Skip to comments.Must We Believe in the Virgin Birth?
Posted on 12/19/2011 4:02:26 PM PST by rhema
In one of his columns for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof once pointed to belief in the Virgin Birth as evidence that conservative Christians are less intellectual. Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Is belief in the Virgin Birth really necessary?
Kristof is absolutely aghast that so many Americans believe in the Virgin Birth. The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time, he explains, and the percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth actually rose five points in the latest poll. Yikes! Is this evidence of secular backsliding?
The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine Americas emphasis on faith, Kristof argues, because most Biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith. Heres a little hint: Anytime you hear a claim about what most Biblical scholars believe, check on just who these illustrious scholars really are. In Kristofs case, he is only concerned about liberal scholars like Hans Kung, whose credentials as a Catholic theologian were revoked by the Vatican.
The list of what Hans Kung does not believe would fill a book [just look at his books!], and citing him as an authority in this area betrays Kristofs determination to stack the evidence, or his utter ignorance that many theologians and biblical scholars vehemently disagree with Kung. Kung is the anti-Catholics favorite Catholic, and that is the real reason he is so loved by the liberal media.
Kristof also cites the great Yale historian and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan as an authority against the Virgin Birth, but this is both unfair and untenable. In Mary Through the Centuries, Pelikan does not reject the Virgin Birth, but does trace the development of the doctrine.
What are we to do with the Virgin Birth? The doctrine was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in only two of the four Gospels, it must be elective. The Apostle Paul, they argued, did not mention it in his sermons in Acts, so he must not have believed it. Besides, the liberal critics argued, the doctrine is just so supernatural. Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argue that the doctrine was just evidence of the early churchs over-claiming of Christs deity. It is, Spong tells us, the entrance myth to go with the resurrection, the exit myth. If only Spong were a myth.
Now, even some revisionist evangelicals claim that belief in the Virgin Birth is unnecessary. The meaning of the miracle is enduring, they argue, but the historical truth of the doctrine is not really important.
Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian? This is not a hard question to answer. It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning that the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth. The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bibles teaching, reject the Virgin Birth? The answer must be no.
Nicholas Kristof pointed to his grandfather as a devout Presbyterian elder who believed that the Virgin Birth is a pious legend. Follow his example, Kristof encourages, and join the modern age. But we must face the hard fact that Kristofs grandfather denied the faith. This is a very strange and perverse definition of devout.
Matthew tells us that before Mary and Joseph came together, Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:18] This, Matthew explains, fulfilled what Isaiah promised: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means God with Us. [Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14]
Luke provides even greater detail, revealing that Mary was visited by an angel who explained that she, though a virgin, would bear the divine child: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God. [Luke 1:35]
Even if the Virgin Birth was taught by only one biblical passage, that would be sufficient to obligate all Christians to the belief. We have no right to weigh the relative truthfulness of biblical teachings by their repetition in Scripture. We cannot claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and then turn around and cast suspicion on its teaching.
Millard Erickson states this well: If we do not hold to the virgin birth despite the fact that the Bible asserts it, then we have compromised the authority of the Bible and there is in principle no reason why we should hold to its other teachings. Thus, rejecting the virgin birth has implications reaching far beyond the doctrine itself.
Implications, indeed. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, who was His father? There is no answer that will leave the Gospel intact. The Virgin Birth explains how Christ could be both God and man, how He was without sin, and that the entire work of salvation is Gods gracious act. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, He had a human father. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.
Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argued that the Virgin Birth is the essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation. Well said, and well believed.
Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in Gods perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristofs grandfather, we are told, believed that the Virgin Birth is a pious legend. The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that churchs doctrinal and spiritual laxity or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christs nature and nullified the incarnation.
This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.
Synonymous terms - the Godhead is God the Father-Son-Holy Spirit. Jesus is who we read of in John 1 -- the Word WAS God. in John 1:2-3 God is One, the Word is God, the Word was with God. The only way you can reconcile those three sentences is in the Triune nature of God
Jesus as just a man does not work, Jesus as a created angelic being, a semi-divine being does not work either.
MHG's post 231 explains it better that
The trinitarian nature of God is shown in the Bible, even in the Tanakh. Trinity IS the nature of God as we have been given to know. Even in the Old Testament/Tanakh, we do have instruction on the Three nature of God as Creator, Sustainer, and Deliverer. God Is manifested as three yet one, seen identified by 'the work He is doing'
With each manifestation, we are given to realize His presence simultaneously as Creator--because we exist in the realm He created, as Sustainer--because the balance is too delicate to stand alone without His sustaining the separation and interdependence, and as God with us in the person of Jesus our Lord and Savior.
