Interview with Robert Farrar Capon
Interviewed by Floyd Brown
Floyd Brown: Here again is Robert Farrar Capon. I want to thank you for a fine presentation and also say that you are a very challenging man. I have difficulty with many of the things you said, just as you suggested. You told me that if we would follow the commandments everything would be worked out all right, but if we don’t follow the commandments here, or anyway we haven’t done it….I have got to have a script. You have got to give me a worksheet. What am I to do from day to day?
Robert Farrar Capon: Well, one of the problems with any authentic pronouncement of the gospel is that it introduces us to freedom. The point is that as long as the world runs this show what it tries to say is that if you do something wrong God will get you. What it said in Jesus is, by the blanket absolution of everybody in the death of Christ, that God is not going to get anybody.
For example, who is in heaven? People think it is good guys. There is nobody in heaven but forgiven sinners because there was nobody available to go to heaven except forgiven sinners and there is nobody in hell except forgiven sinners. The difference is that in heaven they accept the forgiveness, in hell they reject it. That’s it. You can’t get into hell by being bad. You get into heaven by being bad and accepting forgiveness. Now, that does in a way mean you have permission to be bad. If you want to stick your hand in a meat grinder, you are free to do that. It’s stupid, but God isn’t going to run the universe that way. God is not going to punish. He cares more about relationships than behavior.
Brown: I think I understand philosophically what you are saying here, but it is still hard for us slow learners there in the back row. I’ve got to have a plan here. I know that if I go out and I fight and I’m the kind of guy who causes disruptive things, I’m a threat to society. I do bad things and bad things result. I know that if repent of these things, God will forgive me, but if I don’t ever repent of these things, what’s going to happen?
Capon: He forgave you before you repented. That’s crucial. See, that is why it is so outrageous. The gospel is really vulgar, crass and immoral because it says God forgives the world before it repents. In the gospel, repent is always repent and believe. It means turn yourself around from not trusting the forgiveness and trust it. That’s it. It doesn’t mean that you earn it by repenting. You had it before.
If you do something to me and you are wrong and I am right, you can repent all you want but until I forgive you, it’s not going to do you a bit of good. It only helps when I have already forgiven you and you can enter into the restored relationship and turn again to me. Only I can decide to forgive you and God for His own idiot reasons decided to absolve the world. He really did. It’s outrageous. It’s immoral. It’s tough.
Brown: It’s outrageous, immoral and very difficult for many of us to comprehend at the level that you have, but I feel assured in listening to you here that I am forgiven and that there is a future for me in the better place because He is going to forgive me, but I have got to accept that only through Him can I get this forgiveness.
Capon: That’s the whole point.
Brown: But I’ve got to understand that we have got to love one another. We’ve got to follow the commandments if we are going to live together and have a good earth in which to enjoy.
Capon: That would work but that won’t do the job. Only He can do the job.