Fleming Rutledge The Crucifixion Quotes

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From beginning to end, the Holy Scriptures testify that the predicament of fallen humanity is so serious, so grave, so irremediable from within, that nothing short of divine intervention can rectify it.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Here is an important distinction with far-reaching implications for Christian behavior. The deeds of Christians in this present time — however insignificant they may seem, however “vain” they may appear to those who value worldly success — are already being built into God’s advancing kingdom.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Justice for everyone is an alarming thought because it raises the possibility that it might come upon oneself after all. As the author of Ephesians puts it, “by nature” we are all “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3).
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
If our preaching does not intersect with the times, we are fleeing the call to take up the cross. We can learn from the example of Dostoevsky, who in The Brothers Karamazov used material that he read in the newspapers to give a human face to the problem of evil.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The New Testament writings all presuppose that the fallen human race and the equally fallen created order are sick unto death beyond human resourcefulness.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Although people feel blessed in the presence of a holy man who wants the world to be right and people to be happy, the holy man cannot make that happen.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Gross injustice demonstrates a basic premise: in our world, something is terribly wrong and cries out to be put right.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Only those who are forgiven and who are willing to forgive will be capable of relentlessly pursuing justice without falling into the temptations to pervert it into injustice” (Exclusion and Embrace, 123).
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
If we think of Christian theology and ethics purely in terms of forgiveness, we will have neglected a central aspect of God’s own character and will be in no position to understand the cross in its fullest dimension.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Sentimental, overly “spiritualized” love is not capable of the sustained, unconditional agape of Christ shown on the cross. Only from the perspective of the crucifixion can the true nature of Christian love be seen, over against all that the world calls “love.” The one thing needful, according to Paul, is that the Christian community should position itself rightly, at the juncture where the cross calls all present arrangements into question with a corresponding call for endurance and faith.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else, including the resurrection, is given its true significance. The resurrection is not a set piece. It is not an isolated demonstration of divine dazzlement. It is not to be detached from its abhorrent first act. The resurrection is, precisely, the vindication of a man who was crucified. Without the cross at the center of the Christian proclamation, the Jesus story can be treated as just another story about a charismatic spiritual figure. It is the crucifixion that marks out Christianity as something definitively different in the history of religion. It is in the crucifixion that the nature of God is truly revealed. Since the resurrection is God's mighty transhistorical Yes to the historically crucified Son, we can assert that the crucifixion is the most important historical event that has ever happened. The resurrection, being a transhistorical event planted within history, does not cancel out the contradiction and shame of the cross in this present life; rather, the resurrection ratifies the cross as the way "until he comes.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The Christ event derives its meaning from the fact that the three-personed God is directly acting as one throughout the entire sequence from incarnation to ascension to Last Judgment.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Indeed, as some of the Protestant traditions recognize, the symbol of a cross per se can all too readily become a mere token or amulet leading to superstition and magical thinking. Even worse, when detached from its significance, it can and often has become a sign denoting allegiance to a cause that mocks the very One who died in that way — the cross of Constantine, the Crusaders, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The scandalous “word of the cross” is God’s own Word. The link between scandal and God is in itself irreligious; this is another aspect of the uniqueness of the Christian message.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The scandalous “word of the cross” is not a human word. It is the Spirit-empowered presence of God in the preaching of the crucified One.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The Holy Spirit, so central to New Testament writings as diverse as those of Paul, John, and the author of Acts, inhabits the message and empowers the speaker, so that the proclamation of God’s act in Christ is the new occasion of creation, issuing from the Trinitarian power of the originating Word itself.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The deeds of Christians in this present time — however insignificant they may seem, however “vain” they may appear to those who value worldly success — are already being built into God’s advancing kingdom. In other words, Christians do not simply look to the cross of Christ with prayerful reverence. We are set in motion by its power, energized by it, upheld by it, guaranteed by it, secured by it for the promised future because it is the power of the creating Word that “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom. 4:17).
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The question this raises is this: On the cross, was Jesus was simply “showing” us something, or was something actually happening?
