In our contemporary struggle to present Christ as the Bible portrays him, we should not work in a vacuum. We owe it to ourselves to look to the past and to learn from the church’s struggles. Perhaps in no area of theology is this more necessary or beneficial than in the doctrine of Christ in the early church. The first four or five centuries of the church’s existence witnessed the launch of nearly every possible challenge. Further, one is hard-pressed to offer a better response to those challenges than that offered by the early church leaders. We may be able to devise fresh and contemporary ways to illustrate their teachings and expressions, or we may have to think of new ways to relate their teachings to particular challenges that we face in our day, but there is practically no room for improvement on those teachings. What these early church leaders said and did is tried and true (14).
|Icon of the Nativity (15th cent.)|
We do not receive these gifts as ordinary food or ordinary drink. But as Jesus Christ our Savior who was made flesh through the word of God, and took flesh and blood for our salvation; in the same way the food over which thanksgiving has been offered through the word of prayer which we have from him – the food by which our blood and flesh are nourished through its transformation – is, we are taught, the flesh and blood of Jesus who was made flesh (First Apology, 62).
- Heath Bradley has a favorable review of Lincoln’s Born of a Virgin?, in which he summarizes the book’s argument that multiple documents in the New Testament (Acts and Paul in particular) claim that Jesus’ Davidic descent must have come through his father’s line. Or, more briefly, if Jesus is not Joseph’s son, neither is he descended from King David. The book further argues that the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke were never intended by their authors to make historical claims and are, instead, examples of conventional literary devices in ancient Greco-Roman biographies intended to communicate theological truth about Jesus. The most interesting part of Bradley’s review was his discussion of the claim that, “one could arguably even be an ‘inerrantist’ and still embrace Lincoln’s proposal.” Also check out Bradley’s follow-up post titled, “Why I Believe in the Virgin Birth”.
- As we expect, Larry Hurtado provides a thoughtful and judicious review.
- Jason Engwer at Triablogue is unpersuaded. Here’s his six-part review of Lincoln’s book in which he explains why the evidence for the virgin birth outweighs the evidence against it.
- Scot McKnight asks, “How Important is the Virginal Conception?”
- Douglas Wilson raises the “Why?” question and argues that you need a virgin conception to have a sinless Savior.