The Church as Sacrament by Robert Capon

There is a good chance that I have fallen in love with someone that is not my wife.  His name is Robert Capon.  I just can’t get enough of his writing style, content, beauty and wit.  This is taken from The Third Peacock.

“The church has always had a problem of explaining its relationship to the world.  By far the commonest view is the Noah’s Ark theory: The human race is out there bobbing around in the drink.  Nobody can touch bottom; they all just tread water till they drown.  Up over the horizon sails the Ark of Salvation.  Much bustle.  Cries of “Man overboard!” and “Heave to!”  Apostles, Martyrs, Popes, Confessors, Bishops, Virgins and Widows lean over the sides with baptismal boat-hooks and haul the willing ones up over the gunwales.  Assorted purblind types, however, refuse to come aboard.  Sensible arguments are offered to them, but there are no takers.  After a just interval, the Captain orders full speed ahead and, swamping the finally impenitent in his wake, heads the church for the ultimate snug harbor.

The trouble with that view, and with many another more refined, is that it forces you to limit the Incarnate Word’s saving activity to the church.  No doubt the church is the only place where you can be sure (by means of easily recognized sacramental hats) that you have a firm grip on what he’s doing; but it doesn’t seem right to imply that he isn’t doing the same work everywhere else.  I, if I be lifted up, says Jesus, will draw all unto me.  God invented the ecumenical movement–and his version of it is not limited to Christians.  The relationship between the baptized and the unbaptized is not a case of us versus them.  The church is like the rest of the sacraments, an effective sign — a notable outcropping — of what all people already are by the Word’s work of creation and Incarnation.  The church is the mystical body because humanity is the mystical body.  The only difference is that in church the Mystery wears a hat on its head.”

This is in reference to when he says that sacraments are hats on invisible men.  I am going to make a prediction.  I am going to say that it is only a matter of time before Robert Capon’s books and writings blow up and become one of those top sellers, where he needs to die before anyone cares or talks about what he is saying.  He hasn’t passed away yet, but he is getting pretty old and its unfortunate that he was listened to so little.  It will come.  His voice is needed.

8 Comments

  • Joe told me to read some Capon – I am working through Kingdom, Grace, and Judgement. As a question for you, someone who I am guessing has read more of his work, is this Capon’s only point? He repeatedly hammers this same point (of salvation being broader than we have tended to emphasis) over and over (and over) again in his writing on the parables. I was sort of hoping he had more scope in his other works.

  • It’s definitely his main point.
    Salvation being broad.
    Grace being awesome.
    Those are his biggest and what he says over and over again.

    I read him more for his imagery, wit and persistence (of that point) not because I think he is going to go anywhere else. I don’t know if he does :)

    He does have some books around marriage, some around food also, neither of which I’ve read.

  • I bet Capon isn’t as good looking as your wife

  • His main point is the main point.
    There is really not much more to add.

    By the way, here is a quote from one of his books.
    “There is no religion in heaven, because the Lord is there and we will see him face to face.”

  • You are right. In his lifetime he was not given superstar status. But as CS Lewis said, “It is an upside down world”

    Check out his Shelter Island audio tapes. He sounds like and has the same accent as the late comedian George Carlin.

    When you read his stuff you can easily hear his voice.

    One of my favorite parts of that tape is when (with perfect timing and emphasis he says,” Who said anything about getting better? We dont get better. We get worse!

  • I’ve had it all wrong. I thought it was all about me getting right with God, me learning to love God, me, me, me, Etc.

    It’s all about what Christ has done. I am totally forgiven, resurrected from the death of my own efforts. I live now constantly drinking the outrageous pleasure of my Daddy in Christ. I don’t even try loving God because His love returns from me to Him full circle effortlessly.
    This Gospel too good to be true, but true it is!

  • look I have the newest comment . :)

  • We’ve called him once, and talked with his wife, unfortunately he is pretty old and unable to communicate well
    She said “everything he wanted to say he said in his books” –

    Between noon and three is excellent. I just can’t get enough of him.

    Nathan.

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