by Jason Hall
Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary elected four professors, added a degree program and approved a modest budget increase at their spring meeting April 12-13.
Elected to the faculty were Nathan Finn, assistant professor of church history and Baptist studies; Ed Gravely, assistant professor of biblical studies and history of ideas; George Robinson, assistant professor of missions and evangelism; and Heath Thomas, assistant professor of Old Testament and Hebrew.
“Each of these men has served with distinction under presidential appointment for the last few years,” said Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile, Ala., and chairman of the trustee’s academic committee. “By electing these young scholars to our faculty we are setting the course for a bright future for Southeastern. If I were a student at this seminary it would be a pleasure to sit under these professors.”
Each of the four new faculty members brings different strengths to the faculty. Finn, twice a graduate of Southeastern, has done extensive work in Baptist history and Southern Baptist denominational identity. Gravely, also a two-time graduate of Southeastern, is an accomplished speaker on worldview and apologetics issues at colleges and churches nationwide. Robinson, who received a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern and Doctor of Missiology from Western Seminary, brings several years of field experience to the missions classroom. Thomas received his Ph.D. from the University of Gloucestershire in the U.K. and is an expert on scripture and hermeneutics.
Trustees unanimously agreed to add a new Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion to the school’s graduate curriculum. The 36-hour program will prepare students for doctoral work in philosophy, theology or missions. The program is designed for those who feel called to teach and write in a college, university or seminary setting.
“Responsible engagement of culture, in the academic arena, is an integral part of a Great Commission witness and an integral part of Southeastern’s mission,” said Ken Keathley, interim dean of the faculty. “We want to prepare students who can engage culture effectively and biblically, as well as bring an authentic Christian voice to the public square. This program will help us accomplish those things.”
The program will require classes such as Moral Philosophy, Religion and Science, Critical Thinking, Epistemology and the like.
In his report, President Daniel Akin told the board that Southeastern had the largest new student spring enrollment in the school’s history in 2010, with 290 new students coming to campus. He also mentioned that in the past year Southeastern had sent mission teams to India, Thailand, Mexico, New York City and Chicago.
“The passion both for the United States and the nations remains strong on this campus,” Akin said. “I am so thankful that our faculty and our students remain willing to go.”
Trustees also approved a 2010-2011 budget of $20.7 million, a 2.7 percent increase from the previous year. Though poor economic conditions played a role in budget preparation, Ryan Hutchinson, senior vice president of business administration, reported that Southeastern avoided budget-related layoffs or salary cuts.
“We are grateful to God for the ways he continues to provide for the work he is doing at Southeastern,” said board chairman Jack Homesley, pastor of Christ Community Church in Huntersville, N.C. “While the glory goes to God, we are also thankful for the dedication of Southeastern’s faculty and staff, who have worked hard in tough economic circumstances the past few years, without grumbling or complaining. It is clear that God is doing a great work on this campus.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.