Issue #1 - December 1992
The Virgin Birth
"And I beheld the city of Nazareth: and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me, Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him, A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me, Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him, I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me, Behold the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time, the angel spake unto me, saying, Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me, Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!" (I Nephi 3:53-62)
The virgin birth of our Lord is a most important doctrine. It nevertheless has been said by some that "christian theology perpetuates a special version of an ancient myth—that of the power of a virgin-born dying and rising god to overcome evil and death and thereby facilitate the possibility of renewal of life."* Such has been and continues to be, with increasing intensity, the thinking of prominent theologians and authors of note in this day, in regard to the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Men of renown fail miserably to perceive that the things of God can only be seen and understood by the revelation of the divine spirit; and that the Lord reveals such, only to those who love him and keep all His commandments. Therefore, we say again with emphasis, that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ IS A MOST IMPORTANT DOCTRINE. For, if the scriptural admonition which is enjoined upon us is not true, then we must regard Jesus as less than the Christ. The virgin birth of Jesus validates for us, that He is indeed who He claims to be. The early disciples perhaps did not appreciate nor fully understand the significance of Jesus' birth, until He was "risen from the dead", but when they understood He had the power to lay down His life, of His own accord and to pick it up again, then they must have surmised that He WAS indeed the Son of God, the Christ, the Author of redemption and salvation. The realization dawned upon them that the death of Jesus wasn't simply something which happened to their Lord in the midst of preaching the gospel; but, rather, the death of Christ WAS the gospel. No mortal man had the power to lay down his life and pick it up again. They, like we, were conceived in sin. They understood that as men began to grow, sin began to conceive in the hearts, insomuch that they might taste the bitter, that they might know to prize the good. Therefore, the former-day saints knew that no man could live a sinless life except, it were through the physical miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus. Death could not hold Him, because He knew no sin.
Surely, the validity of His claim as the Son of God and not the son of a carpenter, is not only paramount, but necessary as the catalyst of the entire gospel economy, i.e., redemption, salvation and eternal life. Nephi was asked "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" Indeed, we too must ask over and over again; What it must mean for the King of Glory to come down to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; for He who knew no sin to become sin for us, if we are ever to clearly appreciate the testimony of Jesus. King Benjamin depicts for us the significance of the meaning of the condescension of God in the following:
"For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven, among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases; and he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; For behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith, on his name; And even after all this, they shall consider him a man and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him." (Mosiah 1:97-104)
The virgin birth of Christ is the acknowledged faith of the church in all her dispensations. Those, however, who still consider Jesus a man and His miracle-birth a myth, refuse to acknowledge His divine right as the King of Glory and like the Jews, fulfill and continue to fulfill, this prophetic prediction of King Benjamin.
* Howard Booth, RECENT SHIFTS IN RESTORATION THOUGHT, Restoration Studies I p.164.