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Fleming Rutledge Quote

For Jews and Gentiles alike in those days, a crucified person was as low and despised as it was possible to be. Crucifixion sent an unmistakable signal: this person that you see before you is not fit to live, not even human (as the Romans put it, such a person was damnatio ad bestias, meaning “condemned to the death of a beast”—although in our society it would be considered unacceptable to kill even an animal in such a way). There was nothing religious, nothing uplifting or inspiring about a crucifixion. On the contrary, it was deliberately intended to be obscene, in the original sense of that word; the Oxford English Dictionary suggests “disgusting, repulsive, filthy, foul, abominable, loathsome.” It is therefore of the utmost importance to note that in an era when crucifixion was still going on and was widely practiced throughout the Roman Empire, Christians were proclaiming a degraded, condemned, crucified person as the Son of God and Savior of the world. By any ordinary standard, and especially by religious standards, this was simply unthinkable. Here is one of the most powerful arguments for the truth of the Christian faith: the human religious imagination could not have arrived at a notion so utterly foreign to generally accepted spiritual ideas as that of a crucified Messiah.