There is a Religion News Service article by Kimberly Winston which is circulating around the Internet with the provocative title “Can you question the Virgin Birth and still be a Christian?” I put it in my Twitter feed so that I could comment on it later, if I had some time.
Responding to it gives me a chance to say a little more along the lines of what I was saying (or implying) in my comments on Luke 1:26-38.
(1.) This article’s title assumes something that is not true: that Christians cannot question received teachings. The writer (or the editor) is making the assumption that questioning is incompatible with Christianity. In fact, Christians have been questioning and exploring and refining their beliefs since the very beginning of the Christian movement. Christians (Protestants especially) are encouraged to check out what they hear from their spiritual leaders against the original sources of the faith in Scripture. And though there are a few lonely voices saying Christians should not read the scriptures — most are strongly encouraged to do so. There are contemporary translations, Bible study helps, Bible reading plans, etc. to help them to do so. The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (ASV.) (more…)
In accord with the over-all future orientation of his theology, Wolfhart Pannenberg sees the dignity of the human race as being based on human destiny. It is less a matter of human status in the created world, than it is a matter of the destiny of the human race, which has been revealed in the Scriptures. I find this a very helpful perspective. He writes:
Only from the standpoint of the religiously and biblically grounded awareness of their destiny of fellowship with God, the author of the universe, can we say assuredly, however, that all creation culminates in humanity.
— Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Chapter 8, page 175.
This intellectual move saves the theologian from saying that the status of the human race in the created world is rooted in inherent abilities that set the human creation apart from the rest of the created world — especially the animal world. (more…)