Capon, Robert Farrar. The Foolishness of Preaching: Proclaiming the Gospel against the Wisdom of the World. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998. Chapter 5, “Grim Pills” pp. 32-40.
Capon reviews several of the potentially controversial statements he has made before concluding that Christians are generally likely to imagine that our works will do something useful for our salvation (Capon 1998, 33). We would rather have control over our lives than let God be in charge of all. Capon sees any call to obedience as null and void, obviated by the free grace found in Christ, who, he says, has “remarkably cavalier attitudes toward religion” (Capon 1998, 34). In effect, Capon seems to think of “religion” as a compulsion to take power. He says “it’s quite plain that the human race’s urge to seize, defend, and control the world by means of religion popped into history immediately after the Fall” in the attempt of Cain to assert the validity of his sacrifice (Capon 1998, 35). He even sees the Fall as a time when humans tried to use religion to take power from God. Here, however, Capon describes religion in terms which seem more appropriate for a Marxist anti-religious zealot than for someone who udnerstands religion as an expression of what we believe God has revealed about people and His character. He is hostile toward the idea that God has in fact revealed what is pleasing to Him (Capon 1998, 36). Rather, Capon sees all our observances as something we have invented. He thus derides God’s apparent high regard for the Law and for a religious culture (Capon 1998, 37), creedal confessions (Capon 1998, 38), and conduct which brings God glory (Capon 1998, 39). Capon fails to see these as ways God orders society and points us to our need for forgiveness. If treated as an end in themselves they are negative. This is why God uses His Law to call us to repentance.