Fewer American Christians Believe Jesus Was Born Of A Virgin

The Christian faith holds many fantasy beliefs that defy reality. It has people long dead and buried walking out of graves, walking on water and, at Christmastime, a baby whose mother was a virgin. These myths are slowly slipping off the list of believable notions. One is the “virgin birth.”

A new poll tells us that only a slim majority of young people in the faith believe in the virgin birth. Each new generation has more doubts about it.

For some reason sex is regarded as a dirty thing and a sin so the god figure that resulted should not have been conceived in this way. If sex was not thought of as bad but just part of the reason humans have survived maybe it would have been OK that Jesus came about that way. It doesn’t matter how the faith thinks Jesus came to be, increasing numbers of the young don’t believe the fantasy version.

Today I was on a road trip and listened to Catholic radio for a while. It was a program hosted by a couple of women and all the callers were women. There were long riffs on how pure Mary was and bragging by these women on how much of each day they spent marveling about the wonders of Mary.

It’s not only hard to understand this fascination but it’s double baffling that broadcasters of callers would think this kind a discussion about a world of the mind would appeal to others.

75 Responses

  1. Juan Ruiz

    This dates back to the prophecy found in Isaiah “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” Unfortunately, the original Hebrew uses “almah” (young woman), not “betullah” (virgin). It was mistranslated in the Septuagint, which was the text used by gospel writers. Beyond that, the whole section is taken out of context.

  2. Brandon

    Sex has never been regarded as a “dirty thing” in true Bible believing churches. God invented sex and was intended as a gift which still is. People have taken Gods gifts and completely misused them and destroyed their true intentions. People do not understand that there are moral standards. Just because we are not “seeing any fallback from the choices which me make as a society now” (which I believe that we are, but that’s a separate conversation) doesn’t mean that we won’t.

    And before you continue to bash Christianity for believing in “fantasy beliefs” remember that evolution believes that the universe came from nothing, no matter which way you polish it.

    John let me challenge you in starting to look as the church as in local smaller churches, where you will find true believers. Mainstream churches have been so influenced by the outside world as to not offend anybodys feelings about this matter or that. When you see true Christianity at work, it is amazing. I would be careful about taking what the mainstream church says on FOX or CNN and take that as a blanket statement for all of the Christian churches in the world.

    1. Juan Ruiz

      It is not the act itself which is sinful, but the lust in it. But without the lust there would be no act. Especially for the male.

      1. The act can be sinful under many circumstances, e.g. between unmarried believers, rape, and if contraception is used.

        Lust is sinful but lust does not necessarily precede sex. Lust is not equivalent to a great desire.

    2. Brandon 7:10 When you see true Christianity at work, it is amazing.

      You have hit the nail on the head. “True Christianity” is different to each individual. Each version is made up in the individual head of the individual believer. Like the “True Christian” who got ahold of a young relative of mine a couple of decades ago. My relative had bad mental problems. The new friends he fell in with said, “A true Christian relies on Jesus to bring him happiness. Stop those meds and let Jesus lead you.” He blew off his head with a shot gun. As you say, “It is amazing.”

      You need not explain this by saying his new friends were not “true Christians.” That is the excuse given every time.

  3. Randall Wehler

    Jon,

    Your well-written article is timely. I recently read Bishop Spong’s book, “Born Of A Woman,” which demonstrates how a scholarly approach to the virgin birth issue can shed new light on Jesus’ mediating presence between the divine Creator and humankind. I believe that an inquiring mind can actually be God-honoring. Few people calling themselves Christian have an appreciation for how midrash and other styles of ancient writings can shape contemporary Biblical interpretation. History reflects that Jesus of Nazareth dwelt among ancestral humans to provide a divine-given message of brotherly (sisterly) love that few so-called atheists or secularists would argue with. God (as we understand him/her) gave us rational mind capability to continue our probe into the depths (infinity) of the Mystery called God. That, for me, is spiritually exciting!

    1. Juan Ruiz

      “God (as we understand him/her) gave us rational mind”

      Which doesn’t explain why, in matters of religion, the mind must be dumped and faith (i.e., I believe because I want to believe.) glorified.

  4. Brandon

    Biblical Christianity is not up to each person to decide on their own. This has been the problem that people have comprehending, God did not write the Bible as a mere book of good suggestions, rather His laws in which need to be adhered to. In fact the last few verses in Revelation address this issue head on. What you claim as:

    ““True Christianity” is different to each individual. Each version is made up in the individual head of the individual believer.””

    This is in fact postmodernism beliefs in which people think they can choose to believe certain parts of the Bible that they agree with but not other parts that they’re not sure about. If you truly know Christianity and truly believe it, you understand that the whole Bible works together to complement itself. Without one part of it the whole theology falls apart.

