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"Taking Scissors to the Virgin Birth?"
by Tom Goodman
December 13, 2006

Please note: This Sunday, Christmas Festival of Music and Living Nativity, starting at 5:30pm.
Nicholas Kristof said that belief in the Virgin Birth is evidence that “American Christianity is becoming less intellectual.”  How should we respond?

The New York Times columnist was in despair over a poll where 83 percent of the public expressed belief in the biblical Christmas story, up five points from the last time the poll was taken.

Kristof expressed dismay that modern Christians still believe the story of the Virgin Birth.  He considered this “a drift away from a rich intellectual tradition” in Christianity once embodied in mainline churchmen like his grandfather—“a devout and active Presbyterian elder” who nonetheless “regarded the Virgin Birth as a pious legend.”

But Kristof was incorrect to call his grandfather “devout” if the man dismissed the Virgin Birth as a pious legend.  One of my favorite theologians, Millard Erickson, wrote, “If we do not hold to the Virgin Birth despite the fact that the Bible asserts it, then we have compromised the authority of the Bible and there is in principle no reason why we should hold to its other teachings.”  And in his article, “Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?” Albert Mohler wrote:

“Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian?  This is not a hard question to answer.  It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning that the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin.  A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth.  The real question is this:  Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible's teaching, reject the Virgin Birth?  The answer must be no.”
Instead of taking scissors to biblical stories we consider incredible, a devout person yields to these remarkable stories in reverent wonder.  So, meditate on the Christmas story in these weeks ahead.  Matthew tells us that before Mary and Joseph “came together,” Mary “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” (1:18).  This, Matthew explains, fulfilled what Isaiah promised:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which translated means ‘God with us’” (1:23).

We’ll spend the next two Sunday mornings in this section of Matthew.  This week we’ll look at the event through Joseph’s eyes, and next week we’ll look at the meaning of that title, “Immanuel.”  So, join us at 9:30am or 10:45am.


Important Notes:

Hillcrest Christmas Calendar:

Sunday, December 17:  Christmas Festival of Music and Living Nativity, starting at 5:30pm.
Sunday, December 24:  In the morning, one combined service at 10am.  No Sunday School or Common Ground Café.  In the evening, a special service with your church family at 6pm.
Wednesday, December 27:  No midweek activities.
Sunday, December 31:  Morning activities are back to normal.
New “Hillcrest Institute” Classes! Click here to learn about our upcoming semester of the Hillcrest Institute.  You can register early online!

Want to Ski?  The 2007 Hillcrest Ski Trip is now open for sign-ups.  See more in Jim’s article.

Congratulations to our pianist Stephen Burnaman and his new CD!  Find out more by clicking here and locating his name under “Artists.”  CDs are available for $15 in the lobby on Sunday mornings, and in the office during the week.

“The Anchor Course” for Gift-Giving.  If you need additional copies of The Anchor Course, you can purchase them for $13 in the library on Sunday mornings and in the office during the week.  Also, if you’re purchasing online, you now have the option of sending a gift note.

Links to Your World

Do you have some favorite Christmas music?  Join the conversation here. has several helpful articles on “The Nativity Story.”  I liked the interview with Oscar Isaac, who played Joseph.
You’ll like these two family articles:  In “Marital Drift,” David Goetz discusses how to keep the pursuit of the “good life” from getting ahead of God and marriage.  Also, in “BlackBerry Orphans,” the Wall Street Journal has an entertaining—and convicting—article on parents addicted to their email gadgets and how kids are fighting back.
Jesus accompanied some teens on a trip to the mall in this story.  Find out what happens when a youth group brings a cardboard cutout of Jesus to a mall as an exercise in taking Christ outside of church.
See “What to Watch on the Web” for links to several videos of Christian musicians and speakers.
You’ll find other news and opinions at my online journal, “Get Anchored,” including selected poems I’ve collected over the years.  To keep up with the journal, sign up for e-mail updates or assign the feed to your news reader.

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