Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: July 2012



July 2012



Summer 2012 Edition of Themelios Now Available

Written by , Posted in Book Review, Culture, History, Ministry, Missions, Theology

From Themelios administrator Andy Naselli:

The Gospel Coalition just released the latest issue of Themelios. It is available as a 263-page PDFand in HTML.

It’s our longest issue.

  1. D. A. Carson | The Beauty of Biblical Balance
  2. Michael J. Ovey | The Right to Ridicule?
  3. Robert W. Yarbrough | Bonhoeffer as Bible Scholar
  4. David Gibson | Sacramental Supersessionism Revisited: A Response to Martin Salter on the Relationship between Circumcision and Baptism
  5. Martin Salter | Response to David Gibson
  6. David A. Shaw | Telling the Story from the Bible? How Story Bibles Work
  7. David B. Garner | High Stakes: Insider Movement Hermeneutics and the Gospel
  8. Hans Madueme | Some Reflections on Enns and The Evolution of Adam: A Review Essay
  9. 78 Book Reviews
    1. Old Testament | 7 reviews
    2. New Testament | 18 reviews
    3. history and historical theology | 10 reviews
    4. systematic theology and bioethics | 22 reviews (3 are book notes)
    5. ethics and pastoralia | 11 reviews
    6. missions and culture | 10 reviews



July 2012



Church History and Pastoral Ministry

Written by , Posted in History, Ministry

I was recently asked by the editors of Credo Magazine to offer my opinion on the importance of church history for pastoral ministry. My thoughts, as well as those of Gregg Allison, Steve Nichols, and John Muether, have been included in the “A Scale from 1 to 10” section of the August 2012 edition of Credo Magazine. I rated the question an “8 out of 10,” arguing:

At minimum, every pastor needs to be familiar with key persons, themes, and events in church history, though few have to be scholars of church history. There is a gospel-centered humility in learning from past faithfulness for the sake of present faithfulness.

You can find this discussion on page 19 of the current issue of Credo Magazine. Most of the articles in the issue are dedicated to the “Old Princeton” tradition at Princeton Theological Seminary, a topic that will no doubt interest many readers. For my part, I’ve also written on the topic of Baptist history and pastoral ministry in a short article I wrote for Baptist Press several years ago, titled “Baptist History and Baptist Ministry.”

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July 2012



Five Ways to Define Revival

Written by , Posted in Books, Culture, History, Ministry, Theology

On two different occasions, I’ve taught courses on revival and spiritual awakening at Southeastern Seminary, including a PhD seminar. One of the interesting things about the study of revival and spiritual awakening is that nobody can agree upon standard definitions for these terms. In fact, folks can’t even decide if revival and spiritual awakening are synonyms or reflect different (but related) concepts. And what about renewal, resurgence, reformation, etc.? Historians, sociologists, pastors, and other popular writers are all over the map, even within their specific disciplines.

David Bebbington, who has given us the oft-discussed “Bebbington’s quadrilateral” for defining evangelicalism, has also demonstrated at least five different ways that scholars and other students of revival have defined the phenomenon.

  1. Revival can mean a personal spiritual awakening experienced by an individual, frequently after a season of spiritual backsliding (think a spiritual “rededication”)
  2. Revival can mean a planned series of meetings held by a congregation or a group of congregations (think spring revivals or city-wide crusades)
  3. Revival can mean a spontaneous spiritual event that affects a congregation, resulting in greater spiritual vitality and conversions (think Jonathan Edwards’s Northampton church in 1734–35)
  4. Revival can mean a spontaneous spiritual event that affects a group of congregations or even an entire region (think the Welsh Revival of 1904–05)
  5. Revival can mean a spiritual movement that affects culture at large, spreads to other regions, and lasts for a more extended period of time (think the Transatlantic awakenings of 1739–48 and 1857–1861)

I think this sort of list is helpful. If you’re like me, you’ve heard all (or at least most) of these experiences referred to as revival and/or spiritual awakening. Four of them are various types of spiritual experiences, while the fifth (planned meetings) can be instrumental in bringing about one or more of the other four experiences. In fact, it’s possible that all five of these phenomena could converge into a single, larger experience.

Perhaps we should think of revival as a time of spiritual renewal and numerical growth that can manifest itself in a number of different ways. It can be totally spontaneous, or it can be sought intentionally though various spiritual disciplines (prayer, repentance, etc.). When revival is manifested in a corporate context, it is often a catalyst for innovation and creativity, which is well-received by some and rejected by others. It often, though not always, includes both an element of revitalization and an element of conflict, especially between those with different perceptions about the experience and/or its repercussions. Revival isn’t a permanent phenomenon, but it eventually ebbs, creating a sense of longing and expectation among those who wish to experience it anew. Historical revivals and their results (good and bad) have fundamentally influenced how various evangelicals think about conversion, spirituality, Christian maturity, worship, evangelism and missions, cultural engagement, and just about everything else. Revival movements are having similar effects among evangelicals, especially continuationist evangelicals, in the Global South.

For my part, I’ve experienced the first type of revival and participated in many instances of the second type of revival. I’ve personally witnessed the third type of revival on at least one occasion, though not in a church of which I was a member. I’ve not been a part of the fourth and fifth types of revival, though I study them regularly, both professionally and for my own edification. I pray for revival in my church, in my city, and among American evangelicals in general and Southern Baptists in particular.

