Mohler knocks it out of the park again, this time reflecting on A.T. Robertson’s writing on the subject of the Virgin Conception of Jesus.
Without the virgin birth, there is no explanation for the incarnation. If Jesus had a merely human father, there is no authentic connection to the incarnational theology of Paul and John in the New Testament. All that remains is some attempt to claim that Jesus was a mere human being who had a unique divine mission, or who was uniquely God conscious, or who was somehow adopted by the Father into a form of deity. All of these are heretical Christs, and none of these can save.
There is so much drivel out there by people claiming to be Christian ministers who openly deny what the Scriptures make clear and thus shipwreck themselves and those under their charge.
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Regarding the ‘virgin conception’: Did God the Father – through the Spirit – miraculously fertilise a Marian egg? If so, then Jesus would be half sinful human, since he’d contain genetic material passed on from his sinful mother. But Jesus, we are informed, cannot be sinful, and his nature cannot be half human and half divine, but fully both; so this manner of conception would seem to be ruled out.
Would this require, then, that God miraculously planted a viable zygote in Mary’s womb? By such means, the incarnate Son would be untainted by his mother’s genetic material. But his complete humanity would be in question. Adam and all his descendants – human beings – partake of the primordial dust of the earth into which God breathed. The Jesus-zygote, being a sui generis creation of God, would not partake of this Adamic clay; so what, then, would constitute the ‘flesh’ of the incarnate Son? Whence comes the dust of which ‘the new Adam’ is made? The way to docetism yawns open.
Of course, a special dispensation from God could have made the eggs of Mary (or just one egg of Mary) exempt from the full impact of inherited Adamic sin, while yet comprised of Adamic dust: flesh without fault. Or Mary herself could be so exempted, as in the Roman Catholic confection of her ‘immaculate conception’. Alternatively, God as Creator could have replicated the material from which he first stirred Adam within the sui generis Jesus-zygote ‘breathed’ into Mary’s womb.
Whichever way one looks at it, there’s a sense of artificiality about such solutions, an air of special pleading. ‘Mystery’ seems a necessary evasion. Yes, evoke ‘mystery’, and blur away all the pesky details, in which there’s a devil …
HI Grant, thanks for coming and commenting and for your excellent question which gets to the heart of the issue.
The Roman Catholic answer to your conundrum is to plead the immaculate conception of Mary – that she was herself conceived without sin. But that seems to me to only shift the same question one generation up the ladder.
The reality is that we only have the Biblical data to work with, where we’re told the following:
So the first thing we note is that this is seen to be primarily a work of the Holy Spirit. And yet that’s not the sum total of the Bible’s witness to the incarnation. There are other slightly more oblique but also helpful statements:
Just out of interest I don’t think there’s ever a point where Jesus directly addresses Mary as “mother” although the gospel writers are not afraid to use that term of her.
It’s not necessary, of course, for Jesus to derive His humanity directly from Mary. As you yourself note, the first man was created “from the dust of the ground” and in the wider cosmos Christians affirm that the entire Creation is ex nihilo (from nothing). So for Jesus’ humanity to be “created” is not special pleading but, rather, consistent with how the Bible presents what God is capable of. Indeed to some extent it is quite necessary since one of Jesus’ Biblically-defined roles is to be the “new Adam”; a fresh start.
You may call it “artificial” but of course the whole concept of the Incarnation is that it is something extraordinary, a totally unique intervention of God in the world. Any such action by God ought to be described as a minimum as “artificial”. God, by His Spirit forms a new man in the womb of Mary who is also the Incarnation of the Eternal Son; fully man and fully God. I don’t wonder that anyone is confused about it but to say “it doesn’t make sense” cannot put aside the reality of it actualy happening.
That’s not a “pushing away” of the details. On the contrary, the early church explored the details in great depth, resulting in the Chalcedonian Definition.