28 September 2010

Our Fatal Love Affair with the Law

Grace cannot prevail until law is dead, until moralizing is out of the game . . . until our fatal love affair with the law is over--until, finally and for good, our lifelong certainty that someone is keeping score has run out of steam and collapsed. As long as we leave, in our dramatizations of grace, one single hope of a moral reckoning, one possible recourse to salvation by bookkeeping, our freedom-dreading hearts will clutch it to themselves.

Restore to us, Preacher, the comfort of merit and demerit. Prove for us that there is at least something we can do, that we are still, at whatever dim recess of our nature, the masters of our relationships. Tell us, Prophet, that in spite of all our nights of losing, there will yet be one redeeming card of our very own. . . . But do not preach us grace. It will not do to split the pot evenly at 4 a.m. and break out the Chivas Regal. We insist on being reckoned with. Give us something, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.

Lord, let your servants depart in the peace of their responsibility. If it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with some few shreds of self-respect to congratulate ourselves upon. But if that is too hard, leave us at least the consolation of our self-loathing. Only do not force us free. What have we ever done but try as best we could? How have we so hurt you, even by failing, that you should now turn on us and say that none of it makes any difference, not even our sacred guilt? We have played this game of yours, and it has cost us.

Where do you get off suggesting a drink at a time like this?
--Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Eerdmans 1997), 7; italics original

7 comments:

Eric said...

Grand slam home run. Out of the park.

Nate said...

awesome. thank you

Anonymous said...

There is drink...

that "sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly," yet in the end it "bites like a serpent and stings like an adder." (Prv. 23:31-2) It leaves one in that mind-numbing, soul-killing place of deadness...
"They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink."
Prov 23:35 (ESV)

And then there is drink...Life...the cup of communion He holds out...His blood shed for us...

"On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples,the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
Isaiah 25:6-8 (ESV)

Anonymous said...

Oops again, sorry.

Martha

Gary H. said...

This is incredibly powerful. I need to read it, and re-read it, and re-read it, and pray that it would come alive for me. Amazing grace! Thank you so much.

Eric said...

Still reading this today, Dane. Still need it. Is the rest of the book as good?

Dane Ortlund said...

E: I have only read bits and pieces of the book, and at times it was wonderful, at times it was a bit strange. But I'd have to read more of it to give a more accurate assessment.