Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

The question is addressed to all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.  Albert Mohler, president of Baptist Theological Seminary, penned this piece in 2010. His question requires a yes or no answer; either we believe Mary was a virgin when she was found to be with child through the power of the Holy Spirit, or we choose to reject the narrative found in the gospels and chalk it up, as some do, to a “pious legend.”  Dr. Mohler answers the question….

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 America’s 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.” Here’s a little hint: Anytime you hear a claim about what “most Biblical scholars” believe, check on just who these illustrious scholars really are. In Kristof’s 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 Kristof’s determination to stack the evidence, or his utter ignorance that many theologians and biblical scholars vehemently disagree with Kung. Kung is the anti-Catholic’s 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 church’s over-claiming of Christ’s 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 Bible’s 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 Kristof’s grandfather denied the faith. This is a very strange and perverse definition of “devout.”  Continue reading

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23 Responses to Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

  1. Bob Schoenle December 16, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

    There is no passage found in the Holy Scriptures which states that Eve ‘sinned’ when she ate the forbidden fruit! The Scriptures declare that Eve was ‘deceived.’ Adam, in contrast, deliberately disobeyed God’s edict when he ate the fruit that God said he was not to do. Thus, Adam ‘did’ sin against God. As a result, the sin nature that Adam obtained through his disobedience to God’s command was now to be passed on to his offspring. Therefore the sin nature that every human being is born with is received from their human father.

    It was necessary for the Messiah [Christ] to be born without a sin nature so He could live a sinless life. This would enable Him to be the perfect sin offering for all those willing to believe, by faith alone, that His sacrifice for them was sufficient payment for the penalty their sins deserved. This meant that the Messiah [Christ], the anointed One, could not have a human father. However, He had to be a true human being to fulfill His mission. This was accomplished by way of His human mother, Mary which explains why the virgin birth is vital to the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ and why He is known as the ‘God-man.’

  2. Manny1962 December 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    If you read the old testament requirements for a righteous sacrifice, it began with the sacrificial object being unblemished, unblemished grain, doves, sheep, cattle, etc. Jesus was not blemished by sin, if He was as some apostates would say, His sacrifice and atonement would be for nothing, as God The Father requires perfection. Something that the blood of animals could not achieve. Jesus on the other hand, is perfect and without sin, the only One who can meet The Father’s standards, and thereby being a substitute for us imperfect humans. Without a virgin birth we are not saved and still in our sins.

  3. Edwitness December 18, 2016 at 12:36 am #

    The purpose for a virgin birth is so that Jesus would be both Son of God and son of man.
    Mt.16:16,17;
    “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
    And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
    And Mark2:10;
    “But that ye may know that the SON OF MAN hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)”

    This is the only reason Jesus had to be born of a virgin. He was spotless, sinless, because He always trusted the Father. He kept the law because He was an Israelite. If He was a Gentile He would not have been responsible for keeping the law. Rom.2:14; 4:15; 5:13

    Adam placed himself under death’s power by believing in something other than the true God. This is the only thing the Bible actually says he passed to all men. Death. Not a “sin nature”. Rom.5:12,13

    Whatever Adam was before eating the fruit is what he passed to us after eating the fruit. And that is his being natural. 1Cor.15:45-48;
    “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
    Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
    From these two verses we see that the “living soul” Adam became when God breathed into his nostrils was natural, not spiritual. So this says Adam was not spiritual before eating the fruit.

    “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
    As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
    From these verses we see that those that are descended from Adam are natural, earthy. Just like Adam was when God made him. Our being natural is therefore not the result of Adam eating the fruit, and is all the scripture says we inherited from Adam.

    Jesus could not have died on our behalf, meaning He joined with us under death’s power, without being human. And He could not have raised Himself from the grave, conquering death, unless He was God. This is the reason for the virgin birth.

    Blessings:-}

    • Bob Schoenle December 18, 2016 at 1:48 am #

      Yours is a very confusing message, Edwitness. Where do you come up with “Adam placed himself under death’s power by believing in something other than the true God?” The word ‘death’ means separation. The word ‘life’ means connection. Prior to disobeying God by eating the fruit that He forbade Adam to eat Adam walked, talked and had fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden.

      It was after eating the fruit when Adam hid from God. Therefore, the warning that God gave Adam was immediately fulfilled with Adam being both physically and spiritually separated from God. Upon his physical death Adam’s spirit would be separated [death] from his physical body.

      It was upon eating the fruit in disobedience to God’s will that Adam then acquired a sin nature that he would then pass on to all who would physically be descended from him. It seems you do not understand this truth!

