Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley is questioning the significance of the virgin birth by making the claim that it is not the most crucial element of the Christian faith.
"If somebody can predict their own death and resurrection, I'm not all that concerned about how they got into the world," Andy Stanley said in a message titled "Who Needs Christmas."
"Christianity doesn't hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It hinges on the resurrection of Jesus," he added.
The Dec. 4 sermon focused on the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ and although the North Point Community Church pastor doesn't deny the virgin birth, he said he wanted to acknowledge the viewpoint of individuals who are skeptical about it.
"I am often misunderstood because of my communication style. I frequently verbalize what I know unbelievers and those who have left the church believe, assume or remember a college professor saying," Stanley said in a response to The Washington Post.
"A lot of people don't believe it, and I understand that," Stanley said. "Maybe the thought is they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that's where that came from."
In his sermon, Stanley calls it "interesting" that only two of the four Gospel accounts mention the virgin birth.
"Matthew gives us a version of the birth of Christ," he said. "Luke does, but Mark and John, they don't even mention it. A lot has been made about that."
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler addressed Stanley's remarks about the Virgin Mary on his podcast. He says that the Bible stories about Christ's incarnation are "the central truth claim of Christmas."
"If Jesus was not born of the virgin then the Bible cannot be trusted when it comes to telling us the story of Jesus, and that mistrust cannot be limited to how he came to us in terms of the incarnation," he said.
"The fact is that biblical Christianity and ultimately the Gospel of Christ cannot survive the denial of the virgin birth," Mohler added. "Because without the virgin birth, you end up with a very different Jesus than the fully human, fully divine savior revealed in scripture."