Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18-20)

A Denial Of Original Sin Ends Up With A Negation Of The Critical Need For The Virgin Birth

If you’re a regular reader of Apprising Ministries then you’ll know that the heretical Dr. Tony Jones is one third of an unholy apostate trinity in the Emergent Church, aka the Emerging Church, along with his equally heretical “pastor” Doug Pagitt and Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren. You may also know that Jones is a professor at ostensibly evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary teaching a doctorate level cohort on spiritually corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM). What you need to stop and realize is, Jones’ commitment to the practice of this Counter Reformation CSM is what helped produce his apostasy in the first place—as well as that of his fellow FTS CSM instructor Brian McLaren.

Tony Jones is now Ss far gone that he’s just released A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin. The booklet ends up as a neo-liberal attack upon the cardinal Christian doctrine of the vicarious penal subtitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, the heresy of Jones begins with his rejection of the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura, which he refers to as merely a “Lutheran” position:

Does this mean that I reject the Lutheran formula of sola scriptura? Well, insofar as sola scriptura is naïve to everyone’s interpretive biases, yes. I don’t think I can actually rely on scripture alone. I am always also reliant upon my own reason to interpret and apply scriptural truth.[1]

Any of us familiar with postmodern neo-liberalism, and advocates of spurious CSM, knows that such as these actually appeal to their corrupt human reason first and then read Scripture through that warped lense. It always leads to a warped love of mankind ala 2 Timothy 3:2, which we see is true in the case of  Tony Jones, who tells us:

Although I was surely aware of my own sin, I didn’t really get the impression that I or anyone else was inherently evil. In fact, my experience was the contrary: I generally felt that people are good, kind, and generous. Since then, I’ve become more uncomfortable with the notion that people are inherently bad, prideful, etc.[2]

Then Jones must be way less than comfortable with God’s view of mankind because the Lord Himself informs us:

as it is written:  “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

So to no surprise FTS professor Dr. Tony Jones ends up in a complete denial the cardinal Christian doctrine of original sin, thereby negating the critical necessity of the Virgin Birth of the second Adam, Christ Jesus:

I’ll conclude this: The account of the original sin in Genesis 3 teaches us a lot about the state of human nature, our freedom to know right from wrong, and our proclivity to not necessarily trust God. But it does not teach that the sin of Adam and Eve is responsible for the sins of subsequent generations.[3]

The Virgin Birth Is A Non-Negotiable Doctrine Of The Faith Once For All Delivered

Once we have a denial of original sin, let me briefly show you what is at stake as it concerns the vital issue of the Virgin Birth of Christ. First, in spite of our blatant sin and rebellion against Him, still our Creator God decided to come into this cursed creation to provide the way of salvation for His Own. Now, we’re accustomed to liberals denying this cardinal doctrine of the historic orthodox faith. In his classic work Christianity & Liberalism J. Gresham Machen explains that “the deity of our Lord, in any real sense of the word ‘deity,’ is of course denied by modern liberalism. According to the modern liberal Church, Jesus differs from the rest of men only in degree and not in kind; He can be divine only if all men are divine.”[4]

You’ve likely heard this expressed today by CSM proponents as “the divine spark” supposedly within all men. A classic recent example of a neo-liberal attack on the Virgin Birth was former EC rock star pastor Rob Bell in his book Velvet Elvis (VE). Bell is the once über -popular communicator and inventor of the Love Wins mythology, where he ended up arguing for Christian Universalism. Bell recommends, via footnote[5], the book The Heart of Christianity:Rediscovering A Life Of Faith (HC) by Progessive Christian scholar Marcus Borg. A more correct title would be The Corrupt Heart Of Pseudo-Christianity: Reinterpreting A Life Of Another Faith Entirely. Borg begins by taking us into postmodern Humpty Dumpty language while telling us that the “emerging paradigm” uses an “historical, metaphorical, and sacramental approach.”

