ARGUMENTS ABOUT FAITH
“The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.’” (Jn 6: 41-45)
It might seem that our Lord is talking “past” these people, and not responding to their concerns. They’re saying, they “know” His “father and mother,” – so how could He have “come down from heaven,” when they “know” that He has parents, and they’re this simple folk down the street?! Christ does not say, Look, it was a Virgin-Birth, actually, and Joseph is not really My father, and so on. What Christ tells them is more subtle: 1. Not to “murmur” among themselves, as murmuring “among ourselves,” in merely-human discussions about faith, is not, ultimately, The Way to the knowledge of God’s wisdom, because 2. The Way to “coming” to God’s wisdom is paved by (the grace of) God Himself, by His actual Father, “Who sent Him.”
So today, if I find myself engaged in discussions or arguments about faith, which usually focus on what “we know” or “we don’t know,” (or “we can’t know,” according to the conviction of my agnostic friends), let me hear Christ say to us, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” I’m not saying that we can not, or should not, defend our faith, or bear witness to it, when we are challenged or asked about it. But I am saying that, even when we do so, we need always to keep in mind that it is ultimately the grace of God, and not any merely-human discussion, which has the power to compel anyone to “come” to Christ. So let me always leave room for the grace of God, in any discussions about faith, and not falsely exaggerate the supposed “power” of what “we know.” Because even as we do what we can, – ultimately, as Christ says, – “they shall all be taught by God.” Glory be to Him.