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Robert Farrar Capon on Luke 16:19-31

by pastorjuhl ~ June 6th, 2012

(Nubar = The Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31. Capon names him after Nubar Gulbenkian)

“When we talk resurrection up here, we’re not talking about some dumb, corpse-revival scheme in which the dead get up and go back to the same old life they had before. We’re talking about a whole new order that actually works through death, loss, and failure. And in order to give people even a hint of that, the one thing we don’t do is send back revived corpses. The way we’ve got it worked out, even when the incarnate Word himself gets raised from the dead, he only hangs around for forty days: then…pffft! Because you know what would happen if we left him there? They’d never in a million years get the idea that the resurrection was a new order they could get in touch with only by faith – only by trusting it; instead, they’d figure it was just one more funny wrinkle in the grimy face of history and they’d try to sell it as something that was merely interesting – as news, for crying out loud! If we left the risen Word on earth, they’d right away get him on Good Morning America and Sixty Minutes, then on Carson and Donahue – and then, for all I know, on Hollywood Squares. After that, probably, it would be Jesus, the Movie, followed by Jesus, I through VI. They’re dumb, Nubar. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Just like you. So this is how it stands. Your brothers have Moses and the prophets, and they’ll also get the risen and ascended Word. That’s enough for anybody who’s willing to believe. But for people who are hanging around, waiting to be convinced…Listen, Nubar; I’m sorry, but we’ve got a bad connection here. Must be the great gulf. I’m hanging up.”

“Kingdom, Grace, Judgment”, p. 315-316

“The world’s woes are beyond repair by the world’s successes: there are just too many failures, and they come too thick and fast for any program, however energetic or well-funded. Dives, for all his purple, fine linen and faring sumptuously, dies not one whit less dead than Lazarus. And before he dies, his wealth no more guarantees him health or happiness than it does exemption from death. Therefore when the Gospel is proclaimed, it stays light-years away from reliance on success or on any other exercise of right-handed power. Instead, it relies resolutely on left-handed power – on the power that, in a mystery, works through failure, loss, and death. And so while our history is indeed saved, its salvation is not made manifest in our history in any obvious, right-handed way. In God’s time – in that kairos, that due season, that high time in which the Incarnate Word brings in the kingdom in a mystery – all our times are indeed reconciled and restored now. But in our time – in the chronos, the sequential order of earthly events, the low time of days, years, centuries, and millennia – the shipwreck of history drags on unchanged and unchangeable now. And the only bridge between the now in which our times are triumphantly in his hand and the now in which they are so disastrously in our own is faith. The accomplished reconciliation can only be believed; it cannot be known, felt, or seen – and it cannot, by any efforts of ours, however good or however successful, be rendered visible, tangible, or intelligible. Like the servants in the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, we can only let both the reconciliation and the wreckage grow together until the harvest – until the judgment in which the resurrection finally displays God’s time as victorious over ours and allows history to become the party it always tried but never managed to be.

“Kingdom, Grace, Judgment”, page 313

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