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The Virgin Birth?

Yes, I know it’s more theologically accurate to speak of the “virginal conception,” but you know what I mean. This gem from Ben Myers is worth sharing:

Barth’s famous discussion of the virgin birth is in Church Dogmatics I/2, the section on ‘The Miracle of Christmas’. Barth always insists that acts of divine revelation are ‘not historical’. But he doesn’t mean they never happened. All he means is that revelation is a unique event, an act of God. It’s not part of the normal historical sequence, it doesn’t belong to a chain of cause-and-effect, and so there’s no use trying to verify or disprove it on historical grounds.

So in the case of the virgin birth, Barth argues that it’s not subject to the methods of historiography. Its truth isn’t for historians to decide. But he certainly believes that it really happened, that it happened in time and space, within the real material human world. It involved Mary’s body, her real flesh and blood. In this section of Church Dogmatics, Barth’s brilliant critique of Brunner rests on the assumption that the virgin birth really happened. His point is just that it happens as revelation, as an act of God.

And later, this:

I guess all I’m trying to say is that I used to be a lot more cynical and sophisticated than I am today. As one of the saints has said, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Nowadays, to be honest, I’m just very grateful to be a Christian at all. Three-legged tables are fine, as far as they go. But you can rely implicitly on the ones with four legs; that’s the kind you want when you’re sitting down in the comfort of your own home, day after day, a table just like the one your grandfather used, and just like the one your great-grandchildren will use too, long after you’ve left the world and gone to that big dinner table in the sky.



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