Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book Review - Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

Capon, Robert Farrar, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus.  Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2002.

Capon's book, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment (originally published as three separate volumes) walks through Jesus' parabolic actions and statements in Scripture.  The thrust of the book is that Jesus came to save through death, both his own and the death of those who follow him.  Capon frequently talks about how Jesus came to save the last, the little, the least, the lost, and the dead.  It is when we die to ourselves that we are able to live to Christ.  It is when we realize our lostness that we see we are found.  It is when we see that we are the least important that we realize we are the treasure buried in the field, purchased by Christ.  It is when we realize we are the last person on earth who deserves the blessing of God that we see God's blessing poured out on us.

From beginning to end of this lengthy volume (over 500 pages) Capon points relentlessly to Jesus' proclamation of himself as the savior of the world.  He has come to redeem what was lost, breaking down the wall of separation between God and man.  Jesus proclaims his work as effective.  The gospel is the power of God to salvation.  And Jesus himself is the gospel.  He has redeemed the world and is the power to salvation for all who believe.  Counter to this we see human relentless efforts to prove ourselves the savior, to be the first, the big, the great, the found, and the living.  It is only when we lay down those efforts that we become partakers of the salvation Jesus has provided for us.  If we do not lay down those efforts and realize that we are in fact the last, the little, the least, the lost, and the dead then Jesus will eventually leave us to work out our own salvation, earning our own merit before God.  Of course, we realize we cannot do so.

Capon's conversational style is attractive to some, discouraging to others.  He has a tendency to fall into colloquialisms using language which I fear will seem quite dated and unfamiliar within a few decades.  Some of his illustrations use rather earthy parallels to express his interpretation of what Jesus is saying.  I don't recommend the book as reading for a young audience.  But a mature reader will find that Capon takes a very fresh and striking look at the parables.

Dave Spotts
blogging at http://capnsaltyslongvoyage.blogspot.com and http://alex-kirk.blogspot.com

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