Capon, Robert Farrar. The Foolishness of Preaching: Proclaiming the Gospel against the Wisdom of the World. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998. Chapter 4 “The Biggest Obstacle” pp. 20-31.
Capon observes that, thus far, his book has presented death in very positive terms. He reminds his reader that he is focused, for now, on the faith of the preacher, who must face death fearlessly, for out of the message of the death of Christ will come the power of resurrection (Capon 1998, 20). This is a problem for preachers because, as Capon points out, we would like to be good people, not sinners (Capon 1998, 21). Yet we are confronted with our sin all the time. Capon says, however, that our feelings of guilt have no place in the New Testament “because the New Testament isn’t about guilt at all; it’s about forgiveness. The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world, not laid them on us like a coat of tar” (Capon 1998, 22). The Christian is clothed with forgiveness. For this reason Capon even sees repentance as a cause for celebration, since it is a return to forgiveness. The fact is, the Church is for sinners, and every last person preaching is a sinner. This is why forgiveness is so central to the Christian message (Capon 1998, 23).
Capon argues that the Church has forgotten how to preach Jesus as the one who forgives the undeserving. We have rather taken up a Greek view that the soul, as we govern it, is worth something so is valued by God. This leaves us trying to earn our salvation (Capon 1998, 24). Rather, God’s work of creation is followed by his work of redemption. Just as he created everything out of nothing, he redeems it by his grace, not by its own righteousness (Capon 1998, 26).
Capon suggests the idea of our undeserving brokenness before God may well be applied to preaching as we purposely empty ourselves of our ideas before a sermon. We make no attempt to control the message of the Gospel. Rather, we trust that God will do His work (Capon 1998, 28). Capon goes on to cite numerous parables in which those who seem morally deserving do not do well because of their morality. They do well because of God’s mercy (Capon 1998, 29).