48 Comments


  1. Very good. Would you say that belief in the virgin birth of Christ is essential to Christian faith? A rejection of the virgin birth seems tantamount to me to a rejection of Christ’s deity.

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  2. Thanks for an interesting post! A couple of questions/thoughts come to mind.

    First, in the cultural context in which Paul wrote, wouldn’t Paul’s language in Romans, ‘descended from David according to the flesh’, have implied patrilineal descent from David?

    Second, doesn’t the fact that in John we find incarnation without the virgin birth, while in Matthew and Luke we find the reverse, suggest that the connection modern Christians often make between the two did not seem as essential to these ancient authors?

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    1. Polycarp

      I would agree that people make a great deal out of somethings now which were not such a great thing then. I note that while some see the Virgin Birth in Mark’s Gospel, I haven’t found it, except through the lens of conservative commentators.

      How does Paul’s language play in context if we assume that Luke wrote ‘Paul’s Gospel’ or that Luke genealogy was at the very least Pauline in some regard? Does then the patrilneal descent, contrary to recognized practices of the time, maybe jump in adoption? Or perhaps since in Paul’s radical theology, that since there is neither male or female in Christ, descent can come from the woman now?

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  3. Is the idea that the ‘sin gene’ is located on the Y chromosome? That would mean all women are sinless (which of course my wife told me many times, but I never really believed it…)

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  4. do things have to be mention often in order for them to be important?

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  5. Do things have to be mentioned frequently in order for them to be important?

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  6. Necessary vs Sufficient: The VIrgin Birth was necessary but not sufficient. I think Polycarp posted this just because he thought my last argument for the Virgin Birth did not go as far as it could (it did not), this one does less yet says more :).

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  7. Woot! multipost because I did not scroll up far enough. I though my earlier post failed to get posted.

    Dawg I heard you liked posts so I put a post in my post so you could post while you post.

    Or something.

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  8. “The great majority of Scripture was written by the Apostle Paul.”

    This reminds me of Tea Party claims to be a majority, when in fact they are a minority group in the minority Republican party. About one tenth of Scripture (as usually understood by Christians) was written by the Apostle Paul. Even in the New Testament it is a small minority. But this statement, presumably from 2009, apparently reflects the fundamentalist position that this is the only part of the Bible that counts.

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  9. I do believe that it is essential, because it is the keystone of the Messiah prophecies.

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  10. I don’t have a problem with the virgin birth, although there is no little doubt in my mind that this meets the authorial intent of Isaiah’s passage. But “essential”? “Cornerstone”? Hmmm…

    There is endless debate over which passages in the OT constitute Messianic prophecy, and just because a passage was appropriated to that purpose later does not dictate that it was intended to be used that way. A case in point is the famous “out of Egypt”, pesher-style recycling of a passage not considered Messianic by even many of the more conservative biblical scholars.

    I understand if you want to make it essential because of the creeds or because of some theory of how Jesus escaped original sin, but neither of those are at all compelling to me. For you, what is it that makes it a cornerstone prophecy?

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  11. Polycarp

    My views on ‘prophecy’ have changed somewhat, to instead of a foretelling, to being Incarnational. Thus, with the Hosea ‘prophecy’ it wasn’t a prophecy as such, but served to be completed by Christ to show that He was the Person/People/Messiah/Israel of God.

    However, I believe that the Virgin Birth is essential to Christian doctrine – and not just based on the part in Isaiah – because of the deity of Christ. If Christ is a mere man, then the Virgin Birth could be reinterpreted to be applied just like it was used by other famous men of the period, only to show their exaltedness.

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  12. I agree that the function of prophecy was not prediction (primarily, anyway). But whether we are then justified to think of any post hoc inferences as “fulfilments”, more-or-less, is an altogether separate question.

    I don’t think the virgin conception was required to put God into Christ any more than most Christians think sex was required, or you or I think that God need have formed man personally out of the dust. What are miracles for? Why should we require God to play by our rules?

    Anyway, that’s why I’m not convinced. If he was born by a virgin, fine. If not…well, God’s God, and isn’t required to manually prime the pump, as it were.

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  13. Polycarp

    First paragraph, yeah, I kinda agree.

    2nd paragraph. I think that the sinless Incarnation was needed to reproduce a sinless humanity. It redeemed the flesh. (Of course, I fully recognize that this belief is more of a theological necessity)

    I would consider the Virgin Birth something well outside our rulebook.

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