Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: November 2011



November 2011



Happy Thanksgiving

Written by , Posted in History

Today is Thanksgiving. Like many families, we observe a number of traditions related to the holiday. First, unlike Christmas, we almost never travel, but we normally stay in Wake Forest. Second, we eat some sort of completely unhealthy sweet rolls for breakfast and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Third, we invite Southeastern Seminary students and/or First Baptist Church of Durham members over for a massive feast. Finally, everyone goes home and we all crash out. Sometimes we watch a little football, but only if the Turkey coma takes a while to settle in.

We also have a couple of post-Thanksgiving traditions. First, we hardly ever go shopping on Black Friday. Second, we put up all the Christmas decorations. Third, we always–always–watch White Christmas. Finally, we try to watch some college football. This year, it’s crucial that LSU thoroughly manhandle Arkansas so that UGA will be positioned for the best bowl possible after upsetting the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. (A guy can dream, right?).

Your traditions may be very different, but whatever they might be, I hope you enjoy them. Happy Thanksgiving.

By the way, if you want to read a great short introduction to the religious origins behind Thanksgiving, check out Thomas Kidd’s post “Not All Turkeys and Touchdowns” at Patheos. You should also check out George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789.



November 2011



Recent Writings Now Available Online

Written by , Posted in Books, History, Links, Ministry, SBC, Theology

With the exception of my post about the release of Ministry By His Grace and For His Glory, I’ve been relatively inactive on this blog for the past couple of weeks. Now that ETS has come and gone, I can catch up on blogging. In the next few days, I hope to publish several book reviews or commendations. Today, I wanted to point interested readers to some of my recent writings that are available online.

Many of you probably already know about Ministry By His Grace and For His Glory, a collection of essays written in honor of Southern Seminary historical theologian Tom Nettles. Tom Ascol and I co-edited that book. My buddy Bruce Ashford has published a short interview with yours truly about the book over at Between the Times. My own chapter in the book is titled “Baptists and the Bible: The History of a History Book.” Thanks to Bruce for offering to interview me about the volume. I hope you’ll read the interview and then buy the book. You can currently purchase Ministry By His Grace and For His Glory at a 50% discount from Founders Press through December 16, 2011.

At ETS last week, I read a paper for the Baptist Life and Thought Study Group titled “The Making of a Baptist Universalist: The Curious Case of Elhanan Winchester.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with Winchester, he was arguably the leading younger pastor among American Baptists around the time of the American Revolution. A few months after becoming pastor of the influential First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Winchester came out of the closet as a universalist. Today, he is considered one of the forerunners of Universalism in both North American and England. My paper focuses on Winchester’s journey to Universalism, offering a couple of fresh interpretations along the way. I appreciate Matthew Barrett and the folks at Credo making the paper available on their website.

The fall 2012 edition of Themelios was published last week. There are several fine articles, including an evaluation of the newest version of the NIV and a reassessment of Jonathan Edwards’s missionary career. The journal also includes several dozen book reviews. I wrote a review of Gregg Allison’s excellent new historical theology textbook. I hope you’ll read the review. Even more important, I hope you’ll buy the book itself.

(Image Credit)





November 2011



Thankful for the Cooperative Program

Written by , Posted in Books, Ministry, Missions, SBC

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t talk with someone about the importance of the Cooperative Program (CP) and what a blessing it is to Southern Baptists. Needless to say, the topic comes up all the time when you teach Baptist Studies. But I was reminded anew this weekend of how thankful I am for the CP, particularly as a Southern Baptist seminary professor.

As a general rule, I try to read almost everything Southern Seminary New Testament professor Tom Schreiner writes because of the way he combines steady scholarship with a pastor’s heart. I was reading the author preface to his excellent new commentary on Galatians in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series. Like many authors, Tom devotes much of his preface to thanking those who in some way helped him with the book. I was struck by the following paragraph in particular:

R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Russell Moore, the dean of the School of Theology and senior vice-president of Academic Administration, also deserve thanks. I am grateful for their warm support of my scholarly endeavors and for the granting of a sabbatical, which enabled me to work on this commentary. Indeed, I stand in debt to Southern Baptists everywhere who support the Cooperative Program, for I would not have the time to write if they did not give generously (p. 13, emphasis added).

I was so encouraged to read such a widely respected scholar thank not only his academic colleagues (who certainly deserve thanks), but also all Southern Baptists who support the CP. It was classy, especially coming from a brother who wasn’t raised in the Southern Baptist tradition and hasn’t heard about the benefits of the Cooperative Program from a relatively young age.

