The current issue of WORLD includes an interview with major thinker Charles Murray and a review of his new book, Coming Apart, that has made waves this year. But one question and answer outside of the book—I didn’t have room for it in the magazine—made its own waves.
Murray told Patrick Henry College students, “Marvin was asking me before what my own theological position is. I said I’m a wannabe Christian. I was raised a Presbyterian, fell away from it. I’m technically an agnostic.”
A student asked what was keeping him in the “wannabe Christian” and “agnostic” positions. Murray responded, “It’s not applying myself. … Acquiring faith, I don’t think, in the typical instance, is something where you are gazing at the stars and the hand of God comes down and suddenly you understand everything. It requires a lot of application. It requires a lot of study.”
Murray continued, “I don’t mean by that that you are trying to rationally persuade yourself.” He recalled something he had recently read: “Look, you’ve ignored God all your life, and when you finally decide to pay attention, you’re surprised because you don’t get an immediate response? I think that is really true. That there is a great deal of personal growth and thought that has to go into a deep faith.”
Murray said he was watching his wife, who has faith, and “saying to myself—‘You really ought to be doing this, too.’ And I haven’t yet. I intend to. But at the age of 69 maybe I better get with the program sooner rather than later.”
What do you think is true and not true in Murray’s understanding of how people come to faith in God?