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School of Religion's new faculty are part of a new era of evangelical leaders

July 10, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

As Liberty University School of Religion continues to focus on training leaders for the front lines of ministry, the school ensures that its faculty is among the best in the world. Three recent additions — Drs. Joshua Chatraw, Chris Gnanakan, and Rusty Small — are among the next generation of evangelical scholars bringing their expertise to Liberty’s classrooms.

 Joshua Chatraw
Joshua Chatraw

“Our three new professors are young, vibrant thinkers, leaders, and communicators,” said Dr. Ed Hindson, dean of the School of Religion and a renowned biblical scholar, speaker, and teacher. “They bring a wealth of experience in local church and international ministries. Chris and Rusty will be teaching our theology survey classes and Josh will add his experience to the area of apologetics. Together, they will add vitality, credibility, and enthusiasm to our religion courses. I believe they will challenge our entire student body to think biblically, passionately, and responsively about their spiritual walk and Christian commitments.”

Chatraw is the director of Liberty’s new Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement and the Theology and Apologetics programs, which prepare students to defend their faith. He earned his Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has co-authored two books, written several peer-reviewed articles, and served in pastoral ministry. He is also a fellow with the Center for Pastor Theologians and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Institute for Biblical Research, and Society of Biblical Literature. Chatraw continues to speak at churches, colleges, and ministries around the world.

Chris Gnanakan
Chris Gnanakan

Gnanakan, a professor of theology, brings to the classroom 25 years of experience training students and national leaders in the Bible, church, and missions. He has a passion for evangelism, whole-life discipleship, mentoring leaders, and furthering the church’s global mission. Gnanakan, who holds a Ph.D from the University of Leeds, has served as the director of Outreach to Asia Nationals, where he trained Christians to plant churches and mobilize local outreach in their native countries, including those that are closed to the Gospel. A dynamic speaker, Gnanakan continues to serve as a guest lecturer in churches and universities around the world.

Small, an associate professor of theology, graduated from Liberty in 2003 and went on to earn his Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. As an alumnus with years of experience in ministry, Small exemplifies the kind of scholar and pastor Liberty continues to produce today. Small’s time as a pastor has given him an understanding of what it takes to grow a church. During his ministry at Liberty Baptist Church in Appomattox, Va., attendance at the 179-year-old church more than doubled. Small brings multiple gifts to the classroom, including practical knowledge about church growth, unique strategies for investing in the health of the church, and insight into the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Rusty Small
Rusty Small

Under the leadership of Dr. Hindson, who was named dean last semester, these new faculty members will join current members in training students for ministry well into the middle of this century using relevant curriculum and extensive internship and experiential programs. Hindson’s vision is to see the School of Religion build on its legacy of excellence while maintaining its theological integrity.

Working closely with Hindson to accomplish this goal is Dr. Mark Allen, who was named chair of the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies last year. Allen holds a doctorate in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity from the University of Notre Dame.

Allen said that the addition of Chatraw, Gnanakan, and Small reflects the school’s commitment to provide students with top-notch instruction.

“Our newest hires confirm our vision to produce scholar-practitioners with a conservative evangelical theology, who love the church and are committed to the Great Commission,” he said. “These new professors come to us with a depth of academic credentials and a breadth of ministry experience. They are academics, missionaries, pastors, and authors. Our students will graduate with a high capacity for leadership in whatever field they are called.”