James D. Smith III

Job Titles


Church History; Historical Theology; Christian biography; Spiritual life & ministry; History of Missions; Women in the Christian Tradition; Henri Nouwen; baseball history

Started at Bethel



  • San Diego State University - AB, 1972
  • Bethel Seminary - M.Div., 1976
  • Harvard Divinity School - Th.M., 1977
  • Harvard University - Th.D., 1986


A San Diego native, youngest son of JD and Connie Smith. Baptized at College Ave. Baptist Church. Met Linda Westmoreland in their HS group and Chapel Choir. They were married July 4, 1972 following SDSU graduation. Worked as a coach for City of San Diego Parks & Recreation Dept, then in construction. Attended Bethel Seminary in MN, and after working in factories there was invited to become youth pastor at Elim Baptist, Minneapolis in 1974. Has been in pastoral ministries ( MN, MA and CA ) ever since. While at Harvard for a one-year Th.M, volunteered in a local church - which called him as lead pastor in 1977. Subsequently applied for their Th.D. program in church history, and beginning in 1981 served four years as Teaching Fellow there. Teaching since then has included Eastern/Palmer Seminary (Philadelphia), Southern Seminary (Louisville), Daystar University (Nairobi), University of San Diego (17 years) and currently Richmont Graduate University (Atlanta). Jim & Linda have been blessed by three children and six grandchildren.

Courses Taught

Current Bethel rotation:

Core: Church History Survey; American Christianity; Christian Lives in History; Leading Celebrations in the Christian Life Cycle.

Electives: Christian Classics: History of Missions; History &Theology of Ministry; Women in the Christian Tradition; Henri Nouwen; Guided Research/Independent Studies


Academic Honors at SDSU, Bethel Seminary, Harvard. Professor Emeritus, Bethel University; Outstanding Faculty Award, USD Greeks; Lifetime Achievement Award from Christian for Biblical Equality (2015)


Co-edited: The Fabric of Early Christianity, The Subjective Eye, the Encyclopedia of Christian Literature and the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. In recent years, key consultant in Justo Gonzalez' revision of The Story of Christianity (2vol) and missional To All Nations, From All Nations - and also John Mulder's Finding God: A Treasury of Conversion Stories. Over 150 additional published articles. Most recently served as editorial advisor for the Encyclopedia of Christian Education (3vol). Current projects include introducing new editions of Harvard mentor George H. Williams' Christian Attitudes Towards Nature and Wilderness & Paradise in Christian Thought.


Favorites include: "Marks of a Y's World Christian" YMCA International Convention (1990); "History of the Hispanic Church in the United States" BGC Asociacion Cultural Annual Mtg (1996); "An Evangelical Perspective" at Spirituality: Catholics, Orthodox & Evangelicals in Dialogue Conference (Fuller, 1998); "Reflections on Euzoius in Alexandria and Antioch" (Oxford, 1999), "Four Medieval Hymns and their Ellis Island Passage" Wheaton Hymnody Conference (2000), ""'The Kid Leaves Home:' Ted Williams and the 1938 Minneapolis Millers" SABR/Hall of Champions Conference (2003); "Hall of Fame Electronic Field Trip: 19th c Baseball" Cooperstown/ High Tech High Conference (2005); "From Religious Hostility to Hospitality: A Christian Perspective" Harvard Clubs Religious Extremism Convocation (2006); "The Protreptic Henri: Christian Witness as Hospitality" Nouwen 10th Anniversary Conference (Toronto, 2006); "A Forgotten Pioneer: Julia Kavanagh's Women of Christianity - 1852" CBE Convention (2007); "A Sermon Worth Hearing Twice (Jere. 8:22)" First Pres Springfield for Lincoln Bicentennial (2009),"Gottfried Arnold Speaks English" Pietism Conference (2009); "Orthodoxy at Fort Ross, 1812-1841" Settlement Bicentennial Conference (2012); "Dorothy Carey: Insights for Cross Cultural Workers" Evangelical Missiological Society Meetings (2013); "Christians Meeting Crises" (2015)

Certificates and Licenses

Ordained 1978 in Baptist General Conference/Converge (Calvary Baptist Church, Boston)

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

American Academy of Religion; American Society of Church History; Christians for Biblical Equality; Society for American Baseball Research

Hobbies and Interests

Family; Baseball History; Geneaology; Travel

Areas of expertise

Church History; Historical Theology; Christian biography; Spiritual life & ministry; History of Missions; Women in the Christian Tradition; Henri Nouwen; baseball history


Matt. 13:52; I Thess. 5:21; Psalms 101:6; Col. 1:16-17; I Pet 4:10; Mark 14:1-9; John 1:14, 12:20-29; Micah 6:8; Gal 3:28