The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
The reader has no doubt inferred from what has been said that in order to have a correct knowledge of Jesus, his mission and our relation to him as our Savior, it is absolutely essential to believe that he was the son of Joseph and Mary, in the sense in which we are the children of our parents.
We meet here the strong preconceived idea on the part of some of our readers that if any part of the Scriptures is not infallible, then no part of it is infallible. This is a childish thought. The Lord Christ said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The truth is not all comprehended in the Bible. Truth is the facts concerning things that are, in contradistinction to the ideas concerning things which are not. Therefore to know the truth, no matter where we find it, is a saving quality. Truth is vital. Error is dark and disintegrative.
This brings us to the question: Were the teachings of the apostles, the immediate successors of our Lord, infallible? that is, were the apostles incapable of mistake or error? We must admit, if
we allow our reason to have its normal sway, that they were not infallible. An illustration of this may be found in the Gospel according to John.
Of all the disciples not one was so near to the Lord Christ as the beloved disciple,, John; not one has given to the world such valuable thought, for his Gospel is a book superior to all other books in existence. Admitting this and also admitting, as many of our leading clergymen do, that if the entire Bible except the Gospel of John, should be destroyed, the Christian church would still have sufficient vital truth to go right on with its work; yet, in the last verse of this beloved disciple's Gospel, we read these words: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written." (John xxi. 25.) Think of this statement! What a wonderful exaggeration! Shall we not say a thoughtless exaggeration? for, if there ever has been a man that has been honest and true, the beloved disciple was that man.
But let us use our reason. The Greek tongue is as compact as our own, and if there had been a disciple who had followed the Lord Christ from his birth to his crucifixion and resurrection, and had recorded every step he took, every word he uttered, yet the book that contained it all would be no larger than a moderate volume of our time. To say that he supposed the world would not contain the books
necessary to give a full account of the Lord's acts, is readily seen to be a great error, but, as we have said, it is an error in judgment.
It is also evident that there is a tendency to abbreviate in all the Gospels. Now it is possible that Matthew and Luke may have become familiarly acquainted with Joseph or Mary or both, and that Mary or Joseph informed them concerning the remarkable experience prior to the conception and birth of the Lord Christ, for there is a lawlet us make the statement without the elaboration necessary to prove itthat in reincarnating, the soul always presides at the conception of the body in which it is to incarnate. There are now in the world, we believe, thousands of men and women, and especially women, who can tell you that they were vividly conscious of being overshadowed at the time of the conception of their child.
If the soul of the ordinary man is strong enough to produce marked conditions at the time of conception, what must the conditions have been when Yahveh Eloah overshadowed Joseph and Mary with his great glory and power! If this is a fact, it alone is enough to suggest to our mind the thought that if such a soul should come near enough to enter into the life-currents of a man and a woman in order to procure a physical body, his power would be sufficient to overpower, for the time being, all the conscious ego and to possess
them whollyto an extent that neither of them would be conscious of what had taken place.
This may explain what Matthew said in his Gospel, that when Joseph found Mary with child, "he was minded to put her away privily," but the angel of the Lord informed him in a dream that he should take to himself Mary his wife, because the conception was by virtue of the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.This is the kernel of the whole matter.
In Luke's Gospel we find that the conversation between Mary and the angel was prior to conception, for the angel said, "the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee;" the whole account is in the future tense, because the account in Luke's Gospel is simply prophecy. Therefore, it tells of something which had not yet happened. The only point that remains to be cleared up is the fact that Joseph was unconscious of what had taken place.
Let us now turn our attention to another point in this connection. The first noticeable fact is that John, the beloved disciple, gives no account or even intimation of the "Miraculous Conception" of his Master; and he more than all the other disciples, had opportunity to know in regard to this, because "when Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold, thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own
home." If Mary lived with John, which no doubt she did for some years, he more than all the others would be expected to be thoroughly familiar with all the facts concerning his Master, including those relating to his conception and birth, especially, if his conception was as wonderful as that recorded by Matthew and by Luke.
Another fact is prominent in this connection; namely, in all the preaching of the apostles, beginning with the book of Acts to the last chapter of Revelation, there is not one reference to Christ's miraculous conception, but on the contrary, they preached him as a man (Acts ii. 22; x. 34-43), as one of their brethren, as Paul so plainly expresses it:
"Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted."
Now, if Christ was Divinely Begotten, he certainly was not in all points like unto his brethren, but he had every advantage over any other man that ever had lived.
If the doctrine of the miraculous conception is essentially a part of the Christian religion, why is it that Mark, John, Paul and all the apostles
whose letters constitute the New Testament, never mention it?
Let us again turn to Matthew's Gospel. He begins his account with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Mark you, he says, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham," and he closes it as he would the genealogy of any other person by saying, "and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." Now this is either the genealogy of Jesus Christ, or it is not. If it is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, then Joseph was his father; if it is not the genealogy of Jesus Christ, then God was his father; in the latter case Joseph had nothing to do with it, and the tracing of the genealogy through Joseph is all shamthere is nothing in it. We are here brought face to face with some very stubborn facts.
Let us see what Luke says in his genealogy; he begins it with these words: "And Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli" et cetera. (Luke iii. 23.) Without the parenthesis it reads, "being the son of Joseph, the son of Heli" et cetera, and he closes the genealogy as follows, "the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God," and here the tracing ends. Was not Jesus the son of God as much as Adam? Why then this genealogy at all. For if the Miraculous Conception is a truth it is not the genealogy
of Jesus Christ, as he had no genealogy. You may say that this is the genealogy of Mary, but Mary is not mentioned, neither is the genealogy of woman ever counted in the Bible; and even if the genealogy of Mary had been given, it would be traced to Ruth, the Moabitess, for she was the ancestor of Mary, and Jesus would not have come of the seed of Abraham, but of the seed of Lot. But why these difficulties? and why are these things as they are?
