What is Faith in context?

Faith in Context is a speaker series that explores big questions at the interface of the Christian faith and our broader culture. Our goal is to create authentic spaces for students, their friends, and families, to explore faith commitments in view of emerging findings in the sciences. Wherever you are on your faith journey – a committed Christ follower, agnostic, or an atheist–these events are non-confrontational spaces for you to explore hard questions with a spirit of open mindedness and curiosity. 

Upcoming session

Dr. Sarah Schnitker - March 8-10

Join our next event in the Faith in Context series. Our guest, Dr. Sarah Schnitker, is a Christian professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor who researches virtue development.

Can we do better than the Enneagram? And why it matters.

Friday, March 8 in the Sanctuary
7:00 - 8:30 pm
Compared to other personality tests, the Enneagram enjoys massive popularity with over 370 million views on TikTok (#enneagram). The model bins people into nine archetypes and assigns them trendy nicknames (“The Peacemaker, “The Challenger”, The Investigator”) while providing detailed descriptions of their inner motivations and weaknesses. In recent years, the Enneagram has increasingly been marketed as a faith-based or spiritual innovation, helping people explore how they connect to God. While many have found its insights meaningful and even profound, the model is not based on academic research and some have likened it to relational astrology. But does it really matter if it works for you? Can we do better? In her presentation, Dr. Sarah Schnitker will explore how the enneagram can be misleading and inhibit personal growth. Her presentation will also explore scientifically and theologically informed ways of describing personality and spiritual formation, and practical ways to better make sense of how and why we relate to others and God.

The Science of Gratitude Workshop

Saturday, March 9 in the Sanctuary
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Registration is required and free lunch and childcare will be provided.
Scripture tells us to be “thankful in everything, in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and there are clearly many benefits to being grateful. For example, gratitude is associated with psychological well-being, predicts quality of relationships, and is even linked with your physical health. So why is gratitude so hard for some of us to authentically feel? If you (or your kids!) are having trouble with this vital virtue, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s something you can do about it. In this workshop, Dr. Sarah Schnitker and her colleague Elizabeth Bounds (MDiv) will explore the science of gratitude in a five-part mini workshop, surveying evidence-based and practical applications of cutting-edge research through lectures and facilitated group discussion.

Part 1: Exploring what psychology can - and cannot - offer spiritual formation.
Part 2: Growing in our gratitude to others.
Part 3: Growing in our gratitude to God.
Part 4: The power of gratitude narratives.
Part 5: Habit formation and practical advice.

Student Ministry presentation 

Sunday, March 10 in F100 (Gym) & F101 (open to all, but in particular, parents and students in 6th to 12th grade)
9:00 - 10:15 am

Students today experience crushing anxiety and feel a strong need for control in the face of heightened societal turmoil and sky-high expectations (from peers or their parents, both in person and online). How do we better support our students as they navigate this intense period of life? In this presentation, Dr. Sarah Schnitker and her colleague Elizabeth Bounds (MDiv) will explore research they have published on Christian Olympians who wrestle with performance anxiety and Christian identity issues. The morning will begin with a presentation highlighting their findings and provide a framework for developing long term health and wellbeing. Parents and students will then break out into facilitated discussion groups tailored to their interests. The session will then conclude with a time of Q&A with the researchers.

past sessions

Dr. Liz Hall

"How to Suffer Well: 5 Lessons I Wish My Church Had Taught Me"
Dr. Liz Hall, a clinical psychologist at Biola, who specializes in meaning-making in suffering, will share her powerful story of how misconceptions and wrong theology almost robbed her of a sense of purpose during her fight with cancer, and why the Christian discipline of lament is crucial to our spiritual and mental health. In addition to Liz's talk, we will reflect on these lessons through a practical workshop and a time of personal, guided reflection on lament. 

Dr. Mark Yarhouse

Mark is a professor of Psychology at Wheaton College in Illinois, specializing in conflicts tied to religious identity and sexual and gender identity. Mark will explore emerging research on sexual development in adolescents, common assumptions or misconceptions on gender fluidity/dysphoria, and explore related theological perspectives through a various lens including parenting and pastoral ministry.

Dr. Justin Barrett

Dr. Justin is President of BluePrint 1543 and honorary Professor of Theology and the Sciences at St. Andrews University School of Divinity. He is a psychologist of religion, having conducted research on how and why people believe in God. Justin’s talk will explore recent findings in his field while engaging two prevalent secular narratives: religion is nothing but a psychological crutch, and our notion of free will is just an illusion.

Dr. Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin is a professor in the Department of Integrated Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his research focuses on embryonic development. He has dual terminal degrees, both an M.Div and Ph.D., and thus, Jeff is intimately aware of the tensions that exist between science and theology. Jeff will provide a biological sketch of how he came to reconcile these two systems of knowledge and explore ways that science and faith can coexist and even complement each other. 

Dr. John Walton

John is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, and an editor and writer of Old Testament comparative studies and commentaries. Walton’s research is focused on comparing the culture and literature of the Bible and the ancient Near East. His talks will engage a common refrain in our secular society: The Bible is an outdated piece of literature that is full of errors, and thus, it is largely irrelevant for meaning-making in the 21st century.