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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX


Vol.5: The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation

Part II


Table of Contents

Chapter 1.  Some Considerations of Theology and Genetics
Chapter 2.  The Testimony of Tradition
Chapter 3.  The Testimony of Scripture
Appendix   1.  The Origin of the Germ Cells
                 2.  The Importance of the Cytoplasm



Publishing History:
1958: Doorway Paper No. 25, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1977: Part II in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5, The Doorway Papers Series, Zondervan Publishing Company.
1997:  Arthur Custance Online Library (HTML)
2001  2nd Online Edition (corrections, design revisions)

     pg 1 of 6      

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
                                                                                Proverbs 23:32



     SOME TIME AGO in discussing the subject matter of this paper with a friend, he said to me -- and to some others subsequently --  "This terrifies me." I think I understand what he meant. How far can we enter into the study of mysteries like the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth without trespassing into that which is far too sacred? It is well to tread very carefully here, and with reverence and humility. Yet Scripture has much to say on these subjects that escapes the casual reader entirely. And God gave us minds as well as hearts, so surely we should exercise them both. We should worship, and "wonder" is part of it.

      Though literalism came into disrepute through over-indulgence by some of its strongest supporters, it is still very wonderful how much may be discovered by taking the Word of God literally and bringing to bear upon it the findings of modern science. When the language of science is quite specific we assume it means what it says. Why not do the same with Scripture?

     So this Paper and the others which are naturally related to it are committed to the Lord with a deep sense of unworthiness to speak of such things, but also with real thankfulness of heart that such things may be studied so very fruitfully in this way.

     May the Lord help the reader to remember only what is glorifying to Him, and to forget all else.

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    THE CHRISTIAN faith is a system of thought, logically coherent and composed of a number of contributing elements each of which is essential to the whole. It is an organic unity, sensitive to the corruption or distortion of even the least part of it. Although it is convenient to speak of the "Articles of Faith" as so many Fundamentals, it is really the system as a whole that is fundamental. It is a mistake to attach greater importance to some elements, for this fragments the system and may lead to neglect or denial of others equally important, thus rendering the structure illogical.
     Theology is a system of reasoning, demanding the most exact obedience to the laws of logic, including the law of contradiction. But since the Faith has been broken down into a series of sometimes rather loosely connected fragments with their relationships either unstated or misunderstood, the whole system has been looked upon by many thoughtful people as rather confusing, unreasonable, and arbitrary. It is true that for teaching purposes it helps to be able to consider the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, Vicarious Sacrifice, and so forth, under separate headings. But when the connecting links are not made logically clear, the apparently arbitrary character of the Christian faith is a prime reason why thoughtful people do not stop to consider it seriously. It is important to note that it is the absence of the links rather than the presence of the elements which is the stumbling block. It therefore is most important to be able to fill in the connecting links which knit these elements into a single meaningful whole. It is sad to say that while many people believe the Fundamentals with great conviction, they are not at all sure how they fit together nor why each is essential to all the rest. 

     pg 3 of 6      

     The Fundamentals are given by Revelation, but the Links are theologically created by reason. However, historical events have led many earnest Christians to suspect the use of reason. As a result the links have fallen away by default, and for many people only the Fundamentals remain. Such people strictly have no reason for the faith that is in them. But as J. Gresham Machen put it: (1)

     The true way in which to examine a spiritual movement is in its logical relations; logic is the great dynamic and the logical implications of any way of thinking are sooner or later certain to be worked out.

     If we abandon any one of the basic elements of the evangelical Christian faith we might as well cease to try to defend the system as a whole, because it has ceased to be logically coherent. It is quite hopeless to defend the fact of the Virgin Birth and the Incarnation if we abandon the record of the Fall of man as given in Genesis and the Trinity as revealed throughout the Bible. But if we relinquish the fact of the Virgin Birth, the possibility of Vicarious Sacrifice must be surrendered. And if we deny the bodily resurrection of the Lord, we have no proof whatever that His sacrifice was acceptably vicarious at all.
     Whatever else in his theology we may challenge, Karl Barth was unquestionably right in insisting that the creation of man in such a form that the Fall of man took place as it did, was an essential step in the revelation of God's redeeming love; and that the story of Eden must be viewed as preparatory to Calvary -- and in this sense conceived after the Plan of Redemption was formulated.
(2) That is to say, in the mind of God the exhibition of His love at Calvary was the prime element in His decision to create man at all, and the creation of man in the form in which it is revealed to have taken place was a necessary, but dependent, consideration. Calvary preceded Eden, the Plan of Redemption preceded the Fall of man from God's point of view.
     This means that the Crucifixion was not an emergency measure taken by God to offset an unfortunate incident in Eden. What happened to the First Adam has everything to do with what was achieved by the Last Adam. Tampering with the former makes the