    1. Juan Ruiz

      “Biblical Christianity ”

      Which is primarily the result of one man: Irenaeus of Lyon, who decided what was in and what was out among all the texts available. “God” had nothing to do with it. Subsequent wrangling over the centuries came up with a canon, but much later. If Paul had been repudiated and Arius accepted, you would be singing a different doctrine.

  5. Brandon

    Also regarding what happened to your relative…First I am sorry for that, sincerely.

    But secondly people claim to be who they are not all the time and this happens in all sorts of different aspects of life, not just faith. Talk will only get so far, if a person claims to be a Christian, look at the fruit of their life and what they do, that will tell you quickly if they are a Christian or not. We all know that we live in a day and age where people just can’t be trusted period.

    1. I love their list of 7 banned words, much better than George Carlin’s list of TV banned words or the LA Times list of banned words and phrases which include “pro-life”. “Anti-abortion” and “Anti-choice” were the phrases the LA Times enforced on their journalists. Lest one get worked up that the government is now doing this, it isn’t anything new. Obama had his own required lexicon for the CDC and other government bodies. And let’s not forget the famous phrase coined by the Clintons, “bimbo erruptions”. That’s when they were taking women’s voices seriously (snicker).

  6. CAndyman

    Its sad to see the Untied States fall so far from its foundational roots. Life happens to all of us and is soo short too! Your boastful pontifications will be called out in its due time.

    1. Candyman 1:58 Your boastful pontifications will be called out in its due time.

      Good to hear from you again. I get such threats regularly. To really get even with me, to put me in my place for good, someone should come up with evidence there is a heaven and a hell, a god and evidence of what sin is and what it is not. Until someone does this, threats of punishment for me is just hot air.

      1. Roxane B. Salonen

        Regarding Candyman’s response here, understand there is a necessary defense going on – of someone who is loved by those defending. If someone were discounting someone you loved, you might not always say the most helpful thing in response either. I think we all could be gentler with one another.

      1. Roxane B. Salonen

        I’d say they are more frustrated or sad than gleeful, perhaps. It doesn’t make sense for Christians to be gleeful over the destiny of those who either cannot or refuse to believe in a God who loves them and wishes to draw them to love.

  7. Roxane B. Salonen

    Hi Jon. A friend pointed me to your blog post today – I haven’t seen it in a while. I thought it was awesome that you’d found your way to the Catholic radio dial. I’m kind of addicted to it myself, and am an occasional host for our local station, 1280 AM, Real Presence Radio. I’m wondering if the program you mentioned is “Women of Grace?” It’s interesting how two people can hear such different things. “Long riffs on how pure Mary was.” Yes, she really was pure. Only a pure vessel could bring God into the world. It makes perfect sense. 🙂 She is also a beautiful model of grace and obedience to God, and is mother to us all in a sense. She also loves us all, since we are the children of God. I am grateful for her. We all need the maternal gaze of love from time to time, and she has the best one of all (there are no pretenses with her). As for the women you heard “bragging,” that doesn’t sound quite right, but I guess I didn’t hear it. I wonder though if, instead, they were just in awe, and expressing their admiration of someone who is such a magnificent model for us in this dark world?

    I don’t expect to change your mind by any means, but for anyone else reading this who may want to know the truth of how all this is understood and believed by those Christians who have a robust Marian theology, the virgin birth makes plenty of sense, for reasons mentioned briefly above (vessel). However, if you really believe Christians see sex as dirty, I would suggest Christopher West’s “Good News About Sex and Marriage.” If you’d like to delve in further, look up “Theology of the Body” by JP2 and you will find a beautiful vision for sex, and why God and the Christian church love it. After all, that’s how all those beautiful babies came into the world, right? The document “Humane Vitae” is also one to read if you really want to understand this issue.

    Back to Mary, Christian stations are going to lean in the direction of offering topics that interest their listeners. It is not at all baffling for those who are living the faith why these subject would edify and uplift us. We look to Jesus as our model, and at the foot of the cross, he said to John, “Behold your mother,” and in that, he was saying this to all of us. He wanted to leave us with a sense of this humble, loving maternal presence to carry us through some of the tough times. He didn’t want us to feel alone or abandoned even in our suffering.

    Jon, I don’t know your whole story, but I know you’ve been at this a while — trying to disprove Christianity. I think it’s great you are listening to some Christian talk shows, and I hope you will continue, but I also hope you will really listen, and not do so with an ear for judgment. It’s good to ask questions. God won’t force us to love him and he wants us to discover him. He invites us each day, and I hope that someday, you will turn off all the voices around you, and just listen as Love calls you, the beloved, to come near.

    Bless you, and peace to you.

    Roxane B. Salonen

    1. Roxane 9:46 Thank you for stopping in again and taking the time to post.

      From this post and your work in other venues there can be no doubt about your enthusiasm for the faith. As to the truth about the Biblical character, Mary, it is good so many receive something from it. For those of us who see Mary, Jesus and the other characters in the Bible as merely undocumented creations of wealthy goat herders 2000 years ago it is hard to relate. Nevertheless, hearing each others views is always healthy.

