Thursday, 29 March 2018

HOW THE CROSS SHAPES MINISTRY

'The fundamental insight lying at the heart of the cross is the notion that God acts in the present in continuity with the way he has acted in the past...Just as God revealed himself, and worked salvation through a crucified Messiah, God still works in and through what is to conventional human understanding, weak, powerless and apparently irrational rather than through what is strong, powerful and reasonable.' 
Graham Tomlin in Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King, p.229. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS

'The cross must be central but never solo.' 
Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King, p.218. 

REPELLING THE ACCUSER

'When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: "I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.' 
Martin Luther in Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King, p.202. 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

SUFFERING

'...it is with men as trees: if you lop off their finest branches, into which they were pouring their young life-juice, the wounds will be healed over with some rough boss, some odd excrescence; and what might have been a grand tree expanding into liberal shade, is but a whimsical trunk. Many an irritating fault, many an unlovely oddity, has come of a hard sorrow, which has crushed and maimed the nature just when it was expanding into plenteous beauty; and the trivial erring life which we visit with our harsh blame, may be but as the unsteady motion of a man whose best limb is withered.' 
George Eliot, 'Mr Gilfil's Love-Story' is Scenes of Clerical Life, p.244. 

THE ADVANTAGES OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE

'...we have all our secret sins; and if we knew ourselves, we should not judge each other harshly.' 
George Eliot, 'Mr Gilfil's Love-Story' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.236. 

Friday, 23 March 2018

TRUE POWER

'True power is best seen in a life willingly offered as sacrifice for the sake of others. There is unexcelled strength in such sacrifice when it is embraced - not simply imposed or inflicted - as a way of aligning oneself with the good kind of power.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.274. 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

THE BEAUTIFUL IRONIES OF THE CROSS

'...it was appropriate that, just as death entered the human race through a man's disobedience, so life should be restored through a man's obedience; and that, just as the sin which was the cause of our damnation originated from a woman, similarly the originator of our justification and salvation should be born of a woman. Also that the devil who defeated the man whom he beguiled through the taste of a tree, should himself similarly be defeated by a man through tree-induced suffering which he, the devil inflicted. There are many other things too.' 
Anselm of Canterbury in Jeremy T Treat, The Crucified King, p.179. 

THE CROSS & RESURRECTION

'Jesus' death is not a defeat that needs to be made right by the resurrection, but a victory that needs to be revealed and implemented in the resurrection.' 
Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King, p.152. 

POWER

'...the capability to influence people or situations and to transform them.' 
Graham Tomlin in Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King, p.142. 

CHRIST TRIUMPHANT!

'The suffering of Christians is a sign, not of Satan's victory, but of the saints' victory over Satan because of their belief in the triumph of the cross, with which their suffering identifies them.' 
GK Beale in Jeremy R Treat, The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology, p.126. 

ALIENS & STRANGERS

'The church should always have a sense of being in a strange land, and if we are not feeling this tension, we are not really being the church.'  
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.241. 

TOTAL CARE

'Imagine a person totally committed to your best interests, devoted to seeing you flourish, fighting for you against all enemies, determined to eliminate everything destructive from your life, attentive to every detail of who you are, never thinking of himself at all but only of you. That is Jesus in relation to us all - sacrificial in his life, sacrificial in his death.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.238. 

OLD & NEW TESTAMENTS

'The Old Testament is not just a source of further information for the New Testament, or an interesting sideshow attached to it, or even the indispensable prelude to it. The New Testament will not work without the Old Testament.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.214. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

DEFINING SIN

'Sin, then, is an exclusively biblical concept. The word is used, of course, in various nonbiblical contexts by people who know nothing of the Bible, but outside its biblical matrix it simply comes to mean wrongdoing of some sort, defined by whoever happens to be using it - almost without reference to someone other than themselves. To be in sin, biblically speaking, means something very much more consequential than wrongdoing; it means being catastrophically separated from the eternal love of God. It means to be on the other side of an impassable barrier of exclusion from God's heavenly banquet. It means to be helplessly trapped inside one's own worst self, miserably aware of the chasm between the way we are and the way God intends us to be. It means the continuation of the reign of greed, cruelty, rapacity, and violence throughout the world.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.174. 

