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Robert Farrar Capon

 

Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus

Amazon reader review: There's an old saying: "Familiarity breeds contempt." So it is with the parables of Jesus. Everyone thinks they know what he is teaching. So much so, that the contempt committed is against the very heart of the gospel message. Instead of radical, liberating, and scandalous good news, we end up with warmed over ethics, served up on a bed of moralistic legalism, and covered with a layer of heavy-handed, rule laden religion. But that isn't what you get with Capon! Instead of showing age old contempt for the gospel of grace, Father Capon leads his readers to a new awareness of the eternal truth of God's generosity in Christ. It is like a rich delightful meal, that you savor along the way. Once you've feasted there, you can never go back to the "greasy spoon" theology so popular in the Christian sub-culture today. This is three books in one. Previously published in three separate volumes, Kingdom, Grace and Judgment was released in 2002 as one marvelous book. You will not find anything better on the parables of Jesus. Capon divides the teaching ministry of Jesus into three periods and correlating subjects: kingdom, grace and judgment. Each volume brings Jesus closer to the cross, and as it does, the intensity, drama and passion of his message grows exponentially. This as the advertisement says, is "not your Father's Oldsmobile." You will find yourself laughing out loud at the author's outrageous sense of humor, praising out loud for the divine author's generous heart, and weeping with gratitude for the mercy and grace of the crucified and risen Christ! This is the best introduction to the genius, wit and scholarship of Father Capon's works. Read this book and you will never see the gospels the same again!

 

 

 

The Mystery of Christ ... and Why We Don't Get It

Capon's theme is the understanding of the Christian concept of grace through faith; he feels that this "mystery" is in this world, not some mystical experience of another realm. The popular idea that the goal of Christianity and the church is to make people "non sinners" is replaced, in his argument, with the understanding that God's grace makes people "sin-forgivers." This frees believers from living in fear of a god who is a CPA of sins and frees them to forgive others. Capon handles the topics covered in his dialogues with representative counselees with a light but not frivolous touch. His book is well suited for general collections and would be particularly appropriate for college students because of its treatments of contemporary topics.

 

 

 

The Foolishness of Preaching : Proclaiming the Gospel Against the Wisdom of the World

Amazon reader review: Capon urges those of us who preach to keep our focus on what is most important, namely Jesus Christ. It's not about keeping the rules nor about holding the right doctrine. It's about being held in love by the God who made us and wants to save us by grace through Christ. If you only read one book on preaching this year, it needs to be this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis: The Movie

Amazon reader review: Robert Capon's "Genesis: the movie" is a typically unconventional Capon ride. What makes the book most interesting (and this is true of his work generally) is that for all of its "unconventionality," it is born of a deep and foundational theological orthodoxy; I can't think of the last time I read a new book that worked so extensively with Augustine! Even the sections that might make some self-proclaimed orthodox readers shudder (and here I would highlight his idea of God's "ecology of good and evil") are rooted in a wrestling with the deep traditions of Jewish and Christian biblical interpretation. Besides, I know of few theological writers who have so much fun doing theology, and that has to be worth a great deal in a discipline that can easily become dry and dusty.

 

 

 

Parables of Judgment

Following up on his Parables of Grace (LJ 7/88), Capon applies his wit and erudition to the parables of judgment Jesus spoke and acted out as his earthly life was ending. As usual, Capon's theology is an odd evangelical/universalist hybrid: we are saved by faith alone, never by works, he insists; yet Jesus' judgment is a "grand sacrament of vindication" based on "inclusion before exclusion," and only "party poopers" who refuse to enjoy the fun wind up being shown the door. There is something very incongruous about seeing "salvation (as) slapstick." Still, agree or disagree, readers are bound to be stimulated and entertained.