      I did not post a blog today because I’ve driving home from a funeral in Chicago. The funeral was for a 1st cousin, a wonderful full of life 72 YO lady who died much too soon. During the Presbyterian service the lady preacher, who only knew cousin for a few weeks before she died, said cousin told her she did not consider herself a real “church lady” but enjoyed being a member for a couple of decades. Then the pastor went on to assure those gathered that my cousin is “in heaven” and happy there.

      Now, the pastor does not know this, but tells it as if she knows it. To me that’s the purpose of religion, to pretend various things are true so we feel better about our circumstances.

      Anyway, thanks again for posting.

    2. Juan Ruiz

      “Yes, she really was pure. Only a pure vessel could bring God into the world. It makes perfect sense. ? ”

      Mary is characterized as the perfect 1st century woman: docile, submissive, even to the extent of giving her body to a deity.

      1. Roxane B. Salonen

        God gave his life for us; Mary gave her life for him, so that we could know God on a more intimate level than had previously been possible. It’s a beautiful and hope-filled reality, which is much more than anything the world offers. Jesus also was docile and submissive to the Father’s will. Submission to a loving God brings freedom. Submission to a tyrant does not. So it depends on the object of submission whether docility and submission are good or bad. Mary’s docility is sublime. Keep in mind, at the same time, she crushes the head of the serpent. Mary is no pushover.

        1. Juan Ruiz

          “she crushes the head of the serpent. Mary is no pushover.”

          She doesn’t. As pointed out above it’s a mistranslation.

          What is interesting is how a character who gets such brief mention in the New Testament (she appears more often in the Koran), has been raised to the status of near deification. Paul, Mark, and John no nothing of a virgin birth. In, fact, it is Mark who has her coming out to take Jesus away because he is crazy.

          As with so many other doctrines, Mary is the product of theologians, who made it up as they went along. Thus you get immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, the ascension…none of which have scriptural authority. Early churchmen argued against her title of Theotokos, which wasn’t resolved until the Council of Ephesus.

          1. Roxane B. Salonen

            Juan, I’m not here as a theologian. I’m here as one who lives this faith and will share it on occasion in the hopes of providing others with a lived experience. Anything you have said, or could say, has another, contrary view. I trust the Church that has stood the test of time, and has provided the best vision of life that I’ve confronted, and brought many good people into my life. Mary is a beautiful part of that and to me and many others, she is very real. She holds a prominent place in the minds of many because of the role she played. She requires no profuse mention. Her life is in many parts mystery. But she leads us to her son, and that is enough.

          2. Catcher

            @ 8;16; In spite of Jerome’s gender challenged translation, and the corrected translations, (plural) of the RCC, the “She crushed the serpent’s head” is pervasive, thanks to the artwork sustaining it, and current catholics unwilling to examine the text, and follow the (Tradition) of the RCC.(See Google images).
            I give you from the Catholic Study Bible New American Bible; Gen. 3; 14; “Then the Lord said to the serpent; 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; HE (Jesus) (see footnote below) will strike/crush at your (the devil) head while you strike at his heel/ heel.;

            Footnote from the RCC study bible- – ; “He (the devil) will strike…at his (Jesus) heel; …. ” However later theology saw in this passage more than an unending hostility ..this passage can be understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ” In short, it is Jesus not Mary that crushes, /strikes the head of the serpent.

            Roxane; A theologian you are not, but you are a misinformed apologist.
            “But wait, there’s more.” but I won’t go there now.

          3. Roxane B. Salonen

            Catcher, I don’t know you. Are you a theologian? I will seek out a more thorough response to this when I can, but for now, my immediate response would be, the gender issue is somewhat irrelevant for this reason: Mary, when she acts, acts in total obedience to the Father/Son, and by God’s power (though her own will). So if she was the one to deliver the strike, or Jesus himself, either way, the power of the strike comes from the same source. I will stick confidently to my assertion that Mary is no pushover, and that she’s definitively real.

          4. Catcher

            @ 1256 Roxane; Re. gender issues. Yes. there is a difference between she and he, and it is relevant. Read your own Bible .Gen 3.14 forward.

            re. “So if she was the one who delivered the strike or Jesus himself, either way, the power of the strike comes from the same source.” Mary is not part of the Trinity. She did not die on the cross through the vicarious atonement.

            You sound like you think Mary has already been declared co-redemtrix.

            You may note that I have never said that Mary is not real.

            Back to your Bible.

          5. Roxane B. Salonen

            I apologize. I likely lost track of who said what – the thread can get messy as it goes along. Thanks for the correction.

          6. Catcher

            @ 10;58. I am aware of this. Thank you for providing more evidence of the typical wordsmithing and twisting your church is famous for.

