Generous Orthodoxy  

The word ortho-doxy (Greek for "right doctrine") has both positive and negative connotations. In a culture that prizes what is iconoclastic and transgressive, orthodoxy has come to sound constricted and unimaginative at best, oppressive and tyrannical at worst.

The position taken on this website is that we cannot do without orthodoxy, for everything else must be tested against it, but that orthodox (traditional, classical) Christian faith should by definition always be generous as our God is generous; lavish in his creation, binding himself in an unconditional covenant, revealing himself in the calling of a people, self-sacrificing in the death of his Son, prodigal in the gifts of the Spirit, justifying the ungodly and indeed, offending the "righteous" by the indiscriminate nature of his favor. True Christian orthodoxy therefore cannot be narrow, pinched, or defensive but always spacious, adventurous and unafraid.
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Latest News

Fleming's new book is Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ. It will appear from Eerdmans in time for Advent 2018.

Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017

Fleming is a regular now on the very popular “Crackers and Grape Juice” podcast. Look for “Fridays with Fleming”

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2017


A very knowledgeable recommendation of The Crucifixion, from London

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2017

"I'm Fleming Rutledge, and I approve this synopsis, from London, of my book The Crucifixion."

Fleming's book The Crucifixion has been named the Book of the Year (2017) by Christianity Today

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2016

Here is a link to the webpage with the announcement.

The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge crosses the pond

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016

The Church Times is a widely read publication of the Church of England. The May 27 issue contains a review of Fleming's book along with two others. Here is an excerpt from the review by Dr. Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester:

"The most substantial of these books is The Crucifixion, by the veteran US Episcopalian [sic] priest; Fleming Rutledge. A gifted preacher and spiritual writer, this is her theological magnum opus of 600 pages. Don’t let the length put you off: this is pure gold, reminiscent in style of Ken Leech at his best. The book is at once profound and preachable. A preacher will find material, and illustrations, for many sermons. Any Christian would find it uplifting, and academic theologians will see just how theology can best be put at the service of the wider Church. Her main dialogue partner is American Christianity, which evades the cross, as it comes packaged “as inspirational uplift — sunlit, backlit, or candlelit”. Not that the cross can ever be interpreted without reference to the resurrection, but this must be as a conjoined paradox rather than as a balance or neat sequence. If there is a central motif in this restless and multi-faceted book, it is that Jesus Christ represents, and enacts, God’s apocalyptic entry into creation in order to confront and destroy the powers and principalities of evil, supremely in the confrontation that the cross portrays. Hence the importance of its public dimension. The cross is not just an ugly death but a public ugly death."



The Crucifixion wins Best Reference Book award

Posted: Friday, May 13, 2016

Dick and Fleming Rutledge are shown with Professor Deborah Hunsinger and Professor George Hunsinger of Princeton Theological Seminary at the Episcopal Conference Center in Oviedo, Florida, where both women won Best Book awards from the Academy of Parish Clergy. Prof. Hunsinger's book, the Best Book of 2015, is Bearing the Unbearable, which puts trauma theory to work in the service of the gospel. Fleming Rutledge's book, The Crucifixion, won as Best Reference Book of 2015, so designated on account of its heft and comprehensiveness. George Hunsinger, who has won many awards himself, wrote an endorsement (aka "blurb") for Fleming's book. It was a wonderful reunion of colleagues.

The Episcopal New Yorker interviews Fleming Rutledge about The Crucifixion

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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The Crucifixion was reviewed on the Reformed-ish blog by Derek Rishmawy, who calls it a “beautiful piece of theology”, ideal for pastor-theologians.

Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016

Commonweal, the highly respected Roman Catholic magazine, has given Fleming's The Crucifixion a prominent, positive review:

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2016

The reviewer, Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, associate professor of theology at Boston College, calls the book a "remarkable" and "monumental" work, and closes by echoing "the chant Augustine heard in the Garden: tolle, lege: take up and read! Rutledge’s volume wonderfully celebrates the triumph of redeeming grace: the crucified Messiah, Jesus who is 'the wisdom and power of God.'"

The Christian Century featured a very positive review of The Crucifixion:

Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2016


Fleming presents her new book at the Ecumenical Institute in Baltimore:

Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The photo shows Michael Gorman, of the EI, responding to her presentation. The copy is by David Neff, retired editor-in-chief of Christianity Today.

Fleming's new book is published and available

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, is now officially in print. It can be ordered at a discount from Eerdmans directly, or from Amazon if you must. If you are a supporter of an independent bookstore, do ask them to order directly from Eerdmans. Eerdmans is superlative in speedy response and delivery, and they give substantial discounts to clergy.

This book about the cross of Christ is not like any other book presently on the market. It delves deeply into all the major images and motifs used in the Old and New Testaments to explain what is happening on the cross. That phrase, “what is happening,” is important. The crucifixion of Christ is not simply a spectacle to wonder at. God is doing something, something unique and cosmically effective, in historical time, at a specific geographical location intimately associated with his promises to the Jews. What is this thing that God is doing? This book attempts to answer that by reflecting in depth on what the Scriptures show us.

The book also attempts a close look at the problem of evil. There is no “answer” in this life to the problem of evil and suffering, but the suffering and excruciating public death of Jesus by torture is related to it in a way that is unique in religion and actually undercuts human religious ideas. The chapter called “The Descent into Hell” examines this matter in depth. Individual human frailty and sinfulness is addressed in the chapter called “The Substitution.” Social evil—war, violence, crime, oppression, racism, exploitation—is addressed particularly in “The Apocalyptic War: Christus Victor.” The entire volume is organized around the central proclamation of the gospel: the justification of the ungodly.

