As a preacher, I fully understand being misquoted or misunderstood. It is at least once a month that I have to correct something that was misconstrued. This is because we live in a sin-filled world. My communication is not perfect, and the perception of others is not perfect either.
So, there is nothing wrong with needing clarity. But what happens if that clarity only make matters worse?
This is what has to be asked by those who sit under Pastor Andy Stanley.
The Washington Post reports
The pastor of one of America’s largest megachurches stirred up Christmas controversy after preaching that the story of Jesus’ virgin birth is not crucial to the Christian faith.
“If somebody can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world,” Andy Stanley said in a Dec. 4 sermon at North Point Community Church, which draws 36,000 attendees across six locations in suburban Atlanta. “Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.”
So what this sounded like Stanley meant was that the Virgin birth was not crucial to Christianity. It is the end of Christ’s life on earth that is important. So, what this tells us is that either we misunderstand Stanley or he misunderstands why Christ needed to be born of a virgin.
And after much flak from men smarter than I, Stanley has tried to clear the air.
The Post continued
“The real story is the handful of Southern Baptist professors and writers (not so much preachers) who seem to have nothing else to do but listen to bits and pieces of my messages,” he said in his statement to The Post. “Anyone who listens to all three [sermons in the series] will know that I stand firmly within the orthodox Christian tradition regarding the incarnation of Jesus — including the birth narratives as presented [in] Matthew and Luke.”
Stanley also said he believes people can become Christians without knowing the narratives around Jesus’ birth.
Now as others have pointed out, this actually puts him at odds with orthodox Evangelicals and the Historic teaching of the Church. But more than that, it makes it seem as if we can pick and choose what we believe and do not believe about God.
Now, I will grant Stanley that there may be a situation where someone hears the gospel and is granted faith without knowing of the virgin birth of Christ. That person can have faith without the knowledge. But, I do not believe that they can openly deny the virgin birth while having that faith.
This is true because faith is not subjective. It is not left up to our taste or likes. Besides this, if Christ were born through normal, natural processes, then He would have never qualified for Savior of Sinners. His death would have covered only His sin nature which he would have inherited from Joseph. This sin nature would make Jesus guilty before God like the rest of humanity. Only the perfect, spotless Lamb of God can take away the sin of the world. Christ would have been tainted if conceived because we are all conceived in sin.
For that reason, I would say that Christianity does hinge on the virgin birth. Without it, the cross and resurrection could never occur.