          7. Roxane B. Salonen

            The snide comments belie some kind of pain. That’s what needs to come to light more than the logistics, facts and conjectures that are discussed and debated.

          8. Catcher

            @ 11;56; Why so defensive? Error begets error, and one tends to look foolish when caught trying to defend it. Now the wordsmithing tries to (with your help) have it both ways. That’s OK . Once you get Mary to be the co redemtrix, Jesus will be just a footnote.. You are well on the way there now.

          9. Roxane B. Salonen

            The smugness you exhibit is why I will depart after this post is exhausted – very soon it appears. I am not above being human and making corrections when needed. But all that certainly does nothing to discount the larger picture. What I said in response still holds true. Mary acts always in accordance to God’s will. Sadly, I see no grace in your responses, which tells me as much as I need to know about spending energy here. The conversations are important. But the contention and haughtiness are unnecessary. I do hope you find peace.

          10. Catcher

            First of all, you brought up the subject. I merely responded appropriately.

            @ 12;51; Acted; past tense;; Acts; present tense. Yet you insist Mary continues to act in our salvation. There is no indication that is so.

            Re. correction; Then accept the correction. and move on

            Re. conversation; I see no conversation on your part. Only a yes– but, according to RCC polemics. Followed by “smugness” on your part..

            The “larger picture’ is distorted by Keating, Hahn, Madrid, et. al.

            I peacefully recommend you buy more candles if that helps you.

  8. Roxane B. Salonen

    Greetings again, Jon. I appreciate your gracious welcome. First, let me say, I am sorry for your loss. It is always hard to say goodbye to those we love, but feeling that void also says something important; that they were loved. I would have to agree with you in that the majority of the time we simply cannot say for sure whether people are in heaven. The exception within my faith tradition would be declared saints, who are canonized as such only after much scrutiny and research into their lives; assumed to be in heaven because of the miracles that have been connected to them. But that’s an aside. If I’d been there today, I probably would have cringed a bit, too (because it would not have sat well with me to declare anyone to be in heaven at a funeral). However, I would not use this example as evidence to disprove Christianity. Instead, I see such errors simply as evidence that the pastor is human. 🙂 I believe there is something solid within Christianity that is totally reliable (God), but that the human beings who comprise the Body of Christ fumble about quite a bit. However, that’s all part of what we’re here to do — to figure things out, and grow either toward or away from God if we choose. It is a choice, as I said before. Love cannot force itself on the receiver. True love can only be received by an act of free will. But, when this happens, it is truly a remarkable and life-changing thing. To defend the pastor a bit, I would say that she is probably trying to comfort the family, so perhaps her heart is in the right place, but it may have been unsettling to some as it would be to me. We do, as humans I think, like to know our loved ones who have gone before us are in a peaceful state. Our human minds are limited in how we approach such things of course.

    But that still does not disprove to me what is very real about the Christian faith. After noting what was indeed a conclusion that may bring more questions, you took a great leap ahead and said: “To me that’s the purpose of religion, to pretend various things are true so we feel better about our circumstances.” Here, you are projecting what you think is the primary motivation for most people of faith. The actual, lived experience, at least for me and I know many others as well, is much more complex than that. And yet, in some ways, it is very simple. We’re not wanting to make up some pretend world to satisfy ourselves. That world exists, and we are simply acknowledging it. To me, it takes much more of a leap to believe that all of this is random than that a prime mover set it in motion (and is still with us). But of course, now we’re off on another path altogether. All this to say, I do appreciate your questions. I also think it would be wise to be careful about assuming motivation for the majority of us. I honestly do not see that as helpful for a healthy discussion (and I’m glad you’re hoping for that end.)

    One final comment before I nod off for the evening. You said, “For those of us who see Mary, Jesus and the other characters in the Bible as merely undocumented creations of wealthy goat herders 2000 years ago it is hard to relate.” Now, think of someone you love very much, and then think about someone who was responsible for their life. You might never have met that person, but the person they helped bring into the world has made your life so much better than it would have been otherwise. (I am thinking of my paternal grandmother, whom I never got to meet, but she brought my father into the world, and even without having met her physically, I am endeared to her). Do you have a loving person in mind? Now, imagine me calling that special-to-you person a “merely undocumented creation of wealthy goat herders 20000 years ago.” if you truly believe Mary was a figment of someone’s imagination and never existed, then I am concerned. It’s one thing to contest she is ever-virgin. It’s another to say she never existed at all. History proves otherwise.

    The Christian faith, at its truest, makes the world a better place. I hope someday this reality will be accessible to you. I believe in that possibility.

    Take good care!

    Roxane

    1. Juan Ruiz

      “The Christian faith, at its truest, ”

      And here again we have that ambiguity. “Truest” to whom? Christianity has been divided since the beginning. Even the Lutherans don’t agree with each other.

