Posted by: austend | Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Virgin Conception

The doctrine of Christology (the study of Jesus Christ) is a very difficult doctrine, full of intricate and complex issues that must be studied with utmost care.  One of those important but complicated issues is the virgin conception (usually,  though somewhat less accurately, called the virgin birth).  I ran across an interesting quote on the matter today that I thought deserved sharing:

“Alluding to Barth again, the virgin birth is posted on guard at the door of the mystery of Christmas; and none of us must think of hurrying past it.  It stands on the threshold of the New Testament, blatantly supernatural, defying our rationalism, informing us that all that follows belongs to the same order as itself and that if we find it offensive there is no point in proceeding further.  If our faith staggers at the virgin birth what is it going to make of the feeding of the five thousand, the stilling of the tempest, the raising of Lazarus, the transfiguration, the resurrection and, above all, the astonishing self-consciousness of Jesus?  The virgin birth is God’s gracious declaration, at the very outset of the gospel, that the act of faith is a legitimate sacrificium intellectus (sacrifice of intellect).”

Basically this quote is saying that the virgin conception is essentially the first thing we come to in learning about Jesus Christ.  If we cannot accept that God brought forth a true Man inside the womb of a virgin woman, then there’s no point in accepting anything else in Christianity.  All of the rest of the content of Christianity is equally “astounding.”  We cannot even begin to explain how God accomplished the virgin conception; it is simply our choice whether to believe that it happened or not.  If we can accept it, then all the rest that follows about Jesus (His healings and resurrection, for instance) can be accepted as well.  But, if we cannot accept this first statement about Jesus, then you may as well give up on the rest of Christianity.  Where do you stand?

The quote comes from Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ, InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 37 {here}.

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