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Why the Virgin Birth Is Essential

The virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son
(Matthew 1:23).

The specific question which I shall seek to answer is whether the doctrine of the miraculous birth of Jesus from a virgin mother, taught in the opening chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, forms an indispensable element in Christianity so that without it Christianity would be incompletely stated and left defective.

Were I asked to name the three pillars on which the structure of Christianity, as taught in the New Testament in its entirety, especially rests, I do not know that I could do better than point to these three things: the supernatural, the incarnation, and redemption. In an important sense, these three things constitute Christianity.

What interests us particularly at the moment is that the virgin birth of Jesus takes its significant place and has its significant part to play with respect to each one of them. Without it each one of them would be sheared of some portion of its meaning and value, and would take on a different and weakened aspect.

No one can doubt that the Christianity of the New Testament is supernaturalistic through and through. Whether we regard the person of Jesus or the salvation He brought to men, the primary note of Christianity certainly is supernaturalism.

He who walked the earth as its Lord, and whom the very winds and waves obeyed; who could not be held in the grave, but burst the bonds of death and ascended into the heavens in the sight of man; He who now sits at the right hand of God and sheds down His gift of salvation through His Spirit upon the men of His choice—it is impossible that such a one should have entered the world undistinguished from common men.

His supernatural birth is necessary to explain His supernatural life and His supernatural work.
The virgin birth therefore forms an indispensable element in the supernatural religion of Christianity.

~ Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921)