A review by timhoiland
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, by Fleming Rutledge


This Lent I am reading The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge. I've still got 400 pages to go, but the word that keeps coming to mind is magnificent.

Rutledge covers a lot of ground here and I won't attempt to summarize it. Instead I'll give you this statement that haunts me: “Religious people want visionary experiences and spiritual uplift; secular people want proofs, arguments, demonstrations, philosophy, science. The striking fact is that neither one of these groups wants to hear about the cross.”

And this, from an extended, impassioned critique of gnosticism (“far and away the most pervasive and popular rival to Christianity”): “The concept of redemptive suffering in the world, so central to the theologia crucis, is foreign to gnosticism, which, though it often recommends acts of mercy along the spiritual path, places little value on suffering for the sake of the world. Since gnosticism considers material reality unspiritual, conduct in the world cannot be at the ethical center, as it is in Christianity.”

And, last but not least, this invigorating good news: “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).”