The Nicene Creed, a touchstone of Christian orthodoxy states of Jesus,
For us men and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
Having a science background, this has been an article of faith for me and I have written of my position elsewhere. But recently I have become aware that some recite this creed but believe that the Virgin Mary is an historical title, a tradition, not a fact about Mary of Nazareth.
This in mind, I decided to buy a book that would let me understand the full argument and was from a perspective I would not hold to be true. The book I chose was a recent publication by Kyle Roberts which he has summarised through the blog post, Virgin Birth or Incarnation? Why You Can’t Have Both (December 23, 2017).
I found the book very informative. I realised that yes, historically we have a problem with philosophy invading our faith, with extra scriptural traditions based on pagan thought, and an inability to accept the humanity of Jesus. I understand the reason for Greg Boyd’s podcast which recommends us to think more of Jesus,
…from the perspective of “God as Human” rather than “God and Human.”Do we struggle with Jesus eating and defecating, vomiting, feeling ill, experiencing sexual attraction and basically being human? Do we hold true to the Gospel of Jesus?
… we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4, GNB)If we do, then we are at that point where we too join with the Fathers and Mothers of the church who created traditions to cover up the subversive nature of the historical birth of Christ.
We might build ideas that include the perpetual virginity of Mary who was not only a virgin at conception, was also preserved as a virgin through the birth of Christ and remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. The Virgin Mary’s birth canal becomes so important to some, Mary is believed to have been impregnated by the Holy Spirit through her ear. Some have decided it is best to side-line Mary all together and avoid the questions.
I have looked at all of this and, despite all, I still hold that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Surprisingly what I wrote at Easter 2017, I still hold to.