22Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23“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.” 24And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:22-25
The doctrines of the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ have been at the center of theological debate for centuries. In the early centuries of Christianity much of the debate focused on the deity of Jesus Christ, although there are also ancient heresies related to the virgin birth. In the theological battle between modernists and fundamentalists in the early portion of the 20th century, the doctrine of the virgin birth rose to a place of prominence. This is interesting in light of the limited amount of Scripture that records and addresses it. The significance of the virgin birth as a watershed issue was not its prominence in the Bible, but the precision it brought to the doctrinal debate with liberals.
Fundamentalists made belief in the virgin birth a watershed issue because it immediately opened a window into crucial theology: (1) the deity of Christ, (2) the possibility of miracles, (3) the transcendence of God, and (4) the inspiration of the Bible. Those who accepted the virgin birth generally accepted each of these; those who rejected the virgin birth generally denied these. The virgin birth became a litmus test as to whether one believed in divinely revealed truth as the basis for Christianity or not. It made a clear divide between the fundamentalists and the modernists, or, in other words, between Christianity and liberalism.
Loyalty to God and the Scriptures maintains a cutting edge on our commitment to make clear distinctions between truth and error. As we move into the Christmas season, I want to focus the next few posts on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in order to enable us to worship God for the great gift of His Son and to call us to remain steadfast in sound doctrine.