Another of the countless “mic-drop” moments in Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion. Italics in the original, ht RS:

“There is nothing more characteristic of humanity than the universal tendency of one portion of that humanity to justify itself as deserving and some other portion as undeserving. Nothing is more foundational in Christian faith than the recognition that we can never be justified in that way. To speak of “deserving” is to divide up the world in a fashion that is utterly alien to the gospel. Christ came to die expressly for sinners, for the undeserving, for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). Calvin, with his characteristic concern for pastoral consolation, writes, “The promise of salvation is willingly and freely offered to us by the Lord in consideration of our misery rather than our deserving.” The great Holy Week hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus” concludes with a prayer to the crucified Lord: “Think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not our deserving.”

We are arguing here that drawing a line between between those who participate in horrors and those who do not is a dubious enterprise; all of us in one way or another are either potential perpetrators, potential participants, or (most likely) passive enablers of horrors. W. H. Auden embedded this conviction in his poem: “We shan’t, not since Stalin and Hitler, trust ourselves ever again.” If this is true, then the gospel has to be good news not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. If we say that Jesus Christ descended into hell, perhaps we mean most of all the hell of the perpetrators.” (pp. 451-53)