From My Heart, Out Of My Mind

Is the Virgin Birth Really Predicted in the Old Testament?

Posted by Don Bryant on December 14, 2012

Quick answer: Yes. For more information here.

I actually never have heard a sermon on the virgin birth, except the ones I hear from me. It is alluded to by preachers along the way, mostly as an apologetic point but almost never as a theological richness with busloads of spiritual treasures for the contemplative disciple.

Ignatius (d.105), martyr and disciple of the Apostle John, called the virgin birth a mystery to shouted from the rooftops. It is a fact of history that the virgin birth was not merely believed as far back as we can trace church history. It was reveled in. Of course, it found its way into the early baptismal confessions that became in time the Apostles Creed.

I have often been asked by parishioners how to find a good church when they move. One of the things I have always advised them to do is to ask the pastor of any church they visit if he believes in the virgin birth. Pastors are experts in dodging straight on questions. Ask them if Jesus is the Son of God and you will get a quick yes. Then ask them what they mean by Son of God and you get all kinds of Life of Brian evasions. Ask them if Jesus really rose from the dead and you will get a “certainly.” Then ask them what they mean by resurrection and you can feel the wheels turning to crank out an answer that evades the question really being asked.

But ask about the virgin birth and you get to the thing itself. Can the Bible be relied upon to detail the historically reliable and the true? Yes or no. If the Pastor cannot answer in the affirmative, run out of that church as if your hair was on fire.

The exaltation of Mary in certain Christian communions has been a roundabout way of protecting the mystery of the virgin birth. While I deem much of the attempt to protect the virgin birth through Marian veneration dangerous and unnecessary, I honor the instinct. And we would do well to use the phrase “virgin and child.”

One of the reasons I lead the church in the Apostles Creed is because of the centrality of the virgin birth to our faith. It is right there in our confession each Sunday. The mystery of incarnation, the virginity of Mary, the supernatural generation of our Savior.

Must one believe in the virgin birth in order to be a Christian?, I am often enough asked. That is the wrong question. The question is must I believe in Jesus? And then the question is, which Jesus am I to believe in? The answer is the Jesus in the Bible. There is no other Jesus who is the Savior of the world. And the Jesus of the Bible is virgin born. THAT is the Jesus who saves me and no other.

The early church had a great battle over what to call Mary. It had become the practice to title her “theotokos,” mother of God. Many railed against this appellation. It seemed in their mind to give Mary too high a place and God too low a place. But ultimately in the Chalcedon Creed, the universal church decided that theotokos was the exact way to refer to Mary. She was God-bearer. And central to her God-bearing was the virgin birth. Jesus was generated from on high without human father.

This Christmas behold Virgin and Child.

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