What is contemporary science saying about virgin births and religious miracles? How are people today treating the virgin birth of Christ? What are we to say about the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary? Does “virgin born” refer primarily to Christ’s deity, or to his sinlessness? At root, what is God’s message to us in the Virgin Birth?

It is time for an update on this doctrine. Fifty years ago the battle of the Virgin Birth wracked the church. It ranked along with the bodily resurrection of Christ, the infallibility of Scripture, and the second coming of Christ as one of five or six fundamentals of the faith under special attack.

Virgin-Born Rabbits

In recent years, one scarcely sees either a strong defense of the importance of the Virgin Birth to Christian faith or an outright attack against it as scientific nonsense and a handicap to faith. Why the apologetic shift to other battlegrounds? In part this miracle has become domesticated, making it easier for some people to believe. What with “virgin-born” rabbits and sober scientific explanations that virgin births are really not all that surprising, some even took seriously the claims of a contemporary English woman that her child, too, was virgin born. The qualification that only female offspring could come from a virgin birth seemed a trivial objection. The case against the virgin birth of Christ almost reduced itself to “We don’t like novelty.”

A major shift in world view has accompanied this scientific attitude of sweet reasonableness toward a virgin birth miracle, and has provided its broader context. Somehow, at the end of the twentieth century, it seems far less important to show that acceptable religion must ...

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