January 21, 2015
This is the fourth post in what I plan to be a twelve post series –
- These “Twelve Points for Reform” come from John Spong’s book A New Christianity for a New World:
- The rebuttal of his points comes from Stephanie D. Monk – An Examination of the Theology of Bishop John Shelby Spong.
- I am responding to the twelve points for reform proposed by Mr. Spong, and their rebuttal by Ms. Monk.
My standard disclaimer and apology to Ms. Monk, who is not my enemy. But like her, I am passionate about my beliefs, and this website, and the screenwriting project I refer to, arise from this passion. I too feel the suffering of the people, and I too would seek a way to relieve it.
Spong – The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
Monk – Response to Thesis 4: Virgin Birth
An all powerful God is clearly not powerless to perform the miracle of a virgin birth. If He can create exnihilo, then a virgin birth is hardly impossible.
Spong argues that the miracle of the virgin birth is biologically impossible, but this is completely unwarranted. As Lewis stated If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any [scientific] laws. The laws at once take over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born.”
Also, Spong argues that the virgin birth story was just an imitation of similar pagan stories; however, as Wright incisively points out:
Why would Christians, increasingly conscious of hostility from the pagan world, have included a story like this, so likely to be misunderstood in a way that they clearly could not intend? Not certainly to try to curry favor. Neither Matthew nor Luke was writing to show pagan audience that Christianity was just like paganism! Why then would they do it? One of the best possible answers is that they very firmly believed it to be true. More than that, though: the Christian claim always was that the Jewish story in general, and the Christian climax to it in particular, was the truth, the reality, of which paganism was the parody.
Tolkien likewise masterfully argues that Christianity is the ultimate fairy tale, the truth of which all the other myths and tales were simply a parody, the one about which he said, “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.”
Sly – Really?
I would agree that nothing that happens is impossible. There are several of Spong’s points upon which Fundamentalist Christianity collapses, and this is one of them, which they are well aware of. This is from my post Truth and Consequences –
I have recently read several attempts to “prove” the Virgin Birth of Jesus using words that they tell me God wrote 2000+ years ago with a variety of human hands. Others who defend Virgin Birth, such as Gary Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, are more straight forward –
“If Jesus was not virgin-born, then he was not the son of God; if he was not the son of God, then he was just another crucified man and not the sacrifice that would redeem the sins of the world…..
“In Jesus, we don’t have a prophet who simply speaks as a human being about God. We have a son of God who presents the father to us,” he said. “It is a huge difference, absolutely huge. Put in jeopardy the Virgin Birth … and Christianity simply becomes a human gesture instead of a divine revelation.”
From my short essay – The Question of Nihilism –
“I would not agree with the statement that nothing is true, but rather, that uncertainty is true, and you can choose to believe anything you want, but you cannot escape the consequences of your choices.”
Professor Burge is just being honest about the core motivation for a belief in Virgin Birth, because without Virgin Birth, Jesus is a just a man, and that is just too frightening. If Jesus is not the son of God, then he can’t get you into heaven, so who cares about how he chose to live his life or what he had to say? If Jesus is just a man, then you need to kick him to the gutter, and find another ride to heaven.
If this were all there was to it, I would leave them to their pile of sand, but that would not end war and poverty. Again, I refer to my Posts on Creationism as a Mental Illness (Post 1, Post 2) and how Fundamentalism is ferociously propagating this mental illness of the selfish heart and certain mind, and the terrible consequences both for the individuals who fall under it, and society as a whole. I am not trying to be mean, but I am frustrated by the difficulty of this problem, and we can never end war and poverty without the help of Christianity. Please, Christians –
People are dying because the religion of Fundamentalist Christianity does not give you the moral courage to deal with uncertainty. I know it is not your fault. I know that your are victims of this illness. I know that you don’t want to believe that Fundamentalist education is a root cause spreading war and poverty, but what else could you expect the consequences to be of trapping people in their selfish hearts and knowing minds, except war and poverty?
“just another crucified man.”
Fuck you, Professor Burge. What a clear revelation of how Fundamentalist Christianity values the life of Jesus. If he was just a man, he would be nothing to them, because he can do nothing for them. His heroic life story is no longer of interest to a selfish heart, nor the wisdom that he shares of interest to a certain mind. What a perfect demonstration of the core moral principle of a religion based on the practice of selfishness and arrogance.
Why would Christians, increasingly conscious of hostility from the pagan world, have included a story like this, so likely to be misunderstood in a way that they clearly could not intend?
Well, Ms. Monk, I am going to assume, perhaps erroneously, that you are young. It turns out that there are liars in the world, and many of them happen to be writers, and as a fiction writer, I am one of them. Why, you ask, would a writer turn a man into a God?
I’m going to leave this as an exercise.
In the meantime, I still have a few tickets to heaven left. They are not cheap, but they are 100% guaranteed or your money back.
Next up – Point #5: Miracles_