Tom’s remarks reminded me how very thankful I am for the generous support of Southern Baptists who, through their sacrificial CP giving, enable missionaries to preach the gospel all over the world, church planters to establish healthy congregations all over North America, and, yes, professors provide theological education to present and future pastors and other gospel ministers. In short, I likely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if the CP didn’t provide a large portion of the budget for Southeastern Seminary.

On this week when our culture celebrates Thanksgiving, I want to offer a hearty thanks to all Southern Baptists for the Cooperative Program. I believe the CP remains the best means for us to financially cooperate by “eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.” May we never take it for granted.




November 2011



Ministry By His Grace and For His Glory: Essays in Honor of Thomas J. Nettles

Written by , Posted in Books, History, Ministry, Missions, SBC, Theology

Today in chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tom Ascol presented Tom Nettles with a festschrift–a collection of essays honoring the latter for his many years of faithful ministry. Though I was regrettably unable to be at Southern Seminary today, I was delighted to co-edit the volume along with Tom Ascol. I also contributed a chapter and helped compile a bibliography of Nettles’ writings.

Ministry By His Grace And For His Glory: Essays in Honor of Thomas J. Nettles is published by Founders Press and includes essays from many pastors, professors, and other Christian leaders who have benefitted from the teaching and writing ministry of Tom Nettles. Contributors include Al Mohler, Russ Moore, Danny Akin, David Dockery, Greg Wills, Michael Haykin, Ben Mitchell, and many others. I’ve included the book’s contents below.

I thank God for the ministry of Tom Nettles–a model churchman, scholar, teacher, and Christian gentleman. It was a singular privilege to help edit this festschrift honoring one of my heroes in the faith.

Today on the Founders Ministry blog, Tom Ascol announced that for a limited time you can purchase Ministry By His Grace And For His Glory: Essays in Honor of Thomas J. Nettles at a 50% discount from the Founders Press website. I hope many of you will consider purchasing the book. More important, I hope you’ll thank God for the life and ministry of a brother who I believe to be one of the godliest scholars in the Southern Baptist Convention and the wider evangelical world.

Contents and Contributors

Foreword (R. Albert Mohler)

Introduction (Tom Ascol)

Part I: Historical

1. Baptists and the Bible: The History of a History Book
(Nathan A. Finn)

2. Remembering Baptist Heroes: The Example of John Gill
(Michael A.G. Haykin)

3. Crawford H. Toy: Southern Baptists and the Lesson of Controversy
(Gregory A. Wills)

4. Evangelicalism from the Beginning: English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century
(C. Jeffery Robinson, Sr.)

5. A Distracted Piety: African-American Baptists
(Kevin L. Smith)

Part II: Theological 

6. The Authority of Scripture: The Bible and Baptists
(David S. Dockery)

7. Without One Plea: Human Depravity and the Christian Gospel
(Russell D. Moore)

8. God’s Sovereign Election
(Erroll Hulse)

9. Limited Atonement: A Short Defense
(Geoff Thomas)

10. Understanding Effectual Calling
(Tom Hicks)

11. Perseverance: The True Nature of Saving Faith
(Phil Newton)

12. Justification: The Use of Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3
(Sam Waldron)

Part III: Practical 

13. The Preacher on Preaching: Wisdom from a Wise Wordsmith
(Daniel Akin)

14. An Idol Called Evangelism—And It’s Remedy
(Roy A. Hargrave)

15. Missions and the Doctrines of Grace
(David Sills)

16. “An Ingenuous Unfolding of Our Principles” Confessionalism Among 17th Century Particular Baptists
(James M. Renihan)

17. On Catechizing
(Jim Scott Orrick)

18. Recovering Regenerate Church Membership
(Tom Ascol)

19. Believer’s Baptism: Its Nature, Practice and Importance
(Fred Malone)

20. Baptists, Worldview and Focal Practices
(Ben Mitchell)

The Writings of Thomas J. Nettles: A Bibliography
(Nathan A. Finn and Matthew Emerson)



November 2011



Brief Blog Hiatus

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

I appreciate those of you who take the time to read my thoughts about Christian thought and tradition. I enjoy blogging and I wish I had the time to write more often than I do. Anyway, I have a couple of project deadlines in the next few days, so I’m taking  a short hiatus from blogging to work on those matters. Lord willing, I’ll resume blogging the week after Thanksgiving. Thanks again for your interest in this blog. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.