The other war on Christmas — not the one over saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” — broke into a skirmish after a well-known evangelical preacher suggested he doesn’t have a problem with people who doubt the Virgin Birth.
Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries, a network of six congregations across the Atlanta metropolitan area attended by 30,000 worshippers a week, said in a message Dec. 3 that one of the challenging things about Christmas is the “unbelievable” nature of stories in the Bible describing Jesus’ miraculous conception.
“A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that,” Stanley said. “Maybe the thought is they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.”
Stanley, the son of former Southern Baptist Convention president and longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley, called it “interesting” that only two of the four Gospels mention the Virgin Birth.
“Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Christ,” he said. “Luke does, but Mark and John, they don’t even mention it. A lot has been made about that.”
Stanley said he is less concerned about the Virgin Birth than with the Resurrection.
“If somebody can predict their own death and their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world, because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing,” he said.
“Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus,” Stanley said. “It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.”
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., took exception to Stanley’s view in a Dec. 16 podcast describing the Bible stories about Christ’s incarnation as “the central truth claim of Christmas.”
“Just in recent days, one Christian leader was quoted as saying that if Jesus predicted his death and then was raised from the dead, it doesn’t matter how he came into the world,” Mohler said. “But the Bible insists it really does matter and the answer given from Scripture very clear in the gospel of Matthew and in the gospel of Luke is that Jesus was born to a virgin.”
Mohler said attacks on the Virgin Birth became popular in the aftermath of the Enlightenment in the form of attempts “to harmonize the anti-supernaturalism of the modern mind with the church’s historic teaching about Christ.”
“The great question of liberal theology has been to invent a Jesus who was stripped of all supernatural power, deity, status and authority,” Mohler said. “And in order to do that they have to begin by denying what the Bible so clearly teaches in terms of the Virgin Birth.”
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global