Difficult to Believe: An Introduction to Summer Sunday School

We live in a day and age where it is difficult to believe. For many Christians, maybe even for you, faith is fragile and feels outdated and immature. The Christian worldview is continually bombarded with a tornado of objections to Christianity, seeking to destroy our faith and offer competing claims for best understanding the world. In this type of world, people of faith fight against doubts. While God patiently and lovingly endures faithful doubting (Mark 9:24), he wishes for his people to have the full assurance of hope until the end (Heb. 6:11).

Yet the enemy seems intent on making it difficult to believe. There are many challenges to the Christian faith. Some are physical—like the draw of two-second carnal pleasures. Some are intellectual, like the rise of modern science. Those who are seduced by scientism usually abandon the faith not because of scientific evidence, per se, or because of the consistency or coherence that science provides. Charles Taylor explains scientific-based deconversion happens because of the appeal of science in general. People report that they turn from faith in Jesus to faith in science because they think of the Christian faith as immature and scientific thinking as mature. They become convinced that science is the stance of maturity, courage, and manliness, over against the childish immature fears and sentimentality of the Christian faith. Abandoning the faith is growing up and facing reality.[1]

It is because of this all-too-common deconversion pattern that we have invited Bijan Nemati to teach our Summer Sunday School. Bijan Nemati is a member at Trinity Reformed Church and a physicist at UAH. He was born in Iran and came to the US at the time of the Islamic revolution. He converted from Islam to Christianity while getting his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Washington. His scientific work includes the study of elementary particles using accelerators, and the development of advanced instruments to study exoplanets (planets around other stars). He worked on space telescopes at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for about twenty years before coming to UAH four years ago, where he continues in the same work. He is currently part of the team building NASA’s Roman Space Telescope (to be launched in 2025). He has been giving talks on the scientific evidence for a created universe for the past twenty years.  

The church has tremendous intellectual resources to respond to the world’s objections. In our Summer Sunday School, we desire to teach that Jesus Christ is the Truth, which means, the best explanation for the world and human experience is in a robust understanding of the Christian worldview that is founded in Scripture. We also wish to show, especially to those young doubters, that the church does have rich resources to respond to the intellectual challenges of the world. More than that, we wish to show that it is Christianity that is consistent, coherent, and intellectually satisfying; it is Christianity that speaks the truth that corresponds to the raw emotions of life and offers the true (and best) explanation for human existence.

Our Summer Sunday School Schedule is as follows:

June 6 – Rob Hadding (special guest teacher)

June 13 – We’re now discovering all these planets around other stars.  Eventually, we’re going to find life in one of them. Won’t such a discovery show the Earth and mankind are nothing special?

June 20 – Stephen Hawking said, “because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.” Hasn’t physics made creation unnecessary?

June 27 – Over the last 170 years, we have learned an enormous amount about how evolution works. Isn’t it outdated to still hold to the idea of the special creation of life?

July 4 – Aren’t truth claims nothing but rationalizations of economic and class interest?

[1] James K.A. Smith, How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 76-77.

Jason Cherry is an elder at Trinity Reformed Church, as well as a teacher and lecturer of literature, American history, and economics at Providence Classical School in Huntsville, Alabama. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion and is the author of the book The Culture of Conversionism and the History of the Altar Call, now available on Amazon.