200-Proof Grace

Here is another guest post from Dane Ortlund. Dane blogs regularly at Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology and is featured at The Gospel Coalition and the Resurgence.

Episcopal priest and author Robert Farrar Capon:

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 . . . 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 ministers 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. . . .

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 that case.

–Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Eerdmans 1997), 109-10

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