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On the Virgin Birth, Five Brief Answers to Five Common Objections
by Daryl E. Witmer
Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?” King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” -from Just Thinking, RZIM, Winter 1998
Really? Where have you been for the past 21 years? Ever since in vitro fertilization and embryonic transfer came on the scene in 1978 (not to mention artificial insemination), it is quite possible for a woman who has never experienced sexual intercourse to give birth.
Of course, the Bible makes it clear that it was Almighty God, not some high-paid gynecologist, who worked the details of Jesus’ Divine-Human conception, i.e. “And the angel answered and said unto [Mary], The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” -Luke 1:35, KJV.
Sound miraculous? Of course. But these days, who would deny that miracles occur? And such a ‘small’ one for the God who created the entire universe!
Author Patrick Campbell (The Mythical Jesus) and Episcopal Bishop J.S. Spong are two of a number of individuals who have suggested that “…the virgin birth account [is a]…clearly recognized mythological element in our faith tradition whose purpose was not to describe a literal event but to capture the transcendent dimensions of God in the earthbound words and concepts of first-century human beings.”
Both men, however, overlook two simple facts: a) there is absolutely no precedent in all of pagan mythology for an actual virgin birth, e.g. Zeus had relations with Alcmene; and b) no respectable Jew would have ever condescended to buy into a Greek/Babylonian mythological base for an account dealing with the birth of his/her Messiah.
The Apostles’ Creed, written in the 4th century; the Nicene Creed, adopted at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.; the Athanasian Creed, written about 450 A.D.; the Chalcedon Definition, adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D.; and the Small Catechism of Martin Luther of 1529 A.D. are only a few of the historic creeds that recognize the veracity of the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Only in more modern times have Bible critics begun to try to cast doubt on a doctrinal truth that the Church has long since historically endorsed.
Some critics cite the fact that the Apostle Paul is silent on the subject of the Virgin Birth, and the fact that Mary’s virginity is never mentioned in the Gospel According to John, as evidence that Jesus was never born of a virgin.
But the argument from silence, always a rather weak tack to take in making a case, is particularly weak here due to the fact that both Paul and John were alive and quite familiar with the Gospel accounts written by Matthew and Dr. Luke (a physician!) – and yet never either questioned or refuted it.
If you really want to put truth up for a vote (and who does?), let’s get all of the statistics out in the open. While it is true that one very famous poll taken in 1965 (and still being frequently cited today) of 7,441 Protestant clergy showed that many mainline denominational ministers were not convinced of the truthfulness of the Virgin Birth, a more recent Harris poll of a randomly selected group of 1,011 adults found that 91% of U.S. Christians do believe in the Virgin Birth. All of which goes to show that when it comes to determining spiritual truth, our authority ought to be the Bible (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:25), not men – including clergy!