Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: January 2013



January 2013



Is the Lecture Dead? Not If You Keep Learning How to Lecture

Written by , Posted in Links, Ministry

Bueller? Bueller?

Every semester, I teach at least a couple of survey courses in church history or Baptist history. These are large classes (for a seminary), typically including between 70-100 students. Because of the nature and size of the course, I spend most of my time lecturing on the material, then inviting questions and sometimes open discussion related to the lecture. Frankly, I’m not sure there is another way to teach history in a context like mine. I appreciate discussion groups and student debates and other similar “active learning” strategies, but I don’t see these as replacing lectures in a survey historical course. At best, they complement the lectures and perhaps break up the monotony for some students who struggle with following lectures. (It’s different in smaller, elective courses of 10-15 students. I almost always focus on reading-based discussions in those courses rather than lectures.)

I don’t pretend to be a super lecturer, though based on input from others, I’m fairly confident I’m not a bad one. But I do know that, to whatever degree I’m a competent lecturer, it is because I’m constantly learning about lecturing. I’m incessantly tweaking lecture slides and other visual aids. I make frequent and intentional use of humorous stories, which students almost universally attest helps them to remember the material. As a professional academician, I attend periodic scholarly conferences where I listen to other people lecture. I always try to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work in terms of connecting with the audience. I’m constantly thinking about practical application I can make from the material in my lectures, which is crucial in a seminary context where we are preparing men and women for various vocational ministries. I also have a colleague at Southeastern, Ken Coley, who is an expert on pedagogical methods. At least once or twice a year I bounce ideas off of him, and I take seriously any unsolicited idea he offers to me (or the wider faculty).

Anyway, I appreciated reading Richard Gunderman’s recent essay “Is the Lecture Dead?” in The Atlantic. I think Gunderman makes a good case that lectures won’t go the way of the buffalo as long as there men and women committed to trying to be good lecturers. For my part, I know that I was shaped profoundly by stellar lecturers such as Corey Lesseig, Doug Weaver, Russ Moore, Tom Schreiner, Chad Brand, and Stephen Rummage. I’ve also learned a lot from stellar preachers (sanctified lecturers?) like Moore, Rummage, Bill Cook, Danny Akin, and Andy Davis.

(Image credit; HT: Benjamin Quinn)



January 2013



Andrew Fuller in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Written by , Posted in History, Links, Ministry, Missions, Theology

If you are looking for an excellent short introduction to the life and thought of Andrew Fuller, I recommend E.F. Clipsham’s entry on Fuller in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. For the moment, you can read the online version of that article at the ODNB website without a subscription. Among other topics, Clipsham writes about Fuller’s leadership in the Particular Baptist Missionary Society:

However 2 October 1792 saw the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) with Fuller as its secretary. He gave himself unstintingly to the mission. While not a great administrator, his critical judgement, his firm grasp of missionary principles, and his ability to understand not only the missionaries but also the religious public enabled him to give the kind of leadership that the BMS needed in its early years. To Fuller his position was a sacred trust arising from a vow to William Carey to ‘hold the rope’, while he penetrated what was compared to a deep unexplored goldmine. Though supported by able men, the responsibility rested squarely on his shoulders.

You should read the entire entry, which is just over 1000 words. For those of you with access to a research library, you should also consider reading Clipsham’s four articles on “Andrew Fuller and Fullerism,” published in Baptist Quarterly in 1963–1964. Those articles represented some of the best scholarship on Fuller’s theology that were written prior to the renaissance in Fuller Studies since the the early 1980s.

(Image credit)



January 2013



Book Recommendation: After Jonathan Edwards

Written by , Posted in Books, History, Theology

I’ve recently been reading through an interesting collection of essays edited by Oliver Crisp and Doug Sweeney titled After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology (Oxford University Press, 2012). The contributors examine numerous facets of Edwards’s thought and how they were adopted and adapted by key figures, theological movements, denominational traditions, and even Christians beyond North America.

