Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: November 2013



November 2013



On Celebrating Thanksgiving Christianly

Written by , Posted in Culture, Family, Spirituality

Thanksgiving has always been a secular American holiday. Nevertheless, it is one that, when celebrated in a particular way, resonates with the Christian worldview perhaps as much as any holiday besides Christmas and Easter. When celebrated in an intentionally Christian manner, Thanksgiving can be a spiritual discipline. The holiday reminds us to slow down long enough to thank God for what he has done in our lives, especially over the past year.

Now we need to be honest. This isn’t how many folks celebrate Thanksgiving. For far too many people, Thanksgiving is almost exclusively about feasting and football, which are good things when properly enjoyed. Perhaps more diabolical, for a growing number of Americans Thanksgiving is simply the day you get well-fed and rested in preparation for “Black Friday” shopping.

It’s easy to get distracted at Thanksgiving. Frankly, some people want to be distracted. I hope you’re attitude today is different than that of the comedian Craig Ferguson:

I like football. I find it’s an exciting strategic game. Its a great way to avoid conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.

For Christians especially, we don’t need less conversation with family at Thanksgiving, we need more conversation! But we need to be intentional about those conversations. I would encourage you today to pause and be thankful for all that God has done in your life, your family, your friends, your work, your church. Share your thankfulness publicly, whether around the Thanksgiving table or in conversations with family and friends. Celebrate this quintessentially American holiday in an intentionally Christian way. And may God receive all the glory for how we give thanks for all he has done, especially in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Note: This post is cross-published at Between the Times)



November 2013



The Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality

Written by , Posted in Books, History, Spirituality, Theology

The Pure Flame of DevotionLast week, I attended the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. While there, I was part of a dinner where a group of scholars, students, and pastors honored my friend Michael Haykin with a festschrift titled The Pure Flame of Devotion: The History of Christian Spirituality (Joshua Press, 2013). Michael is a widely regarded historian who has written widely in Patristic historical theology, Baptist history, Puritan history, and spirituality. I haven’t yet figured out how one dude can write on all those topics. Michael is a Canadian mystery wrapped in a Baptist enigma.

The Pure Flame of Devotion, edited by Steve Weaver and Ian Clary, is framed as a historical theological introduction to Christian spirituality. My own chapter is titled “Andrew Fuller’s Edwardsean Spirituality.” If you are interested in the history of Christian spirituality, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of The Pure Flame of Devotion.

From the Joshua Press website:


G. Stephen Weaver Jr. and Ian Hugh Clary


Douglas Adams, Peter Beck, Joel R. Beeke, Nathan A. Finn, Keith Goad, Crawford Gribben, Francis X. Gumerlock, David S. Hogg, Erroll Hulse, Clint Humfrey, Sharon James, Mark Jones, Sean Michael Lucas, Tom J. Nettles, Dennis Ngien, Robert W. Oliver, Kenneth J. Stewart, Carl R. Trueman, Austin R. Walker, Donald S. Whitney, Malcolm B. Yarnell, Fred G. Zaspel.

Since the time of Christ, the church has known men and women renowned for their devotion, spiritual insight and piety. Collectively their lives portray a broad history of Christian spirituality. This volume is meant to ignite your interest and understanding of key time periods and pivotal people from various eras of church history. Instead of exploring the overall spiritual perspective of a person or period, only certain aspects of thought are dealt with. This is an approach to church history with an eye to issues of spirituality that emphasizes how today’s Christians can cull ancient sources for their spiritual enrichment and encouragement as they seek to live their lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Each of the exceptional contributors is knowledgeable in their particular subject area.Through extensive original research they skillfully expound the vitality and richness of the spirituality of their subjects. Introduced to these historical figures who walked closely with God, Christians will find rich application and benefit for their souls. May this book stir up many more men and women to pursue intimate communion and fellowship with God, turning from all that distracts and devoting heart and soul to loving God and living for his glory and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.





November 2013



Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics: A Guide for Evangelicals

Written by , Posted in Book Review, Books, Spirituality

Reading Christian Spiritual ClassicsA few months back, I had the privilege of reading an excellent new book edited by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin titled Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics: A Guide for Evangelicals (IVP Academic, 2013). The book is a collection of essays that serves to introduce evangelical readers to the discipline of reading spiritual classics. The book is wise, winsome and edifying. I would highly recommend it.