“In the beginning the Father/Son/Holy Spirit was and the Father/Son/Holy Spirit was with Father/Son/Holy Spirit and the Father/Son/Holy Spirit was Father/Son/Holy Spirit.”
Remember...you said the terms were synonymous and that word indicates alike in meaning.
On the other hand, the Scriptures says Jesus called his father “my God” at John 20:17. Was Jesus talking about himself as “my God”? Was Jesus referring to the “Godhead..Father/Son/Holy Spirit” as “my God”?
“The only way you can reconcile those three sentences is in the Triune nature of God”.
But it cannot be reconciled with Scripture and that is the point. And saying that the Word was Father/Son/Holy Spirit cannot be found in John's words.
cronos: Synonymous terms - the Godhead is God the Father-Son-Holy Spirit.
cyc: If Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Word are as you said, synoymous terms
hold on there -- read this, I never said that the Father, Son, Holy Spirit are synonomous terms, neither did I say that any of these were synonomous terms with the Word.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God -- and as clearly stated in John 1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.
a simple argument to understand why we edify one another rather than argue.
When we are in fellowship with Him, He performs the work and our will is part of the body, humble to His Will, thereby fulfilling His Plan.
(28) Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
(29) Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
There is One God, not three, here is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
To say Jesus Christ is not God cannot be reconciled with scripture -- He was either God or a demonic faker, nothing in-between.
So, who do you say Jesus was if not God? who else could He be?
cronos: -- so we agree on that bit at least, right? That Jesus was more than just a man and not "just an angel", correct? I believe He was God. You have said you don't, now we can discuss this difference in opinion
Just for the point of clarification, for the sake of the lurkers who don't know the players, could you kindly point out to everyone just where c-y-c made the statement that he said that he didn't believe Jesus was God? I went back through the posted conversation that you two had and didn't see that in there.
Or is that just another unsubstantiated claim thrown out there in an effort to discredit anything else he has to say?
Because you know, that's how it all comes across. Spurious claims based on delusion of some kind are thrown out about various posters, Catholic in general, about the purported beliefs of non-Catholics and then the implication is made that nothing they have to say about God or Christ or the Bible is trustworthy because if they can't get the basics correct, then everything else they say must be suspect. It's extremely disingenuous.
There is only ONE YHvH, Peter told us that Yah'shua said so in Mark 12:29. (see Deu 6:4)
It is closest to Sabellianism
Clear reading of the Tanach Gen. 49:18; Exod. 14:13; 15:2; 1 Sam. 2:1; 2 Sam. 22:47; 1 Chr. 16:23; 2 Chr. 6:41; 20:17; Ps. 3:8; 14:7; 18:2, 46; 21:1; 24:5; 27:1; 35:9; 37:39; 38:22; 40:16; 68:19; 85:7; 88:1; 95:1; 96:2; 98:2; 106:4; 116:13; 118:14f; 119:41, 166, 174; 140:7; 149:4; Isa. 12:2; 25:9; 33:2, 6; 45:8, 17; 49:8; 52:10; 56:1; 61:10; 62:11; Jer. 3:23; Lam. 3:26; Jon. 2:9; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:8, 18
YHvH is my salvation.
Yah'shua NAME means "YHvH is/be my salvation"
See Numbers 13:16 Where Moses changes the son on nun's name from Salvation to YHvH is Salvation
So far we seem to be in agreement, as there's not really any thing to dispute yet, but then you added the reference to the Holy Spirit in Psalms and Isaiah which seemed to indicate that the Holy Spirit is not an individual but rather the breath of YHVH.
If that's so, then how could Paul write in Ephesians 4:30 that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit? You can grieve a person, but not a thing, so Paul seems to be teaching that the Holy Spirit is a person. Furthermore, Jesus Himself spoke in John 14:16 of the Holy Spirit as an eternal Helper and not just as the breath of YHVH.
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 12:11, Paul notes that the fruits of the Spirit are given to each Believer according to the will of the Holy Spirit. How can the breath of YHVH have an independent will, such as the text of that passage indicates?
Please don't see this as an antagonistic post, that's not the spirit in which I write this, but I can't see how the stance you're taking is correct. If there's something else that I'm missing, point it out to me but please understand that I don't accept doctrinal authority outside of the Scriptures. Church doctrine, Roman or otherwise, doesn't have any authority unless it has Holy Scripture to back it up.
Just what Jesus called himself...the son of God.
ok, and in your opinion what does that mean? Is Jesus a created being?
I don't deny that JA may have had her feelings stomped on by others here, but where in Scripture does it say that this is an acceptable reason to harden our hearts towards each other? Is what happened right? No! But even if there was a valid reason for the ridicule, that's still no excuse to sin by hardening her heart towards other Christians. That's the reason I told JA that she needs to repent, nothing else.
