N.T. Wright’s New Perspective on Christmas

Jesus’ birth usually gets far more attention than its role in the New Testament warrants. Christmas looms large in our culture, outshining even Easter in the popular mind. Yet without Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2 we would know nothing about it. Paul’s gospel includes Jesus’ Davidic descent, but apart from that could exist without mention of his birth. One can be justified by faith with no knowledge of it. Likewise, John’s wonderful theological edifice has no need of it: God’s glory is revealed, not in the manger, but on the cross. …

If the first two chapters of Matthew and the first two of Luke had never existed, I do not suppose that my own Christian faith, or that of the church to which I belong, would have been very different.

N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, pgs. 171, 178

Was Jesus Born of a Virgin? Does it Matter?

The doctrine of the virgin birth, that Jesus did not have a human father, is one that most professing Christians have considered central to an orthodox understanding of who Jesus is. The Apostles’ creed says Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary.” The Nicene creed says He was “incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary.” Yet many modern scholars have sought to either deny the virgin birth of Christ as foolishly unbelievable or to diminish the importance of the doctrine. So, does it matter whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin? Here are two well-known writers very different answers.

N.T. Wright, Anglican bishop and New Testament Scholar, wrote an essay for the book, The Meaning of Jesus, on the subject of the virgin birth. Here is a short excerpt of that essay:

Jesus’ birth usually gets far more attention than its role in the New Testament warrants. Christmas looms large in our culture, outshining even Easter in the popular mind. Yet without Matthew 1—2 and Luke 1—2 we would know nothing about it. Paul’s gospel includes Jesus’ Davidic descent, but apart from that could exist without mention of his birth. One can be justified by faith with no knowledge of it. Likewise, John’s wonderful theological edifice has no need of it: God’s glory is revealed, not in the manger, but on the cross.

If the first two chapters of Matthew and the first two of Luke had never existed, I do not suppose that my own Christian faith, or that of the church to which I belong, would have been very different. (171, 178)

John MacArthur, pastor and writer, took a different approach in his book, God With Us: Continue reading