You can’t read Robert Farror Capon’s Between Noon and Three unaffected. I have not finished the book yet, but there have been moments where I have laughed out loud, sat critical and offended, and been quite moved and encouraged. He knows his readers will respond this way and takes pleasure in it.
Sit back, breathe deeply, and take a few shots of Capon quotes that go down with a bit of a burn and leave you tipsy with grace and happy in Jesus.
Capon aims to poke fun at the impenetrable seriousness of serious Christian readers, offend your moral (and sometimes theological) sensibilities, slap the h-e-double-l-hockey-sticks out of legalism, and create a tsunami of grace for you to swim in. Overall, he wants you to join him in having a rollicking good time in an almost fraternizing way thinking about the outrageousness of God’s grace in Christ.
This post isn’t meant to wholeheartedly endorse all of Capon’s writing (doing that with anyone never works anyway). After all, reading books you only agree with limits you, and is downright annoying to others as well. No doubt, there are some points of his I would make adjustments to and where he appears to be heading on others I may end up strongly objecting to. But, on the whole, I’ve been simply blessed. So let’s leave it at that for now.
If you don’t mind, let me take a few more minutes of your time. Sit back, breathe deeply, and take a few shots of Capon quotes that go down with a bit of a burn and leave you tipsy with grace and happy in Jesus.
The Freedom of No Condemnation:
“There is therefore now no condemnation. It doesn’t matter what the universe thinks. It doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t even matter what God thinks, because God has said he isn’t going to think about it anymore. All he thinks now is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; and Jesus now is all your life.” (116)
The Celebration of Grace:
“Grace aims at the celebration of life: ‘Let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ Indeed, Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.” (72).
On the Church Discouraging the Freedom of Grace:
“…If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. It has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that it has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our pieces, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music, but to avoid some flub that will get us in Dutch. The church, having put itself in loco parentis, has been so afraid we will lose sight of the laws of our nature that it has made us care more about how we look than about who we are–made us act more like the subjects of a police state than fellow citizens of the saints.” (149)
On Why He Pictured Grace in a Parable as an Adulterous Woman in an Adulterous Relationship:
“For at the roots of our fallen being…Our pride drives us to establish our own righteousness. We strive all our life to see ourselves as keepers of rules we cannot keep, as loyal subjects of laws under which we can only be judged outlaws. Yet so deep is our need to derive our identity from our own self-respect–so profound is our conviction that unless we watch our step, the watchbird will take away our name–that we will spend a lifetime tyring to do the impossible rather than, for even one carefree minute, consent to having it done for us by someone else.
Were I to have married Paul and Laura, your mind would have come to rest in the eventual legitimacy of their relationship and not in the grace that was its only root. For Paul–and you and I–remain permanently illegitimate. We need more than occasional suspensions of the rules. We need grace.” (145-146)
What Jesus Came to Do:
“Jesus came to raise the dead. Not to improve the improvable, not to perfect the perfectible, not to teach the teachable, but to raise the dead. He never met a corpse that didn’t sit right up then and there. And he never meets us without bringing us out of nothing into the joy of his resurrection…” (129)
The Reformation: Grace Like Rain. No, wait, I mean, Whiskey:
“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 heaven 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…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.” (110)