Topical - Virgin Birth, Is It Essential?
Is the virgin birth an essential doctrine? Can someone deny it and still be a Christian?
That is a very important question. I would say that understanding that Jesus Christ is God is essential and necessary for someone to be saved.
It is possible that someone could hear the gospel—be told that Jesus was God in human flesh, died as a sacrifice for sin, and rose from the dead, having achieved a sacrifice that satisfied God—go through the whole gospel and believe it without an explanation of the virgin birth. So I would say that it is possible for a person to be a Christian if the virgin birth has never been explained to them.
But eventually they’re going to have to face the question: How is it that Jesus could be the God-man? And at that point, then, the virgin birth is critical because the virgin birth is the divine miracle by which God implanted a seed without a father in the womb of Mary and she gave birth to the man who was God. The virgin birth is essential to the full understanding of the nature of Christ.
And I would say that if a person is a true Christian, they wouldn’t deny the virgin birth. You know, when I come across these people who deny things in the Scriptures, including denying the virgin birth, I have a hard time believing that such a person is a true Christian, because that is attacking the clear revelation of God about the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ.
So I would say it is possible that someone could become a true Christian never having been told about the virgin birth. But it would be very difficult for me to believe a person was a true Christian who denied the virgin birth because then you have a huge problem: How is it that Jesus is God and man, if God and man were not together in the conception and the birth? So I think the Scripture’s presentation of the virgin birth is a truth that cannot be denied by one who is a true Christian.
Now there are other essentials in the gospel. I would sort of call them the drive-train of evangelical truth, or the drive-train of gospel truth, the core or the power of the gospel:
God, who is a Trinity, gives birth to a Son of a virgin conception. That Son is the sinless Son of God, and yet fully man, who dies as a substitute on the cross, is raised from the dead the third day, ascends to heaven having satisfied God’s justice and purchased redemption for all who believe, is seated at the right hand of God, is now interceding for believers and will return to establish His kingdom forever. That is the heart and soul of the gospel. You add to that that man is a sinner and salvation is by faith, and you have the essentials.
Curious about which doctrines are fundamental to Christianity? Purchase John’s book Reckless Faith. It includes a chapter “What are the Fundamentals of Christianity?” along with further help on how you can develop biblical discernment and distinguish truth from error.