      1. Catcher

        @ 10;49; re. Lutherans don’t agree”. All Lutherans of any sort subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, ie. The Book of Concord. (The Lord’s Prayer, the Creeds, the 10 commandments, the Augsburg confession and the Apology, etc). Any disagreement is related to ecclesiastics. (The how, where, and what), and adiaphora, (things not commanded or forbidden.

        1. Catcher

          @ 1;31; In addition; Each and every synod, and each particular church in each of those synods contain declarations of acceptance of the Book of Concord. in their constitutions.

        2. Juan Ruiz

          Back in 2001, there was a memorial service at the WTC site. The head of the Missouri Synod attended. A Crookston, MN pastor demanded he be fired for communing with other groups. Not exactly ecumenical.

          1. Catcher

            3;59; For example different faith traditions can ecumenically provide for disasters without involving specific teachings.

            Communion means essentially to be in agreement. No agreement, no communion.

            Communion, (the sacrament) also means to be in agreement as to what it is. Since we reject transubstantiation, we are not in communion, (agreement) with the RCC., as do they with us. Nor do we have open communion with other denominations who consider the elements as “memorial”, “spiritually present” Grape juice, or other liquids.

            Re. the memorial service; in NYC. It as a memorial setting, not a Divine service, No invocation or dismissal, nor was it related to syncretism. We don’t do syncretism.

            I know the pastor in Crookston, (He isn’t there now) I have had words with him. He jumped the gun, without getting all the facts first. The WTC and Sandy Hook were both unusual situations. A public memorial program is not a church (divine) service.

    2. Roxane 12:01 Now think of someone you love very much, and then think about someone who was responsible for their life. You might never have met that person, but the person they helped bring into the world has made your life so much better….(I am thinking of my paternal grandmother, who I never got to meet, but she brought my father into the world…)

      Things get a little off the track when we give equal credibility to two different figures of the past. I would be rude and unkind of me to criticize you paternal grandmother. She actually existed. To question the existence or characteristics of the Biblical character Mary is another matter altogether. To infer there is the same probability your maternal grandmother existed as that Mary existed is a disservice to all intellect.

      As Juan pointed out, the Bible itself is inconsistent on whether of not there was a Mary and what she was all about. From surviving literature, we know the concept of virgin birth was a popular one in other pre Christian religions. That is not absolute proof the story was plagiarized but the door to that is open. What we do know is that the characterization of Mary is a product, not of the original writers, but of theologians since.

      I can understand why you and others might take umbrage from my comment that Mary was written into the Bible by wealthy goat herders. This is simply a fact. As Attorney and later President John Adams said while defending British soldiers before the war of independence, “Facts are sticky things.” Only the wealthy 1% were educated enough to write 2000 years ago. While perhaps among those of the 1% were motives to help the less fortunate, my thinking is the majority were not unlike the majority of 1% since then. Their primary motive is to protect their wealth and control those with less. The overarching message of the Bible is, “Do what we say or you will burn in hell.”

      Pointing out these facts does not seem like an insult but a service to those taken in by others.

      1. Roxane B. Salonen

        Jon, you said, “To infer there is the same probability your maternal grandmother existed as that Mary existed is a disservice to all intellect.” Not at all. In fact, I’m as shocked that you would try to discount Mary’s existence as I am by those who discount that the Holocaust took place. The logic, the history, the facts just aren’t there to back your stance. Do you also discount Jesus’ existence? If so, I would agree that there are some huge leaps of faith happening here, but it is not with the believing community. We’ve got history, Scripture and countless verbal and written accounts on our side. I don’t know that throwing book titles around is that helpful unless there is an honest and earnest inquiry happening. You seem to be seeking answers to questions so I will trust that is truly in earnest, with the goal of discovering truth. If you want to have your view backed up I’m sure you can find plenty of writing to do so. If you want to read something thoughtful and comprehensive on this matter that may help you expand your mind, give “Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Account of the Marian Doctrines” by Tim Staples a try. I think you’ll find plenty to help you understand better why some of us find Mary, the actual mother of Jesus (also actual), so remarkable. I am concerned though if you are trying to make the case that these “characters” were not real, living human beings. It’s one thing to argue whether Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, but another to claim neither ever existed. Finally, I would like to invite anyone reading this post to come to Christmas Mass this weekend. My parish of Sts. Anne and Joachim has Masses at 4 PM and midnight on Christmas Eve, and 9:15 and 11 AM on Christmas Day. Even if you don’t believe, come with an open heart and mind, and let your skeptical mind rest a bit. Come to be refreshed. Come to hear the story with believers. Come to hear the music, and perhaps feel a spark of hope, and a measure of peace. There will be carols sung before each Mass; 30 minutes before on Dec. 24, and 15 minutes before on Dec. 25. 🙂

        1. Roxane 11:49 In fact, I’m as shocked that you would try to discount Mary’s existence as I am by those who discount that the Holocaust took place.

