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Some like to come down hard on sin, and so they come down hard on people. To be forgiven and walk away scott-free is hard to understand. And when it comes to others, we don’t like to believe that it is for them. But Robert Farrar Capon, in the book Between Noon and Three, said this: You’re worried about permissiveness—about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it’s okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God’s forgiveness. . .While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He’s angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue—that music, dancing, and...

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