ANSELM ON THE CROSS

'He freed us from our sins, and from his own wrath, and from hell, and from the power of the devil, whom he came to vanquish for us, because we were unable to do it, and he purchased for us the kingdom of heaven; and by doing all these things, he manifested the greatness of his love towards us.' 
Anselm of Canterbury in Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.164. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

GRACE BEFORE SIN

'...there is use talking about sin to anyone who does not already understand himself or herself to be upheld by grace.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.151. 

A CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO VICTIM STATUS

'To be outraged on behalf of oneself or one's own group alone is to be human, but it is not to participate in Christ. To be outraged and to take action on behalf of the voiceless and oppressed, however, is to do the work of God.'
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.143. 

THE CROSS NEEDS TO BRING JUSTICE

'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 know could have established this so conclusively.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.143. 

GOD'S GRACE

'...the crucifixion of Christ for the sin of the world reveals that it is not only the victims of oppression and injustice who are in need of God's deliverance, but also the victimizers.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.141. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

THE DIVINE SELF-SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS

'...the crucifixion reveals God placing himself under his own sentence. The wrath of God has lodged in God's own self.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.132. 

FORGIVENESS IS COMPLICATED

'...forgiveness is not a simple matter. If we think of Christian theology and ethics purely in terms of forgiveness, we will have neglected a central aspect of God's character and will be in no position to understand the cross in its fullest dimension. God's new creation must be a just one, or the promises of God will seem like mockery to those whose defencelessness has been exploited by the powerful.'  
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.131. 

GOD'S WRATH

'If we are resistant to the idea of the wrath of God, we might pause to reflect the next time we are outraged about something - about our property values being threatened, or our children's educational opportunities being limited, or our tax breaks being eliminated. All of us are capable of anger about something. God's anger, however is pure. It does not have the maintenance of privilege as its object, but goes out on behalf of those who have no privileges. The wrath of God is not an emotion that flares up from time to time, as though God had temper tantrums; it is a way of describing his absolute enmity against all wrong and his coming to set matters right.'
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.129. 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

TRANSPOSING NOW TO THEN

'Our natural experiences (sensory, emotional, imaginative) are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish  in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blind, thrown open the shutters, and let in the blaze of the risen sun.
You can put it whichever way you please. You can say that by Transposition our humanity, sense and all, can be made the vehicle of beatitude. Or you can say that the heavenly bounties by Transposition are embodied during this life in our temporal experience. But the second way is the better. It is the present life which is the diminution, the symbol, the etiolated, they (as it were) "vegetarian" substitute. If flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, that is not because they are too solid, too gross, too distinct, too "illustrious with being". They are too flimsy, too transitory, too phantasmal.' 
CS Lewis, 'Transposition' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.276.   

JOY IS A PHYSICAL SENSATION

'For I myself find that if, during a moment of intense aesthetic rapture, one tries to turn round and catch by introspection what one is actually feeling, one can never lay one's hand on anything but a physical sensation. In my case it is a kind of kick or flutter in the diaphragm.' 
CS Lewis, 'Transposition' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.269. 

Friday, 2 March 2018

TRUE CHURCH UNITY

'It is often suggested that because doctrine divides, the best way to unite a church (or churches) is to dumb down and de-emphasize doctrine, because doctrinal distinctives will exclude some who cannot subscribe to them. This is true when the doctrinal distinction is secondary. It is untrue when the doctrine is justification by grace alone. Other distinctives create privileged or exclusive ghetto religion. But grace alone fashions a community which has no pride in its history, its privileges, its morality, its Bible knowledge, or anything that comes from within itself. It is therefore, a community that can live together in harmony and reach out with the barrier-breaking message of grace to a needy world.' 
Christopher Ash, Teaching Romans: Volume 1, p.177. 

THE CROSS WAS MEANT TO DEHUMANISE

'Crucifixion as a means of execution in the Roman Empire has as its express purpose the elimination of victims from consideration as members of the human race. It cannot be said too strongly: that was its function. It was meant to indicate to all who might be toying with subversive ideas that crucified persons were not of the same species as either the executioners of the spectators and were therefore not only expendable but also deserving of ritualized extermination.'
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.92. 

