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June 06, 2008


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This person must get apoplectic at the recital of the Quicumque vult. You know, the Son not made, nor created, but begotten, both God and Man. God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds. Man, of the substance of his Mother, born in the world.

But then I suspect this person hasn't been reciting that creed. I am used to reciting this marvelous creed, and sometimes singing it, every year on Trinity Sunday. Huge sighs of, oh no! the long never ending creed again, as we turned to page 695 of the BCP. An excellent exposition on the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

Throwing out the Virgin Birth really in the end toasts the Incarnation, doesn't it?


I have no issue with the Virgin Birth, and outright rejection the Virgin Birth certainly constitutes a departure from orthodoxy.

That said, I think Susan raises an interesting question. COULD there still be Incarnation without the Virgin Birth?

Although the Virgin Birth and the Incarnation are manifestly linked, it seems to me that denying the POSSIBILITY of Incarnation absent the Virgin Birth would be to constrain God's omnipotence. Clearly the mechanics would have been different, but the possibility still exists.

Of course, that is purely speculation on a hypothetical. The Virgin Birth DID happen (or so I believe) and that is the mechanism God used to enact the Incarnation.


it strikes me that the Incarnation is related to another question: how is it that there is anything else besides God? If one looks back at the philosophical history behind theology, we can see that one of the things which differentiates Jews/Christians from the Greeks is that the latter held that matter was co eternal with the divine, while the Christians articulated a theology which held that matter was created. But this then simply posits the question: how can there be something "other" than God as pure spirit. It seems to me that Incarnation and creation are closely related doctrines. In terms of "mechanism", I suppose as well that simply because we have not imaged or articulated another mechanism does not mean that God could not have come up with one. But we have what we have in the narratives and in the sacred tradition.

On another front, attributing the virgin birth to pagan narratives presents some problems, as this is a highly disputed area. The Mithraic cults had some notions of this (and they were a later development), but by far and away the most popular presentations of the births of the heros were explicitly sexual in nature. Terence even goes so far in his satires to say that this gives him free rein to "imitate Zeus", whose sexual encounters with human women should be seen as permission for us to do the same.


I was waiting for someone to point that out, Joe. My knowledge of the classics is limited, but what I do know leads me to believe that there are no 'virgin births' in classical literature - just gods 'having their way' with mortal women.


First, as St. Thomas said, God could have saved us anyway he wanted to. The parenthood of Jesus: of Mary, so that he was human and by justice attempt atonement; of God so he could complete the task. Plus so He could hang out.

Speaking of hanging out - when my family gets together and tells family stories, main characters go back two maybe three generations. Jesus is the only member of my family, who still (after all these years) consistently gets talked about. He is not a distant relative, but a near distant relative – spoken of tenderly as if personally known, spent time with. When my family talks about him, I want to get to know him better and spend quality time with him myself. That’s Incarnation.

Second, what do you mean by “virgin birth”?

Are you talking about conception, the delivery of the Christ child, and the ever virginity of Mary? Catholics (and Orthodox?) believe all three in connection with the “Virgin Birth”.

I am not sure what the Anglican Church of Canada believes or requires its members to believe.

PS - I recommend the Appendix of "The Birth of the Messiah" - Brown. Also, Brown's short little book on Christology.


i no longer consider my self xian, because i cannot accept parts of the nicence creed, it is less the virgin birth then "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God", because I can no longer view G-d, in Her majesty, to have only one child, and to have only one lord.


well, I know some folks who have children by adoption...


can you expand that thot joe?


I think part of this is that Jesus (God's "only begotten" son) came to invite us to become God's sons and daughters by adoption. That means that the same voice that said "you are my beloved" to Jesus can also call us "beloved".

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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