Today, The Gospel Coalition has published my review of the book. Here is my concluding paragraph:

Reading the Spiritual Classics is a great place to start for evangelicals who are trying to understand “the lay of the land” when it comes to Christian spirituality. But the editors and contributors will surely agree that reading this book is meant to be a gateway into the wonderful world of reading the spiritual classics themselves. Read this book, then take up and read a classic work of Christian spirituality. The editors include a helpful list of suggested readings in the back.

I hope you will check out the review and then read the book.



November 2013



Looking Forward to ETS

Written by , Posted in Conferences, History, Theology

ETS-LogoI’m looking forward to attending the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) next week in Baltimore, MD. I’m reading two papers at ETS. The first paper is titled “Andrew Fuller: An Evangelical Theologian.” It will be part of Tuesday afternoon session dedicated to the theme “Perspectives on Andrew Fuller.” My second paper is titled “John R. Rice, Bob Jones Jr., and the ‘Mechanical Dictation’ Controversy: Finalizing the Fracturing of Independent Fundamentalism.” It will be part of a Wednesday afternoon session devoted to the theme “Evangelicals, Inerrancy & Defending the Bible: Snapshots from American Christianity.” I’m excited about both papers and the sessions of which they are a part.

In addition to two papers, I’m also looking forward to the session hosted by the Baptist Studies Study Group. (I’m on the steering committee for the group.) This year, our theme is “Baptists and the Bible.” Tom Nettles, Jason Duesing, Christian George, and David Dockery will read papers related to the theme. It’s always a joy to connect with other historians and theologians in ETS who are convictional Baptists and/or have some interest in Baptist Studies.

Two other highlights I’m anticipating. On Monday, I’m going to tour Camden Yards with some of my faculty colleagues from Southeastern Seminary. (At least one colleague admitted he signed up for ETS so he could join us on the tour.) On Tuesday night, we will be hosting our annual Southeastern Theological Fellowship dinner, which will include professors, students, alumni, and friends of Southeastern Seminary. The dinner is always a great time.


I hope to see some of you at ETS next week. If you are interested in learning  about all the folks from Southeastern Seminary who are reading papers or chairing sessions, check out this post that I published yesterday at Between the Times.



November 2013



New Issue of Journal of Baptist Studies Now Available

Written by , Posted in History

Several years ago, my colleague Keith Harper and I launched The Journal of Baptist Studies (JBS). We felt like there was a place for an online scholarly journal that was unaffiliated with any Baptist denomination, study center, or historical society. According to the masthead,

JBS is an online, peer- reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Baptist history and thought. The journal is produced under the editorial oversight of a Board of Editors representing numerous Baptist denominations and both religious and secular institutions. JBS does not advocate a particular theological or denominational agenda, but rather reflects the scholarship of individuals who identify with a number of positions and affiliations.

We enjoyed publishing the journal for several years, but it became clear in recent years that JBS would best thrive under new editorial leadership. Earlier this year we transferred ownership of JBS from Southeastern Seminary to California Baptist University. It is now under the editorship of CBU professors Tony Chute and Matt Emerson. The 2013 volume of JBS has just been published. You can check out the Table of Contents below.


 VOLUME 5 (2013)

Editorial, p. 1

Contributors, p. 3


“Baptists, Pastors, and Titus 1: A History of Interpretation,” by Ray Van Neste, p. 4

“The Legality of Slavery in the Sight of God: Baptists and Their Use of Titus 2 to Defend Slavery,” by Jeff Straub, p. 36

“Reception History of Titus 3 in Baptist Life,” by Anthony Chute, p. 64

“Selected Baptist Bibliography on Titus,” by Matthew Y. Emerson, p. 91

Book Reviews

Bebbington, David W. Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People, reviewed by Crawford Gribben, p. 97

George, Timothy. Reading Scripture with the Reformers, reviewed by Jason K. Lee, p. 101

Iorg, Jeff. The Case for Antioch: A Biblical Model for a Transformational Church, reviewed by Walter Price, p. 105

Liederbach, Mark and Seth Bible, True North: Christ, the Gospel, and Creation Care, reviewed by Rick Durst, p. 109

Leonard, Bill J. The Challenge of Being Baptist: Owning a Scandalous Past and an Uncertain Future, reviewed by Peter Beck, p. 112

You can check out the JBS website to read the articles. I’m very excited about the future of The Journal of Baptist Studies and look forward to reading great articles and book reviews for many years to come.