Why is the virgin birth of Jesus so important? Have you asked yourself that question before? The virgin birth of Jesus is hard to believe in our modern minds. After all, we are children of the enlightenment. If we can’t explain it with reason than it couldn’t have happened…right? Many in our western culture today are seeing the world through the lens of naturalism. Naturalism is the belief that nature operates within certain rules or laws, and that nothing is beyond those laws that can change them. A naturalist would deny the supernatural completely. Supernatural and miraculous events like the virgin birth of Jesus just can’t happen. The virgin birth of Christ is impossible.
Scholars who have studied wearing the glasses of naturalism have done their best to discount the New Testament accounts of Jesus. In the 18th century scholars began the quest for the historical Jesus. It is a quest that continues to this day. The quest involves peeling back the supernatural layers of the scriptures in order to discover the real Jesus. A Jesus that fits into our naturalistic and rationalistic view of the universe and a Jesus that gets talked about on the history channel.
These quest begin with an assumption: the Supernatural cannot happen and the Scriptures are not God’s Word but myths and legends created by the disciples. A Christian would deny both of these claims. Christians believe that the Supernatural can happen and that Scriptures are the very word of God, true in all they affirm. You see Christians operate from a theistic worldview. A theistic worldview believes that there is a God and he interacts with his creation. The virgin birth is impossible, but as the angel tells Mary in Luke 1, “with God nothing is impossible”
However why is the virgin birth so crucial important for Christians to believe? Isn’t it kind of unimportant? The now controversial Rob Bell writes in his book Velvet Elvis:
What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if, as you study the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being ‘born of a virgin’ also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse? What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?…If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?”
So is Rob Bell right? Is the virgin birth just a spring that we can take out of our beliefs and it is no big deal?
The answer is an absolute no. The virgin birth of Christ is hugely significant. It is critical to the Christian faith and in the next blog post, we will talk about why the virgin birth of Christ is vital to the Christian faith.