      • Edwitness December 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

        Bob S,
        You asked “Where do you come up with “Adam placed himself under death’s power by believing in something other than the true God?”
        That answer is found in Rom.5:12-14 and other places.
        “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; AND SO DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
        Nevertheless DEATH REIGNED from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

        Adam’s transgression was not the act of eating the fruit. It was giving his trust to the serpent. Eating the fruit was a byproduct of his change in allegiance. Here’s why.
        Adam knew what God said about the fruit and he chose to eat it anyway. He was standing right there when the serpent lied to Eve when he said she would not die. He could have put a stop to the whole thing then.
        Gen.3:6,7;
        “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, And gave also unto her husband WITH HER; and he did eat.
        AND THE EYES OF THEM BOTH WERE OPENED, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” When were they opened?
        This obviously happened at the same time. Both of them heard the words of the serpent. And both chose to believe him and eat the fruit. The only difference between them was Eve was deceived, 1Tim.2:14, but Adam knew what he was doing. And he chose to eat it anyway.
        We can do this when it comes to the matter of choosing to receive the life God gives, or death’s reign that we remain under if we reject His gift.
        This is why Jesus said that not believing in Him is the sin of the world that the Holy Spirit was sent to reprove the world of. John16:9.
        Believing in Jesus as Lord and savior is the answer to both Israel and the Gentiles for eternal life.

        Blessings:-}

        • Bob Schoenle December 18, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

          If you understand that the word ‘death’ means separation, Edwitness, there is no confusion. When Adam deliberately disobeyed God by eating that fruit he immediately caused himself to be ‘separated’ [death] from God. This separation [death] from God was then passed upon all of mankind that descended from him. Thus, his fellowship ended at that moment.

          As for why Adam ate the fruit after watching Eve eat I believe the following. I think that Adam thought that he and she might be separated if he didn’t follow suit. I am convinced that Adam was alone for the first 40 years of his life. He had God and the animals for fellowship and named them all during his time alone but he had no mate like the rest of God’s created creatures.

          The fundamental thought for the number 40 when used in the Scriptures is “Full testing according to the whole responsibility.” [The Numerical Bible by F.W. Grant] Adam passed the time of testing and was rewarded with Eve. On the other hand, I believe Eve ate the fruit within 40 days of her creation. Adam fearing that he would be separated from her for her doing so then ate the fruit. Thus, Adam chose Eve’s fellowship over that of God’s fellowship. You could say that Adam was the first man to be ‘whipped’ by the woman in his life. I love the irony. Don’t you?

          • Edwitness December 18, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

            Bob S,
            You said this;
            “If you understand that the word ‘death’ means separation, Edwitness, there is no confusion. When Adam deliberately disobeyed God by eating that fruit he immediately caused himself to be ‘separated’ [death] from God. This separation [death] from God was then passed upon all of mankind that descended from him. Thus, his fellowship ended at that moment.”

            I agree completely with this part of your statement. 🙂

            Then you said this;
            “As for why Adam ate the fruit after watching Eve eat I believe the following. I think that Adam thought that he and she might be separated if he didn’t follow suit. I am convinced that Adam was alone…..”

            While I see the irony in the situation you describe, and it is funny, there is no Biblical support in this passage for your assumptions. All we do know is that he ate it knowing exactly what he was doing.
            What was that?
            He was not deceived by the serpent as Eve was. So he knowingly made the choice to bring death to himself and Eve. Because he believed the serpent when he said they would become as gods, knowing both good and evil. This was not deception. This part of what satan told them was not a lie. God confirms this in 3:22. This is the most logical reason why Adam gave his allegiance to the serpent, based on what the scripture tells us.

            Blessings:-}

          • Bob Schoenle December 21, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

            Can we agree, Edwitness, that Adam’s decision to disobey the clear edict of God regarding the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil was the first sin by mankind? Can we also agree that Adam’s newly aquired sin nature was then passed on to his children and subsequently to all of mankind via their human father? Making a virgin birth necessary for the God-man to be born so He might save all who would simply trust in the sufficiency of His sacrifice for them?

            We are told that man was made in the ‘image’ of God. I often wonder what that means to people? God did not have a physical form when Adam was created so what image is being referred to? I think it means the following:

            1. God is a spirit being. Man is also spirit being as are the angels. However, unlike the angelic race, mankind was given a temporary physical form in which each spirit lives. 2. God is an eternal being. Man, like the angels, is also an eternal being. Like God, we will always exist in a conscious state. 3. God has a free will. Mankind, like the angels, also has a free will. Thus, both mankind and the angelic race are responsible for the decisions each makes in regards to the will of God.

            God is a triune being consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man is also a triune being consisting of body, soul, and spirit. God lives outside of the frame of time. Man now lives in the past, present and future. After the cessation of all that now exists, man will live as God without the constraints of time as we now know it.