The contributors wish to explode the popular thesis that New England theology after Edwards’s death represented a drastic departure from the convictions of the great pastor, theologian, and revivalist. Instead, these scholars present a more nuanced portrait of Edwardsean theology after Edwards. As Crisp and Sweeney argue in their introduction, “the theologians of the New England school were creative contributors to a living tradition of theological reflection…. [T]hey were a closely knit community of scholar-pastors whose principal aim was to fashion a viable strain of Reformed theology for North America” (p. 5). As such, Edwardsean thought exhibited both continuity and discontinuity with the fountainhead of the tradition.

Check out the book’s contents below. Those interested in Edwards’s influence upon the Baptists or the recovery of Edwardsean thought among American evangelicals will especially appreciate the chapters by Haykin and Hart.


Introduction – Oliver D. Crisp and Douglas A. Sweeney

Part One: New Light in the New World

Chapter One: Jonathan Edwards, The New Divinity, and Cosmopolitan Calvinism – Mark Valeri

Chapter Two: Jonathan Edwards on Education and his Educational Legacy – Kenneth P. Minkema

Chapter Three: After Edwards: Original Sin and Freedom of the Will – Allen Guelzo

Chapter Four: We Can If We Will: Regeneration and Benevolence – James P. Byrd

Chapter Five: The Moral Government of God: Jonathan Edwards and Joseph Bellamy on the Atonement – Oliver Crisp

Chapter Six: A Different Kind of Calvinism?: Edwardseanism Compared with Older Forms of Reformed Thought – Paul Helm

Part Two: Carrying the Torch

Chapter Seven: Samuel Hopkins and Hopkinsianism – Peter Jauhiainen

Chapter Eight: Nathanael Emmons and the Decline of Edwardsean Theology – Gerald R. McDermott

Chapter Nine: Edwards in the Second Great Awakening: The New Divinity Contributions of Edwards Dorr Griffin and Asahel Nettleton – David W. Kling

Chapter Ten: Taylorites and Tylerites – Douglas A. Sweeney

Chapter Eleven: Edwards Amasa Park: The Last Edwardsean – Charles Phillips

Part Three: Edwardsean Light Refracted

Chapter Twelve: The New England Theology in New England Congregationalism – Charles Hambrick-Stowe

Chapter Thirteen: Jonathan Edwards, Edwardsean Theologies, and the Presbyterians – Mark Noll

Chapter Fourteen: Great Admirers of the Transatlantic Divinity: Some Chapters in the Story of Baptist Edwardseanism – Michael A. G. Haykin

Chapter Fifteen: ”A German Professor Dropping into the American Forests”: British, French, and German Views of Jonathan Edwards, 1758-1957 – Michael J. McClymond

Chapter Sixteen: An Edwardsean Lost and Found: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in Asia – Anri Morimoto

Chapter Seventeen: Before the Young, Restless, and Reformed: Edwards’s Appeal to Post World War II Evangelicals – D. G. Hart

Postscript – Douglas A. Sweeney and Oliver D. Crisp




January 2013



Baptist History Rap

Written by , Posted in History, SBC, Theology

One of my students from last semester, Ashley Unzicker, has recorded a rap song that covers 400 years of Baptist history. She raps Baptist history and theology to the tune of the Fresh Prince theme song. I’m amused.



January 2013



A Chronology of Andrew Fuller’s Life

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

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a bibliographic essay on recent trends in Andrew Fuller studies. The essay is due to be published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology later this year in an issue dedicated to Fuller’s life and thought. Between the essay, the class I taught last fall on Fuller’s theology, and the research I’m conducting toward my volume in The Works of Andrew Fuller, I’ve read far more works by and about Fuller in the past six months than any other figure (Jonathan Edwards is a distant second).

As I’ve worked on the bibliographic essay, I’ve also prepared a document titled “A Chronology of Andrew Fuller’s Life.” It covers major milestones in his ministry, including his major publications and the circular letters he wrote for the Northamptonshire Association. I hope to use the chronology in my class on Fuller the next time I teach it. I thought I’d make it available to blog readers as well.

(Image credit)