Fleming Rutledge Had Me Chippy, I Blame Jason Micheli

Who listens to women? Smart people. 

Maybe you grew up with the debates about the weaker sex. Could be you spent time deciding what it would mean had Eve not presented Adam with the fruit of the tree. And, if you grew up in the context of Southern Christianity, then these matters were settled early and often.

Can She Teach the Bible (!/?)

More than 30 years ago many of us young, male ministry students at Oklahoma Baptist University looked forward to taking a class, or more, from Dr. Rowena Strickland. Rather than eschewed, it was encouraged. I do not know anyone who expressed disappointment. (Here is an old article written by a former student before Dr. Strickland died.)

She told the story of Euodia and Syntche (Phil.4:2-3) as a possible conflict over who made the best potato salad for the church picnic. Her point being that conflict are often, and not just among women, rooted in pettiness.

Yes, Dr. Strickland could and did teach the Bible really well. This was before a different vision was cast as to who could teach preacher boys, of course beyond Sunday School.

Develop Ears to Hear Others

Amos Yong describes the book of Acts as the story of the Gospel and those we other. Consider it his way of describing the breaking of the walls of hostility between groups of people. Christians should be leading the way as a consequence of the Good News and the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Yong sees this as one way to understand many tongues.

When we other others, we make it hard for them to hear the Good News in their language. He walks through Acts illustrating in the advance of the Good News how divisions crumble with the consequence Jesus is Lord across all human boundary making projects.

One of the ways to develop ears to hear: intentionally listen to others. The notion of an Organic Theologian, the pastor-theologian, requires an openness to others. One of my habits formed immediately after finishing my Doctor of Ministry degree was to read those my particular tradition other’d.

You should not be surprised that I picked up Fleming Rutledge’s, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. You may be surprise to learn,

Fleming Rutledge is an Episcopal priest widely recognized in North America and the UK as a preacher, lecturer, and teach of other preachers. Her published sermon collections, most recently And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament, have received acclaim across denominational lines.

I blame Jason Micheli for the find. His posts on Rutledge’s book at his site and over at Scot McKnight’s blog triggered my interest.

Why So Chippy?

Every now and then we face former iterations, versions, of ourselves. When we do we often feel like hiding. No matter who you other’d in your theological journey as a pastor, and if you have grown to appreciate multiple voices within the Christian Tradition, you wince when you think that there was a time you would never listen to that person.

Fleming Rutledge quotes a variety of people. She references Japanese American theologian Kosuke Koyama. She quotes Jurgen Moltmann. When I read her quotes of Crucified God, I could not help but recall the suggestion that I quite quoting/posting Moltmann on social media by a denominational leader.

Reading and remembering that admonition left me chippy. Who was the last post-Holocaust theologian you have read? When was the last time you read a Womanist theologian? A Black Theologian? An Asian Theologian? A Liberation Theologian? If the claim of Scripture bears any weight with us that God will have a people from every nation, tribe, and language, then why begin benefiting from that current reality?

I hope to get Adam Clark on the podcast to talk about how colorblindness as a means to deal with racial tensions actually denies human subjectivity. There are those with whom we should sit and listen to develop a fully orbed vision of the people of God rather than be contented with those just like us.

Reading the richness of Fleming Rutledge’s book, and I am not too far in, raised to the surface a frustration with my own Tribe that locks down those approved to read and locks out those who might help us see more clearly what Paul describes as the multi-faceted vision of the grace of God in the world.

Who are you reading?

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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