The Virgin Birth
It would seem that Erlander does believe in the Virgin Birth because on Page 39 of the M & M manual he says, “The Spirit of God breathed into Mary’s womb as the Spirit had breathed into the watery depths to bring forth the first creation.” This is not quite the same concept as the Holy Spirit ‘coming upon and overshadowing’ Mary, nevertheless, there is no hint that the paternity of Jesus is traceable to some human father.
So this blog is not a critique of Erlander’s view of the virgin birth, but rather that of Alan Storey who I understand has the distribution rights for the M & M material and who has published a series of video clips under the M & M banner.
One of these deals with the virgin birth:
In this Storey describes accurately the shame endured by both Joseph and Mary resulting from the latter’s pregnancy. Quite correctly he points out that any assertion that no human father had been the cause, would have been greeted with total incredulity on the part of the Nazarene townsfolk, – completely understandable since such a thing had never been known to happen before, nor since for that matter.
Having got to this point however, Storey adds his own name to the list of skeptics, despite the unambiguous accounts of Holy Spirit conception in the birth accounts of both Matthew and Luke’s gospels.
He postulates instead that Mary’s pregnancy was the result of rape by one of the Roman occupying force. Quite why he does this is not clear. Perhaps it arises from the post-enlightenment compulsion to explain away the miraculous. Perhaps it is to enlist Mary as a high-profile celebrity to the most worthy crusade against the abuse of women. (although this would neglect the reality that a ‘Non-virgin Mary’ would not be nearly such a celebrity.)
However, what I find amazing are the theological implications of Storey’s assertion:
Quite how one arrives at a coherent Christology in which Jesus is confessed as, “Truly God and Truly man,” with a Roman soldier as the real father, is for me as much of a mystery as the mystery of the Godhead itself.
Storey, without any grounds for so doing, throws a brick into the Christological gearbox, and this with a wanton disregard for the results of such theological vandalism.
One would hope that at the very least he would cross his fingers should he have occasion to recite the Nicene Creed (It could certainly be no more than a mere recitation).
Better still, he might consider resigning from the Methodist ministry lest he become party to the people called Methodists becoming “a dead sect holding to a form of godliness while denying the power thereof,” which according to Wesley, “they shall surely become if they do not hold fast to the doctrine, spirit and discipline with which they first set out.”