Several lay people have already testified that they are finding the book readable and engaging. To be sure, it is directed to pastors, preachers, and students, but it is also accessible to inquiring non-specialists. It can profitably be used by study groups, particularly by using the eight chapters in Part Two: The Biblical Motifs.

Recent Ruminations

On losing one's hearing
Sunday, March 4, 2018

It never occurred to me to write about losing my hearing until I read the column by one of my favorite columnists, Frank Bruni, called "Am I Going Blind?" My heart certainly goes out to him, as to anyone who is stricken with blindness in later years (arguably, it may actually be easier for someone blinded when young...learning Braille etc. is more difficult for an older person).

I don't in the least want to write "poor poor pitiful me" and I feel that I am coping with my new deafness quite well, all things considered. But I was struck by something that a friend of mine said when, in his 70s, he lost most of his hearing and all of his sight.  He said something to this effect:  "Deaf people get no sympathy. When you're blind, everyone offers help, everyone seems to understand what it's like, everyone responds to you, nobody shrugs it off, nobody presumes to tell you how you should deal with it. But when you're deaf, people just say impatiently, 'Why don't you get hearing aids?' when you are standing right there wearing them." A woman I met last week said that when people say that to her, she replies, "I can only wear two at a time." It makes her feel better to retort that way, but apparently it makes no impression on the insensitive person.

My mother became extremely deaf in her later years and I made a concerted effort to make sure she could always hear me. I spoke distinctly, articulating every syllable, and always tried to remember to face her directly. I'm trying not to praise myself in this overmuch, but it is hard for me to be patient with people who don't try to make an effort. I sometimes ask people who mumble at me, "Don't you have an elderly grandparent?" It makes no impression.

I have met some people whose hearing aids seem to work fairly well. Mine do not. I am on my second top-of-the-line pair, and I work with an audiologist, but no matter what I do, I cannot hear certain people at all (only a few, a blessed few, are really easy to hear). I cannot hear anyone who is not directly facing me, cannot hear lectures or panel discussions, cannot hear the questions people ask me after my presentations, cannot hear in restaurants, cannot participate in meetings. One of the things people don't understand is that it is wearisome to try to hear. You have to work very hard at deciphering a sentence. Typically you will be able to hear everything except the key word, and when you tell people that you missed the key word they almost invariably repeat the entire sentence, sometimes at length. After a few minutes of listening intently to a conversation and attempting to decipher what is being said, one becomes worn out and gives up. It is embarrassing to keep asking people to repeat, and most people get irritated after one or two times of asking. It's particularly distressing to try to speak to young children, which as I get older is more and more important to me. (It is a blessing that my two great-nieces enunciate beautifully and for the most part I can hear them.)

Over the past five years, I have had to resign from committees that I really valued and felt that I could contribute to. I have had to turn down invitations to meetings/colloquies/seminars because I can't participate in the discussions. I used to love gatherings at meetings of colleagues and friends, but now I rather dread them unless they are very small groups in very quiet rooms.

My beloved grandmother, Lily Dabney, became very hard of hearing in her later years. She was the most sociable person that the Lord ever made and adored nothing more than going to parties. I think of her all the time, being very sociable myself, and wondering how she did it. I think she was successful in faking it; she would give every appearance of listening intently, and then she would make some charming witticism or observation which might or might not be related to what was being said to her.  She was such a gifted conversationalist that I think she got by with it and continued to be invited to parties into her early 90s. Her manifest love of company carried her through, even though she couldn't hear.

I'm not able to do that, although I have tried, because for me the content of a discussion is paramount.  I am miserable if I can't participate in the currents of conversation. Therefore my life as a travelling preacher and lecturer/speaker is becoming exceedingly difficult. It's often been said that being hard of hearing is worse than being blind because it cuts off human connections. I feel a kinship with Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII; she lost most of her hearing at an early age and became isolated, though much loved at a distance by the English people. I myself knew a woman who, when she developed severe hearing loss, announced to her church that she would not come any more and did not want any visits. I wouldn't go that far, but I can entirely understand how someone might wish to opt out of the exhausting struggle to hear and withdraw into a world of books, closed captions, and private consolations.

One of the reasons I like to go to St Thomas Fifth Avenue is that they have a phenomenal system of headsets which I pick up before the service. It's such a professional setup that it's like having one's hearing completely restored. This is only true, however, for the spoken parts of the service. Listening to classical music with intense pleasure--particularly the choral repertoire--is apparently gone for ever for me in this life. I can no longer listen to any of my hundreds of recordings of beloved operas and oratorios--can never hear Kathleen Battle or Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau again--not because I can't turn up the volume, but because the music is shriekingly distorted and painful to hear (this happened to my mother also).

Why am I writing this? I guess it helps me to write it...but also, I am hoping that others might be motivated to be more understanding of those who have lost their hearing, and to try harder to be audible. When you come across hard-of-hearing people, you will find that nothing makes them more grateful than to be able to hear you talk to them. It might be one of your spiritual gifts!

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Latest Tips From the Times

I am shifting to Twitter!
Monday, January 23, 2017

I have decided to stop writing for this "Tips from the Times" feature on my website. From now on, I will simply reTweet articles that I think are notable, trying to be selective and not send too many. I have really enjoyed doing Tips, and I think there are some good pieces in my Tips archives, but I am spending too much time on it and--as we all know by now--Twitter is easier and more efficient, if not exactly mind-stretching! I will be able to put more effort into Ruminations. Many thanks to all my readers.

Read All Tips from the Times >