 


 

 

Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace

Amazon reader review: With wit, humor and exegesis, Capon evokes a bit of C.S. Lewis as he brushes past centuries of dry theologizing on concepts of grace and freedom, law and sin, and actually makes the questions fun. Describing his method as "theology by way of entertainment," he illustrates the radical nature of grace with a "parable" about an illicit affair between a promiscuous English professor and a graduate student, both married. Capon, an Episcopal priest, is determined to "separate the liquor of grace from the mash of mortality," and some may accuse him of excessive haste in setting aside the latter. His justification: "No mistake can hold a candle to the love that draws us home." Chiding the "grace-fearing spoilsport in every one of us," Capon argues that organized religion too often encourages us "to act more like subjects of a police state than fellow citizens of the saints."

 

 

The Supper of the Lamb : A Culinary Reflection

Amazon reader review: Food writing is a difficult task. It's much easier to jot down a few (or many) recipes that describe the feelings, emotion and psychology of the food experience. One advantage that food writing has over, say car writing or sports writing, is the multitude of functionality. One can raise, prepare, buy, eat and savor food. It is used for romance, for celebration, for friendship, bereavement or religious fulfillment. In fact, to some it is almost a religious experience.

This is especially true of the author, Robert Capon, a priest in the Episcopal church. He can be deep, funny, poignant or edifying. These various essays touch on many subjects, all of them related one way or another to food. His comments like, "God may be simple but simplicity makes a bad god." are par for the course. His strong likes (natural food, discipline, earnest preparation and friends) and dislikes (fancy stoves, kitchen gadgets, easy recipes, strong cologne, arriving late) are fully detailed. A compendium of recipes follow the essays.

 

 

The Parables of Grace

Amazon reader review: Following up on his Parables of the Kingdom (Zondervan, 1985), Capon turns to Jesus's tales told between the feeding of the 5000 and the triumphal entryall read (not surprisingly) as statements of radical, unmerited grace made possible by his death and resurrection and our own ongoing deaths to all moral bookkeeping, all attempts to live our own way into heaven. As always, Capon sometimes pushes his point to outrageous extremes; yet if he virtually ignores the concept of God's justice, he is surprisingly orthodox in his insistence on dealing with all of Scripture. Most provocative.

 

 

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The Parables of the Kingdom
Amazon reader review: Capon will be snubbed by the head in the sand fundamentalists who think they are the only right ones...but Capon would be the first one to say, God loves them too. Excellent commentary in a non-commentary style as he says about the treasure of the Kingdom Jesus posits in parables, "as children turned loose in the treasure room of the castle--we've got more than enough to keep us fascinated forever." Capon's insights are astounding and will shake up 'modern plastic Christianity's' conventional ideas. I think Capon grasps Jesus' teaching/preaching method of inductive preaching/teaching better than anyone else. His other books are fantastic too. A worthy read, first of three about the parables. Read all three then buy 'The Mystery of Christ.' Capon is an Episcopal priest and a chef and he sure puts together some fine dishes!

 

 

The Fingerprints of God: Tracking the Divine Suspect Through a History of Images

Episcopal priest and author Capon (The Foolishness of Preaching and other works) here offers a highly engaging yet learned approach to the understanding of God. Not many could try to address the significance of God as the hidden hand of history by mixing the insights of baseball with reflections on Irenaeus and Anselm, but Capon does so with gusto. His original work culminates in an imagined conversation with Melanchthon, Luther, and Julian of Norwich, concluding with one of Julian's visions. Highly recommended.

 

 

The Astonished Heart: Reclaiming the Good News from the Lost-And-Found of Church History

Capon describes himself as having had, for almost 50 years, a vacation to the priesthood. It is a vacation he has shared in an array of breezy, sometimes flippant, always dependably and engagingly playful writing. He is still on vacation, and readers who know him as well as those who don't will be grateful. Needless to say, there is nothing formal about this history; but it is packed with information gleaned from decades of pastoral experience and theological reflection. And it is a serious proposal for a transformation of Christianity thoroughly grounded in Christian tradition. Capon maintains that the heart of Christianity is a proclamation of the end of religion; that much of church history has been a denial of that heart in the construction of Christendom; and that the transformation of Christianity demands the death (not just the prolonged dying) of Christendom. Capon's message to Christendom is "drop dead" --an astonishing message from a priest, perhaps, but astonishment is what resurrection is all about.

 

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