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Robert Farrar Capon on Advent 2 – Luke 21:25-36

by pastorjuhl ~ November 29th, 2010

Too often, the church preaches resurrection but effectively denies the death out of which aloe the grace of resurrection proceeds. Its cure of choice, for its own ills or for the world’s, is not death but simply more doomed living. The church, for example, will keep sinners (the morally dead) in its midst only as long as they do not presume to look dead – only as long as they can manage to make themselves seem morally alive. Moreover, ecclesiastical institutions are no more capable of accepting death for themselves than they are of tolerating it in their members. Like all other institutions, they cannot even conceive of going out of business for the sake of grace: given a choice of laying down their corporate lives for a friend or cutting off the friend at the knees, they almost invariably spare themselves the axe. Worst of all, when the church speaks to the world, it perpetuates the same false system of salvation. It is clearly heard as saying that the world can be saved only by getting its act together. But besides being false, that is an utterly unrealistic apologetic. For everyone knows perfectly well that the world never has gotten its act together and never will – that disaster has been the hallmark of its history – and that if there is no one who can save it in its disasters, there is no one who can save it. And therefore when the church comes to the world mouthing the hot air that the future is amenable to reform – that the kingdom can be built here by plausible devices, by something other than the mystery of the passion – the church convinces no one. Murphy’s Law vincit omnia: late or soon, the world is going down the drain; only a Savior who is willing to work at the bottom of the drain can redeem it. The world does indeed have a future and the church alone has that future to proclaim. But that future is neither pie on earth nor pie in the sky. It is resurrection from the dead – and without death, there can be no resurrection.

Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, p. 474-475

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