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The work of theology is the process by which the church continually rethinks its message.17
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
There is no more important calling for the church in our time than claiming the self-identification of the God who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The unique feature of the Christian proclamation is the shocking claim that God is fully acting, not only in Jesus’ resurrected life, but especially in Jesus’ death on the cross. To say the same thing in another way, the death of Jesus in and of itself would not be anything remarkable. What is remarkable is that the Creator of the universe is shown forth in this gruesome death.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
It is the living significance of the death of Jesus, not the factual details concerning it as a historical event, that matters.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
There is a fundamental syntactical distinction between saying “we question the Bible” and “the Bible questions us.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
In other words, the new understanding imparted by the Bible comes from a source lying beyond our ability to frame questions.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The world’s religions have certain traits in common, but until the gospel of Jesus Christ burst upon the Mediterranean world, no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Furthermore, we are so accustomed to seeing the cross functioning as a decoration that we can scarcely imagine it as an object of shame and scandal unless it is burned on someone’s lawn.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The truest way to receive the gospel of Christ crucified is to cultivate a deep appreciation of the way the biblical motifs interact with each other and enlarge one
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The New Testament is from beginning to end a living witness to the apostolic preaching. The cross was meant to be preached.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
We will be best enriched by the meaning of the crucifixion in all its manifold aspects, not just as an intellectual construct, but as dynamic, living truth empowering us for the living of these days.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
As Placher well knew, there is no analogy from the side of the fallen creation that “works.” None of the symbols, images, motifs, and themes “work” in any logical way, either as analogies or as theories to explain what God in Christ is doing on the cross.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Thus, in Colossians 1:5-6, the Word is described not as the content of the apostles’ preaching and mission, but as the active agent, the subject of the verbs: “the word of the truth, the gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
For example, gnostic devaluation of the material world offers two views of our sexual nature, both of them conducive to a libertine style of life. Either the sexual act is thought to be intensely spiritual, offering access to the divine, or it is a matter of no importance one way or the other, since the flesh is unspiritual. Either way, the gnostic is free of sexual restrictions. Paul seems to have some such teaching in mind when he says to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . Shun [sexual] immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” (I Cor. 6:15-19). The biblical view of sexual relations is earthy and “fleshy” in a way that is utterly foreign to most “spiritual” thought. Paradoxically, the freewheeling sexual attitudes often seen in the various forms of gnosticism arise out of indifference to the lasting importance of the body. The idea that the indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s gift in baptism, puts a different valuation on the body (understood literally), with consequences for sexual behavior, is Christian, not gnostic. It is therefore not difficult to understand why some variation of the gnostic view would be very appealing in our permissive society.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The cross of Christ is the touchstone of our faith. From the beginning it has caused offense, as we have seen in Paul’s statement that the cross is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. It is typical of American Christianity, as of American culture as a whole, to push the cross out to the margins, because we prefer a more upbeat and triumphalist form of proclamation and practice. The Great Recession put a crimp in our style for a brief time, but it has not canceled out the disturbing trends in our culture toward self-centered lives based on consumption, sensation, and instant gratification —all this coinciding with the exponential growth of the gap between the superrich and the struggling middle class, not to mention the gap between those barely holding on and the truly poor. The “word of the cross” (I Cor. 1: 18), in contrast, calls the Christian community to embrace struggle on behalf of others as the way of discipleship.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
In the Bible, the term “apocalyptic” (apokalypsis) encompasses a worldview in which the truly significant battle is the ongoing one between the Lord God of Sabaoth2 (Hebrew, meaning armies) and the Enemy, who deploys the principalities and Powers (Eph. 2: 2). This contest on the heavenly level is enacted on the earthly level by struggles large and small in the realm of human affairs —battles waged not with worldly weapons but with the spiritual armor of God (Eph. 6: 11-17). 3
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Theologian Bruce L. McCormack puts it well: God will not allow anything to stand in the way of his love. The holiness of the divine love is its irresistibility. God’s will to love the creature will not be stopped by the will of the creature to resist that love. God’s love will reach its goal, even if the path to that end lies through condemning, excluding, and annihilating all resistance to it. God’s love turns to wrath when it is resisted, but not for a minute does it cease to be love even when it expresses itself as wrath.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