In other words, Borg is here referring to their use of contemplative mysticism in order to turn Bible passages into allegory. Translation: When we see things in history with which we don’t agree, then we just make up other ways to interpret them. In fact, this is encompassed in HC when Borg muses that “the Bible,” and “all of the enduring religions” supposedly “affirm” that there is a “More.” Further, Borg tells us there “is a ‘More’ to the language”[6] he uses, i.e. meanings beyond the plain sense of the words used. Bell himself tells us in VE that Borg is indeed talking about “the more-than-literal truth of the Bible.”[7] Interestingly enough, Borg’s concept of this “More” is precisely what Bell—at that time a very influential evangelical—strongly recommended. The reason being, whenever the text gets in the way of their mystic quest to harmonize Christian truths with other religions, who reject them, these neo-Gnostics simply go into this supposed More.

Since it’s not the subject of this article, suffice to say, this is why Bell et al in the EC push, and practice, CSM. In HC Borg encourages us to use “metaphorical language” in order to bend and shape the meanings of words like child does with Play-Doh. In reality, thye’re just making stuff up concerning e.g. the non-negotiable doctrine of the Virgin Birth. As such, Borg dreams:

The stories of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke provide a second illustration of the truth of metaphor. Like the Genesis stories of creation, they have been a source of conflict among Christians. Some Christians insist that they are and must be seen as factual narratives:…[but] emphasizing the historical factuality of the stories distract from their meaning… When this happens, the rich, more-than-literal meanings are most often lost.[8]

The above now sheds much light upon the Virgin Birth denial-lite suggested by Rob Bell in his VE. Back in 2005, you may recall Bell offered:

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?[9]

Leaving aside that the above would mean Holy Scripture wasn’t completely inspired by God, Bell et al’s neo-liberalism has a few seriously deadly flaws; and it had no business ever being used in the Young Adult and Youth ministries of mainstream evangelical churches. Far from being cutting edge, these were just rehashed liberal arguments that I would see as I began ministry in the late 80’s; mythology long ago debunked by Christian apologists. For example, while discussing the Mormon doctrine espoused by Brigham Young that God the Father had sexual relations with Mary to conceive Christ Jesus of Nazareth, in his classic textbook The Kingdom of the Cults Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) brings out:

According to the revelation of the Virgin Birth as recorded within the Scripture, our Lord was conceived by a direct act of God the Holy Spirit, wholly apart human agency.[10]

I have news for Messrs Bell and Borg, there is no more-than-literal meaning when the Bible clearly says that Jesus was conceived by a direct act of God the Holy Spirit, wholly apart human agency; and Borg and Bell, the true Christian will exhibit righteous indignation at you even suggesting that the Virgin Birth of Christ Jesus of Nazareth isn’t of prime importance. Bell also erred when he suggested there’s any way around this by resorting to playing word games with the word virgin. In fact, Bell actually blew up his own argument when he admited “the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah. He was right, it does — Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which Matthew explained means — God with us (cf. Matthew 1:23).

Noted theologian Dr. Robert Reymond now explains that “the original LXX translator,” LXX stands for the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, was just “doing his work one to two centuries before the birth of Christ.” Reymond also points out that “knowing nothing” of any supposed “pre-Christian Jewish interpretation” of this verse, then translated the Hebrew word alma specifically using the Greek word parthenos:

because he was attempting to deliver a competent translation. Cyrus H. Gordon, one of the most knowledgeable Jewish scholars in Mediterranean studies in his generation, acknowleged as much: The commonly held view that “virgin” is Christian, whereas “young woman” is Jewish is not quite true. The fact is that the Septuagint, which is the Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, takes almah to mean “virgin” here. Accordingly, the New Testament follows the Jewish interpretation in Isaiah 7:14…[11]

Finally, Dr Martin again:

One of the great doctrines of the Bible, which is uniquely related to the supreme earthly manifestation of the Eternal God, is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. In one very real sense, this doctrine is indissolably linked with that of the Incarnation, being, so to speak, the agency or instrument whereby God chose to manifest himself.[12]

All of this is just more rancid fruit produced by evangelicalism’s spiritually adulterous embrace of the Emerging Church, which had CSM as a core doctrine aimed at kicking out the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. Now you should be able to see how foolish it has been to allow the warped and toxic teachings of then leading EC voices like Rob Bell to pollute its own young for at least this past decade. EC leaders all the while recommending the work of unbelievers like Marcus Borg and encouraging the questioning of things which need not be questioned by Bible-believing Christians. How tragic that formally conservative evangelicals, apparently desperate for bodies in a building, would set aside proper doctrine and have alternative services that were actually helping to develop this postmodern neo-liberbalism.