            The word ‘awesome’ is often used by many but in truth it should only be used in reference to the God of creation. The God of the Holy Bible who is truly awesome!

          • Edwitness December 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

            Hey Bob S,
            You asked,
            “Can we also agree that Adam’s newly aquired sin nature was then passed on to his children and subsequently to all of mankind via their human father?”

            This concept is no where found in the scripture. And based upon that I can not in any way agree to it. There is not one scripture that says we inherited sin from Adam. And certainly not a “nature” that is sin.
            In fact Rom.2:14 says that it was their nature that made them able to do the things written in the law.
            “For when the Gentiles, WHICH HAVE NOT THE LAW, do BY NATURE the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:”
            This is the closest thing to describing the nature man does have. And according to 1Cor.15:45-48 man is natural by nature, as opposed to spiritual, not a sinner by nature. Otherwise how could man do what is written in the law by a nature that can only sin? He couldn’t.

            Blessings:-}

          • Bob Schoenle December 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

            How is it then, Edwitness, that we are conceived in sin?

          • Edwitness December 22, 2016 at 12:12 am #

            Bob S,
            The passage you are referring to is Psalm 51. Here David is expressing his sorrow about his sin with Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah her husband to try to cover it up. His sin has been discovered and the prophet is the one who exposed it.
            In the depths of despair he writes this Psalm.
            “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
            Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
            For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
            Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
            Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

            First of all, for anyone to take a passage like this literally and try to make doctrine out of it seems a fools errand to me. David was as low emotionally as he had ever been. People say all sorts of ridiculous things when they are feeling like this.
            That being said, let’s look at what It would mean if this is taken literally.
            When he says “in sin was I conceived”, does he have any part in the act of conception? No.
            Who is doing this act then? His parents are. So, if we were to take this literally we would have to apply the sin to the ones committing the act of conception.
            I don’t believe he meant that his parents were committing sin when they were in the act of conception, do you? So, since taking this literally would place the sin he referred to on his parents and not himself, we must defer to it being an expression of his extreme sorrow.

            He feels like the lowest kind of scum. And he had every reason to. He just had a man killed because he committed adultery with that man’s wife making her pregnant. And now was caught when he thought he had sufficiently covered it up.

            One thing you do not see here, and that should be glaringly apparent, is the concept of “nature”. It is absent from the narrative entirely. So, simply based on this it could in no way be construed to mean he has a sin nature.

            Blessings:-}

          • Bob Schoenle December 22, 2016 at 2:00 am #

            You seem like a nice guy, Edwitness, but your interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures are from the Allegorical Method of Interpretation or the Spiritual Method of Interpretation. Using either of those methods will cause you to fall into an erroneous understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

            The Literal Method of Interpretation is the only way to correctly understand what God has blessed us with by way of His written Word. Scripture will interpret Scripture! Your beliefs are in conflict with the biblical teachings of historic Christianity.

            I would recommend that you read ‘The Liberation of Planet Earth’ by Hal Lindsey for your enlightenment. This is the book that brought me to my knees and caused me to trust the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. This is when I learned how much God loves me. Take care, God bless and have a Merry Christmas.

          • Edwitness December 22, 2016 at 3:08 am #

            Bob S,
            God bless you and yours:-)
            Merry Christmas brother
            Blessings:-}
            ED

          • Edwitness December 21, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

            Hey Bob S,
            Then you said this,
            “God is a triune being consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (TRUE)
            Man is also a triune being consisting of body, soul, and spirit.” (NOT)

            But, the scripture is clear that man is natural, not spiritual. Adam was a body with air in it. That is, after God breathed into him the breath of life. Gen.2:7. And it does not say he became a spirit. It says he became a soul. And even Strong’s says that “nephesh” (soul) means “a breathing creature”. Not a spirit.
            Man does not become spiritual until he is born again. I don’t see why this is so difficult to understand. Jesus was very clear here. Saying that just as man is born of the flesh, he will be born of the spirit.
            Before man is conceived he does not exist, right? And Jesus said it was the same spiritually. John3:5,6.
            “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
            That which is born of the FLESH IS FLESH; and that which is born of the SPIRIT IS SPIRIT.”
            Until man is born again neither does he exist spiritually.
            Peter said it this way;
            “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, BY THE WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1Peter1:23

            And we know that no one was born again until after Jesus’ death and resurrection because “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
            For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise IT IS OF NO STRENGTH AT ALL WHILE THE TESTATOR LIVETH.” Heb.9:16,17
            The New Testament is where eternal life is made possible. There was none before that.