And Judith, before you go off on a tangent, please understand that I'm including myself in this. Frankly, your stubbornness and arrogance really ticks me off and I really, really, really want to tell you to shove it but you're still my Sister in Christ. If I harden my heart against you, I tell Christ that His sacrifice on your behalf was foolish, and that's something that I just can't do. So yes, I think you're hard-headed, prideful, arrogant, overly confident of your own righteousness and generally not a pleasant person to be around but you're still my Sister in Christ and I want to see you overcome these faults, so I need to pray for you to be strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. To do that, I can't harden my heart towards you even though that's my first reaction to your attitude, so I'd like to ask that you pray on my behalf as well, that the Holy Spirit help me keep from hardening my heart towards you.
One of the interesting dilemmas Catholics have is that they can only attempt to project a belief onto Protestants. They cant rely strictly on scripture because it they dont use strictly scripture. The CC tells them that salvation is only available under the auspices of the CC so cannot understand that salvation is an individual thing which results in the inclusion into the true church the body of Christ. The true church transcends the CC which is a concept foreign to Catholics. The inability to box true Christians into the concept taught by the CC causes Catholics to have to project beliefs in an attempt to box Protestants which is a concept they do understand. False as it is its the safe place for them.
I’m not talking about acceptable or not — I just pointed out to you an example. Do note that just a year ago she was the nice poster — someone who has a background in one Protestant faith, of our Jewish friends. The constant battles on FR RF hardens attitudes.
I don't disagree that it hardens people, I've found it doing so to me; I'm just saying that this hardening isn't pleasing to God.
True, but if one reads over and over again posts like 264 “they can’t...”, “they cannot understand...”, “they project...” etc..... — it takes two hands to clap.
Care to provide some evidence of that?
Because not many people I know have ever noticed it, including some not so regulars on the Catholic threads.
Sorry. Too late. Preach to someone else.
“hold on there — read this, I never said that the Father, Son, Holy Spirit are synonomous terms, neither did I say that any of these were synonomous terms with the Word.”
That was my impression from your comment in #251. If not, what did you mean in #251?
“the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.”
And yet I still do not find this is the Scriptures, That the father is the son is the holy spirit and neither does anyone else for that matter.
If you want to look at what John wrote, here it is word for word with the Greek words in English:
“in beginning was the word and the word was toward the god and god was the word”.
Which is “god” here is father and which is son and which is holy spirit?
your post then condemned all Catholics as "consistently and predictably vot"ing in a certain manner and your post accused us all of "condone murder and mockery of marriage and sexual perversion?" to which Judith was pretty calm to say "Catholics who attend mass weekly, unlike the huge numbers of liberal protestants, do not vote for CINOS, do not contribute to CCHD, do not support abortion under any circumstances, do not support gay marriage, do not support the use of embryonic stem cells, and do not vote for those who do.
I suspect you already knew that, but could not resist the calumny."
you, metmom then when it has been pointed out that your posts blanket statement about Catholics was wrong, state "How can you seriously expect us to believe.. that you know the voting habits of all Catholics well enough to be able to make blanket statements like that?"
to which Judith was calm enough to say "The fact that I am not going to answer you does not mean I cannot refute you, it means that this discussion is over for me. The incredible rudeness of some of the posts has become intolerable."
did it not strike that the original post of yours HAD blanket statements in the first place?
Very well. I've approached you as the Spirit was leading me to do to seek reconciliation and you've rejected that effort. I cannot force you to do something that you will not do, but I can show you the error of your ways via Scripture.
Mat 6:14-15 KJV -  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
or there’s another there where you metmom compare our beliefs to “doctrines of demons” — Judith comes back with “We disagree. But thank you for the post.” — now isn’t that a nice poster? I meant Judith, not your original post.
CYC: And yet I still do not find this is the Scriptures, That the father is the son is the holy spirit and neither does anyone else for that matter.
Again, it does not say the father is the son is the holy spirit --> read again -- the statement is clear: "the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.
Do you believe that the Son of God IS God? If not, what is He?
Yes, I’ve had your protestant scripture shoved down my throat for a decade. Now go pat yourself on the back for being such a sterling example. “I thank you, Lord, that I am not like that sinner, Judith Anne.” — have I heard you right?
I have acknowledged my sinfulness many times, and my utter dependence on Christ my beloved Savior. I believe that He, in spite of your judgement, will keep me unto Him forever. Since you did not die to save me, perhaps you will understand if I am not impressed by your holiness
Good question -- first and foremost, in the Greek it is not "the word was toward the god" -- Greek does not have indefinite articles there in )En a)rxv= hÅn o( lo/goj, kaiì o( lo/goj hÅn pro\j to\n qeo/n, kaiì qeo\j hÅn o( lo/goj. as in english, it is incorrectly translated as you posted above
The correct translation is that in beginning was the Word and the Word was toward God and God was the word.
