On the virgin birth and the Anabaptist view

Following in the footsteps of the recent discussion of infant baptism, I figured that I would spent a little time on what the book Credo calls the Anabaptist error on the doctrine of the virgin birth:

The Anabaptists taught that the Lord Jesus took His body from heaven, and so did not receive His flesh and blood from the blessed virgin Mary. Since Mary was conceived and born in sin, they argued that Christ would have been sinful if He had taken her flesh and blood. For them, Mary acted like a funnel, a route through which Christ passed without in any way being affected by it in His person. Note how the passages above show this to be wrong. Ultimately, the Anabaptists made flesh and blood to be sinful in itself.

The "passages above" referred to here are Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, and Hebrews 4:15 and are found in the World English Bible as follows (assuming that I don't make a copying error this time, as I did in the original post on baptism):

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 - “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel;” which is, being interpreted, “God with us.”

Hebrews 4:15 - For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.

It's a little bit interesting to see how, although the first bit of Matthew 1:23 is stated as a quote of Isaiah 7:14, that they are a little bit different in their wording (I guessing that this is due to one coming from a Hebrew manuscript, and the other from a Greek one). In the NIV, Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 come out the same.

Anyways, three things come to mind when I think of these passages:

  1. Views at the time on pregnancy: I think that the views at the time of the birth of Christ were still those of Aristotle. His views were something along the lines of the male providing sperm which contained the complete essence of a child, with the mother basically being nothing more than a source of matter.
  2. Modern views on pregnancy: Modern biology would suggest that beyond the point of conception, the mother and developing child are genetically distinct. The mother provides oxygen and other nutrients for to the child via the placenta, but this is merely a meeting point at which transfer takes place with the circulatory systems and blood remaining distinct.
  3. Language: Given the views at the time on how children came to exist, and also the one-time nature of the event, I'm just wondering if we might be hitting some sort of barrier in terms of usable language (ie. an inability to differentiate the start of pregnancy from modern views of conception is - something which they didn't really know of at the time).
  4. .

Given the above, I'm finding it a little difficult to say that scripture disproves this so-called "Anabaptist error". Beyond providing nutrition - which would contain none of her genetic material - did Mary provide anything more than the funnel view of Anabaptism allows? Feel free to disagree (and to try to persuade me).

Had an appointment in Vancouver

Given this message, and a receipt that says "Via Rail McDONALD'S" up top, I'll leave you to guess what I did this afternoon on my way to SFU. (And, yes, I got multiples of everything. Unfortunately the posters were loose rather than rolled nicely, but they seem to have survived OK thus far)

This was actually also the first time that I tried an entree salad at any fast food place, although I've tried Wendy's side caesar before. I had a Chicken Caesar Salad, it wasn't too bad, and thus far my stomach hasn't complained either. Of course, I'm sure that Darren still thinks that salads are nothing more rabbit food.

Baptism of infants?

Noticing that a new edition of the Clarion had arrived, I skimmed through it this afternoon after arriving home from school. Looking through the article "Celebrating and Conserving the Treasure" by J.J.D. Baas (in typical Canadian Reformed fashion the article is translated from Dutch).

Anyways, while looking through the article I decided to take a look at all the proof texts given for infant baptism, and they are as follows:

  • Genesis 17:7 - I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you.
  • Matthew 28:19 - Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 2:39 - For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:4 - The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife.

Anyways, starting with the first of these texts, I think that we can all agree that the first did apply on a lineage basis in the Old Testament (and to slaves, etc. too). At the same time, it's a little unclear how and to what extent circumcision in the New Testament is replaced by baptism. The sign referenced in Genesis 17 is of circumcision, not baptism.

Secondly, Matthew 28 does not directly reference children. You could even fashion an argument that the definition of disciple excludes infants in this context, as it makes reference to baptizing disciples.

Acts 2:39 considered alone sounds like it might lend something to the argument, but things become a little less clear to me upon adding in the preceding verse:

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Is the promise referred to in Acts 2:39 that of receiving the Holy Spirit upon repentance (what the previous verse references), to the children of Theophilus - to whom the letter was written, to the physical children of Israel, or in reference to infants of all believers? If we are to take the final of these options, then how do you fit the "all who are far off" referenced in 2:39 into your argument?

I'm also wondering how best to incorporate the following text into the general argument:

Don’t think to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. - Matthew 3:9

I was also thinking of the model of being grafted onto Christ, as described in Romans 11, but I'm not totally sure that this would include infants either. To extend this agricultural analogy further, consider the following statement about growing apples:

The difficulty is that an apple tree grown from an apple seed will not produce a tree (or fruit) like the one the apple(seed) came from. For example, a seed from a McIntosh apple will not grow into a McIntosh tree ... To make all of the apple trees in their orchards be of known varieties, apple growers use one of two processes - budding and grafting.

In the agricultural model it's not enough simply to graft a tree and then use its seeds to produce similar children. Instead, each successive generation must be individually grafted.

One scripture quote that I recall from reading The Science of God was Numbers 32:11 which the author, Gerhard Schroeder, saw as something perhaps conceptually similar to the age of majority in Canadian society (the age of majority simply extends responsibility for acts, so perhaps a better analogy would be for those offenders below the age of 12 or so that get off scot-free).

At the moment, I can't say that I find sufficient scriptural justification for a belief in infant baptism nor adult baptism, but at the same time I can't really say the opposite either.

(All scripture quotations come from the World English Bible to avoid copyright issues with the NIV)

What's the best way for Dave to sell stuff this fall?

Pester family and friends
43% (3 votes)
Garage sale (not the best time of year for one though)
14% (1 vote)
An ad in the Buy & Sell
14% (1 vote)
14% (1 vote)
A store like Cash Converters
14% (1 vote)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 7


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