            Blessings:-}

          • Stephen James Schneider December 19, 2016 at 8:47 am #

            The following post is the 4th of the 7 posts maximum that I am allowed to post today, December 19, 2016:

            Something most people miss in the Book of Genesis is that, before their fall from grace, Adam and Eve, being made in the likeness of God, would have seen the world like God, albeit from a far more innocent (in the sense of naivety) perspective. This would have included their PERCEPTION OF TIME. Adam “walked” with God, likely with Eve by his side once she had been created. They could talk with God as easily as we can talk to someone standing a a few feet from us. Before their fall from grace, they would NOT have measured time the way do, because they WERE NOT LIKE US (Homo Sapiens), but would have measured time the way God measures time!

            So, ask yourself, what is 40 days and 40 years to God? Translated into our (human) measurement of time, that is.

          • Edwitness December 21, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

            Stephen J S,
            Time was measured EXACTLY the same way we do today. The evening and the morning were the 1st, 2nd……. days. We have evening and morning now that marks our 24 hour days as well. Adam and Eve lived in 24 hour days.

          • berlorac December 22, 2016 at 11:24 am #

            Be careful, Edwitness, your Gnosticism is showing.

          • Edwitness December 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

            Thanks berlorac,
            FYI gnosticism is not the opposite of legalism.
            Blessings:-}

          • berlorac December 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

            Edwitness, Gnosticism is not the opposite of legalism: I never said it was. But Gnosticism is antagonistic to Biblical truth concerning sin and the spirit of man.

          • Edwitness December 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

            Amen to that berlorac:-)
            God bless you and yours. And Merry CHRISTmas.
            BLESSINGS:-}

      • Edwitness December 18, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

        Bob S,
        As for Adam dying spiritually, the scripture does not teach that Adam was spiritual. We find in Gen.2:7; “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
        The word for “breath” here is not spirit. It is air or wind. Neshawmaw, not ruach. So we do not find spirit in this verse. It is the same word used for “breath” that God breathes into animals and birds in Gen.7:15.
        Then in 1Cor.15:45-48 we find that Adam was not MADE spiritual, but natural.
        “And so it is written, The first man Adam WAS MADE A LIVING SOUL; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
        Howbeit THAT WAS NOT FIRST WHICH IS SPIRITUAL, BUT THAT WHICH IS NATURAL; AND AFTERWARD THAT WHICH IS SPIRITUAL.
        (We find in these verses that a living soul is natural, not spiritual)

        “THE FIRST MAN IS OF THE EARTH, EARTHY; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
        AS IS THE EARTHY, SUCH ARE THEY ALSO THAT ARE EARTHY: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
        (We find in these verses that those who are descended from Adam inherited his being made natural from him.)
        What Gen.2:7 says about Adam, this passage repeats and adds that his descendants are natural as well.

        As to death being separation, I could not agree with you more. But, our differences come from what changed that separated Adam from God. The answer can be seen in the fact that they were “afraid” of God after they ate the fruit. But, exactly what does the scripture say made them afraid?
        Well, as you said, they used to walk and talk with God in the garden. Now they were hiding.
        But, their bodies did not fall over after eating the fruit, did they? No. It was the new knowledge that they both had that caused them to be afraid of God. The knowledge of good and evil. Gen.3:7,22. This is the separation. Death. Because it changed the way they related to God naturally.
        But, we see God making good on His word that “dying, you shall die” (literal translation) when He took them out of the garden so they could not eat of the tree of life and live forever.
        Gen.3:22
        “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:”
        So this is why man died. They could no longer access the tree of life. It was because they ate the fruit that they were told would bring death if they did, that got them kicked out of the garden. But, the fruit in and of itself did not kill them.
        Eating it got for them the knowledge of good and evil that changed the way they related to God. And because of that new knowledge God removed them from access to the tree of life that would have enabled them to live forever. And that removal is what caused them to die.

        Blessings:-}

  4. Bob Schoenle December 21, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    “Man does not become spiritual until he is born again.” Really? Then how do those who are not born-again find themselves in Hades (Lk. 16) and later in the ‘Lake of Fire’ after the Great White Throne Judgement of all the unsaved?

    • Edwitness December 22, 2016 at 12:30 am #

      Bob S,
      There is a resurrection unto death and unto life. John5:29
      “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
      We will all receive a resurrected body. Both those who have been born again and those who have not. That’s what resurrection is.
      They are both eternal. If we are born again our spirit will inhabit that body, giving it the life that makes it so that it will not ever die or feel pain or sorrow.
      If not that body without a spirit is what will go into the lake of fire at that judgment. With no spirit in it there is no life from the spirit to keep it from the pain of separation from God for eternity and the lake of fire.

      Blessings:-}

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