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Christian Resistance Is A Corporate Expression (via Fleming Rutledge)

Writing on 1 Peter, Fleming Rutledge identifies the theme of the letter as “the church among the nations as the people of the crucified, risen, and reigning Christ.”

The first epistle of Peter is a letter from a God’s—eye view, and the view it gives is of the church. We can never say it often enough: the Bible is addressed, for the most part, not to individuals, but to the people of God.7 We need to say still more. As Peter puts it in various ways over and over throughout the letter, the people of God have been constituted, not by their own preferences or choices, but by Gods’ prior choice, first of Israel, and then, through Jesus Christ, of the church. The church resists, endures, and conquers not through its own efforts, let alone its merits, but because of the call, the commission, and the continuing presence of God. “The God of all grace, Who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.” The church lives out of (not “into” but “out of”) its foundation upon the “living stone” (I Pet. 2:6), which is Christ, out of its baptism into his death and resurrection, out of its promised future guaranteed by his Holy Spirit. It is this certainty that gives courage for resistance.
Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 131.

The footnote indicated in the passage above expands the idea:

7. Therefore resistance is not largely a matter of individuals but of the corporate body. “Peter does not issue a general call to become a Christian and then, as a subsequent and perhaps optional move, for individual Christians to join togetherinto a voluntary association that might serve our projects of being individual Christians.” God precedes the people; the people precedes the person; the person is constituted by being incorporated into the people (Harink, 1&2 Peter, 73).


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Living At Midnight (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge reflects on Christian life as a time of waiting, doubt, and preparation.

In the last week of his life, Jesus went to the temple every day to teach. He was engaged in a fight to the death, literally, with the religious leaders. This whole section of the Gospel of Matthew is always read toward the end of the church year; it projects an atmosphere of impending crisis. The parable of the ten Virgins, or bridesmaids, is one of the very last that Jesus told. We are meant to see ourselves in this story. Ten young women with lamps and oil are waiting for a wedding procession. It is midnight, and the bridegroom has not come. The lamps are burning low. Maybe he is never coming. Maybe the whole thing was a mistake.
Midnight is the time of the church year that we are in. This is the time for asking if there is some mistake, for, as W. H. Auden wrote, “Unless you exclaim — ‘There must be some mistake’ — you must be mistaken.”

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 91.


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The Theological Profundity Of Considering The First Coming Of Jesus After Considering The Second Coming (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge on the value of considering the incarnation of Jesus after considering the second coming:

Does Advent run backwards? The movement is from the second coming to the first coming; it doesn’t seem to make sense. The season begins with the last things and ends with the nativity in Bethlehem. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?
Not really. The rhythm of the church’s seasons turns out, in this as in so many other ways, to be theologically profound. If we began with the nativity and then moved to the last judgment, we would be so softened up by that little baby in the manger that we wouldn’t be able to take the second coming of Christ in power seriously. The solemnity and awe do not lie in the fact that the baby becomes the eternal judge. What strikes us to the heart is this: the eternal Judge, very God of very God, Creator of the worlds, the Alpha and the Omega, has become that little baby.

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 60.


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All The Advent Preparation In The World Would Not Be Enough Unless God Were Favourably Disposed To Us In The First Place (via Fleming Rutledge)

I’ll be working through Fleming Rutledge’s just released collection of materials gathered together in book form and titled Advent.
From her introductory essay:

Because the church in modern times has turned away from the proclamation of the second coming, which Jesus repeatedly says will come by God’s decision at an hour we do not expect, is the Advent emphasis on the agency of God as contrasted with the “works” of human beings. An exclusive emphasis on Advent as a season of preparation risks putting human endeavor in the spotlight for all four weeks of the season. All the Advent preparation in the world would not be enough unless God were favourably disposed to us in the first place.

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 5.


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Barabbas by Jason Eady

A reflection on the biblical character Barabbas by Jason Eady, someone I hadn’t heard of before.
It has some interesting phrasings and perspectives.

“Well the guilt hangs twice as heavy when it’s followed by a surprise
I’d surrendered, I was ready to give up and do my time
I did not know his name, did not know why he was there
But on this side of forgiveness we both have our cross to bear”


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Feeling Dusty

“Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
Many Christians around the world will be hearing those words as part of Ash Wednesday liturgies.
Apart from making my annual declaration about giving up needless asceticism for Lent, what can be learnt from the season?
Thoughts of 40 days of denial (or any denial, anytime) is counter-productive if it is thought to be emulating or repeating what Jesus did.
Jesus wasn’t simply denying himself for a time, he was contending against the forces of spiritual darkness and winning.
Any denials of our own simply point to our own inability to prevail against evil.
They usually demonstrate our own inability to prevail against ourselves.
Any asceticism on our part should not emphasise our capacity to emulate, but our frailty and dependence on Jesus’ achievement.
It is in the completeness of our weakness and inability that the extent of the Lord’s victory is come.
We don’t inspire ourselves through convincing ourselves of our capacity to walk like Jesus.
Our inspiration is a conviction of our incapacity, and the knowledge of both Jesus’ actions and the spiritual victory he shares with his people.


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Theological Statement

I’m glad Easter is not just one day a year for Christians.