Re: Virgin Birth

From: Tom Pearson (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 15:18:41 EST

  • Next message: Stuart d Kirkley: "Re: Virgin Birth"

    At 09:21 AM 2/26/02 -0500, Keith B. Miller wrote:

    >My currrent view on this is that the virgin birth was a "sign" pointing to
    >the incarnation. It, like the resurrection, was an affirmation of Jesus'
    >divine character. I guess I would say that the virgin birth was not a
    >requirement for the incarnation but a sign pointing to it.
    >I would value the response of those with theological training of which I
    >have none.

    Theological training, of course, comes in many different sizes, and it's
    not the case that one size fits all. Nonetheless, here's mine.

    Your comments suggest to me that God was in Christ primarily for the
    purpose of communicating something to humankind, of imparting divine
    information of various sorts. That's what the word "sign" indicates to me:
    that the virgin birth, for instance, was a kind of testimony affirming the
    truth of Christ's essential nature. My own tradition (Lutheran) would make
    this -- that the virgin birth was God's way of trying to tell us something
    -- a secondary consideration, at best. The real import of the virgin birth
    and the resurrection is that they are events in which God has acted to
    change the way things are. The virgin birth was God's action to enter
    human history; the resurrection was God's act to change forever the
    relationship between God and his creation. In short, God made something
    radically new happen, rather than simply disclosing new information to

    For instance, the events of this past 9/11 are far more than just a sign of
    a disordered morality, or a communication regarding the nature of evil. It
    emphatically changed the world, not only for those who were directly
    touched by the loss of life, but for all Americans, and perhaps for all
    persons everywhere. That event was much more than sign; it established a
    new reality. So, too, did the incarnation and resurrection of Christ.

    It's entirely possible that, in viewing the virgin birth as a sign, you are
    not at all discounting the truth that God also acted decisively in the
    life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But my tradition tends to
    start from the other end -- that it was God's historical action in Christ
    that is the fundamental meaning of the incarnation and resurrection of
    Christ, rather than the communication of divine truths, principles or

    Tom Pearson

    Thomas D. Pearson
    Department of History & Philosophy
    The University of Texas-Pan American
    Edinburg, Texas

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