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Faith in Christ's Divinity and Incarnation: Its burden, doubts, and the path to faith

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#21 H. Smith

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 08:12 PM

I don't agree with this "Torah" author's attempt to explain away sections in the Bible implying that Christ was of a virgin birth, so I don't consider his authority very seriously, but I note that it claims:
 

 

 

The New Testament very clearly does not present, as necessary for salvation, that one must accept (or deny) the virgin birth... It is NOWHERE stated in the New Testament that a person must accept the "virgin birth" in order to obtain eternal life.
http://www.torahofme...irginbirth.html

 

 



#22 H. Smith

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 08:30 PM

One question I have is whether it is necessary for me to affirmatively believe in the Virgin birth for salvation.

I don't agree with this "Torah" author's attempt to explain away sections in the Bible implying that Christ was of a virgin birth, so I don't consider his authority very seriously, but I note that it claims:
 

The New Testament very clearly does not present, as necessary for salvation, that one must accept (or deny) the virgin birth... It is NOWHERE stated in the New Testament that a person must accept the "virgin birth" in order to obtain eternal life.
http://www.torahofme...irginbirth.html



Jurgen Moltmann, who I take to be a Protestant scholar, claims:


"In the New Testament, Christ's 'virgin birth' is related only by Luke and Matthew. It was unknown, or considered unimportant, in wide areas of early Christian belief (the Pauline and Johannine sectors, for example). But from the third century onwards it became a firm component of the Christian creeds and theological christologies." He also writes: "The virgin birth is not one of the pillars that sustains the New Testament faith in Christ. The confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord, is independent of the virgin birth, and is not based on it." "Moreover, we find the confession of faith in Christ in Christian traditions which know nothing of the virgin birth, or do not mention it."

http://en.wikipedia....itical_analysis

Moltmann I believe is incorrect about this, since I think that St Paul implies Christ's virgin birth by saying that Christ was made from a woman.



#23 Phoebe K.

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 08:46 PM

The Virgin Birth is affirmed by the Tradition of the Church, seen in the Hymns of the Church and the writings of the saints of the Early Centuries.  The Church codified the necessity of the Belief in the Virgin Birth in the Creed.  This is affirmed by all 7 of the ecumenical counsels and there were a number of hysterics which emerged about the blessed Virgin which the Church rejected.

 

The Virgin Birth of Christ from the Theotokos is one of the rare things the Church dose specifically say we need to accept or in the wisdom of the Fathers guided by the Holy Spirit would not have included it in the Creed.

 

Phoebe



#24 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:41 PM

One question I have is whether it is necessary for me to affirmatively believe in the Virgin birth for salvation.
 

 

Yes. For the reasons already given. Do not look to Protestant 'scholars' - their opinion is worthless. Look to the Holy Tradition of the Church which is the 'pillar and ground of truth' as the Apostle says. If you do not believe that Christ was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, how can you say the Creed? If you deny the Virgin birth of Christ, you are not in good order with the Church and should not take Holy Communion.
 



#25 H. Smith

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:05 PM

Hello, Andreas, and thank you for writing to me about this.

Yes. For the reasons already given. Do not look to Protestant 'scholars' - their opinion is worthless. Look to the Holy Tradition of the Church which is the 'pillar and ground of truth' as the Apostle says. If you do not believe that Christ was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, how can you say the Creed? If you deny the Virgin birth of Christ, you are not in good order with the Church and should not take Holy Communion.
 

Yes, I have at some times had a little bit of difficulty saying the Creed, like you said, since I do not have a strong faith about the virgin birth and incarnation, however I have thoight of it as something that I strive towards. They are not something I seriously deny, nor do I have a basis to, and was told by several priests that in order to strengthen my faith I should take communion while praying about this. If I should do otherwise, then I would.

 

Many of the supposed arguments against the virgin birth I do not agree with. Some of them claim incorrectly that a virgin birth is impossible or incorrectly claim that the Bible doesn't point to the virgin birth outside of Matthew and Luke. Nor do I like how "high-minded" some "naturalists'" sayings sound, such as Carl Sagan's famous: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Unfortunately that saying may reflect the main part of my own doubts about the virgin birth.

 

Very many people have claimed miraculous sightings of Christ and the Theotokos, along with other miracles, and they can be considered "extraordinary evidence". Nonetheless, I could imagine alternate explanations for those phenomenon rather than a virgin birth.


Edited by H. Smith, 24 June 2014 - 11:08 PM.


#26 Olga

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:08 PM

H. Smith, have you discussed any of these matters with your priest?



#27 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:20 PM

Yes, I have at some times had a little bit of difficulty saying the Creed, like you said, since I do not have a strong faith about the virgin birth and incarnation, however I have thoight of it as something that I strive towards. They are not something I seriously deny, nor do I have a basis to, and was told by several priests that in order to strengthen my faith I should take communion while praying about this. If I should do otherwise, then I would.

 

This should have been settled during your catechesis. All recite the Creed at their Baptism/Chrismation. It is not something to strive towards after reception into the Church. As Olga suggests, you must talk to your priest about this. The presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the chalice are dependant on Christ's having been born of the Virgin Mary. If you doubt the latter you cannot believe the former.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 24 June 2014 - 11:21 PM.


#28 H. Smith

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 02:30 AM

Thanks for your messages, Andreas and Olga. I will mention it at my next confession. It was not an issue as I grew up Christian and received Chrismation, however later when I was in college I began to think more critically in general and question previous assumptions.



#29 Loucas

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 02:31 AM

I see so many references to Church history and Church belief that come from Non-Orthodox sources. It is no wonder there is so much confusion. One of the discussions here someone even refered to the Synods as the debates of the Church Fathers. They were not debates, they were collective agreements as to what the Apostles taught. My brother, H. Smith, you need to start with an Orthodox study of Christology. This subject the Holy Fathers were clear, and many have edified us of the True Divinity of Jesus. To be able to be Christian you must accept wholehearted this fact. Remeber Jesus asked his disiples who do you say I am? We can never understand any of this in a conseptual way. God is the potter and we the pots. What we are able to do or comprehend is nothing comared to the creator of the pots. To create the heavens and the earth and all things visible and invisibel as our creed states and yet to become incarnate in a virgin questionable. This is a problem that non believers use as thier excuses, Christians are some kind of uneducated, superstitious, mindless folks who cling to blind faith. But the truth is the arts, science, philosophy, can not explain what is beyond our comprehension. But through the lives of the Saints, those who have left the world not to escape from the sinful world, but to run to God, we can begin to understand and come closer ourselves to this devine mystery. The art of Byzantine iconography, the science of Orthodox Theology the philosophy of the Divine Liturgy is were the answers are.



#30 Ben Johnson

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 02:51 AM

I can see why an atheist would struggle with the virgin birth if the person struggled with the existence of God, but I do not know why a protestant scholar would. :unsure:   If the LORD can make the universe, He has a thorough knowledge of His creation.  He is perfectly capable of being born that way.



#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 09:11 AM

For what it is worth, Muslims believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus. Of course, in the west, which lost its sense of the mysterious (along with much else), the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a problem. The story is told that some years ago Muslims in England tested whether the English law of blasphemy could apply to blasphemy against Islam. In the Court of Appeal, one of the Justices asked an imam if Muslims believed in the Virgin birth of Jesus and was told they did. 'Hmm', replied the Justice, 'that's more than some Anglican bishops believe!'







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