THE SHAME OF THE CROSS

'When we say that Jesus Christ took upon himself the sin of the world, it means quite specifically that he suffered the shame and the degradation that human beings have inflicted on one another and that he above all had done nothing to merit.' 
Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p.84. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

HAPPINES

'He has begun to think of happiness as a power of mind, to be cultivated like thought and imagination. Because he has come to the age when he must think of such things, he recalls the times when he has been happy against reason, and for no reason. He recalls the times when has been happy for reasons so small and ephemeral that nobody has learned to charge for them: a bright-colored tiny bird feeding in the top of the tallest sycamore, a bird's song, a wild flower, a butterfly, a briar heavy with ripe berries, the sound of a beloved voice, the touches of loved ones. To miss or refuse the happiness of such free, small, beautiful, and passing things would be dangerous, he thinks. It would dishonour life itself, Heaven itself. It would be ingratitude.' 
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.216. 

THE BEST FARMERS...AND PASTORS?

'The best farmers have been ceaselessly occupied with the question, never fully or finally answered, of how the various creatures and things of their living are to be fitted together to their mutual advantage.'  
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.212. 

NATURE, DIVERSITY & FULLNESS

'Nature appears to wish and to require that the life of any of her places should be abundant as possible and as diverse as possible in its kinds. Every creature desires and attempts to live fully, and for this it is dependent on the lives of other creatures. And this fullness depends in turn upon a formal interdependence somewhat but not entirely comprehensible by humans. The Law of Diversity, mysterious as it ultimately is, is justified by the Law of Fullness.' 
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.183. 

TRUE ECONOMICS

'...the human economy is dependent upon, and limited by, the natural world, which is dependent in turn upon human cherishing, forbearance, and skill.' 
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.183. 

TO KNOW YOU NEED TO LOVE

'One cannot, because one will not, take good care of anything that one does not love, and this is merely obvious. But from what he has seen and done himself, Andy believes that one cannot authentically or accountably even know anything that one does not love.' 
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.209. 

FRIENDSHIP

'The two of them seemed merely to recognize each other as members of a conversation long-established, and they continued it...' 
Wendell Berry, 'The Order of Loving Care' in The Art of Loading Brush, p.183. 

EMPATHY

'...sympathy is but a living again through our own past in a new form...'
George Eliot, 'Janet's Repentance' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.358. 

DISMISSING EVANGELICALS

'"One of the Evangelical clergy, a disciple of Venn," says the critic from his bird's eye station. "Not a remarkable specimen; the anatomy and habits of his species have been determined long ago."
Yet, surely, surely the only true knowledge of our fellow-man is that which enables us to feel with him - which gives us a fine ear for the heart-impulses that are beating under the mere clothes of circumstances and opinion. Ort subtlest analysis of schools and sects must miss the essential truth, unless it be lit up by the love that sees in all forms the human thought and work, the life and death struggles of separate human beings.' 
George Eliot, 'Janet's Repentance' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.322. 

REAL CHRISTIAN HEROES

'The blessed work of helping the world forward, happily does not wait to be done by perfect men; and I should imagine that neither Luther nor John Bunyan, for example, would have satisfied the modern demand for an ideal hero, who believes nothing but what is true, feels nothing but what is exalted, and does nothing but what is graceful. The real heroes, of God's making, are quite different: they have their natural heritage of love and conscience which they drew in with their mother's milk; they know one or two of those deep spiritual truths which are only to be won by long wrestling with their own sins and sorrows; they have earned faith and strength so far as they have done genuine work; but the rest is dry barren theory, blank prejudice, vague hearsay. Their insight is blended with mere opinion; their sympathy is perhaps confined in narrow conduits of doctrine, instead of flowing forth with the freedom of a stream that blesses every weed in its course; obstinacy or self-assertion will often interfuse itself with the grandest impulses and their very deeds of self-sacrifice are sometimes only the rebound of a passionate egoism.' 
George Eliot, 'Janet's Repentance' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.321. 

MAKE SURE YOU ARE LISTENING TO THE ORIGINAL TUNE

'Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all sorts of instruments, some of them woefully coarse, feeble, or out of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable.' 
George Eliot, 'Janet's Repentance' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.319. 

GRACE IN DISAGREEMENT

'While we are coldly discussing a man's career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labelling his opinions - "Evangelical and narrow", ot "Latitudinarian and Pantheistic" or "Anglican and supercilious" - that man, in his solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed.' 
George Eliot, 'Janet's Repentance' in Scenes of Clerical Life, p.312. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF ART

'Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellowmen beyond the bounds of our personal lot.' 
George Eliot quoted in David Lodge's Introduction to Scenes of Clerical Life, p.15.