This is a fantastic book. While there’s much I disagree with lying in its pages, I stand by my statement. Rutledge’s treatment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ from its varying themes, or motifs as she calls them, is like peering at it from different angles and still seeing the whole. I would even argue there are quite literally seven pages covering the story of Abraham and Issac that alone make the book worth the price of purchase.
If you’re interested, you can read a review of the book by Derek Rishmawy here, a review/list of reasons you should read the book that Andrew Wilson wrote for The Gospel Coalition here, and if you are so inclined you can purchase the book here.
The following is a list of 20 of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy!
1. Page 11
This God, unlike the gods of the religions, has chosen of his own sovereign free will to elect a discrete group of people simply because he wills to do so. The irreligiousness of this election is that it has nothing to do with any spiritual attainments by the chosen ones. The opposite is true–they are selected, we might say, in spite of themselves, for if there is one thing certain about the children of Israel, it is that they did not deserve their election. This factor of undeserved election is in view whenever God is called “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
2. Page 45
Sentimental, overly “spiritualized” love is not capable of the sustained, unconditional agape of Christ shown on the cross.
3. Page 56
The denial of Jesus’ full humanity (the heresy called Docetism) was a principal enemy of orthodoxy in the first centuries. In those early days, in a religious milieu full of divine redeemers and saviors, it was much easier to claim Jesus as another deity than to argue for his concrete, suffering humanity.
4. Page 92
Crucifixion as a means of execution in the Roman Empire had 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.
5. Page 111
And so a major theme of the messianic passages in the Old Testament is the coming of God’s kingdom of perfect justice.
6. Page 132
Perfect justice is wrought in the self-offering of the Son, who alone of all human beings was perfectly righteous. Therefore no one, neither victim nor victimizer, can claim any exemption from judgement on one’s own merits, but only on the merits of the Son.
7. Page 168
God’s justice is not in competition with his mercy; both are manifestations of his redemptive purpose.
8. Page 212
We can never lose sight of the fact, however, that the cross itself is not a metaphor. The purpose of the metaphors and images used in the New Testament is to help us to understand, and above all to respond to, the historical event. Here, above all, is where we part company with those who read the Bible exclusively as literature.
9. Page 221
There evolved among the Hebrew people a greatly increased emphasis on God’s future intervention, not on the ground of the people’s righteousness but on the ground of his great mercy. Righteousness itself became more clearly an eschatological concept, since events had shown that there was not going to be any true and lasting righteousness on earth unless God brought it.
10. Page 245
The suggestion is that there should be some correlation of the value of the offering with the gravity of the offense. If the supposed sacrifice is just something we are getting rid of, like those old clothes in the back of our closet that we haven’t worn for years, then restitution is not made.
11. Page 247
This is a crucial theological point, namely, that the sacrifice of Christ was not God’s reaction to human sin, but an inherent, original movement within God’s very being. It is in the very nature of God to offer God’s self sacrificially.
12. Page 263
The fact that Abraham has to do the deed himself is not theologically related to the barbarity of it. It is theologically related to something else: God asks for a demonstration of faith so extreme that Abraham must be the active participant in it, not just one who stands aside while God strikes Isaac dead. Abraham’s trial is a once-for-all event showing us that God can be trusted even in unimaginable darkness.
13. Page 266
To have faith in God, to “fear” God as Abraham did, means to trust God totally and to put oneself and all one’s life into God’s hands totally, even when the fulfillment of the promises seems to have receded into impossibility.
14. Page 291
Pushing the idea of price out of the picture in the interests of one theological agenda or another is a grave mistake that deprives us of the very heart of the gospel message, namely, that God is involved in our deliverance. He has not stood back and pulled levers. He has stepped into the situation himself, personally. That is in large part what the trope ransom means in the biblical literature. The principal idea is that of cost to God.
15. Page 312
The overwhelming witness of the Old and New testaments combined, however, is that God’s judgement will fall on groups as well as individuals, and that the rich and privileged, in particular, will be held accountable for their presumptions of immunity.
16. Page 421
This paradox must be maintained: we have an Enemy whose wickedness, while neither created nor intended by the Creator, is nevertheless under his ultimate, sovereign authority.
17. Page 458
The concept of hell takes seriously the nature and scale of evil. Without a concept of hell, Christian faith is sentimental and evasive, unable to stand up to reality in this world. Without an unflinching grasp of the radical nature of evil, Christian faith would be little more than wishful thinking.
18. Page 511
…Jesus is no less God in the incarnation and on the cross than he is in the eternal Godhead. God must be seen to be undertaking the atonement himself.
19. Page 529
The plain sense of the New Testament taken as a whole gives the strong impression that Jesus gave himself up to shame, spitting, scourging, and a degrading public death before the eyes of the whole world, not only for our sake but also in our place.
20. Page 566
Those who according to Paul are “in Christ” are called to a particular way of life that show forth the power of his name, the boundless riches of his love, the merits of his death, and the sure and certain hope we have in his resurrection.
Therefore, we may extrapolate as follows: the God who is able to create out of nothing is able to create faith where there is no faith, righteousness where there is no righteousness, life where there is only the finality of death.
Forgiveness is not enough. Belief in redemption is not enough. Wishful thinking about the intrinsic goodness of every human being is not enough. Inclusion is not a sufficiently inclusive message, nor does it deliver real justice. There are some things–many things–that must be condemned and set right if we are to proclaim a God of both justice and mercy. Only a Power independent of this world order can overcome the grip of the Enemy of God’s purposes for his creation.