What do I think of Rhyne Putman’s book on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm)? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Rhyne Putman is a good friend of mine and he was fine with sending me a review copy of his book on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm). If you want to read it, you will be waiting awhile as it comes out next year. Still, I wanted to write on it while it was fresh in my mind.
This book covers most every area of the Gospel narratives on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) and not just defending the doctrine, which needs to be done, but even more important after that, showing what difference it makes. Is it just a nice add-on to the story but if we lose it, no big deal? Not at all, says Putman. We need to look at the difference it makes to know that Jesus was virgin born. (Which I do affirm.)
Also, if you’re reading this and you’re a layman thinking “Great. Another academic work that will go over my head” then you are also mistaken. This is written for you. This is easily approachable and Putman explains his terms well. Not only that, but it’s perfect Christmas reading seeing as there are 25 chapters in this. Gather the family around and read one chapter a day and you can go through December 1-25 celebrating the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm.)
The first section of the book deals with the birth of the virgin-born king (Which I do affirm) in the narratives. Each part is looked at in detail and also specifies which objections are being answered. Want to look at something on the Lucan census? Go straight there! Want to see if the incarnation goes against pre-existence? You can find it! Want to just look at one particular part of the narratives, say if you’re a minister preparing a sermon? Not a problem! Go to it!
Part two then goes beyond this looking at the practice of the doctrine. Putman will take you through the church fathers to see what they say. (Also, Protestants like myself really do need to read the church fathers. The Reformers pointed to them regularly and it’s a shame that many in our churches don’t even know who they were.) He then goes through church history seeing what so many people said about how the doctrine applies to them. There is definitely a heavy Christmas theme here as many of the chapter headings refer to Christmas carols. Again, you can also go through and see objections that need to be answered, even the one that says Mary should have aborted.
Finally, he does have an appendix for those who are interested, on the Marian dogmas, particularly perpetual virginity. Putman walks a fine line here as he wants to make sure he is charitable to scholars who are of a different persuasion than he is whom he has learned much from. I hope that those who read through such a section, like Roman Catholics and Orthodox, will walk away saying that their position was treated fairly and even though they don’t agree with Putman, that he made his case and respected theirs.
Putman’s book is a delightful tour through the Gospels and through church history. If you want to bless your Christmas celebrations, get this book. Go through it. If children are old enough to understand the terms about virginity and other such ideas, have them join in. If you want to establish a new Christmas tradition, then let it be this one.
And on a side note, Putman is also definitely right about one other thing. Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)