          I’ll remind you again, “Facts are sticky things.” There are perhaps thousands of personal encounters with the holocaust. These in include those who survived and those, such as an elderly gentleman who lives near Fargo, who first walked into the concentration camp and took pictures. None of those who wrote the Bible testified that he personally saw either Mary or Jesus. They claim to have heard about them, but this was second, third or tenth removed information. And, interesting as well, Paul who was supposed to have lived in a time shortly after Jesus was supposed to have lived does not quote him or quote any surviving people who might have first of second hand recollections. Add to that the “exact” quotes of Jesus increase the further away we get from the time he was supposed to have lives. That is suspicious to say the least. By the time we get to the Book of John, 100 or so years later, we have wall to wall “exact” quotes of Jesus.

          Thus, comparing the existence or attributes of Mary to recent history is apples and oranges. It is taking something that is faith and labeling it “history”. I’m not criticizing people who find they benefit in some way from believing there was a Mary and believing she symbolized this or that. But, treating her existence and attributes as fact is where things go off the track of rational thinking.

          1. Roxane B. Salonen

            Jon, many who have questioned where we’re at now in terms of the Christian faith and its evolution, have found answers and satisfaction in studying the Church fathers. These were people who were very closely attached to the apostles. Keep in mind, at the time the Church began, much of the way history was recorded happened through word of mouth, or oral tradition. That didn’t make it any less valid. Certainly, some things change, and translations can be a problem too as we well know, but I have experienced, even with those, a cohesive vision that has brought much good will to the world. Christianity is worth the pursuit. I think you might be edified by reading those earlier Christian writers. They had a lot to say about Mary, Jesus, and the Apostles, as well as offered detailed accounts of how the Church lived out its mission in those earliest days. In your ardent search, this might be an interesting stopping point. But I suspect that there are other obstacles more important than anything mentioned so far. And those are perhaps more important than the facts that might fly back and forth. It is a wound that leaves a scar, and pulls many from the faith. That is the thing that seems to need to be addressed most of all, and I hope that it can be in time. Thanks for the discussion. My offer to come to Christmas Mass remains.

          2. Roxane 3:16 Thank you again for posting comments here.

            From what you wrote earlier it appears you believe the holocaust and the story of the Jesus birth are equally robust in the evidence of truth. I hope this is not what you believe–it is not rational thinking. Clarification would be most appreciated.

          3. Roxane B. Salonen

            Greetings, Jon, indeed, you assumed too much from my analogy. The only comparison I was making between the two is that there is much evidence that each happened, each was significant and life-changing for many, and it follows that anyone out there who would attempt to deny the validity of either would be suspect. When I first learned there were people who deny the Holocaust happened, I was baffled and questioned their motivation, and even their sanity. If you or anyone else is on that path of trying to actually deny that Jesus or Mary were real people with significant impact, I would wonder if there were any point in further discussion.

        2. Juan Ruiz

          “Sts. Anne and Joachim”

          Interesting how these legendary figures, found nowhere in Biblical texts, somehow became real people.

          1. Roxane B. Salonen

            Regarding your comment about Sts. Anne and Joachim, everyone has a mother and father. Mary did as well. We know this through the oral tradition that was handed down from people of those more illiterate times. As I mentioned earlier, just because there isn’t a written record of something does not mean it’s not true. If you travel to the Holy Land, the evidence will be there. But that’s all beside the point of what I really want to mention here that relates. I think it is very interesting that someone who is so intent on facts and evidence would use one book (the Bible in this case) as the only source for Christian truth. If you were studying any other topic, you would not just use one source, but many sources, to come to your conclusions. You would use a variety of written accounts, verbal accounts and lived experience of those close to the topic being studied. If the Bible is the only source for your finding truth, though it is a very valuable start, it will not get you to the truth you seek. It does not contain everything there is to know about Christian history. It’s really just a glimpse. So I’m afraid your own information is incomplete. Therefore, your related comments are based on a lees-than-full picture. And I can’t help but wonder what is at the root of this, really? Why expend so much energy to mock?

          2. Roxane 9:53 through oral tradition…

            Here is where religion goes off the track from secular or rational history. Oral history needs to come from more than one source and at least one needs to be from a non propaganda source. Everything about the alleged parents of Mary has been provided by the propaganda wings of Christianity. From what we know, these two characters from religious folk lore never existed. This kind of “truth” has been present in most every religion. Using the same “oral tradition” we must accept as historical fact the Greek gods existed in the sky. People believed it for centuries. It was, or maybe still is, “religious tradition.” From a historical stand point, neither the Greek gods nor Anne and whats-his-name existed.

          3. Juan Ruiz

            “We know this through the oral tradition that was handed down from people of those more illiterate times.”

            And these people were who? Fact is, there is no book in the NT that is earlier than 20 some years after the purported events. The gospels are at least 2 generations later. The earliest theologians are writing 100 years later.

