Sunday, December 26, 2010

Albert Mohler: Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

Hello all,

In a day and age in which the foundational beliefs of our faith are increasingly under attack, it is necessary for us to be particularly thorough in "educating" ourselves and to develop critical thinking in the process.

Tomorrow, or perhaps the beginning of next week, we will post an article by Nancy Pearcey on the essential nature of critical thinking for the Christian, but for today we would like to share an article by Albert Mohler titled "Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?"


Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

In one of his columns for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof once pointed to belief in the Virgin Birth as evidence that conservative Christians are “less intellectual.” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Is belief in the Virgin Birth really necessary?

Kristof is absolutely aghast that so many Americans believe in the Virgin Birth. “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time,” he explains, and the percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth “actually rose five points in the latest poll.” Yikes! Is this evidence of secular backsliding?

“The Virgin Mary is an interesting prism through which to examine America’s emphasis on faith,” Kristof argues, “because most Biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth … as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith.” Here’s a little hint: Anytime you hear a claim about what “most Biblical scholars” believe, check on just who these illustrious scholars really are. In Kristof’s case, he is only concerned about liberal scholars like Hans Kung, whose credentials as a Catholic theologian were revoked by the Vatican.

The list of what Hans Kung does not believe would fill a book [just look at his books!], and citing him as an authority in this area betrays Kristof’s determination to stack the evidence, or his utter ignorance that many theologians and biblical scholars vehemently disagree with Kung. Kung is the anti-Catholic’s favorite Catholic, and that is the real reason he is so loved by the liberal media.

Kristof also cites “the great Yale historian and theologian” Jaroslav Pelikan as an authority against the Virgin Birth, but this is both unfair and untenable. In Mary Through the Centuries, Pelikan does not reject the Virgin Birth, but does trace the development of the doctrine.

What are we to do with the Virgin Birth? The doctrine was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in “only” two of the four Gospels, it must be elective. The Apostle Paul, they argued, did not mention it in his sermons in Acts, so he must not have believed it. Besides, the liberal critics argued, the doctrine is just so supernatural. Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argue that the doctrine was just evidence of the early church’s over-claiming of Christ’s deity. It is, Spong tells us, the “entrance myth” to go with the resurrection, the “exit myth.” If only Spong were a myth.

Now, even some revisionist evangelicals claim that belief in the Virgin Birth is unnecessary. The meaning of the miracle is enduring, they argue, but the historical truth of the doctrine is not really important.

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.

Nicholas Kristof pointed to his grandfather as a “devout” Presbyterian elder who believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” Follow his example, Kristof encourages, and join the modern age. But we must face the hard fact that Kristof’s grandfather denied the faith. This is a very strange and perverse definition of “devout.”

Matthew tells us that before Mary and Joseph “came together,” Mary “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” [Matthew 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’.” [Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14]

Luke provides even greater detail, revealing that Mary was visited by an angel who explained that she, though a virgin, would bear the divine child: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God.” [Luke 1:35]

Even if the Virgin Birth was taught by only one biblical passage, that would be sufficient to obligate all Christians to the belief. We have no right to weigh the relative truthfulness of biblical teachings by their repetition in Scripture. We cannot claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God and then turn around and cast suspicion on its teaching.

Millard Erickson states this well: “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. Thus, rejecting the virgin birth has implications reaching far beyond the doctrine itself.”

Implications, indeed. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, who was His father? There is no answer that will leave the Gospel intact. The Virgin Birth explains how Christ could be both God and man, how He was without sin, and that the entire work of salvation is God’s gracious act. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, He had a human father. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the Bible teaches a lie.

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristof’s grandfather, we are told, believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that church’s doctrinal and spiritual laxity — or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ — the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

Originally posted December 8, 2006. Reprinted by request.

Many thanks to Mr. Mohler for his shared knowledge!

God bless!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counter Cultural: Don't Waste Your Christmas Break

Hey all,

Camden has posted a great challenge for this Christmas time on his blog, Counter Cultural. We have featured several of Camden's post in the past owing to the general excellence of his posts. This one is no exception. :-)

We'll let Camden take it from here:

Don't Waste Your Christmas Break

It's understandable that I haven't been posting on here due to the hard press of final projects and tests due for school. It's understandable that I had to take a break from things that are otherwise considered "good" to focus my mind and attention on my school subjects. And now it's understandable that since I'm done with the pressures of writing research papers and studying for tests, I should take a long and well deserved break to simply "chilax" over the holidays.

