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Live with Fleming Rutledge

Session Three on Epiphany: The Season of Glory

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Here is the latest discussion of Fleming Rutledge’s new book, Epiphany: The Season of Glory. Scroll down for the Show Notes. Fleming and Dick Rutledge joined us for the conversation.

Here’s the best part of the evening:

Reflection — by Josh Retterer

“I was slower to enter into the immensities of the other sacraments. What baptism means has become more and more important to me,” confesses the religious hermit/television art critic, Sister Wendy Beckett. “St. Paul is the one who understands it best so far as this mystery can ever be understood, which isn’t very far. Baptism means we are “in” Jesus, taken onto a completely new level of being. As St. Paul says, we die with Him and we rise with Him. Everything is out of our control now except that He enables us to say yes to this, to Him being our life and not ourselves.”

Immensity is the perfect word for what happens to us, dying and rising with Him is a non-trivial thing. The Light of the World, applied internally, has an expulsive effect on darkness, it’s gone. No wonder baptism is also considered a minor exorcism; that kind of candle power would blow the demons hiding in there clean out of you! In chapter 5 of Epiphany, we find Rev. Rutledge talking about the baptism of Jesus as well as what our own baptism means, via Romans. We find Paul furiously underling exactly why baptism is such a big deal, in permanent marker.

“This is a good place to address the theme of recapitulation, firmly planted in the great tradition by Irenaeus in the second century. It is founded in the story told by Paul in Romans 5. Because it is so important to Paul, he retells the story six times in six separate sentences! Here’s just one of them: As one man’s [Adam’s] trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s [Jesus’] act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. (Romans 5:18) Paul then writes definitively to the Romans, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The baptisms of believers would be victory celebrations and the church would be renewed if these biblical passages and others like them were made a standard part of every Christian’s knowledge and faith.”

Rev. Rutledge also preaches about what being “in” means for us in her collection of Romans sermons, Not Ashamed of the Gospel. As an aside, having two clergy people quote Paul, particularly from Romans, approvingly is so rare, I feel like I should play the lottery. I would have loved to hear Rev. Rutledge preach this sermon live. There is a rhythm and a passion to her words as she lists the ways Christ permeates everything about us. We not only get to witness it, but to experience God’s pleasure as He’s working in and through us. You sense she is speaking from direct experience, because she is..

“Christ, through the Holy Spirit, has already implanted himself within our hearts. His power is with us in the running, in the pressing on, in the laying hold of the prize. He is never simply standing by, watching to see how we perform; he is actually present in the actions we take on behalf of the poor, present in the reconciliation of sinners, present in the recovery from addiction, present in the congregation gathered to praise the congregation gathered to praise him and receive his mercies anew at each Eucharist. He is powerfully working in us to guarantee the future of his beloved children. Because he himself is the righteousness of God, and because he is raised from the dead and his living powerful presence is with us, the saying "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" has a completely different meaning "for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Yes, that verse does have a completely different meaning now. This isn’t about an abstract thought form, or angry sky god, this is the real God, one who is with us, because we are in Him. Not as if we are, or sort of like we are, it is as real as I am, as you are. Wonderfully, Chrst is even more real. Like the difference between dead and alive real. Now we are alive, as beloved children with a guaranteed future. Yes please!

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Show Notes:


The conversation explores the importance of the question 'Who is Jesus?' and the need to address the Christological crisis in the church. It highlights the timidity in proclaiming Jesus as Lord and the casualness often associated with baptism. The chapters also discuss the significance of baptism as a transformative event and the need for awe and reverence in its observance. The conversation concludes with a discussion on elevating the understanding of baptism in Baptist churches and discerning a calling beyond lay ministry. In this conversation, Fleming Rutledge and Dick Wills discuss various topics related to faith and the Christian life. They touch on the impact of discovering the doctrines of grace, falling in love with Jesus, and the significance of baptism. They also explore the connections to South Africa and the meaning of apocalyptic. The conversation delves into the turning of the ages and the role of John the Baptist in heralding the coming age. They discuss apartheid as belonging to the old age and the hope of the age to come. The conversation concludes with reflections on the vocation of baptism and the support and love shared between Fleming and Dick.


  • The question 'Who is Jesus?' is central and needs to be addressed in the church.

  • There is a Christological crisis in the church, with a lack of bold proclamation of Jesus as Lord.

  • Baptism is a transformative event and should be approached with awe and reverence.

  • There is a need to elevate the understanding of baptism in Baptist churches.

  • Discerning a calling beyond lay ministry requires deep reflection and seeking God's guidance.


00:00Introduction and Reconnecting

05:35Opening Prayer and Getting Started

08:57The Importance of the Question 'Who is Jesus?'

13:17Timidity in Proclaiming Jesus as Lord

22:32The Significance of Baptism

35:00The Need for Awe and Reverence in Baptism

38:53Elevating the Understanding of Baptism in Baptist Churches

46:24The Objectivity of Baptism and the Active Agency of God

50:37Discerning a Calling Beyond Lay Ministry

51:35Meeting Dennis and His Story

52:34Discovering the Doctrines of Grace

53:34Falling in Love with Jesus

54:04Baptism and Apocalyptic Transfer

55:03Connections to South Africa

55:31The Meaning of Apocalyptic

56:20The Turning of the Ages

57:19John the Baptist and the Coming Age

58:30Apartheid and the Old Age

58:58Children of the Apocalypse

59:16The Promise of the Age to Come

59:55The Kingdom of God

01:00:25Ash Wednesday and Confession

01:01:21The Vocation of Baptism

01:02:06Dick's Ministry and Support

01:03:38Dick's Hunger for Jesus

01:04:07Supporting Fleming's Vocation

01:05:06The Gift of Each Other

01:06:14Appreciation for Jason and the Church

Tamed Cynic
Jason Micheli
Stick around here and I’ll use words as best as I know how to help you give a damn about the God who, in Jesus Christ, no longer gives any damns.