I'm LDS. Our way of looking at Jesus' parentage is that Heavenly Father is his actual biological father, not via intercourse (a virgin shall conceive) but supernaturally via the Holy Ghost implanting the Father's very chromosomes and DNA material into Mary (please forgive clunky biology-speak).

If I understand, evangelicals do not go there. What exactly is believed about Jesus' biological parentage? And related, what is it about the Father being biological father that would be offensive or create doctrinal problems?

Edit: the link above doesn't do it for me (as explained in my comment below). And John 4:24 is no smoking gun. No one is explaining what unacceptable implications would follow if "Father" were taken literally. Why can't "Father" mean "Father" as all nature experiences it? Is it that Father would then have to be considered a created being? Is it that prevailing trinity ideas would have to be inconveniently reworked?

  • To put it another way, every human gets two sets of chromosomes, one from the mother and one from the father. In the case of Jesus, He got one set from His mother Mary, but where did the other set come from? (According to Evangelicals, that is.) Is this what you're asking? – El'endia Starman Feb 20 '15 at 16:07
  • Yes, along with the answer to what doctrinal conundrums would arise with a literal biological paradigm? Thank you! – bwperrin Feb 20 '15 at 17:42
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    Protestants don't have "a" belief on this. Most probably don't care. Those who do are likely to have differing beliefs. You'll need to narrow your question's scope significantly for us to be able to answer it. – Flimzy Feb 20 '15 at 18:41
  • Flimzy, relative to the post you linked above, maybe my question can be phrased: "Why only those three options? Why isn't '50% Mary DNA, 50% God the Father DNA' an option?" What prevents consideration of God as literal biological Father in Heaven (as all nature testifies), not just Father-figure in Heaven? – bwperrin Feb 21 '15 at 0:03
  • How do you know Jesus got one set of chromosomes from Mary? – curiousdannii Feb 21 '15 at 0:41

A tenet of the Christian faith (and I speak from an Evangelical point of view) is that, in the words of Christ,

"'God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth'" (John 4:24 NASB Updated).

The very suggestion that God somehow possesses in his being DNA with which he could cause the Virgin Mary to conceive, violates this key tenet of Christian faith. God, who out of the fullness of his being created the human race out of one man and one woman, cannot have DNA. He is, rather, the creator of DNA. In other words, DNA was God's idea.

The primary reason for the incredible complexity of the human genome is the infinite creative genius and power of God, who spoke the universe into existence by the word (or Word) of his power (John 1:3). The One who created all things did so when there was literally no thing besides himself (except perhaps the angels, though that is an entirely different matter).

In Psalm 94, the psalmist asks a good question. I'll include the context for the question:

"Pay heed, you senseless among the people; And when will you understand, stupid ones? He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, Even He who teaches man knowledge? The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath" (vv.8-11).

The psalmist expressed poetically a profound truth regarding the personhood of God; namely, the God who created the ear can also hear; the God who created the eye can also see. Hearing and seeing originated in the God who hears all and sees all. The senses of hearing and seeing are but metaphors, which originate in the eternal attributes of God. Our human ears and eyes, in other words, tell us metaphorically something about who God is.

Just as language as a platform for human understanding is filled with metaphorical expressions, such as "I see" as an alternate way of saying "I understand," so also in similar fashion the created, material universe is a platform for insight into the being of God, who is the creator and sustainer of all things.

"For since the creation of the world His [i.e., God's] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20 NASB).

In conclusion, the point I have been making is simply this: There is a great (infinite?) divide between who God is by nature and what he has created out of the fullness of his creative power and genius. While God is pleased with "man to dwell, Jesus our Emanuel," as the Christmas carol puts it, he was and always will be transcendent vis-à-vis his creation.

By the same token, however, God through his Christ is also immanent, since Jesus revealed God in all his fullness in the vehicle, so to speak, of an eternal "flesh and bone" body, the body of the God-Man (see Colossians 1:15-20). Exactly how God invested both divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus is, I believe, quite mysterious. That Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit is the reason why Jesus could become the perfect, sinless, and spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29 and 36).

