THE SECOND LESSON.
THE MYSTERY OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH.
One of the points of conflict between Established Theology on the one hand and what is known as Rationalism, the Higher Criticism, and Comparative Mythology, on the other hand, is what is known as “the Virgin Birth” of Jesus. Perhaps we may show the points of difference more clearly by simply stating the opposing views and, afterwards, giving the traditions of the Occult Brotherhoods and Societies on the subject. We are enabled to state the opposing views without prejudice, because we rest upon the Occult Teachings with a feeling of being above and outside of the theological strife raging between the two schools of Christian theologians. We trust that the reader will reserve his decision until the consideration of the matter in this lesson is completed. We think that it will be found that the Occult Teachings give the Key to the Mystery and furnish the Reconciliation between the opposing theological views which threaten to divide the churches into two camps, i.e., (1) the adherents of the established orthodox theology, and (2) the adherents of the views of the Rationalists and the Higher Critics.
The school of theology which clings to the old orthodox teachings regarding the Virgin Birth and which teachings are commonly accepted without question by the mass of church-goers, hold as follows:
Mary, a young Jewish maiden, or virgin, was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth in Galilee. Before her marriage, she was informed by an angelic vision that she would miraculously conceive a son, to whom she would give birth, and who would reign on the Throne of David and be called the Son of the Highest. This teaching is based solely upon certain statements contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew’s account is as follows:
“Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with the child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins. And now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with a child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” (Matt. 1:18-25.)
Luke’s account is as follows: