to look the author up. And then I read a book by him. That book was his exegesis of Jesus’ Parables of Grace. That book was so excellent that I then read Parables of the Kingdom. In Parables of Grace, Capon spoke in such a revolutionary and novel way about Jesus, Scripture and most especially grace, that it just opened my mind and made me (again!) excited about the Gospel.
I’m currently working on Parables of Judgment and in his treatment of the Parables of the Workers in the Vineyard, he has so many great things to say about grace that I just want to copy and paste a few of them here:
“Grace doesn’t sell; you can hardly even give it away, because it works only for losers and no one wants to stand in their line.
Bookkeeping is the only punishable offense in the kingdom of heaven. For in that happy state, the books are ignored forever, and there is only the Book of life. And in that book, nothing stands against you. There are no debit entries that can keep you out of the clutches of the Love that will not let you go. There is no minimum balance below which the grace that finagles all accounts will cancel your credit. And there is, of course, no need for you to show large amounts of black ink, because the only Auditor before whom you must finally stand is the Lamb – and he has gone deaf, dumb, and blind on the cross. The last may be first and the first last, but that’s only for the fun of making the point: everybody is on the payout queue and everybody gets full pay. Nobody is kicked out who wasn’t already in; the only bruised backsides belong to those who insist on butting themselves into outer darkness.
For if the world could have been saved by bookkeeping, it would have been saved by Moses, not Jesus.
Opsias de genomenes. Heaven is Miller Time. Heaven is the parry in the streaming sunlight of the world’s final afternoon. Heaven is when all the rednecks, and all the wood-butchers, and all the plumbers who never showed up – all the losers who never got anything right and all the winners who just gave up on winning – simply waltz up to the bar of judgment with full pay envelopes and get down to the serious drinking that makes the new creation go round. It is a bash that has happened, that insists upon happening, and that is happening now – and by the sweetness of its cassation, it drowns out all the party poopers in the world.
Heaven, in short, is fun.”
It’s worth the read.