Faculty Q and A with Nathan Finn
CHRIS MARTIN | January 19, 2017
Q: Tell us about yourself
A: I am originally from Southeast Georgia, and I’ve been teaching at Southeastern for seven years now. I’ve been married to Leah since 2001, and we have four small children whom we’ve nicknamed “The Finnlings.” They are far better known on campus than I am—they range in age from seven years old to 10 months.
Q: How did you come to SEBTS?
A: I was an M.Div. student at Southern Seminary, and my wife, Leah, was a secretary in Dr. Akin’s office when he was the academic dean there. When Dr. Akin took the job as the president of Southeastern Seminary, one of the vice presidents at Southeastern offered Leah a job as his administrative assistant. So with a year of seminary left, we relocated to Wake Forest. I finished my M.Div., went right into the Ph.D. program and began teaching at Southeastern.
Q: When people ask you, “What do you do at Southeastern,” what is your response?
A: I teach our three required classes in church history: Church History I, Church History II, and Baptist History. The topics that really interest me are Baptist history and theology, the history of revival and the history of Christian spirituality.
Q: On what are you currently working?
A: I’m working on three major projects this year, a new Baptist history textbook with two colleagues from other institutions, an introduction to the discipline of history for Christian undergraduates and a critical edition of a classic book by the famous Baptist theologian Andrew Fuller.
Q: What have you been reading recently?
A: Besides what I’m reading for my research, I’ve recently read Gerald Sittser’s book “Water from a Deep Well” and Stephen Tomkins’s “The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforce’s Circle Transformed England.” For fun, I’m reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”
Q: When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?
A: I love reading, and I’m blessed with a family that loves to read as well. We like watching movies, especially from the superhero and sci-fi genres. We enjoy attending Durham Bulls baseball games. Also, Leah and I have season tickets to a Broadway musical series in Durham, which we really enjoy.
Q: Who are your role models?
A: Both my father and my late father-in law have really shaped me on a personal level. In terms of being a Christian academic, I would say three role models stand out: Danny Akin, David Dockery and Timothy George.
Q: What has God been teaching you lately?
A: Over the last three months, I’ve been meditating a lot in my devotional time on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). I’ve been regularly reminded of the importance of kingdom living and allowing the values of the kingdom to shape my priorities, convictions and attitudes.
Q: Where are some of your former students?
A: Most of the students I’ve taught are doing one of four things: serving in an established local church, planting new churches, serving overseas as missionaries or pursuing further graduate studies. I love hearing from them about how the Lord is using them.
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: I want students to love Jesus, the church and lost people more. I also desire for them to appreciate the history of Christianity—even if they don’t love it!
Q: We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?
A: The history of Christianity is the history of all sorts of interconnected themes, one of which is the spread of the church. I like to tell the story of how the church has always strived to be a family of people from every tribe, tongue and nation. In every lecture, I try to apply the insights of church history to personal godliness and missional living.