February 22, 2016
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Did you catch that? She was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Had these ten words ever been strung together in such fashion? Have they ever been put together and said of any other since? The answer is no. How does a person become pregnant through the Holy Spirit? Impossible. How is a person resurrected from the dead? Impossible. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is book-ended on either side by utter, outright impossibilities.
Impossibilities are one thing. Improbabilities are quite another. Where there is an improbability there is also a probability. It is a matter of statistics. It is highly improbable that I would win the Powerball Lottery and collect a billion dollars. That is precisely why I bought a ticket, though; there was also a probability. I didn’t buy a ticket because there was a possibility, but because there was a probability. I knew for a fact that someone would win (at least eventually). The only way to make winning the lottery an impossibility for me was to choose not to buy a ticket. Stay with me.
This is the problem of faith. We want faith to live in the world of probabilities and improbabilities. We want it to be a matter of math, which ultimately becomes a matter of science. The weather is a good example of this. A meteorologist can tell us the probability of rain tomorrow based on their scientific understanding of the sky. Faith only lives in the realm of impossibilities; hence it lives outside the realm of reason. It’s why the past few hundred years have been so confusing for the church. We have wanted to make faith in God reasonable. It is not. This is why many twentieth century theologians and bible scholars began to “demythologize” the Scriptures. People could not reasonably believe in miracles. Therefore they were deemed myths from which a greater and more reasonable “truth” could be learned. The reaction to this was to try and prove miracles. The Church has desperately tried to translate the world of faith into the language of reason. It’s why people get stuck in conversations about the Garden of Eden and dinosaurs along with Adam and Eve and evolution and yes, about the Virgin Birth.
The followers of Jesus can live and thrive quite well in the realm of reason, for we believe God created it. Faith, however, cannot bow to the rules of reason. Faith is neither reasonable nor unreasonable. Faith transects reason. Faith can affirm this realm while at the same time superseding it. You see, faith is not an aberrant outlier or rogue category within the realm of reason. Reason is a category of faith. The God who created the realm of reasonability can work well within its rules without being subject to them. The same must be true of those who have faith in and follow such a God. They live in a world ruled by reason without being bound by its perimeter or parameters.
She was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. It’s why the Gospel begins with the miracle of the Virgin Birth and ends with the miracle of the Resurrection; not statistical improbabilities but outright impossibilities. It’s why the banner and battlecry of the people of God always has been and ever shall be, “For nothing is impossible with God.”
1. How have the realm and rules of reason caused confusion for your faith? What would it mean to be bi-lingual, speaking the language of faith while living in the realm of reason?
2. Are you forcing faith to submit to the rules of reason? Can you see how reason is a category of faith and not the other way around?
3. Do you believe in the Virgin Birth? Do you grasp its centrality to the Gospel? Why do you think all the major Creeds of the Church explicitly affirm it?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.