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“This one is broken!” Normally hearing these words from my toddler would make me assume something valuable, specifically something of mine, has been thrown somewhere, but this time I could understand the frustration. Watching my daughter struggle with a small shape sorting toy was to observe the resiliency of the human spirit, or perhaps just stubbornness. Her attempt to push the triangle shape into the star hole made it all but impossible for me not to say, “No! That goes here!” Despite my impatience to see her succeed, however, I do know the value of the developmental process of finding the right fit for herself.

Sometimes applying our faith to certain situations can feel like trying to force a round peg into a square hole. Similarly, sometimes when I encounter some applications of how faith relates to mathematics, I sense the authors are trying to force the connection.

Yet, I also see the opposite problem. Sometimes students in my Theology and Film course—a class designed to make connections between theology and film will finish a film and say, “This one didn’t really have any theology.” Whether it be in our field of expertise or our daily routines, it can be easy to overlook our faith. They need to recognize what Martin Luther said, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”1 A breathtaking waterfall gives us a sense of order, power, and majesty of our Creator, and we thank Him for His creation. I wish the same awe and power was felt by my students learning trigonometric identities or point-slope form.

In addition, there is a third problem with certain forms of God-informed learning. It may not be forced, or it may not be ignored, but it may be simplistic. For example, some students in the same Theology & Film course finish a movie, and they try to boil the film down to who was Jesus (the good guy) or who was Satan (the bad guy). When pushed, they would go for the easiest route of faith application.

How might we help students undertake sophisticated approaches to what this blog calls Christ-animated learning?  I did what many teachers do to find inspiration: ask the students. I intentionally included a project that required students to pick a math topic and search out the faith connections. After hundreds of presentations over the years, I have learned about famous Christian mathematicians, fun philosophical wagers, connections to numbers, Bible stories, logic, space, music, and so much more. Students’ abilities to take a concept and connect it to their own faith was profound and exciting.

However, an original prompt of the project was to answer, “How can we use this topic to minister to the nations?” and time and time again, common roadblocks arose around this question. Most often, students would present the topic and say how they would explain it to someone else and assume that person would miraculously realize the error of their disbelief and run to the open arms of their Savior. Although simple at the moment, this conversion from our own words gives us way too much power. C.S. Lewis says, “Never, never pin your whole faith on any human being: not if he is the best and wisest in the whole world. There are lots of nice things you can do with sand; but do not try building a house on it.”2 After further discussion, I asked, “Where is our Lord in this? What is the personality of Christ? Who changes hearts?”

Ultimately, we prayerfully concluded that these creative connections and moments in which God shares His blueprint with us are wonderful comforts of faith, but they neither start our personal faith nor the faith of others. In other words, by seeing the intentionality through mathematics, the design, which causes awe and wonder, we are comforted and affirmed as opposed to some disjointed views that can be ignorant of the world and not see his Creation as aligned to what is mentioned in His word.

This job belongs solely to the Spirit and His work, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Amazingly intricate designs like the Golden Ratio—which shows up as a consistent proportion in plants, animals, galaxies, musical scales, human anatomy, and much more and points to an intelligent design beyond our wildest understanding—inspire us, fill us with awe, and with wonder—thus we are comforted that God’s world aligns with His word. With math, we do not have to be ignorant of the world or concerned that math will refute our faith but strengthen and comfort it by examining these intersections of math and faith. But these comforts alone do not change hearts, yet God can use these comforts to cause someone to pause, reflect, and question, perhaps opening the door a crack to allow the Spirit in to do the real work.

It is in this mindset that I find joy in the hard sciences. I find them satisfying to connect with our faith because they show the design and the order of God’s creation. In that order, there is also beauty and intentionality. There are moments when we can become monotonous with our faith, and these comforts can also be excellent fuel—fuel to share the Gospel and fuel that the flame of the Spirit can use to further the Kingdom of God.

These comforts reveal a small piece of God’s blueprint for the world that He allows us to discover—a look into His being, one that matches the love and sacrifice of Christ. In my forthcoming posts that I will dig into several fascinating and specific comforts from the hard sciences, presented by myself, past, present, and future teachers, and most importantly, let the Spirit do the real work.


  1. Martin Luther, as quoted Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, edited by J. Matthew Sleeth (Grand Rapids, ML: Zondervan, 2006), 240.
  2. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis Signature Classic. (London, England: William Collins, 2012), 102.

Jonathan Balsman

Jonathan Balsman, an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Concordia University Wisconsin, joined the full-time faculty in 2022.