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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 IV



Table of Contents

Chapter 1.  Virgin Birth
Chapter 2.  Incarnation
Chapter 3.  Rebirth and Incarnation Anew
Appendix   Mindless: Yet Alive

Publishing Hixtory:
1969:  Doorway Paper No. 15, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1977:  Part IV inThe Virgin Birth and The Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series, Zondervan Publishing Company.
1997:  Arthur Custance Online Library (HTML)
2001:  2nd Online Edition (design revisions)

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     THIS PAPER deals with a matter of great theological importance. It involves a discussion of some rather complex details that are all too familiar to embryologists but may be difficult for the less informed. I have tried to be lucid and to avoid unnecessary use of jargon, but have probably over-simplified in some cases. The Paper also involves some aspects of human genetics that may present problems to the unfamiliar reader. Yet in both cases the questions involved are of the greatest importance.
     Although evolution is not discussed, the perceptive reader will see that, though the Paper is short, it really deals a death blow to the concept of an evolutionary origin for Adam, and even more (if that is possible) for Eve. It has been customary for the opponents of evolution to base their case on the evidence against it which stems from studies in the life sciences, or from the simple statements in Scripture in which the actual creation of man is either stated categorically or is implied. While I believe these contrary evidences are most important, I believe they can be evaded by those who wish to evade them, either by saying that the evidence is still ambiguous in the present state of knowledge or that the word "creation" must be allowed to include the idea of creating by stages without specifying how small or how large these stages were. In the latter case, not a few undoubted Christian men with scientific training find no serious conflict by arguing that perhaps God created by an evolutionary process. Many people find this quite illogical -- but some don't. To my mind, the really crucial challenge to an evolutionary origin of man is ultimately the theological one. I have not been able to persuade many of my friends on this point. Nevertheless, the logic of the Plan of Redemption 

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makes certain demands which positively exclude any concept of an animal origin for Adam or Eve, no matter how many "creative interferences" are allowed. This Paper really shows that the creation of Adam was an absolutely unique event by showing in turn what the nature and constitution of Adam's body must have been in order to satisfy the requirement for the truly substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. This is the substance of chapter 1, and it is essentially a question of embryology.
     In chapter 2 a very sensitive problem is dealt with, namely the time of admission of the soul or spirit (speaking without precision at the moment) into the body. I am keenly aware of the legal importance of this issue and of the divergence of current views. My conviction is that whatever conclusion is reached, it must square ( 1) with scriptural statements that are precise and clear, such as Genesis 2:7 or Hebrews 10:4-7 (and with many other New Testament passages) that do not favour coincidence with mere conception, and (2) with experimental evidence which now indicates that fertilization can be "manipulated" at will, as in recent test-tube experiments for instance, or can occur naturally and yet lead to the birth of a decerebrate child who does not even possess the organ of mind which is surely essential to the possession of soul in the generally accepted sense. Neither of these facts favour coincidence of a divinely implanted soul with the time of conception. Whatever conclusion is reached, it must be based ultimately on the theological statements of Scripture, not on its poetic or "common parlance" statements. That is to say, it must be based on definitive rather than descriptive observations in Scripture. This chapter explores certain aspects of these matters which are of great theological importance.
     In chapter 3 the profound implications of the taking of Eve out of Adam, rather than creating her separately, are examined in the light of modern genetics. The issue is crucial to the subsequent appearance of a Redeemer who was to stand in the place of all men and it is equally crucial to the method by which the new life of the believer is introduced and nurtured by the Holy Spirit. This too, is fatal to the concept of an evolutionary origin for man.
     In Medieval times the test of truth was not experimental verification, but the ease with which a particular hypothesis fitted harmoniously into the basic structure of orthodox doctrine. This is fundamentally true today of the theory of evolution. If a finding "fits" it is true, willy-nilly; if it conflicts it is false. Christianity is a system of beliefs that is embedded in fact and is an integrated whole in which each part must contribute and be in harmony with the rest. There is no room

