The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ


Though the apostle Paul boldly proclaimed "Christ crucified" as the heart of the gospel, Fleming Rutledge notes that preaching about the cross of Christ is remarkably neglected in most churches today. In this book Rutledge addresses the issues and controversies that have caused pastors to speak of the cross only in the most general, bland terms, precluding a full understanding and embrace of the gospel by their congregations.

Countering our contemporary tendency to bypass Jesus' crucifixion, Rutledge in these pages examines in depth all the various themes and motifs used by the New Testament evangelists and apostolic writers to explain the meaning of the cross of Christ. She mines the classical writings of the Church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the Reformers as well as more recent scholarship, while bringing them all into contemporary context.

Widely known for her preaching, Rutledge seeks to encourage preachers, teachers, and anyone else interested in what Christians believe to be the central event of world history.


Boso. I wish you would go further with me, and enable me to understand … the fitness of all those things which the catholic faith enjoins upon us with regard to Christ, if we hope to be saved; and how they avail for the salvation of man, and how God saves man by compassion…. Anselm. Now God help me, for you do not spare me in the least, nor consider the weakness of my skill, when you enjoin so great a work upon me. Yet I will attempt it … not trusting in myself but in God, and will do what I can with his help.

Anselm of canterbury, Cur Deus Homo?

When someone asks me how long I have been working on this book, I usually say that I started it when, after twenty-one years, I retired from parish ministry — in other words, about eighteen years ago. in the truest sense, though, it has been the work of a lifetime. When I was about thirteen — that would be 1950 — I was already beginning to wonder what it meant to say that Jesus died for the sin of the world. I knew the impassioned saying of Paul, that “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2), but was not sure what that meant. Did Paul really intend to place the cross at the exclusive center of his message? What about the incarnation, the ministry of Jesus, and the resurrection? If “Christ crucified” is indeed the heart of the gospel, what does that signify?

Another issue troubled me. When I was about fifteen, I wrote a letter to a sort of theological Dear Abby column in the Episcopalian, which came to my parents’ house on a regular basis. “Dear Dora Chaplin: If God is good . . .

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