Monday, August 04, 2008

200-proof grace

I know at least one theologian who would appreciate this comment from Robert Farrar Capon in Between Noon and Three:
The Reformers, you see, were dead right on this subject. They carried on -- no, that's much too weak -- they ranted and raved endlessly about the iniquity of works of supererogation, about the falseness of the notion that the gasoline of grace could be made to give better mileage if you put into it the additive of some perfect performance.

Read Luther sometime on the subject of clerical celibacy. The Reformation was a time when people went blind-staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, 200-proof grace -- of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture that would convince anyone that God saves us single-handed. The Word of the Gospel, after all those centuries of believers trying to lift themselves into heavy by worrying about the perfection of their own bootstraps, suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home free even before they started. How foolish, then, they said, how reprehensibly misleading they said, to take the ministerse of that Word of free, unqualified acceptance and slap enforced celibacy on them -- to make their lives bear a sticker that said they had gone an extra mile and paid an extra toll. It was simply to hide the light of grace under a bushel of pseudo-law, to take the sacrament of the Mystery and to go out of the way to make it look as little like the Mystery as possible. And for the Reformers, that was a crime. Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no
ice, and certainly no ginger ale
neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super-spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.

pages 109-110


Melodee said...

I know a family member of mine who would appreciate that! :)

Anne said...

My husband will love that one! I'm passing it on to him now.