Resourcing Progressive Christians

Another Version of Virgin…

With Pope Benedict’s recent release of a book reflecting on the Nativity, the historicity of the Virgin Birth is yet again back in the news. It seems that Benedict is more concerned that barnyard animals are inaccurately included in most traditional Nativity scenes than the fact that insistence on a literal virgin birth is one of the reasons many thinking people leave the church.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Jack Spong sees it differently than Pope Benedict — and offers an alternative vision for interpreting the meaning behind the parable of the virgin birth. With apologies to Dr. Seuss: “Maybe Christmas, Jack thought, doesn’t come from a virgin. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a Spirit emergin’…”.

Spong Virgin Birth


  1. Robert Seeber on December 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Whether “Divine Intervention” or just plain miraculous (in the secular sense), the words of Jesus of Nazareth are what is most important and what should be focused on and evaluated. What could be more simple?

  2. Sonny Bellotte on December 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    My problem with this is that Joseph was at least to a point considering “putting her away” (divorcing her basically), signifying that Joseph wouldn’t have been Jesus’s father and was somehow therefore a *bastard* child. Not something I can really wrap my brain around.

  3. Ty on December 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Reblogged this on A Robin Hood's Musing and commented:
    Again, how we relate to Mary opens up the story of the living Cosmic Christ to our inner core…for me its what resonates with you, but what are your thoughts.

  4. Matt on December 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    As he often does, the Bishop gets a lot wrong in this quote. MOST theologians take the Gospel stories of Jesus’ nativity as literal truth and his insistence that they don’t discredits his authority to some degree. I appreciate Bishop Spong’s view of a God who is bigger than our ideas or rules, but he is too much of a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” kind of guy. He’d be a better leader of progressive Christianity if he wasn’t so willing to call people foolish who believe in a more traditional Christian theology.

    • Ian on December 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

      Which story? The one in Matthew or the one in Luke? Did Mary and Joseph live in a house in Bethlehem, like in Matthew; or did they travel there for to be registered, like in Luke? Did they flee from Herod to Egypt, like in Matthew; or did they return to Nazareth after Mary’s purification as in Luke? I would say that Matthew and Luke worked off of a very slim tradition and made the rest up to forward their agenda. This becomes obvious when reading the two birth narratives more closely.

  5. Carolyn Holland on December 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Please note that Bishop Spong specified a “biblical theologian of world rank,” not one spit out by a diploma mill or Jerry Falwell’s so-called “university.” There’s a world of difference between a biblical scholar who can think critically and one trained to simply follow the right-wing, head-in-the-sand, sheep-like fundamentalist teachings that were created in the dark ages by men yearning for power and control.

    • wakingdreaming on December 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

      I definitely know the difference. But it’s certainly still true that most mainstream theologians of world rank still take the Biblical accounts of Jesus as literal history. The Archbishop of Canterbury and most of the theologians of the Anglican Communion are among them. So are the theologians of the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and many other denominations. I would say that theologians who don’t take these things literally are very much in the minority.

  6. rogerwolsey on December 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Well put Bishop Spong! Here’s my attempt at at contemporary re-telling of that great story (that shouldn’t be considered as history ; ) “Fast Hog to Breadhouse” : )

  7. rogerwolsey on December 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Well said Bishop Spong! Here’s my attempt at a contemporary re-telling of that great story (that shouldn’t be taken has history ; ) “Fast Hog to Breadhouse”

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