Is the virgin birth of Christ important, and a necessary component, to the Christian message today, or was it a doctrine that the early “pre-scientific” believers held to but should not longer be supported because it is untenable for believers today? I think this is a valid question, and one that Brandon Crowe does a really good job providing answers from a Biblical perspective to support, while not discounting the scientific aspect of the question. Before Crowe can defend the Christian position, he begins his book by defining the term “virgin birth”: “The orthodox Christian view, deriving from the Bible, is that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin named Mary. Thus, Jesus’ conception was miraculous and unique, and did not occur via the normal process of sexual union. It should also be noted that what most people mean by virgin birth is actually the virginal conception of Jesus. Thus, when this booklet uses the term virgin birth, it will be referring to the manner by which Jesus was conceived.” Making this distinction is important for the rest of the book.After defining the term “virgin birth”, Brandon moves on to dealing seven possible objections to the virgin birth of Jesus:

(1) Its seemingly stark contradiction with modern medicine. I loved the fact that Brandon brought attention to how much modern man underestimates “the intelligence of previous generations”. The Bible makes it abundantly clear, as do other historical documents, that people in the past knew babies were only conceived by sexual intercourse. Like Brandon says, “It would therefore be an oversimplification to claim that early Christians invented the doctrine of the virgin birth simply because they did not understand how the process of conception normally occurs.” Also, to handle this objection correctly, everyone must admit that modern science has its limitations, and, at its core, deals with observable phenomena and seeks to describe what it observes. However, science does not have the tools to explain “whether supernatural events can occur or have ever occurred. Supernatural events by their very definition are those events that seem to supersede the normal laws of nature.”

(2) We should be skeptical of the biblical accounts because it is far more likely that the virgin birth did not happen than that it did happen. Basically, since the odds are against something like the virgin birth ever really happening, we should be very skeptical that it really did occur. Truth be told, surprising events happen all the time, and, just because an event is surprising in nature, doesn’t mean you can immediately discount that it really happened.

(3) The mythological objection which states that the Bible’s description of the virgin birth reflects a mythological (i.e., nonfactual) worldview, particularly mythological traditions about the origins of the remarkable men. In the times that the Bible was written, great men were thought to be virgin-born, so the fact that the Bible espouses a virgin birth for Jesus was just par for the course in those days. An example of this would be Perseus and Hercules. However, in these cases, a sexual union between a god and a woman is either implied or explicitly shown, which is not the case with Jesus.

(4) Objection of Jewish Derivation. “If the biblical writers really are more influenced by the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, what about the objection that the biblical teaching of the virgin birth comes from the view that God is Father to Israel.” It is true that the Lord is declared as the Father of Israel in the OT quite a bit, but it is never intimated that a physical relationship is in mind. The Fatherhood of God as it pertains to Isreal is always from a covenental perspective…it is an electing love that redeems a sinful people.

(5) Embellishment Objection. It is the accusation that the early believers and writers of the Gospels embellished the birth of someone as revered as Christ to explain his origins. Basically, it started off as something small (born in Bethlehem in a manger) when the first person told the story, but then evolved into a story of how he was born of a virgin over time as the story got re-told over and over again.

(6) Theological Objection. The Theological Objection argues “that the accounts in Matthew and Luke do indeed recount the virgin birth of Jesus, but that we must be very cautious about accepting these descriptions at face value because the gospel writers aim to give us theological descriptions of Jesus rather than objective, historical accounts.” On one hand, we must agree that the Gospels are theological portraits of Jesus and don’t just give us facts about what happened, but also provide commentary in the redemptive-historical framework of Christ’s life. However, this doesn’t give us the right to disqualify objective, historical accounts of events. History is always written from someones perspective, and that shouldn’t automatically disqualify the work unless it can justifiable be proven that it is historically inaccurate (which is not the case here).

(7) Discordance Objection. The Discordance Objection argues that there is not a “uniform understanding” of the birth of Christ in all of the NT. Basically, this objection says that even though Matthew and Luke deal with the virgin birth of Christ, where is the proof that the other NT writers also held to the same belief in a virgin birth? Brandon does a great job of going into detail about the virgin birth in Matthew and Luke and highlighting all of the key areas they are in agreement on, even though they were not written to be dependent on each other, and also talks about how even though the other NT writers don’t explicitly deal with the virgin birth of Christ that doesn’t mean they didn’t believe in it. Truth be told, the other NT writers rarely talk about Jesus’ human origins at all, “so there is little reason for them to mention the virgin birth.”

After dealing with the seven objections to the virgin birth, Brandon goes on to highlight Jesus’ human origin throughout the rest of the NT and even shows how the virgin birth is similar in nature to God’s initiative in salvation (i.e. Holy Spirit working in the womb of Mary to bring about the birth of Christ and God’s Spirit working in the hearts of unbelievers to bring about true regeneration and faith in Christ).

For such a small book, this was a really good read and I felt like Brandon adequately handled the objections of the virgin birth given the space limitations he was working in. This is a good primer for those who want to know about the virgin birth of Christ and how it remains important to today’s believers, just as it was important for all believers throughout history.

Title: Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?

Author: Brandon D. Crowe

Publisher: P & R Publishing (2013)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the P & R Publishing book review bloggers program on NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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