Oh, you thought I meant the weather debate.
Nah, here I’m talking about those who deny that God intervened in nature and history to alter our climate of sin and death,
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son… (Isaiah 7:14, NAB)
Through the New Testament’s Gospel of Matthew, this Old Testament prophecy is affirmed by Christians world wide in the Nicene Creed when we proclaim that Jesus, for us and for our salvation,
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
In a fashion typical of modern unbelief, those who deny the virgin birth of Christ throw out a number of arguments, assuming that one or more might stick.
- “There’s no God/no need for salvation/no such thing as a miracle.” These are the “Yes there is – No there’s not” arguments that go nowhere fast, it’s time to shrug, love them as neighbors, and let God sort out that mess.
- Gotcha! The Hebrew word just means “young woman,” not “virgin.” This is more sophisticated but not hard to answer. Yes, the Hebrew word in Isaiah can mean young woman as well as virgin. But when leading Jewish scholars translated their scriptures into Greek, they chose the specific Greek word for virgin as the right interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. So when it shows up in the Gospel of Matthew, the virgin birth is not some Christian invention, but a reflection of Rabbinic scholarship and an abiding Jewish search for the fulfillment of prophecy.
- Gotcha again! Virgin births are all over the place in mythology. This is one of those predigested arguments from a college 101 religion course or, more likely, scholarship based on Wikipedia (but I repeat myself). Best refutation of this line of thought comes from Lutheran Satire:
God’s miracle of the virgin birth changed the whole climate of our existence,
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 4:4-7, NRSV)
Advent’s celebration of ancient prophecies and miracles prepares us to celebrate this great climate change, now known as Christmas.