Let us turn our attention to the Church and to the Church Doctrine. How early in the history of the Church, the doctrine "that the end justifies the means" came into existence, we are not prepared to say; but the early fathers in preaching to the Pagans constantly met the Pagan belief that their gods were divinely begotten, and no doubt when the early Christians presented the Lord Christ to the Pagans, they said that he was inferior to their gods because their gods were divinely begotten, begotten by a miraculous act on the part of Deity, while Jesus Christ was born of man and woman.
Justin Martyr, one of the Christian fathers, says,
"It having reached the Devil's ears that the prophets had foretold the coming of Christ [the son of God], he set the heathen Poets to bring forward a great many who should be called the sons of Jove. The Devil laying his scheme in this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ was
of the same character as the prodigious fables related of the sons of Jove."
Again he says, in his Apology to the Emperor Adrian:
"By declaring the Logos, the first-begotten of God, our Master, Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin, without any human mixture, we [Christians] say no more in this than what you [Pagans] say of those whom you style the sons of Jove. For you need not be told what a parcel of sons the writers most in vogue among you assign to Jove. . . .
"As to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him to be nothing more than man, yet the title of 'the Son of God' is very justifiable upon the account of his wisdom, considering that you [Pagans] have your Mercury in worship under the title of the Word, a messenger of God. . . .
"As to his [Jesus Christ's] being born of a virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that." (Quoted in "Taylor's Syntagma," p. 169.)
Meeting such formidable opposition as the Pagan belief presented to the early Fathers, we must admit that it would be a strong temptation to add to the Christian Doctrine and to the written records that were exclusively in their hands, the account of the Miraculous Conception and Virgin Birth as found in Matthew and Luke, and also the parenthesis in Luke's account.
Again, we notice upon carefully reading the Gospel according to Matthew that his account of the birth of Christ, beginning with the words, "Now
the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise," is written in a different style and with a different word-formation from the rest of the chapter, and it is so set apart so that it may well be considered an interpolation. The same is true concerning Luke's Gospel; and these two Gospels are the only Gospels in which the birth of Jesus is recorded.
There are two facts that stand out before us, namely, was Jesus that Christ prophesied by Moses and by many of the prophets? If he was, then he was the son of Joseph, the son of Abraham. If he was not the Christ prophesied of, then we may admit for the sake of argument that he was Divinely Begotten. No prophecy from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation prophesies a Messiah Divinely Begotten; on the contrary, all the prophecies concerning the Messiah prophesy a man, not only born of woman, but of the literal descent of Abraham according to the flesh.
In Matthew's account, in order to substantiate the miraculous conception, we find quoted the words of Isaiah (vii. 14): "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." * That this refers to the Christ there is grave
doubt, but that Mary was a virgin prior to her conception of the Lord Christ is probable. The word "virgin" is rendered "a young marriageable woman" in the margin of the Revised Version and also in Rabbi Leeser's translation of the Bible. There is no thought here whether she had known a man or not, but "a young marriageable woman shall conceive." That is all there is in this quotation, and that Mary was a young marriageable woman and a virgin, and that she did conceive by Joseph and thereby produced the body in which Eloah, a member of the God of the solar system, was incarnate, we have no reason to doubt.
In conclusion we ask you to read Deut. xviii. 15-19 inclusive.
From this prophecy you will clearly see that Jesus could not have been a Son of God after the flesh, and if there was nothing else in the whole Scriptures to contradict the miraculous conception, the words of Jesus himself contradict it positively: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." If these
words mean anything, they mean that Spirit cannot generate flesh and that flesh cannot generate spirit. So we repeat, if there were no other statements in the Scriptures to deny the Miraculous Conception of the Lord Jesus, his own words would deny it.
We thought to leave this question for others to discuss, as it is at present a mooted question; but, because of the great necessity of a correct understanding of this subject, in order to justify the truth of the Scriptures in general, as well as to remove the dark veil that is thrown over the church by this fallacy of the Miraculous Conception, we found it necessary to make the foregoing statements in as brief a form as possible.
We have but to glance around us to see the result of this false doctrine. We see the church worshipping "the mother of God." The whole Church, Protestant and Catholic, is bowing down and worshipping the image of a manactually worshipping the flesh of a man, of a son of Abraham!
Thus the people are transgressing the commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, the likeness of any form that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them." Yet the entire Christian world is bowing down and
worshipping and essaying to serve a man in the image of themselves.
This doctrine was also the cause of the great persecution of the early church and of the dogma of the transmutation of the wafer and the wine into the actual body of Christ. In fact, you can easily trace all the great errors and evils that have followed the Christian church to the belief that the fleshly seed of Abraham was the son of God, forgetting all about that spiritual soul that was indeed the real man, the real savior of the world. As God said by the prophet, "I, even I, am Yahveh; and beside me there is no savior." Some may say: Then Jesus the Christ is God. So he is, but that flesh of Abraham is not God, but as Jesus said, "The Father that dwelleth in me he doeth the works," and he is God, he is our Savior.
188:* If you turn to this chapter of Isaiah's prophecy you will see that it relates exclusively to an invasion then in progress, and concerning this child it is said, "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorest [the two kings that conspired against him] shall be forsaken. Yahveh shall bring p. 189 upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria." This refers to the carrying away into Babylon, which took place long before the advent of the Christ. Again, the words concerning this child are: "and shall call his name Immanuel," not Jesus. You may say, Immanuel means "God with us," but did not the Hebrews choose such names for their children? Was it not a common thing?It certainly was. So it is not probable that this sign that was given to Ahaz referred in any way to Jesus the Christ.