Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Monthly Archive: December 2013



December 2013





December 2013



Springtime in Tennessee, Or, Where We Will Be During My Sabbatical

Written by , Posted in Family, Ministry

Union UniversityThis coming Friday, we will celebrate our fall graduation exercises at Southeastern Seminary. When the ceremony ends around noon, I will be finished teaching for several months. The trustees and administration at Southeastern have been gracious enough to grant me a sabbatical during the spring semester 2014. I will not have any classes at Southeastern until I teach our SBC Annual Meeting class in June 2014.

In recent months, we began to look at the possibility of relocating during my sabbatical so that I would have more freedom to research and write. I have several contracted projects to work on during my study leave: 1) I’m finishing up a co-authored Baptist history textbook with B&H Academic; 2) I’m editing a volume in the forthcoming Works of Andrew Fuller series with Walter de Gruyter; 3) I’m co-edited a collection of essays on Andrew Fuller and his contemporaries for Pickwick Press; 4) I’m contributing two entries to A Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia with Eerdmans; and 5) I’m contributing a chapter on John L. Dagg to a volume with Particular Baptist Press. Because this is a lot of work in a relatively short amount of time, we decided it was paramount to get in an atmosphere where there are as few distractions as possible.

I’m excited to announce that our family will be relocating to Union University in Jackson, Tennessee for the spring 2014 semester. If you are not familiar with Union, it is one of the healthiest evangelical universities in America. I have many friends who teach at Union and we are excited about being a part of their vibrant campus community. We will move to Jackson in early January and will likely remain there until the end of June. We are truly grateful to President David Dockery and the Union administration for their hospitality and look forward to spending almost six months in Jackson. We are also excited about being a short distance from good friends (and key archival collections) in Nashville.

We will miss our friends at Southeastern Seminary and First Baptist Church of Durham. But we are excited about this providential opportunity to pull back from our regular routine and spend some focused time on research, writing and, Lord willing, family excursions to new places. We would covet your prayers as we prepare for our relocation in less than a month and as I try to be as productive as I can during my study leave.



December 2013



Nelson Mandela’s 1998 Speech at Harvard

Written by , Posted in Culture, History

By now, you have probably heard that Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) died yesterday. He was 95 years old. Mandela is one of the great world figures of the past seven decades. After spending 27 years in prison as a political prisoner, Mandela was the first black South African to serve as president of that nation from 1994-1999. He also formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which helped South Africans transition to a post-apartheid democracy while also valuing justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Below is a video of Mandela’s 1998 speech at Harvard University. It is probably Mandela’s best-known speech in the USA.




December 2013



Should You Pursue a Ph.D.?

Written by , Posted in History, Ministry, Theology

I knew from the time I was a senior in college that I wanted to earn a Ph.D. in either church history or theology. I felt like this was the right course for me whether I ended up as a professor, a vocational pastor, or both. I have never regretted that decision. However, I do not believe that my decision should be everyone’s decision. There is often significant cost and always significant time involved in earning a Ph.D. It can also be a taxing season on a family–especially a young family. Anyone considering applying into research doctoral programs should pray long and hard before they pull the trigger on that decision, especially if they do not feel strongly led by the Lord to work in higher education.

If you are considering research doctoral studies, I want to point you to some resources to help you think through this important decision. These resources represent the pros, cons and “perhapses” of whether or not it is a good idea to pursue a Ph.D.

  • I have previously written a post titled “On the Merits of a Ph.D. in Church History or Historical Theology.” I focus on my own discipline, but I think most of the principles apply more broadly. I am a strong advocate of pastors earning research doctorates if they are willing and able.
  • John Stackhouse of Regent College has an excellent, thoughtful essay titled “Thinking about a Ph.D.?” This is an especially helpful article for those who desire to teach in a college, university or seminary context.
  • Blake White, a pastor in Texas, has written a helpful piece titled “Why I Did Not Do a PhD.” White planned to earn a Ph.D., then changed his mind. Perhaps his reasons will resonate with some of you.
  • Gerald Hiestand of the Center for Pastor Theologians has written two excellent essays (here and here) on the need for pastor theologians who are able to write theology from and for the church. Those who are called to this vocation often, though not always, pursue advanced doctoral studies.

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