So the book of Matthew is now Protestant Scripture? The rest of your post is absolutely worthless if this is where you're coming from. You really need to stop and actually hear what I'm trying to tell you instead of just assuming that I'm on the offensive against you immediately.
Protestant Scripture? Really? Wow.
Got it. 15,000 posts!?! Holy cow, did you guys get punk'd or what? I'm thinking that obvious troll wasn't as obvious as it appears to have been.
This is going to take some time to read through.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Yes, your protestant scriptures. Quit making this about your judgement of me. This forum has rules.
JA, the Book of Matthew is not solely a Protestant book. It's a part of the four Gospels. Catholics use it, just as Eastern Orthodox and everyone else. It's Holy Scripture and has been accepted since the beginning.
Your rejection of it is telling.
Father..son. These are not esoteric terms and their meaning would be clear to anyone hearing Jesus words. A father begets his son and Jesus is so described, only begotten, thus created and called the firstborn of all creation.
i appreciate you sharing your belief, even if I do disagree with it
See the post above.
For that matter, Uri's disagreement with the Trinity is also his point of opinion.
AH, the KJV is DEFINITELY a protestant book. ‘Sorry for your ignorance. Catholics use it? For what? Not mass.
wow -- talking about jumping to conclusions.
Now that I am clear on what common grounds are shared with Uri and with cyc respectively we can have a civil debate.
i disagree with cyc on the creature/uncreated nature of Christ, but he is arguing it from his point of view.
i disagree with Uri that he disbelieves the Trinity, but he is arguing from his point of view too
I cannot debate with both at the same time about the Trinity because they both have utterly different ways of seeing it -- with uri one can debate "we both believe in Christ's divinity, but not exactly how that fits in with the Father and the Holy Spirit" -- we can share and learn
with cyc it is a more basic difference, but it would not make sense to make the same debate with cyc as with uri because a person who believes that Christ is created could say "whooa, why are you wasting my time arguing if God is modal or not when I disagree with the original premise"
I will point out that the Gospel of Matthew begins with "Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob.... Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ -- note it does not say the Jesus was begotten by Joseph. What we do know is as we read in John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and [a]dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of [b]the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. -- since "through Him all things were made" -- it stands to reason that He did not make Himself -- All things were made through Him, clearly indicating that He, Jesus Christ was not a created being.
You asked my opinion. When it comes to matters of a spiritual nature I try...try ...to let the Scriptures form my opinions or conform my opinions.
And if you say that’s just my opinion..well, that’s true and I’ll keep working on my opinions.
Yes JA, the KJV is an English version of the Bible based upon the Latin Vulgate. So yes, if you're using the Vulgate for Mass and I'm using the KJV, we're seeing the same text but in a different language.
If it makes you feel any better, how about I show you the same text from the Vulgate?
Mat 6:14-15 VUL -  si enim dimiseritis hominibus peccata eorum dimittet et vobis Pater vester caelestis delicta vestra  si autem non dimiseritis hominibus nec Pater vester dimittet peccata vestra
Happy now? The meaning of the verse is still the same.
Civil, if spirited debates are possible even among those with wide disagreements. I have enjoyed it but I have to leave for a bit.
If you wish to continue later, I will gladly.
If you want me to call it opinions or beliefs or xxx, whatever we are actually discussing a fundamental difference and this is giving me opportunity to learn more about my own faith while debating with you.
well, I believe it is possible if we know where the other is coming from — it lays the foundation maybe not for agreement but for understand where the other’s beliefs lie. I apologize for bringing up the bit about blood transfusion etc. — your faith choices are your own.
>>>>>Yes JA, the KJV is an English version of the Bible based upon the Latin Vulgate. So yes, if you’re using the Vulgate for Mass and I’m using the KJV, we’re seeing the same text but in a different language.
Anyway, I’m sick of prot4etants using THEIR truncated Bibles to prove what wonderful Christians they are. Run along, sonny. I have better things to do than read your phony pious sermons. You can quit preaching and start practicing. I’ll be watching.
The KJV used the Robertus Stephanus Latin Vulgate, along with Theodore Beza's translation of the Greek and the Textus Receptus, among others.
Here, then put this in your pipe and smoke it.....
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences, But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.
Go for it.
It’s not the Protestant Bible quoted.
Did you not recognize that?
Paul often left out parenthetical statements that were understood by the listener as when he uses the word “panta” or “all” when he describes Christ as the creative agent saying, (see footnote on this verse in the NAB)
“..all things were created through him and for him”.
In 1 Cor. 15:26,27 Paul chooses to explain that his use of “all” has some exceptions so he as an aside notes them.
In Col. he doesn't explain what would obvious, that creation was “dia”, through Christ as an agent.