1. Machen, J. Gresham: quoted by J. I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God, Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1958, pp.26, 27.
2. Barth, Karl: this view is elucidated by N. H. Ridderbos in Is There a Conflict Between Genesis and Natural Science? (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1957, p.14), where he says, referring to Barth's view, "To proceed from creation to original sin, from original sin to actual sin, and from actual sin to grace is a wrong method in dogmatics. The true method of a believing theology is the reverse."

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latter meaningless. It is here that the theological implications of evolution must be seriously faced by the Christian believer, regardless of the scientific evidence. This is not only a theological necessity, but also a logical one. H. G. Wells saw it clearly: (3)

     It was only slowly that the general intelligence of the Western World was awakened to two disconcerting facts: firstly, that the succession of life in the geological record did not correspond to the acts of six days of creation, and secondly, that the record in harmony with the mass of biological facts, pointed away from the Bible assertions of a separate creation of each species straight towards a genetic relation between all forms of life, in which even man was included! The importance of this last issue to the existing doctrinal system was manifest. If all the animals and man had been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there had been no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there had been no Fall, then the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which the current teaching based Christian emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards [emphasis mine].

     In many respects the children of this world are wiser in their own generation than the children of Light -- at least they are frequently far more logical. But Christian scholars have, of course, made the same observations on many occasions. James Orr expressed it this way: (4)

     I do not think it can be sufficiently emphasized that Christian truth forms an organism -- has a unity and coherence which cannot be arbitrarily disturbed in any of its parts without the whole undergoing injury. Conversely, the proof that any doctrine fits in essentially to that organism -- is an integral part of it -- is one of the strongest evidences we can have of its correctness.

     Notice that he says "the strongest evidences" -- not proof.
    In discussing what is sometimes referred to as the Medieval Synthesis, John Randall points out that once the edifice had been built the test of truth was thenceforth not verification by experiment but facility of inclusion within the system.
(5) Consequently, when certain scientific knowledge which could not be reconciled with it was finally established beyond a doubt, the whole system was challenged and brought into disrepute. But there is also a converse of all this, as Carl Lindegren observed recently: (6) "Data that confirm a well established theory are generally accepted without critical evaluation. " It is to be feared that the greatest contemporary challenge to

3. Wells, H. G., Outline of History, vol.2, Macmillan, New York, 1920, p.419.
4. Orr, James, God's Image in Man, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1948, p.260.
5. Randall, John, The Making of the Modern Mind, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1940, revised edition.
6. Lindegren, Carl C., "The Stability of the Gene," Science, July 6, 1956, p.27.

     pg.5 of 6     

Christian theology, evolution -- or the Modern Synthesis as Huxley has termed it -- has tended to display the same inflexibility. Anything which supports it is apt to get a ready hearing, and anything which contradicts it tends to be minimized or ignored. This characteristic of all such comprehensive views is not the fault of the views themselves, whether Christian or non-Christian, but evidence of a quality of human thought. For man seeks finality and when he is assured of it, he develops a peculiar blindness to anything which challenges it. Such comprehensive views, though they are mental creations, end up by becoming prisons of the minds which create them. The Fundamentalist and Evolutionist alike become trapped in their own systems and equally unable to reconsider their faith unless aware of this fact.
     This is very relevant to what has been said above about the organic nature of Christian faith, for there is a tendency here also, having once achieved the synthesis by establishing the links between the Fundamentals, to insist upon it as a touchstone of truth, accepting uncritically that which is concordant with it and rejecting uncritically all that seems to challenge it, no matter how much evidence there is to support the challenge. As long as one recognizes this inherent weakness in every unified scheme of thought, the possibility will remain, should it become necessary, of modifying the scheme without destroying the fundamentals of it. Notice that we do not suggest any modification of the Fundamentals, but only of the logical system by which they are rendered an organic whole. These remarks are made because the writer is convinced that no matter how satisfying a particular system is to oneself, it is not likely to be the final one by any means, though the truth of the Fundamentals which it weaves together is most certainly final.

     pg.6 of 6     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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