Or is it?

I've been wrestling with the question recently of how to use this grand time between semesters. Not just how to use it, but how to use it for God's glory. And as I've hit the beginning of this break, I've come to the discovery that living out free-time for God isn't always the easiest thing. In fact, it's hard. Using our time in a way that brings God glory in and through our lives is a challenge that each and every one of us has to face each and every day. It's so easy to spend hours wasting our time, but how do we really use our time in a way that glorifies God?

For me, the answer to that question today was writing out 100 verses on 100 notecards that I want to memorize over Christmas break (verses taken from Memverse's top 100 verses). Another piece of this is finalizing and submitting my research paper and essay for my online class. Part of my day in glorifying God is even in writing this post. Please note: God gives all of us different ways to glorify Him, whether it's memorizing verses, writing, or spending time with family and friends. The key is that God doesn't want us to waste our lives, or our Christmas Break.

One last thing. If you are a child of God, then God has given purpose to your life. If He's given purpose to your life, then that means that each day is meant as a piece of that purpose fulfillment. If each day is a piece of God's purpose for your life, then that means that He has a plan for you to use your life today for His purposes. You're alive today for a reason. Strive to use it for Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Many thanks to Camden for his challenge! A couple of the things my family is doing in order to not waste Christmas are caroling (as much as it may be out of style these days it is still immensely appreciated...especially by older people who remember when it was common practice) and helping with a community cookout for people in need of a hot meal.

It's not to late to help with something similar in your community!

God bless!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prophecies from Isaiah: Beauty from Ashes

Hello all,

Since we are unable to post more time consuming and topical posts at this time we are simply getting back to the real fundamentals of our faith...the words of Scripture.

Why don't we do this more often? I don't know actually. Perhaps we should be posting "plain" scriptures more often so as not to stray from God's Word to our human wisdom. At any rate, here is one of the most clear and best known prophecies of Christ's coming from the Old Testament:

10 Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”
13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. (Isaiah 7:10-16, New King James Version)

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is startling beautiful but appropriately set in a less than beautiful context. Why is that appropriate? Because it accurately reflects the affect of Christ's coming...the ashes of our sinful state...the beauty of the fulfillment of the law...the coming of the Rose of Sharon.

 1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
      Because the LORD has anointed Me
      To preach good tidings to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives,
      And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
       2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
      And the day of vengeance of our God;
      To comfort all who mourn,
       3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
      To give them beauty for ashes,
      The oil of joy for mourning,
      The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
      That they may be called trees of righteousness,
      The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
       4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
      They shall raise up the former desolations,
      And they shall repair the ruined cities,
      The desolations of many generations.
       5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
      And the sons of the foreigner
      Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
       6 But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
      They shall call you the servants of our God.
      You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
      And in their glory you shall boast.
       7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
      And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
      Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
      Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
       8 “ For I, the LORD, love justice;
      I hate robbery for burnt offering;
      I will direct their work in truth,
      And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
       9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
      And their offspring among the people.
      All who see them shall acknowledge them,
      That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
       10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
      My soul shall be joyful in my God;
      For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
      He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
      As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
      And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
       11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
      As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
      So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61, New King James Version)

I would strongly encourage each of you to read all of the above chapters and to meditate on them. They are rich scriptures!

God bless!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Explanation of Absence

Hello all,

As many of you have no doubt noted, we haven't been posting much. :-) The reason for this is quite simple. We have been WAY too busy! Both Hannah and I (Mark) have been overtaken with busy-ness for the time being and probably won't be able to do much here until after the Holiday's, but that's fine because all of you are busy too. :-)

Until the Holidays are over we will probably just post scriptures foretelling and giving an account of Christ and His birth, but if any of our readers have ideas or articles they would like to submit for posting on Rebelutionary Musings please feel free to do so at

God bless!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THABITI ANYABWILE: Extraordinary Spiritual Awareness and Commitment in the Young

Hello all!

