Robert Farrar Capon: “Fifteen-Hundred-Year-Old,Two-Hundred Proof Grace”

I had never heard of Robert Farrar Capon before his passing created no small stir on social media. After reading a few of the tributes (see The Calvinist International’s “RIP Robert Farrar Capon,” Douglas Wilson’s “Marcion After a Couple of Beers,” and Tullian’s “Robert Farrar Capon (1925-2013)”), I kept coming across the same quotation then today I started reading Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel where it was quoted again. It’s a picture of grace that arrests the heart.

The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started . . . . Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.

Robert Capon, Between Noon & Three (Eerdmans, 1997), 109-110