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Christmas is not just about shopping and flirting, eating and drinking, anger and remorse. It is also about the Incarnation. But how many people believe in the Christian story of Christmas, and how strong is their belief? To find out, The Spectator approached leading public figures in the Churches, in the arts and the media and in politics, and asked them: 'Do you believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ?' Here are their challenging--and sometimes surprising--answers.
The Most Reverend and Right Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Yes; I believe that the conception of Jesus was a moment when the creative action of God produced a reality as new in its way as the first moment of creation itself. And I believe that what opened the way for this was the work of God through human history over centuries, coming to its fullest moment in Mary's consent to God's call. The recognition of the uniqueness and newness of Jesus is a recognition of the absolute freedom of God to break the chains of cause and effect that lock us into our sins and failures; the virginal conception is an outward sign of this divine freedom to make new beginnings.
His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
Of course. All teaching about Mary the Mother of God points us to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. The miracle of his birth shows us that he is God-with-us. Jesus has only God as Father and Mary as Mother and in his birth we are adopted as children of the Father in the Holy Spirit. We look to Mary as a Mother who loves us.
No, of course I don't, and I imagine you'll have some difficulty finding any educated per son who believes in it, or any other Christian dogma. Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, only the third survives.
Look, I've successfully survived 42 years as a member of the Church of England without ever having to give serious thought to …