For those of us seeking to live a Rebelutionary lifestyle it is essential that we take the counsel of Hebrews 12:1 to heart.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

This verse challenges us to look to the disciples gone on before us - the "great cloud of witnesses" - as inspirations and examples of the faith (see Hebrews 11) that will enable us to lay aside the things that entangle and encumber us in our walk with God. Alex and Brett call it "making friends with dead people. That doesn't have quite the same spiritual ring to it that Hebrews 12:1 does...but the point remains the same.

Thabiti Anyabwile blogged a post this past week that caught my eye, in which he recommends the book 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith.

At this point I'll just let Mr. Anyabwile speak for himself. :-)

I’ve been casually reading the short biographies of Christian men and women in Warren Wiersbe’s Fifty People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith. Each of the biographical sketches are breezy reads rich with encouragement. One of the encouraging bits in some of the biographies is the Lord’s gracious dealing with some while they are young. We live in an age where youth is either despised or largely ignored. We don’t take young people very seriously or challenge them very effectively. Hence the appropriateness of the rebelution.

But these biographies remind us of the power of God’s word and Spirit to deep, meaningful, lasting work in the lives of the young. Two examples:

Matthew Henry (1662-1712):

Matthew was physically weak, but it was not long before his strength of intellect and character made themselves known. At the age of three, he was reading the Bible; by the time he was nine, he was competent in Latin and Greek. He spent his first eighteen years being tutored at home, in an atmosphere that was joyfully and lovingly Christian.

He loved to hear his father preach. A sermon on Psalm 51:17 first awakened in young Matthew a desire to know the Lord personally. He was only ten years old at the time, but the impression was lasting. When he was thirteen, Matthew wrote an amazingly mature analysis of his own spiritual condition, a document that reads like an ordinary paper. Often, after hearing his father preach, Matthew would hurry to his room and pray that God would seal the Word and the spiritual impressions made to his heart so that he might not lose them. God answered those youthful prayers

Indeed God did answer those youthful prayers, not only to Matthew Henry’s benefit but to the benefit of the entire Church.

Then there is the young Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758):

Jonathan Edwards received his schooling at home; at an early age he learned Latin, and later he took on Greek and Hebrew. He had two passionate interests in those early years–science and religion. He watched spiders and wrote an amazing essay about them. He saw the mind and heart of God in creation; everything in nature revealed to him something about God.

But his interest in spiritual things was remarkable for a boy so young. He prayed five times each day. With some of his friends he built a “booth” in the swamp, and there thy would gather to discuss spiritual matters and pray.

In 1716, when he was thirteen, Edwards entered Yale college, where h invested four years in undergraduate study and then two more years studying theology. It was while he was at Yale that he had two life changing experiences. The first was his conversion when he was about seventeen years old. Since childhood he had revolted against the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. But as he read 1 Timothy 1:17, he had a remarkable experience of the sense of God’s greatness and glory, and all his theological objections disappeared.

“As I read the words,” he wrote in his personal account, “there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the divine Being; a new sense, quite different from anything I ever experienced before…. From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by Him.”

The rest is, as they say, history. We still live with the remarkable fruit of Edwards’ life and ministry, a life and ministry first evidenced in the inquisitive mind of childhood and stimulated with big, meaningful, spiritual, eternally weighty ideas

As Wiersbe noted of himself, my boyhood clubhouses were built for playing cowboys and Indians. And most clubhouses should be built for that purpose.

But one wonders whether there ought not be more childhood clubhouses where children find themselves reflecting on the mystery of the universe and the unsearchable riches of God in Christ. And one wonders whether there ought not be more Christian homes so saturated in spiritual discussions that it would seem strange to our children to not have these times of inquiry–at once playful and sublime. I think there are enough forces designed to destroy childhood. This isn’t a plea for more of that. However, reading these biographical sketches I’m left wondering whether we do need a plea for a God-soaked, Christ-infused, Creator-glorying childhood that produces a few more Henrys and Edwardses? I’m left wondering if I’m doing this for my own children.

Methinks Mr. Anyabwile has struck a very Rebelutionary chord in his post. :-)

If you don't already do so, be sure to check out and follow (if possible) his blog. It is one of the better out there.

God bless!