An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Virgin Birth

This term describes the birth of Jesus. Jesus' mother was Mary, and he was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, without a human father. Mary's virginity at the time of Jesus' birth is mentioned specifically in the gospels of Matthew (Ch. 1) and Luke (Ch. 1). Although Matthew and Luke have two very different stories about the origin of Jesus, they both clearly state that he was born of a virgin. The prologue to the Gospel of John has a statement that could be interpreted as a virgin birth (Jn 1:12-13), but the term is not used. The Virgin Birth is a way of describing Jesus as the Son of God. It is a way of verifying Jesus' true humanity and divinity. Although Jesus is a human being, he is believed to be truly distinct from all other human beings. There is some indication in Christian writings that the term “Virgin Birth” can be understood as a way of helping to understand Jesus' humanity and divinity. Belief in the Virgin Birth was not completely accepted by all early Christians. Some Christians today question it as a historical fact. The Virgin Birth is affirmed by the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed. The Catechism states that “by God's own act his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother” (BCP, p. 849). Belief in the Virgin Birth does not imply belief in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary was free of all sin, including original sin, from her conception. See Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.