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for illogic. It must be a rigid structure, logically defensible once believed, though not believed merely because it is logically defensible. As with all systems of thought the premises are based on faith, but once having been established they must be built upon with the strictest adherence to the ordinary law of contradiction -- no statement may contradict another. As soon as this happens the whole system becomes questionable. This Paper is an attempt to follow with strict logic certain clearly definable assumptions about the creation of Adam (and Eve out of him) which have been held from the very earliest times to the present day.
     The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation are miracles and beyond scientific analysis, yet not wholly so. Such analysis as is now possible only increases our wonder without decreasing the miracle. If there is now within our reach some added light upon certain aspects of the subject we should not refuse it. This Paper deals with some of this new light. It does not reduce the need for the exercise of faith. Faith is still the basis of understanding, though this faith is largely to be exercised in the matter of those premises which involve super-natural agencies at work. But what we now know shows that no element of our belief is random or arbitrary. The Plan of Redemption is a perfect plan, perfectly in harmony with what is now known from genetics and embryology. It is to my mind an exciting story. The Christian need never apologize for his faith. It has merely placed him in the position of being far ahead of current scientific knowledge in this particular respect.
     It is very important to emphasize that the element of miracle is in no way removed merely because some aspects of the subject have been tremendously illuminated by modern research. Nor do I believe that the supernatural aspects of the Virgin Birth and the Incarnation ever will be removed by further advances in our scientific knowledge. No light is shed on the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ by pointing to known cases of animal parthenogenesis induced by special techniques, because in mammals such offspring are always females and never males. The virgin birth of a male child is unaccountable, is in fact theoretically impossible. It must therefore have been a miracle. And the spirit given to that little body to convert it from an organism to a Person was, again, something entirely unique; for by this means God entered into His own created order in the person of the Lord of the Old Testament. Clearly this, too, is entirely outside the normal course of things. Thus, although we may usefully explore the light which modern research has shed on the whole phenomenon of conception and birth in man, we should not

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for one moment suppose that we are thereby lessening the element of miracle and making it easier for the skeptic to believe. Saving faith is not generated by intellectual persuasion of this kind. We should rather explore the evidence with a view to enlarging our sense of wonder that God in His infinite wisdom should have so designed the processes of conception and birth that He could use them without doing violence to His own created order that He might enter into our world of space and time in the likeness of ourselves.
     To the Christian with implicit faith in the Word of God, Bible study can be rather like climbing the ladder of knowledge in some particular area, only to find, when reaching the top rung, that it has written upon it a statement which turns out, when understood in the light of present knowledge, to have anticipated that present knowledge and to have been there all along, if we had only taken the trouble to go right up to the top of the ladder and extrapolate logically.
     Not a few may feel that such an inquiry is improper, irreverent, almost bordering upon presumption, or even blasphemy. Feelings differ and change with respect to what is a proper subject for study or open discussion. Centuries ago it was felt quite improper to investigate the inner workings of the body. The body was a " temple" of God and should not be defiled by the scalpel of the over-curious. Reading Irving Stone's masterfully restored picture of the spirit in which Michelangelo undertook his first studies in human anatomy by dissecting the dead, one may feel in a measure how strongly Christian sentiment was against what today we consider almost commonplace, even to the extent of televising for the general public what goes on in the operating room. No doubt sentiments change. We are still perhaps psychologically shocked, but we are not morally shocked any more by such things.
      Perhaps the subject of this Paper must be viewed in the same light. Certainly, as will be abundantly apparent from the text which follows, the life sciences have uncovered many remarkable facts which bear directly upon the great truths of Scripture, so that if any man still challenges what the Scriptures have to say on these basic issues it must be because of what we have not yet clarified, i.e., because of our ignorance. Certainly it is not because anything has been discovered which makes the biblical record less precisely true. A Christian has nothing to fear on this account.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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