Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jesus, Virgins and Christmas

Andrew Lincoln was one of my college lecturers and gave some ground-breaking New Testament expositions. This book, a detailed and academic look at the doctrine of Jesus' virginal conception, is quite simply one of the best works of theology I have read.

I confess to using my theological library as a point of reference rather than as a set of tomes to devour from beginning to end, although I am trying to change. I read this book from cover to cover, stopping many times to ponder or look up references. It is now covered in highlighter pen.

Andrew, Portland Professor of New Testament at the University of Gloucestershire, shows how much weight we have heaped upon the two short stories at the beginning of Luke and Matthew's Gospels. He goes on to explain why this might have been, what sort of writings they are and how it is possible to have the highest possible Christology without knowing anything of, or relying at all upon, these accounts, referencing John, Paul and Hebrews.

He then, helpfully, advises all of us who might find it hard to say the creeds if we are required to be saying history, of the manoeuvres we make all the time and every day, to interpret things in different ways whilst saying the same thing as each other.

He also helps us preachers keep our integrity whilst preaching the birth narratives at Christmas.

But, as someone said to me after a carol service this year, maybe more people would come to church if they didn't feel they had to swallow all this nativity stuff as history? Maybe indeed.

Christians share one faith, even if Southern Baptists are rather closed-minded about what that faith is.

Great stuff.

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