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The Virgin Birth

"Virgin & Child" by Simon Vouet

Today we come to examine the second part of the second article of The Apostles' Creed. "I believe in Jesus Christ...who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary..."

Belief in the Virgin Birth of Jesus is denied by many today. It is often denied by at least two different groups of people. The first group of people deny the Virgin Birth because they deny miracles altogether. They are naturalists. They believe that we live in a closed universe. "What you see is what you get." "Nature is all there is." Statements such as these are part of their credo. Thus, as a natural consequence, they do not accept miracles of any kind. If they are interested in the Bible at all then they explain away the miracles of the Bible on naturalistic/materialistic grounds.

However, if you believe that there may be more to the universe than what can be seen, or what can be explained by science, especially if you believe there is a God who created everything that exists, then the possibility of miracles, the possibility of God intervening in his creation, becomes intellectually feasible.

For lack of a better word, we might call the other group of people who reject the Virgin Birth "modernists". These are people, many if not all of them very good people, who are part of the visible church, who may even accept some miracles of the Bible, but they reject the Virgin Birth. These people may point out that the Virgin Birth is taught in only two places in the New Testament and therefore they conclude that it is not a very important doctrine, or at least, not necessary for all Christians to confess. We will address the importance of the Virgin Birth in a later post. For now, let me say this: if you want to read more on this subject, I recommend N. T. Wright and Marcus Borg's book, The Meaning of Jesus. These two New Testament scholars come at this doctrine of the Virgin Birth from two different angles. Borg does not believe it and Wright does. They both explain what they believe and why.

Personally, I love what C. S. Lewis says about this in his book, Miracles,
I can understand the man who denies miracles altogether: but what is one to make of people who will believe other miracles and 'draw the line' at the Virgin Birth? Is it that for all their lip service to the laws of Nature there is only one natural process in which they really believe? Or is it that they think they see in this miracle a slur upon sexual intercourse (though they might just as well see in the feeding of the five thousand an insult to bakers) and that sexual intercourse is the one thing still venerated in this unvenerating age? In reality the Miracle is no less, and no more, surprising than any others.
In upcoming posts we will look at this difficult doctrine in greater depth....

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