Hello, I’m Sean Finnegan. I grew up as a pastor’s kid in upstate New York, USA. At 19 years old, I had shipwrecked my life, embracing the self-destructiveness that accompanies narcissism. My first college had academically dismissed me because I lacked motivation and neglected my studies. However, once I turned to the God of my parents, he began to change my life from the inside out. He gave me a thirst for his scriptures and I started reading and studying them in earnest. (Listen to Podcast 42: My Testimony for a more detailed and dramatized account of this period of my life.)
Around the same time, my church was going through significant doctrinal changes. Since I grew up in a free church, we did not have an external hierarchy to hold us to a particular creed. As a result, our ministers discovered that the doctrinal system called dispensationalism was not at all the best way of thinking about the bible. We had imbibed a view that taught only Paul’s epistles were authoritative for the church age and that the Hebrew bible along with the Gospels were for other dispensations or ages. Breaking the shackles of this system inspired us to seek biblical truth wherever it may lead.
During this time I became a committed Christian rather than a hypocrite. Reading the scriptures was a tonic for me and my friends; I remember well how we often delved into spontaneous bible studies. I started taking school seriously and graduated first from Hudson Valley Community College and then (miraculously) got into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where I earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering. Having worked so hard to understand and design computer chips, I felt a void in my vocational plans. I was concerned how people might use or abuse the technology I helped design. I wanted to really step out in faith and stand for God, but I didn’t really know how I should do that. I felt a strong desire to travel to Africa as a missionary and preach to those who hadn’t yet heard the message.
In order to pursue my missionary goals I had taken a job landscaping so that I could leave at a moment’s notice. However, the person I was supposed to go with kept delaying our departure month after month. In the meanwhile, my friendship with a certain spectacular Ruth Knowlton blossomed into a romantic relationship that culminated in our marriage. Shortly after our honeymoon, my new bride turned to me and said, “You know he’s never going to go to Africa. It’s been a year.” There’s nothing like the plain facts from an external source to wake you from a delusion. She was right. She suggested I call Joe Martin at the Atlanta Bible College (ABC), because she had heard through her father that he goes on a trip every year.
I called him up and he told me that he and Rebekah were getting ready to go the next day, so we wouldn’t be able to join them this year. He suggested that Ruth and I come down to the bible college to get to know them for a semester and then they would decide if we could come on the trip next year. After I hung up, I turned to Ruth and said, “How would you feel about moving to Atlanta and going to bible school?” She said, “Sure,” and off we went.
By the end of the year at ABC Ruth and I went on our missionary trip together, spending almost a month abroad in South Africa, Malawi, and Mozambique. We visited little country churches made of mud bricks and thatched roofs. The people had no running water or access to electricity. They would all come out with shouts of joy and surround our van as we approached. In some cases, we were the only zungus (white people) they had ever encountered. We preached at each church and distributed bibles. In some of the villages we checked on plans to dig proper wells. That month living in Africa opened my eyes to the incredible poverty that many in our world endure. Even so, they were not miserable people. They genuinely had joy in their hearts and a thirst for knowing their God and his messiah. (Listen to this interview with Joe and Rebekah Martin to hear more about this work)
After we got back, we spent another year at ABC, during which time I earned my second Bachelors, this time in theology. We moved back to New York where I joined my father (Vince Finnegan) as the assistant pastor at Living Hope. After serving for four years, I applied for grad school and got into Boston University’s school of theology on a full scholarship. To her credit, Ruth was ready for another adventure and we packed up our two kids and moved to New England.
We settled in Providence, Rhode Island since that was near an amazing church of like-minded believers called Living Faith Christian Church. I rode the train back and forth between Providence and Boston for two and a half years until I graduated. By then we had three children. It was exhilarating studying the history of early Christianity and improving my language skills. Since Boston theology schools allow you to cross-register between them, I got to take Greek classes at Harvard for three semesters! It was a mentally stimulating time, though it was hard on the family.
We moved back to New York, and I resumed my pastoral responsibilities at Living Hope, working with my father. We found a house in Clifton Park and put down some roots. It was getting to be time to stop moving the kids around. By the time my firstborn, Noah, was in second grade he had gone to four different schools. I continue to pastor, teach, develop websites, and counsel at Living Hope. I travel to ABC once or twice a year to teach week-long intensive classes on Church History, Apologetics, Evangelism, and Basic Bible Doctrine.
This site is a place where I can share my work as well as recommend quality resources by others. Hopefully it will encourage you, build your faith, as well as inspire you.