Paul Spilsbury helps people to see the bigger picture. “You get to see history in the context of what’s happening now, and to reflect on how it all fits together.”
people in contexts of poverty, oppression
and injustice,” he says.
When you grasp that reality, not only
does the Bible really come to life, but
you’re on the road to a new understanding of what’s going on in Israel and surrounding areas today.
Perhaps that’s one reason study tours
seem to be increasing in popularity. “I
think it’s kind of a growth industry at the
moment,” says Spilsbury, who describes
“great benefits” to having a professor
and students together in such a setting.
“You talk way beyond lecture material.
You talk about personal things, social
realities that don’t necessarily come up
in a lecture setting.”
He’s seen some students experience a
crisis of faith when exposed to the harsh
truths of the land. “They might go there
thinking, ‘It’s all the Jews’ fault’ or ‘It’s
all the Muslims’ fault,’ but when they get
there, they realize the Christians are as
implicated as anyone else.”
For his part Spilsbury says such trips
have loosened his grip on some “cher-
ished certainties about how God works in
the world,” while Matties concedes his big
lesson has been “there is no such thing as
a disembodied spirituality, or a faith that
isn’t grounded in the everyday.”
It’s reassuring to think even scholars,
who regularly plumb deep mysteries and
tend to feel comfortable swimming in un-
answered questions, have had to come to
terms with letting go of a few certainties
of their own.
Patricia Paddey of Mississauga is a senior writer at Faith Today.