This evening, I read a post on Shuck and Jive called, “Telling the Truth for Christmas” regarding the truth about the virgin birth of Jesus. You can access the site from my favorite links on the right, or here http://www.shuckandjive.org/2011/12/telling-truth-for-christmas.html
In the above post, Rev. John Shuck asked the following questions directed at the clergy. They are:
- Do you think Jesus was born of a virgin?
- Do you think a star stopped over the place where Jesus was?
- Do you think wise men followed this star from the east?
- Do you think angels are real and that one of them spoke to Mary?
- Do you think angels told shepherds about Jesus?
- Do you think the Hebrew Prophets (ie. Isaiah) predicted Jesus’ birth?
- Are these stories historical or legendary?
- What do you think? Where do you stand?
Although I’m not clergy, I decided to tell my truth about the story. Here are my answers:
1. No. The virgin tale is a knockoff of similar Pagan ones that was infused with midrash (Isaiah’s prophecy that a “virgin shall conceive”). I believe that Jesus was born like the rest of us. Mark 6:3 even hints that Jesus was born illegitimately.
2. Nope. I did study astronomy in college, and stars don’t move about in the fashion mentioned in the story.
3. I believe that it was about an actual astronomical occurrence that was present in the 1st Centuries BCE/CE.
4. I really don’t subscribe to them…sorry.
5. No. I believe this story was a later add-on to deify Jesus and give his life story some “boost”.
6. Nope. The Hebrew prophets all spoke to their present age. Any hint of a “Messiah” was for the Jewish nation. That would be like Martin Luther King Jr speaking about the 30th Century.
7. Legends built on some historical events.
8. I feel that the Nativity stories are allegory, not history. Plus, they were written years after the supposed events so anyone could put their spin on them.
You have to understand, that I’m no Bible literalist. I look at the Bible as allegory that can convey deeper truths than we usually get from most “Ministers of the Gospel.” To say that it’s history when so much scholarship debunks Scripture is lazy, at worst childish. There is an assertion by Albert Mohler, who recently said that “A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth”-oh boy!
When x-tians like Mohler begin to get fixated on myths as reality and condemn any critically-thinking follower of Jesus, that’s bad news. We take the real story of Jesus-living as an expression of the Divine, speaking truth to power at all costs, siding with the outcasts, and being authentic-and water it down to a sicky-sweet, childish fairy tale that is rendered safe for consumption by the fundagelical masses.
There, I told the truth at Christmas. You may agree or disagree-that’s up to you. However, like Brother John the truth about the virgin birth needs to be told if we as followers of Jesus will grow.
Peace on Earth!