Former President Jimmy Carter is the most famous Sunday-school teacher in America—a task he's been at since age 18. Even during his tenure as President, he taught Sunday school occasionally at the First Baptist Church of Washington. Today he continues teaching at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. After the surprising success of his religious autobiography, Living Faith (Times Books, 1996), Carter worked on a sequel: Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith, a selection of 52 out of the 1,600 Sunday-school lessons he has taught over the years. In a telephone interview with CHRISTIANITY TODAY, associate editor Richard A. Kauffman talked to Carter about everything from Sunday school and personal faith to the Southern Baptist Convention and world politics.
In 1957 Life magazine said that Sunday school was the most wasted hour of the week. You must disagree.
We have hundreds of people who come to Maranatha Baptist for the Sunday-school experience. One Sunday we had folks from 28 different nations. I realize that a lot of them come just to meet a former President. But a lot tell me afterwards, "This is the first time I've ever been in a church." Some say they would like to pursue religion more. So this book, I hope, will reach out to these people.
In Living Faith, you write that as a young person you had doubts about your faith. How do you deal with doubts now?
One of the facets of a sound Christian faith is to level with God about your doubts or disbelief, your lack of wisdom or strength. God can withstand tough, honest prayers. I try to face my doubts and fears forcefully with confidence that God will forgive me.
When Paul was asked what are the things that never ...1