“When Paul declared that God had become incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth and that this Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, he lost his audience.  The Greeks could handle even the most bizarre speculation about divine beings as long as it was understood that all God-talk was the product of human imagination, the speculation of those who cannot really know the realm of the divine.  But it was Christian certainty, the conviction that in Jesus God had crossed the line to become one with humankind, that simply could not tolerated.  From their perspective, this was blatant nonsense. 

The particularity of the Gospel has always been a stumbling block to people for whom dualism is a cardinal assumption.  Treat Jesus as a great moral teacher, like Gandhi, and Christianity wins universal acclaim.  If Jesus is presented as one of the world’s sources of wisdom, like Confucius, then he can be happily welcomed inside multiculturalism’s big tent.  Offer Christianity as the product of a particular culture, and it will enjoy widespread respect. 

Keep Christianity philosophical, teach it as a philosophy of life or the product of a particluar religious culture, and it gains instant acceptability as an honored part of the modern pantheon.  But affirm the incarnation as fact rather than theory, as a event rather than a story, and watch the bonds of tolerance break.  It is this particularity that Paul called “the scandal of the Gospel,’ and that ‘stumbling block’ is no more tolerated in our day than in his.” 

~Parker T. Williamson from Standing Firm: Reclaiming Christian Faith in Times of Controversy  p.41

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