Why expose your young to deceptive statements like “in the Hebrew language at that time, the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things”; we’ve just seen the proper translation actually is virgin. In addition, the inspired text of Matthew is in the Greek language. You see, contra Dr. Tony Jones with his philosophical denial of original sin, the absolute truth is that the text of the Bible is fully inspired in all of its parts e.g. right down to the very tenses of the Greek verbs, which God the Holy Spirit would move upon His chosen vessels to use. In addition, the New Testament wasn’t written in Hebrew; and yes, in his day Rob Bell used to wow those who really didn’t know any better. However, the fact is that the Greek does clearly reveal the crucial Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, the second Adam. And the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of original sin by the literal people Adam and Eve, the father and mother from whom would spring the rest of the human race.

In closing this, for now, we also consider that the Apostle John tells us in John 1:14 that Jesus is — the only Son from the Father (monogenes para Patros) and in John 1:18 — God; the only God (Theon monogenes theos). And if Jesus of Nazareth is not fully God and fully Man by means of Mary being found to be with child from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, Greek) then we only have a human man.  As we consider original sin, this would leave Jesus with a sinful human nature just the same as everyone else. Not only that, but Jesus wouldn’t have been able to die for the sins of anyone else because another Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4) would only have been a human sinner himself. In addition to this, a human man could not possibly die for the sins for another because by definition sin is committed against God; so only God Himself could die for the forgiveness of tresspasses having been committed against Him.

So, remove the doctrine of original sin, and ake away the Virgin Birth, so that we no longer have Jesus as the monogenes para Patros being Theon monogenes theos and we end up with simply a mere mortal man. That Jesus would never have offered the sinless sacrifice of himself, so he couldn’t save anybody. Ok, you tell me, how could a real Christian seminary professor or pastor-teacher actually sent by our Lord ever even think of demeaning Christ Jesus in such a way? Answer: He couldn’t. And how can someone who knowingly denies the Virgin Birth of Jesus be a Christian; he can’t, which is why Dr. Al Mohler sums this all up very well when he says:

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Those who deny the virgin birth reject the authority of Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Savior, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ. Anyone who claims that the virgin birth can be discarded even as the deity of Christ is affirmed is either intellectually dishonest or theological incompetent.

Several years ago, Cecil Sherman–then a Southern Baptist, but later the first coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship–stated: “A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the Virgin Birth should not be fired.” Consider the logic of that statement. A Christian can be led by the Bible to deny what the Bible teaches? This kind of logic is what has allowed those who deny the virgin birth to sit comfortably in liberal theological seminaries and to preach their reductionistic Christ from major pulpits.

Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls. (Online source)

I say this is real spiritual food well worthy of our meditations… soli Deo gloria!


[1] Jones, Tony (2012-03-18). A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin (Kindle Locations 81-84). The JoPa Group. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid., (Kindle Locations 54-57).

[3] Ibid., (Kindle Locations 107-109), italics his.

[4] J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2002], 108.

[5] Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], endnotes: 1; 57.

[6] Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity [New York: Harper Collins, 2003] , 81.

[7] Ibid., 37; Bell, op. cit., 61.

[8] Borg, op. cit., 52, 53, 54.

[9] Bell, op. cit., 26.

[10] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Ravi Zacharias, Gen. Ed. (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2005), 246.

[11] Robert L. Reymond, Jesus Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness [Geanies House: Mentor, 2003], 93, 94.

[12] Martin op. cit., 244.

See also: