Faculty Q and A with John Hammett
CHRIS MARTIN | January 19, 2017
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I was born in Virginia, but grew up with my grandparents outside of a little town called Gaffney, South Carolina. I’ve been married 37 years, and we have two kids in their 20s.
I made a genuine decision to follow Christ when I was seven, though I didn’t grow much spiritually until I went to college and was mentored as a student at Duke University. I planned to be a lawyer and a politician, but about halfway through my sophomore year I got involved in ministry, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
After getting my M. Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois and my Ph. D. from The Southern Baptist Theological in Louisville, Kentucky, I began teaching theology in Brazil for three years. Along the way, I spent nine years in pastoral ministry, serving churches in North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana.
Q. How did you come to SEBTS?
A. We were on furlough from our time in Brazil addressing some health concerns, and I contacted every Baptist school in North Carolina, and Southeastern was the only one to call back. I taught adjunctively for one year during which the door closed to returning to Brazil and the door to a full time teaching position at Southeastern opened. I’ve been here for more than 18 years.
Q. When people ask you, “What do you do at Southeastern,” what is your response?
A. I tell them that I teach theology, and then usually have to explain what that means. Over the course of three semesters we cover what we believe about all the doctrines of our faith: what we believe about the Bible, about God, Christ, salvation, humanity, the Holy Spirit, the church and last things or eschatology. The goal of theology is that students know and love God.
Q. On what are you currently working?
A. I’m working on a project on the topic of “theological anthropology” or the Christian doctrine on human nature. I’ve got about five chapters done, and I’ve been working on the project for a number of years. I’d like to finish another chapter or two before I make a manuscript proposal.
Q. What have you been reading recently?
A. Two new systematic theology texts that came out this past year, one by Gerald Bray and one by Michael Bird. I’ve also been reading a few books on theological anthropology as I work on my project for that. Recently, I’ve read “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien.
Q. When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?
A. I’m a sports fan, specifically a Duke and Atlanta Braves fan.
I also love reading mystery and history books. I really enjoyed watching the PBS series on the Roosevelts this past week.
Q. Who are your role models?
A. Definitely my grandparents. They modeled servant hearts for me while I was growing up.
Academically, Douglas Moo was one of the best professors I had in my M.Div. He worked me hard, but he taught me a lot. In my doctoral program, Timothy George was a huge role model for me. Even to this day, the way I teach Ph.D. seminars is shaped by my experience with him in the classroom.
Q. What has God been teaching you lately?
A. My wife had foot surgery this summer, and because she could not walk on her foot for a number of weeks, God has been showing me how much selfishness still resides in my life. It’s been a good challenge and reminder of how much my heart is still so self-centered.
Q. Where are some of your former students?
A. There are three major categories: missionaries, pastors and those in academic life. I enjoy sending students out into these ministries and seeing the impact they are making.
Q. When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester?
A. My number one goal is that the students would have a theological foundation for all they do in Christian ministry—no matter the sphere. I also want them to have the habit of thinking about things theologically.
Q. We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?
A. When we pray in class, I often bring in the requests for different nations from Operation World. We also pray for former students of mine who are serving overseas, especially when I receive their newsletters and prayer requests. I try to take everything we talk about in class and make a practical world application.