I feel compelled to write a response to what is happening right now in the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention). If you are unaware as to what I am referring or you haven’t been following, Ed Stetzer’s article in Christianity Today from April 30, 2018 does a good job of bringing you up to speed.
Since then, the Trustees of SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft Worth, TX) have met and removed Dr. Paige Patterson from his position, yet they are giving him other positions and housing and compensation at the seminary.
Additionally, new accusations have been brought to light by accusers through a Washington Post article. These accusations date back to the Spring of 2003 when Dr. Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
There is an abundance of opinions on this situation and my goal is not to add to them, but I do need to speak so that those whom God has gifted me with the privilege of shepherding can hear.
1. Please let this situation cause you to reflect on your own life and how you treat others. Respect everyone (men and women), care for the abused and outcast, admit your faults and wrongdoings, seek God. I am not perfect, and I pray that any attitudes that have not been Christ-centered would be corrected in me. We can use this situation to spur us all to become better. Self-examination can either be initiated by someone else or be done by ourselves; but it should be welcomed so that we can be sharper, better, and more usable by God.
2. We cannot tolerate sin in our life. When it is pointed out, we must pray, repent, and correct. Sometimes that means we have to get out of the way in order for healing to take place. I am reminded of the Passover task where children are challenged to find and remove any leaven in the house. We have a great task and responsibility of carrying the light into the world, and that becomes impossible if we have refused to let God’s redemptive purpose work in us, our church, and the SBC.
3. It is a shame that we as Believers and specifically Southern Baptists are not doing a better job of leading out in caring for and valuing every life. Right now, the world is having to point out and call attention to our issues. Shame. Let us be known as the first to stand up for all people, women, children, the abused, the victims! The world is looking and watching. Wouldn’t it be better if we led the way to demonstrate to people how to treat others the way that Jesus taught?
4. I love the SBC. I am a SBC pastor because I believe that our cooperation is best, and I agree with the majority of our theological and Biblical positions. We are not defined by one man or one group, BUT this is going to make our task of taking the Gospel into the world exponentially more difficult. What will we say when we are asked “why did you not handle this issue better?” I don’t want to think about a future where I am not a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, but we must make certain that the Gospel is not being overshadowed by man or our agendas. We have an opportunity now to address this appropriately, speak up, and show the world that the damage that has been done is not indicative of the Gospel message that we are preaching.
Again, my goal here is not to stir the pot. The people of my congregation and the other SBC churches around the world are what make our convention. AND the convention is responsible to us! We must do better than this. I will be at the convention in Dallas next month, and I pray we can resolve to move forward in a positive way that will show the world that we both believe the Gospel and will live it with all of our lives.
Please pray for our body, the SBC, our witness, SWBTS, victims of abuse, women who have been slighted or made to feel of less worth, Dr. Patterson, the trustees and leadership within the convention.