Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Each Christmas season, not only are questions raised about Jesus but also Mary, His earthly mother. Today we have a guest post from Ernie Manges*, addressing a couple of myths about Mary.
Two myths busted about Mary
Mary is not an unwed mother, nor is she “engaged” to Joseph.
The word “pledged” (mn‘steuein, Matt. 1:18; Luke 2:5) means Joseph and Mary had already exchanged public vows, but were not yet living together as a couple. In first-century Judaism the gap between the vows and living together was often as long as a year. However, they were considered more than merely “engaged” in modern terms, they were actually legally married, which is why Matthew twice calls Mary the “wife” of Joseph (gyn‘, Matt. 1:20, 24), and why Joseph considered divorce (Matt. 1:19).
The biological connection between Jesus and Mary does not make Jesus a sinner.
Some assert that Jesus cannot be physically descended from Mary because this means he would inherit the sin nature. To avoid this, some have erred by teaching the human nature of Jesus must somehow be different than ours (e.g., the “celestial body” of Jesus taught by Menno Simons). These types of solutions are dangerous because they disconnect the humanity of Jesus from ours, contradicting the clear teaching of Scripture.
However, this problem disappears if we examine the underlying assumption: sinfulness is an essential element of being human. Scripture teaches that in the new heavens and the new earth we will no longer sin. Will we then be somehow less human? Were Adam and Eve pre-fall somehow incomplete humans? Rather we ought to say that in our glorified state we will enjoy the fullness of being human – as God originally designed us.
*Manges is a missionary with EFCA ReachGlobal, and after having served 20 years in the Philippines, now leads the training of new missionary candidates for ReachGlobal. He also is the professor of theology and church history at the Cebu Graduate School of Theology in the Philippines. Additionally, he serves on the EFCA’s Spiritual Heritage Committee. He has an M.A. in Church History and an M.Div. from TEDS, and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) was awarded on the basis of his research into the patristic views of the Virgin Mary.