Wednesday, December 25, 2002 - Methodist Bishop Challenge to Virgin Birth Raises Uproar

Just as Christians get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, an old controversy is bubbling up among United Methodists -- one that goes to the very heart of the Christmas story. Was Jesus born of a virgin? Earlier this year, in a speech that rattled many, Chicago Bishop C. Joseph Sprague challenged some of Christianity's most basic beliefs, including the virgin birth. Now, Abingdon Press, a division of the United Methodist Publishing House, has printed a slim volume of Sprague's beliefs, titled "Affirmations of a Dissenter. " In it, the Northern Illinois bishop says Jesus was most likely born through the natural process of procreation. "He was the child of human parents, complete with a belly button and genetic code," the bishop writes.

The old controversy, did Jesus have a belly button?

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