  • Good answer, although... I wonder (1) how Jesus has an "eternal flesh and bone" body if there is no aspect of God which is, from eternity, bodily, and (2) how Jesus is an adequate response to Adam's failing if, in his human nature he is not just as Adam was -- that is, surely the second Adam is like unto the first in his human nature such that his obedience is significant in the face of the first Adam's disobedience. – user32 Feb 20 '15 at 20:18
  • I appreciate your very thoughtful answer. Let's suppose for a minute that John 4:24 might plausibly be interpreted as NOT only meaning "God is only spirit." We agree that God created DNA and that it breathtakingly displays His genius. 1) Why, when there was no thing beside Himself, (since He had to be something,) could He not have have been something that possessed DNA? 2) In what sense (since all creation testifies of Him, and all creation has biological dual-parent cause) is God literally "Father in Heaven"? Or is He more "Father-figure"? thx – bwperrin Feb 20 '15 at 20:19
  • @LawrenceDol: Thanks for the edit. Granted, "creatorial" is an old-fashioned and theologically oriented word, but it is still a word. For example, see A. W. Pink, Introduction to "Law and the Saint": "Now the Divine titles are not used loosely, nor are they employed alternately for the purpose of variation. Each one possesses a definite and distinct signification. 'God' is the creatorial title (see Gen. 1:1). 'Lord' is God in covenant relationship, that is why it is “Lord God” all through Gen. 2." Don – rhetorician Feb 20 '15 at 20:46
  • @LawrenceDol: Good catch regarding "eternal flesh and bone." I should have said that Jesus' flesh-and-bone body became eternal when he was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Granted, bifurcating eternity into "past" and "future" is precarious, since eternity possesses neither past nor future. Apart from pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus as the Angel of the LORD (i.e., theophanies), which were just that: appearances, Jesus' beginning as a flesh and blood human being (and later, a flesh-and-bone human being--Luke 24:39) began at his miraculous conception. – rhetorician Feb 20 '15 at 20:58
  • @LawrenceDol: Some scriptures which hint at the truth of what I'm saying would have to include: Ex 21:2-6; Dt 15:12-17; Ps 40:6-8; and Heb 10:5-10. Together, they are a great overview of what Jesus was doing when he made himself available to the Father to accomplish the work of redemption as "the seed of the woman" (Ge 3:15), and then ascend back to the Father to await his descent to earth once again (Acts 1:11). – rhetorician Feb 20 '15 at 21:21

I cannot answer for other than what I have deduced from my Bible study as a Southern Baptist, but I will give you what I have come to conclude in that frame of thought.

While I am sure that this will get many down votes especially from Catholics it must be remembered that I am not claiming that Mary was not the Mother of Jesus, since the Bible leaves no doubt that she was. My only claim is that what the Holy Ghost placed in her womb was a completely new creation by God himself. This is the only logical conclusion I can glean from the Scriptures considering the dual nature of Jesus the Christ.

Considering his pre cognitive nature it only makes sense that he not only had life in his human form, but also had life in the form of Deity.

Luke 1:35 NKJV And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Other translations say child, or one, but in my interlinear Bible the words:

τὸ gennōmenon


the [one] being born

It goes on to say.

ἅγιον Holy One Adj-NNS

After much study I have concluded that that Jesus inherited no DNA from any other source than what was placed in her womb by the Holy Ghost.

  • Thanks Bye, I'm with you exactly on your conclusion. My question is why couldn't that Holy-Ghost-placed DNA have literally belonged to Father? (or in other words, why can't we take "Father" literally? and by literally I mean biologically so, the way all nature testifies) – bwperrin Feb 20 '15 at 20:29
  • Even by Southern Baptist standards, this is heresy. You are denying that Mary is the Mother of Christ (which is even beyond Nestorianism). Your understanding makes Mary an incubator, not a Mother. It is a misunderstanding of what being born or begotten means. Furthermore, the Occasionalism implied in your answer is anachronistic. The concept isn't even available to the Biblical author, which is largely why even the early heretics never thought up such a strange idea. – zippy2006 Feb 25 '15 at 4:19
  • @zippy2006 To the contrary I am not saying that Mary is not the mother of Jesus, nor an incubator. A Mother is the woman who gives birth. To my way of thinking it is more heretical to say that God needed the egg of a woman to create Jesus. After all God created the original man and woman. Not only that, but if you believe that every human born of man is already sinful through the sin of Adam and Eve, then how was he the sinless sacrifice for our sins? It is more Biblical to believe that Jesus was the result of pure DNA created by the one who originally created DNA in the first place. – BYE Feb 25 '15 at 20:11
  • To be quick: you simply don't know what a mother is. Even in the modern world where gestational surrogacy is possible, we don't call such a person "mother," we call her "surrogate." – zippy2006 Mar 13 '15 at 20:26
  • @zippy2006 You can call her anything you like but I'll bet the child calls her mother. – BYE Mar 13 '15 at 23:07

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