Editor’s note: The following essay appears in the Fall 2022 issue of Eikon.
At Union University, we seek to establish all aspects of life and learning on the Word of God. This is who we are, it is who we have been, it is who we are committed to be in the future. Generations of students and their families have trusted Union because of this commitment. And we are unwavering in this promise as we celebrate our Bicentennial, having been founded in 1823.
Institutions shape people. As an institution, Union has common convictions and core values that guide all of us as we grow and develop. However, even this basic idea that institutions are designed to shape individuals is contested today. As expressive individualism has become dominant in the culture, Carl Trueman has observed, “institutions cease to be places for the formation of individuals via their schooling in various practices and disciplines that allow them to take their place in society. Instead, they become platforms for performance, where individuals are allowed to be their authentic selves.”
As a Christ-centered university, we see things differently. At Union we want to conform ourselves to Christ. Our Statement of Faith proclaims, “the Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe.” So we reject the idea of institutions as platforms and instead see our aim as shaping and molding our students. Thus, believing that institutions are intended to shape people, I was grateful to participate in the convening group to discuss and consider the Nashville Statement. And, I was glad to be one of the initial signatories of the Statement. I should add that I was encouraged that three others from Union were part of that initial group to sign. Further, the Union University Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution of agreement with the Statement and expressed appreciation for the biblical clarity of it.
A quick review of surveys that Lifeway Research and others put out each year demonstrates the need for clarity on essential doctrines of the Christian faith as well as the moral issues of the moment. Put another way, there is a lot of bad theology and confusion out there. Churches, and the institutions connected to them, need clear, unambiguous articulation about what Scripture teaches concerning the most important and contested questions of the day. For us, living in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, these questions involve biblical anthropology and sexuality. We need sound teaching. The Nashville Statement offers that. As leaders and as an institution we want to be clear, we want to be helpful, and we want to encourage Christians who seek to live faithfully. Five years on, the Nashville Statement continues to serve that purpose.
Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver (Ph.D.) is President of Union University.
 Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 49.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.