the meaning of Christmas is that God is invading the territory held by the Prince of Darkness. The definitive closure of this cosmic invasion, the V-Day to its D-Day, will be the final Day of God. 190 On that last day there will be only one Ruler, only one Lord. Scripture is quite clear and unambiguous about that. The Judge of all the cosmos will not be Satan. Radical evil will have no status in the day of judgment, or the day of final reconciliation, as Volf calls it. 191 “Death shall have no more dominion” (cf. Rom. 6: 9). If evil is the absence of good, then the victory of our Lord and of his Christ will be the absence of evil, “for ever and ever.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The use of the term “the crucifixion” for the execution of Jesus shows that it still retains a privileged status. When we speak of “the crucifixion,” even in this secular age, many people will know what is meant. There is something in the strange death of the man identified as Son of God that continues to command special attention. This death, this execution, above and beyond all others, continues to have universal reverberations. Of no other death in human history can this be said. The cross of Jesus stands alone in this regard; it is sui generis.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The truest way to receive the gospel of Christ crucified is to cultivate a deep appreciation of the way the biblical motifs interact with each other and enlarge one another.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The preaching of the cross is an announcement of a living reality that continues to transform human existence and human destiny more than two thousand years after it originally occurred.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Christian faith has never — either at the start or now — been based on historical reconstructions of Jesus, even though Christian faith has always involved some historical claims concerning Jesus. Rather, Christian faith (then and now) is based on religious claims concerning the present power of Jesus. . . . Christian faith is not directed toward a human construction about the past; that would be a form of idolatry. Authentic Christian faith is a response to the living God, whom Christians declare is powerfully at work among them through the resurrected Jesus.55
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
To summarize, then: the crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else, including the resurrection, is given its true significance.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The believers of the future will be brought into the near presence of Jesus, not just in the sense that the stories of his life will be retold, but because the apostolic preaching, by the action of the Spirit, makes Jesus present.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
In an earthier style, the African American preacher Johnny Ray Youngblood, whose lapses and deficiencies were well known to his congregation, declares: “This thing [the Word of God] is a two-edged sword. It whips back and cuts the hell out of me and then comes forward and cuts y’all. And the truth of God’s Word is not predicated on my lifestyle. It is predicated on God’s word itself. He sends sinful men to preach to sinful men. I’m just another beggar, tellin’ other beggars where to find bread.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The action of God’s grace precedes our consciousness of sin, so that we perceive the depth of our own participation in sin’s bondage simultaneously with the recognition of the unconditional love of Christ, which is perfect freedom. We recognize that love, moreover, not from the depths of the hell we were bent on creating for ourselves, but from the perspective of the heaven that God is preparing for us. In the victorious presence of the crucified and risen One, the whole company of the redeemed will throw off every bond and join in a celebration of mutual love and joy where no one will be a wallflower and everyone will be able to dance like Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson combined. Thus “Lord of the Dance” is truly an apt title for the risen Christ and for the kingdom of God: “The Great Dance . . . has begun from before always. . . . The dance which we dance is at the center and for the dance all things were made. Blessed be He!”10
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
there has never been a satisfactory account of the origin of evil, and there will be none on this side of the consummation of the kingdom of God. Evil is a vast excrescence, a monstrous contradiction that cannot be explained but can only be denounced and resisted wherever it appears.64
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
By becoming one of the poor who was deprived of his rights, by dying as one of those robbed of justice, God's Son submitted to the utmost extremity of humiliation, entering into total solidarity with those who are without help.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
A policy of 'forgive and forget' can produce lasting harm on the political level as well as the personal. Peace without justice is an illusory peace that sets the stage for vengeful behavior later on. The strength to persevere in the struggle is found in knowing that the wounds remaining in human society after great atrocities are the wounds of Christ himself, now risen and reigning but still the Lamb standing yet slain (Rev. 5:6). The wrath of God, which plays such a large role in both the Old and New Testaments, can be embraced because it comes wrapped in God's mercy. . . . The wrath of God falls upon God himself, by God's own choice, out of God's own love. The 'justice connection' may not be clear to those who are accustomed to privilege, but to oppressed and suffering Christians in the troubled places of the earth, there is no need to spell it out. God in Christ on the cross has become one with those who are despised and outcast in the world. No other method of execution that the world has ever known could have established this so conclusively.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
The well-known passage in Micah 6:8 ('does the Lord require of you . . . ?') declares that justice and mercy are two foundational aspects of God's character. . . . forgiveness is by no means as simple or expeditious as is often suggested; it is a complex and demanding matter. The question of forgiveness and compensation really should not be discussed apart from the question of justice.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
If sin is not exposed, named, and renounced, then there has been no justice and God is dishonored.
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)
Therefore, so long as we live in this fallen world, we are simul iustus et peccator (saint and sinner simultaneously), until the destruction of the "old Adam" is completed as God makes all things new (Rev. 21:5; Isa. 42:9; 43:19; Gal. 6:15).
Fleming Rutledge (The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ)