Friday, 24 December 2010

Can I be a Christian?

It was the last of our Simply Christianity Course on Monday. One person ended it asking: "Can I still be a Christian without believing in the Virgin birth and Resurrection?"

It is an appropriate post to raise on Christmas Eve.

Perhaps the second issue is easier. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul includes the resurrection under the things of first importance, and states that without it our faith is useless. So this is undoubtedly essential.

But what of the virgin birth? In many ways the issues are the same for this as it is the resurrection: First, we should ask why someone cannot believe it. Both turn on a conviction that the creator has entered the world as Jesus, and if we first believe this we should have no problem then believing in these two facts - for they are not incredulous if the incarnation is true. Not believing in them therefore implies a lack of faith in the incarnation itself.

Second, we should recognise that both are essential to the conviction that the incarnation is true. If Mary was not a virgin, then she sinned with Joseph and Jesus is just a special man, not conceived by the Holy Spirit, and so not able to infallibly reveal and speak for God, or grant forgiveness with his authority. Likewise, if the resurrection didn't occur then death beat Jesus and he is not Lord of life and death and so not able to deliver on his promises of eternal life. So again, a lack of belief in these things is a lack of faith in Christ as Lord - which is the essence of Christianity.

This Christmas then, let's strengthen our faith. God turned the heart of Caesar to get Jospeh to Bethlehem, he summoned a choir of angels to herald Jesus' birth, he harnessed even a star to point him out. With such wonders surrounding Jesus, the miracle of his conception should not be too hard to embrace.