          4. Roxane B. Salonen

            Juan, regarding credibility of Scripture and such, even some of the most hostile to the new Christian religion that was emerging in the earliest days of the Church, such as Tacitus, Josephus, and Pliny the Elder, made some concessions to something significant happening regarding this new religion and its founded, Jesus. I suspect there’s still much to unearth here. The further back you go, the closer you’ll come to Christ as living and in the flesh.

  9. Henry

    Jon 9:38 “Like the “True Christian” who got ahold of a young relative of mine a couple of decades ago. My relative had bad mental problems. The new friends he fell in with said, “A true Christian relies on Jesus to bring him happiness. Stop those meds and let Jesus lead you.” He blew off his head with a shot gun. As you say, “It is amazing.”

    Truly a tragedy.

    Over the years, the atheists on this blog always say that mistreatment by churches or those individuals within did not occur to them. Rather, they say their loss of faith is due to their high intelligence levels and ability to reason. Later, however, information like this comes out that likely would have made them very angry at the faith.

  10. Steve

    Christians LOVE sex. I do! But this was to be the Son of God, not of Joseph. (Plus gods having sex with humans is ultra creepy – Zeus et al. The real Creator God is far too classy for that.) Conception happened immaculately and out came the very one who invented sex for our pleasure and for us to be fruitful and multiply. So let’s all get married, have lots of sex and love and enjoy our Children!

    1. Juan Ruiz

      Did Jesus have an X and Y chromosome? If not, he wasn’t human. If yes, he was a demi-god. The inventors of these stories knew nothing about biology, so they could spread this nonsense.

          1. Roxane 10:48 Jon, let me understand. Do you believe Jesus is a made up character too? Just wanting to zero in here.

            There may, or may not, have been a Jesus. The only information we have about a Jesus is that in the Bible. The references to him there are peculiar to say the least. Paul who was supposed to have lived closest to the time of that alleged to have been when Jesus lived does not mention about the Jesus life. All the other writing about Jesus was done quite a while later, the Book of John long after. All the supposedly secondary references to a Jesus, like Josephus, came from stories promoted by believers that were circulating at the time and not from independent observations.

            I have too many books on my shelf to start mentioning but in the end, we will never know if there was or was not one person named Jesus.

          2. Roxane B. Salonen

            Jon, again, it seems very ignorant to me to deny Jesus’ existence. So much evidence, so much impact, and yet you want to distance yourself. When former atheist Jennifer Fulwiler became interested in the possibility that God might exist, she was struck by “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. I wrote an article on this after she visited here a few years ago, picking out this bit:

            “The first such book she picked up was Lee Strobel’s, “The Case for Christ,” which, she said, made some compelling points. He recalled the history of 1st Century Palestine and the customs of its people. For centuries, the Jews of that time had held to religious and social structures from which they wouldn’t stray, even under the threat of persecution.

            “And then comes Jesus’ crucifixion, and with it, a ‘sudden’ and massive exodus of Jews from Judaism. Over 10,000 Jews are now suddenly following Christ, claiming he’s the initiator of a new religion. And even more, Jennifer recounts from Strobel, ‘they are willing to give up or alter all five of the social institutions that they have been taught since childhood have such importance, both sociologically and theologically.’

            “Strobel, she said, made the point that whether you are atheist or Christian or anything else, you have to admit that ‘something explosive happened to Jewish culture in 1st Century Palestine.’ He concluded that the explanation had to be that, in fact, the people had seen Jesus risen from the dead.”

            Something explosive happened, Jon, that changed the course of history in a very short amount of time. And that something was worth people’s attention back then, and should be worth ours now.

          3. Roxane 10:00 He concluded that the explanation had to be that, in fact, the people had seen Jesus risen from the dead.

            Please do not use the phrase “in fact” when writing about something that is not a fact. The people of Palestine had not SEEN Jesus risen from the dead. No where in the Bible does it say anyone saw Jesus come back to life.

            And, no one who wrote the Bible said he personally saw Jesus after he bounced back from rotting for three days. People may have heard a story that a Jesus came back to life but no one saw it and no writer saw him.

            You might want to get a copy of How Jesus Became God by Professor Bart Ehrman. It is on my shelf. He is a well known New Testament scholar who has concluded there was a literal Jesus. However, he does not believe Biblical accounts of huge crowds or that he was especially well know or influential until the story began to spread that he came back to life. Ehrman’s study of the Bible and literature of the time leads to his conclusion the “resurrection” was came from dreams or visions, the body was not removed from the cross and the Sermon of the Mount never happened.

  11. Natalie

    Matthew 1:23English Standard Version (ESV)
    23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
    The angel tells Joseph that Jesus was conceived by God. This is significant to me because before I believed some of the Bible, but not all of it in my heart and this was one of those parts. During my second baptism, when I truly knew what I had been forgiven of and washed clean and repented from, Todd asked me in the water something that I didn’t normally hear in a baptism.