For more on Bebbington’s views of revival, including his discussion about various revival definitions, see David W. Bebbington, “Revivals, Revivalism and the Baptists,” Baptistic Theologies 1.1 (Spring 2009):1–13, and idem, Victorian Religious Revivals: Culture and Piety in Local and Global Contexts (Oxford University Press, 2012).

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July 2012



International Conference on Baptist Studies VI

Written by , Posted in Conferences, History, Theology

My favorite scholarly gathering is the International Conference on Baptist Studies (ICOBS). This loose-knit group of scholars meets triennially, alternating between a host site in North American and a site elsewhere in the world. Five previous conferences have been held in Oxford, UK; Winston-Salem, NC; Prague, Czech Republic; Wolfville, Nova Scotia; and Melbourne, Australia. This year’s conference, the sixth, is being hosted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The meeting begins this evening 7:30 PM and lasts until Saturday at lunch. The conference will be held in Appleby Hall, with plenary sessions in Appleby Chapel.

One of the things I most appreciate about ICOBS is its diversity. Scholars come from a variety of traditions and theological persuasions, running the gamut from independent fundamentalists to theological progressives. Scholars also come from every continent, including some from majority world contexts. There are complementarian men and egalitarian women, seasoned professors and enterprising grad students, thoughtful pastors and world-class scholars. And we all have a blast together because of our common interest in Baptist Studies. Simply put, no other ongoing gathering of Baptist scholars includes such a wide variety of voices.

This year’s theme is “Mirrors and Microscopes: Historical Perceptions of Baptists.” There will be nine plenary sessions and several parallel sessions with shorter papers. The evening plenary sessions will be held at 7:30 PM tonight, tomorrow evening, and Friday night; the evening sessions are free and open to the public. If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, I’d encourage you to come to out to SEBTS one evening for one of the plenary sessions.

Readers who are part of the SEBTS family or members of Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh might especially want to attend Thursday night’s plenary session, which will feature Keith Harper (note the “glam shot” to the right). Keith serves as Professor of Baptist Studies at SEBTS and is the Sunday evening preacher at Christ Baptist Church. His plenary address is titled “When your Telescope becomes a Microscope: Fortress Monroe and the the Shaping of Baptist Life in America at the End of the Nineteenth Century.” If you haven’t heard Keith deliver a paper before, you’re in for a treat–he absolutely excels in making a form of communication that can be (ahem) quite boring very lively and even entertaining.

For my part, I’ll be introducing Keith’s plenary session on Thursday night and chairing one of the parallel sessions. I’m also reading a short paper titled “Baptist Identities in Recent Discussion: Prescription and Description.” As always, I’ll also be serving as a goodwill ambassador for SEBTS, trying my hardest to persuade my colleagues from sister SBC seminaries that SEBTS is the healthiest, most balanced of our seminaries, while also seeking to convince my moderate friends that we don’t worship our Bibles or make our wives remain barefoot and pregnant. Alas, I shall likely fail on both counts. (The scales will fall off their eyes one day, I reckon.)

If you are in the area and interested in Baptist history and theology (and who isn’t?), there is still time to register for the conference. I’d encourage you to check out the conference website or simply come to Appleby Chapel between 2:00-6:00 PM today.




July 2012



How Should Church Members Relate to Their Pastors?

Written by , Posted in Books, Ministry, Theology

More helpful insights from Jonathan Leeman’s recent book Church Membership: How The World Knows Who Represents the Church (Crossway, 2012).

Every church member will stand before God’s throne and give an account for how he or she worked to protect the gospel in the lives of his or her fellow members (see Galatians 1). That said, the Holy Spirit has made pastors and elders the overseers of the church (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:2). That means pastors or elders represent the church’s work of oversight in the day-to-day life of the congregation. Submitting to the church often means submitting to them. Broadly speaking, how should members relate to pastors?

  1. Members should formally affirm their pastors. Different traditions disagree on this, but I believe that since Christians are ultimately responsible before God for what they are taught (see Galatians 1), church members are responsible for choosing their leaders. Congregations should let elders lead in this process, but the final affirmations is the church’s. (it may also be the case that the church’s authority to affirm its leaders is an apostolic authority, which it inherits through the apostolic keys. See Acts 14:23; see also the congregation’s role in Acts 1 an Acts 6).
  2. Members should honor their pastors. Our culture’s ability to understand honoring seems to be diminishing continually. But just as the Bible calls children to honor their parents, so Christians should honor their pastors. The Bible even says to give them “double honor” (1 Tim. 5:17). And this includes paying them (5:18).
  3. Members should submit to their pastors. These two verses in Hebrews need to be incorporated into our understanding of Christian life: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7). “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” (Heb. 13:17).
  4. Members should pray for their pastors. These men are the ones whose lives and teaching help to sustain the church. Will it not benefit us to pray for them?
  5. Members should bring charges against disqualified pastors. Since they are out front, Paul protects leaders by requiring two or three witnesses to level a charge against them (1 Tim. 5: 19). That said, the congregation should not allow an elder who has disqualified himself to continue serving.
  6. Members should fire gospel-denying pastors. When false teachers entered the Galatian church, Paul did not correct the elders. He corrected the church. When pastors begin to deny the gospel or teach other heresies, God calls church members to fire them.

See Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How The World Knows Who Represents the Church (Crossway, 2012), pp. 104-06.