Alumni Q and A with Matt Emerson

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matt emerson holding a signQ: Tell us about your ministry and family.

A: I am chair of the arts and sciences Department and assistant professor of Christian studies in the online and professional studies division at California Baptist University. My wife Alicia and I have been married since 2006. We have three little girls, Grace, Lily and Abigail.

Q: Why Southeastern?

A: When I was done with college, I knew I was going to go to seminary, but I wasn’t sure which one. Eventually my wife and I decided Southeastern was our best option as she had family in the area, which was important to us. When I was finished with my M.Div., I was interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and we loved Southeastern, so we stuck around there.

Q: What was your most influential moment at Southeastern?

A: Because it fit in my schedule, I took Dr. Steven Wade for biblical counseling my first semester at Southeastern. I would sit in the back and goof around in class, but one day Dr. Wade asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch. So we went out to lunch and developed a bit of a relationship, but I was still goofing around.

One day, Dr. Wade and his associate pastor took me to lunch and called me out on my pride and arrogance. He laid my heart open and showed it to me for the first time. He wasn’t mean, rude or angry. He just loved me enough to show me where I needed to grow in Christ.

Q: What is the greatest joy that you have as a professor?

A: I enjoy interacting with the faculty I supervise, but teaching is what I really love. I specifically enjoy showing people how the Bible is all about Jesus.

Q: What challenges do you face as a professor?

A: Christian Studies tends to be the hardest subject to teach. Everyone comes into class with their own well-established, long-held opinions. It’s not like organic chemistry—people going into organic chemistry don’t think they already have all the answers. Trying to help people think outside their own box in Christian Studies tends to take more time and effort.

Q: What advice do you have for current and future Southeastern students who may pursue a role in academia?

A: Attempting to get a Ph.D. and move on into academic life is a serious commitment. Jobs are hard to come by, and that’s exponentially true for academic jobs. If you want to teach, you need to be serious about that. It’s hard.

Secondly, you really have to guard against pride when pursuing academic life. Because opportunities are few, it’s easy to be competitive and promote yourself unnecessarily. You have to guard against puffing yourself up.

Finally, you’ve got to trust the Lord more than you trust yourself.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A: I try to spend as much time with my family as I can. We love going to Disneyland. I like taking my two older girls hiking. We go to the pool. Also, I’m a fan of Auburn football and college football in general.

Q: What was your favorite class or professor at Southeastern?

A: Dr. Harper was great in Baptist history. Dr. Greg Heisler was an excellent preaching professor. He taught me how to preach Christologically with application in mind.

My favorite class was with Dr. Hogg who taught me how we can talk about doctrine biblically and with the overall storyline of the Bible in mind.

Q: What is one book that everyone should read?

A: I always highly recommend books that help give people the big picture and the overarching storyline of the Bible. Two of these books would be Graeme Goldsworthy’s “According to Plan” or T. D. Alexander’s “From Eden to the New Jerusalem.”

Q: What has God been teaching you lately?

A: One of the things that comes to mind is the importance of how I need to disciple my family. Everything from my speech to specific ways to teach them in the faith is important.

Q: Southeastern is known as a Great Commission seminary, how did Southeastern prepare you to be on mission in your academic role?

A: It was helpful hearing professors, pastors and people who worked on campus talk about the importance of the Great Commission. Everyone at Southeastern has a heart for the lost around the world. The other thing that was made evident at Southeastern was that fulfilling the Great Commission is making disciples wherever you are.

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