    Normally you hear, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was born as a sacrifice for our sins, was crucified and rose to life again on the 3rd day?” He started with, “Do you believe Jesus was born to a virgin as the Son of God…?”

    I remember feeling a big question mark coming over me and thinking…”Do I?”. It was the first time I had thought of the immaculate conception since God healed me miraculously.

    The question moved down from my mind and into my heart. Although my mind went through a card catalog of earthly limitations, I knew immediately in my heart. I knew that I knew…Yes! I do believe that Jesus was birthed out of a virgin and was breathed into life by Yahweh!

    Now that I’ve begun to see the ways and miracles of Yahweh all around me, of course that’s how God would become human! In a humble, yet miraculous under-dog kind-of way.

    Not believing that Jesus was miraculously conceived completely discounts the “God way” He came to earth.

    I used to think the virgin birth was made up. Not made up…I knew the story and I never thought Jesus was from Joseph or a human’s sperm. So, what did I think? That Mary had sex and Jesus was fully man? No. I was simply blinded by the enemy intellectualizing my thoughts and beliefs into earthly “understanding”. Meaning, minimizing how great God is and what is truly possible when God shows up!

    Thank You, God, for opening my eyes to the whole truth! I repent of my unbelief!

    1. Catcher

      @ 9;10 Natalie; If I read you right, you are saying the immaculate conception was being born of a virgin. Is that correct?

      1. Roxane B. Salonen

        Catcher, Natalie was referring to the idea of the virgin birth, which began this post. I know you’re trying to “catcher” on “immaculate conception,” which refers to Mary having been immaculately conceived. But I knew what she meant, and I think you did, too.

        1. Catcher

          @ 10;07; Roxane; Just going by her words. She mentioned “second baptism”. Not Catholic. The context of her use of the immaculate conception is in relation to and around the birth of Jesus from a virgin. Read it again.

          Still waiting for an answer from Natalie.

          How do you “know what she meant”, when that isn’t what she said? Sheesh.

          1. Roxane B. Salonen

            God told me! 🙂 In all seriousness, I was looking out for Natalie and didn’t want her to get caught up in worry over what is a very common error. Her response was so refreshing and pure.

          2. Catcher

            @ 8;14; No need for her to worry once she gets the facts straight. .

            I have no doubt Natalie is well intentioned, and I am happy for her. Hopefully now, she has a better understanding of what your invention of immaculate conception is, and what it isn’t.

            Get over yourself.

            Oh, and by the way, her use of 2nd baptism tells me she isn’t Catholic in the first place/

          3. Catcher

            Roxane; Over the years I have met many Catholics that think the immaculate conception deals with the conception of Christ, not knowing it (according to RCC dogma) is Mary. Looks like you need to do some in-house keeping.
            Have a blessed Christ-Mass

    2. Roxane B. Salonen

      Natalie, you are a breath of fresh air! “Not believing that Jesus was miraculously conceived completely discounts the ‘God way’ He came to earth.” Yes – you got it! And by the way, I’m grateful that God has touched your heart thus, and that you have humbled yourself and responded in the affirmative. He is a good God!

    3. Juan Ruiz

      ” “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
      and they shall call his name Immanuel”

      As I said, this is a mistranslation of the Hebrew, found in the Septuagint. As with all of Matthews OT quotes, it is taken out of context, and is not a Messianic prophecy. Beyond that, he was called Yeshua, not Emmanuel.

  12. Jinx II

    PT Barnum was right, suckers are born every minute. There is no factual evidence that a god exists nor is there factual evidence a god doesn’t exist, anything that follows is a moot point. I don’t care what the so called evidence or argument you bring up, it is hearsay and not fact, it is not able to be replication or supported by historical fact or any other means.

    Believe what you want but I do my own thinking. If you have your own blog of believers why do you post here or expect Jon to suck up your stories? Advertising? Showmanship? Mockery?

    Jon should go on your site and demand the same from you and others like you.

    1. Roxane B. Salonen

      In response to Jinx II: I mentioned my motivation at the start: a friend pointed out the post so I popped over to take a look at her urging. I don’t normally read this blog or others like it, but every once in a while, it seems important to engage in the errors that float about the internet regarding the beautiful faith that I and others live. I am happy to defend it, though I know these kinds of discussions are very limited. I also don’t think only associating with “my own blog of believers” is always the way to be challenged or grow. Also, from what I can tell, Jon appreciates the discussion and encourages it. He has thanked me and others for commenting, so I guess he’s okay with me being a part of this one, too. 🙂

      1. Jinx II

        You need to correct errors? Really now, can’t you tell fact from opinion? Pride is one of the 7 deadly sins in christianity. Remove the plank from your eyes before you remove a speck from the eye of your neighbor.

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