In Part 1 I related how my heart was touched by the holy sites of Israel. I’m definitely not above the innocent wonderment of, say, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem or the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.
I was also reminded while in Israel of the “scandal of particularity.” This phrase can be found in Christian academic and journalistic sources such as Jonathan Hill’s What Has Christianity Ever Done for Us? (p24). It refers to the idea that God did not reveal himself universally in all times and places through a cosmic revelation of himself. Rather, he chose a particular time, place, ethnicity and culture to visit humankind in the person of Jesus: first century Palestinian Judaism.
No one knows for sure. The generous, egalitarian spirit of religion on college campuses requires that God start big and then go small. That is, if God exists, God would naturally reveal God’s-self equally to all peoples — perhaps through all the world’s religions. This is religious inclusivity.
But that’s not what happened. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He taught and died in Galilee and Judea. God started small in the person of his Son and spread out from there. At the foot of the cross and the empty tomb, all are welcome. That’s a different version of inclusivity than is expected (or required) on campus.
So when you travel to Israel and recognize the “holy sites” as such, you also acknowledge and participate in the scandal of particularity. Can we moderns handle it?