Union University has named Nathan Finn of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) as dean of the university’s School of Theology and Missions.
Finn, director of the Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality and associate professor of historical theology and spiritual formation at SEBTS, has taught at the seminary and held a variety of positions there since 2006.
“Nathan is a great teacher, an excellent scholar, a strong churchman, a devoted husband and father and a faithful follower of Christ,” Union President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said. “We are excited that he is joining us at Union and look forward to his leadership and service as we seek to advance our mission and vision.”
Finn will take over the position previously held by Greg Thornbury, who left Union in 2013 to become president of The King’s College in New York. James Patterson has been the school’s acting dean since then.
Finn said he is thankful for Union’s storied history and ongoing influence in Baptist life and the wider evangelical world.
“I could not be more excited to be joining the Union family,” Finn said. “I was shaped profoundly by my own education at a Baptist liberal arts college. I look forward to being a part of a comprehensive university where every discipline is engaged from the perspective of the Christian worldview.”
The faculty in Union’s School of Theology and Missions is one of the strongest theological faculties in the nation, he added.
“I have been friends with many of them for years and have been greatly influenced by their teaching and writing in my own ministry,” Finn said. “I love how they wed faithful Christian scholarship with an emphasis on practical ministry and a burden for the salvation of the lost. I’m grateful for the chance to lead the School of Theology and Missions as we educate a rising generation of pastors, church staff, missionaries and other Christian leaders for the glory of God and the advance of his kingdom.”
Danny Akin, president at SEBTS, called Finn “one of the finest church historians I have ever known” and “a wonderful churchman.”
“His departure from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is a huge loss for us and a tremendous gain for Union University,” Akin said. “I can only give my blessing to this move because in my heart I know it is good for the kingdom work of Christ. I believe Nathan will excel at his new assignment, and he goes with my love, prayers and full support.”
Finn completed his bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy from SEBTS.
In addition to his role at SEBTS, Finn serves as an adjunct professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he teaches seminars and supervises doctoral students in biblical spirituality.
A prolific writer and editor, Finn is co-author, along with Anthony Chute and Michael Haykin, of The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement, which B&H Academic will release in August. This textbook offers a comprehensive narrative introduction to the Baptist tradition.
Finn edited Help to Zion’s Travellers by Robert Hall Sr. and co-edited Domestic Slavery: The Correspondence of Richard Fuller and Francis Wayland and Ministry by His Grace and for His Glory: Essays in Honor of Thomas J. Nettles. He has written dozens of book chapters, scholarly essays, popular articles and book reviews.
In addition to his teaching and writing ministry, Finn is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who previously served in ministry positions in several Southern Baptist churches in Georgia and North Carolina. He is an elder and member at First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.
“Nathan Finn is a Bible-man, a gospel-man, and a church-man,” Union Provost C. Ben Mitchell said. “His passion for students, for his discipline, for the church and for the worldwide spread of the gospel of the risen Christ will be infectious.”
George Guthrie, Union’s Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, said he is grateful for Finn’s appointment.
“Nathan loves the church, understands the academic context as a crucible for Christian discipleship and integrates a warm-hearted faith with rigorous scholarship,” Guthrie said. “The fact that he is one of our very best Baptist historians in the field today can help keep us rock-solidly grounded in our heritage while giving us crystal-clear perspective on our current challenges in the broader Baptist and evangelical life.”
Finn and his wife Leah have been married since 2001. They have four children: Georgia, Baxter, Eleanor and Fuller. He will begin at Union July 1.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for Union University communications.)