ASK AUGUSTINE

Haven’t 19th and 20th century theologians like Adolf von Harnack and Harry Emerson Fosdick put to rest the myth that Jesus was born of a virgin? Anyway, does it really matter if Jesus was virgin born?

I find it appalling that in the 21st century this questioner and many ordained ministers of the Word in some of our churches deny the virgin birth on the basis of the weak theological arguments of Harnack and Fosdick and thus reject the authority of Scripture.

The Virgin Birth of Christ has come under greater attack than any other miracle in the New Testament. A group of liberal theologians, who call themselves the Jesus Seminar vote on their opinion of the “truth” as it was contained in the Gospel stories. They voted, for instance that the Virgin Birth of Christ never occurred. Along with other more deceptive skeptics like Harry Emerson Fosdick these Jesus Seminar voters do not attack the truth of the Virgin Birth directly, but suggest that it really doesn’t matter.

Well, let me assure you that it does matter. It matters because:

• If Jesus were not born of a virgin, then the New Testament narratives are false and unreliable.

• Mary is stained with the sin of un-chastity.

• Jesus was mistaken about His paternity, because He repeatedly declared that God was His Father and that He was the Son of God.

• Christ was not born of “the seed of a woman” and therefore the promise made in the Garden of Eden that the seed of a woman would destroy the head of the serpent is unfulfilled.

• Jesus, would be an illegitimate child and not the God-man, the peerless Son of God.

• Jesus was then a sinner, like the rest of us, and as a sinner He cannot be our Redeemer.

• Without Him as our Redeemer, our sins are not forgiven and we have no hope after death.

• There would be no mediator between God and man, and there would be no Second Person of the Trinity, hence no Trinity.

I once was in a debate with an alternate (one who would vote if a sitting member was not present) of the “Jesus Seminar,” who like Fosdick (The Man from Nazareth) did not believe in the Virgin Birth – because Matthew and Luke are the only two who teach it, and that in all the writings of Paul, Paul never mentions the Virgin Birth. When I asked him what did he believe? He answered that he believed in the Sermon on the Mount and added “that’s enough for anyone.”

I facetiously replied that I then could not believe in the Sermon on the Mount because it too only occurs in Matthew and Luke and Paul never mentions it. You see the argument from silence is no argument at all. It is the worst of all possible arguments because with it you can prove or disprove almost anything.

For example, it’s true that Mark never mentions the Virgin Birth of Christ. It is also true that Mark never mentions that Christ was ever born. Ergo, we could conclude that Mark did not believe Jesus had ever been born. That same argument from silence could be used to say because Paul did not mention any of the miracles or parables of Jesus, Paul did not believe Jesus worked miracles or told parables. The argument from silence has been long refuted by anyone who thinks clearly.

But for me the most obvious proof of the virgin birth was Mary’s action (or perhaps I should say her non-action) at the crucifixion. Mary’s silence at the cross is absolute proof to me of the virgin birth. Mary could have stopped the crucifixion. Jesus Christ was crucified for one reason. As it is stated, He claimed that God was His Father.

If that was a lie, and Jesus was not virgin born, Mary could have stepped forward at any time and said, “I will tell you who his father is.” She could have destroyed His whole pretensions and saved him from the cross.

There is not a mother who would allow her son to be horribly mutilated and killed to save her own reputation. No, Jesus is the virgin born, divine Son of God, the Redeemer of men.