The release of facts in response to further accusations against terminated SWBTS president Paige Patterson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Shelby Sharpe, Sharpe & Rector P.C., (817) 338-4900

June 4, 2018

Given the wide-spread misrepresentation and misinformation regarding Dr. Patterson, it is important to set the facts straight. Insofar as they continue to be misrepresented publicly, accurate and appropriate responses will be issued.

This media release is in response to a release late Friday afternoon, June 1, 2018, from Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the board of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), concerning an executive committee decision of May 30, 2018, to terminate Dr. Patterson immediately.

The sole purpose of this release is to set forth facts and to put into perspective the committee’s decision and the way in which that decision was made.

Following is an itemization of the facts regarding the middle of the night termination made by the executive committee without all the relevant documents on which to base a decision:

– Chairman Ueckert states in the release that the executive committee received student records from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) that contradicted an answer Dr. Patterson gave to a trustee’s question during the full board meeting of May 22.

– Dr. Patterson was terminated without an opportunity to see the material or to respond to it.

– Neither Dr. Patterson nor his legal counsel was notified of the existence of this material allegedly incriminating Dr. Patterson prior to his termination.

– To date, requests by Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel to see the material have been denied.

– At Dr. Patterson’s request and after being made aware of the name of the Southeastern student making the accusation against Dr. Patterson, Dr. Patterson’s staff checked the
terminated president’s personal archives for any related correspondence. Letters found from the accuser to Dr. Patterson appear to validate that Dr. Allan Moseley, the SEBTS Dean of Students, and not Dr. Patterson, handled the matter. The accuser also apologizes for what she called her sin and makes no mention of or reference to rape.

– Copies of these letters were provided to Southwestern’s legal counsel on May 31, 2018.

– Because the executive committee did not give Dr. Patterson an opportunity to respond before his termination while in Germany for a long-standing commitment, the committee did not have in hand all relevant documents on which to base its decision prior to making that decision.

Following is an itemization of the facts pertaining to the charge in the chairman’s release that Dr. Patterson lied in answer to a trustee’s question at the May 22 board meeting:

– The incident in question concerns a time period in which Dr. Patterson was in the process of moving to Fort Worth, Texas, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, approximately 15 years ago.

– A personal ‘thank you’ letter to Dr. Patterson provided to Southwestern Seminary’s legal counsel plainly states that a student at SEBTS first interacted with a faculty member and then with Dr. Moseley. She thanked Dr. Patterson for being able to stay in school and for the way in which the school handled the matter.

– No reasonable reading of the letter suggests that the student had reported a rape to Dr. Patterson and certainly not that he ignored it, as is alleged.

– Dr. Patterson first learned of the charges that he allegedly did not report a rape at  SBTS during the May 22 board meeting. Dr. Patterson’s response was that he had no recollection of a rape being reported to him.

– To date, as far as we are aware, all parties with direct involvement and knowledge of the situation have stated rape was not mentioned. These individuals include the Dean of Students at SEBTS at the time, a woman assigned to meet with Mrs. Lively, and several staff members.

– Thus, when Dr. Patterson was asked about this charge during the May 22 meeting, he did not have a recollection of any such accusation.

– Significantly, one of the trustees sent a communication during the May 22 meeting to the SEBTS woman assigned to counsel the young woman, and this former SEBTS staff member further confirmed what Dr. Patterson shared.

Following is an itemization of the facts in response to the accusation that an email from Dr. Patterson to the SWBTS chief of the campus security department contains a statement that is “antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS”:

– The fact that an isolated statement from an email is being widely distributed by SWBTS trustees without providing adequate context is unfortunate.

– Dr. Patterson explained the full context of the statement to the apparent satisfaction of the full board, as evidenced by the fact that the full trustee board voted to name Dr. Patterson “president emeritus” instead of terminating him without salary, benefits, or residence as the executive committee later did on its own.

– The student in question had given several different accounts of her story to authorities, school administration, and her family. Dr. Patterson was seeking to understand what actually occurred among the many contradictory statements.

– Anyone who knows Dr. Patterson knows that he never meets alone with women without clear accountability practices in place. He preferred that there be no police presence so the young women would not feel intimidated. One must wonder what transformed the explanation of this statement from satisfactory at the May 22 meeting of the full board to “antithetical to core values” when considered by the executive committee May 30.

Following is an itemization of the facts related to the accusation that Dr. Patterson failed to deliver documents belonging to SEBTS in his possession:

– Dr. Patterson flatly denies that private SEBTS archives were ever stolen.

– Curiously, these accusations are now surfacing after more than 15 years, which raises the question of motive. Why raise the issue of supposed missing archives after all this time when correspondence shows that the question was raised and settled in 2004.

– This request was actually made to Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel.

– Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel immediately began an investigation which included contacting Dr. Chris Thompson, who supervised the transfer of Dr. Patterson’s library and personal archives from SEBTS to SWBTS.

– Dr. Thompson provided a letter (included below) referencing what transpired. In the letter he writes emphatically that the materials transferred included no SEBTS materials.

– Dr. Thompson had an obligation to SEBTS that no SEBTS papers leave its campus, and he attests to that in his letter.

Following is an itemization of the facts responding to the chairman’s charge that the papers given to the SWBTS’s legal counsel are SEBTS papers:

– Any reasonable reading of the letters reveals that they are personal, not institutional.

– Many officials of organizations receive ‘thank you’ letters.

– The fact that an official responds on institutional letterhead does not change the personal nature of the letter received nor any response to it.

To resolve the dispute about the true ownership of the documents in question, Dr. Patterson’s legal counsel has requested Southeastern Seminary join with him in having Peacemakers Ministries provide an arbitrator agreeable to both parties to decide the ownership of the records in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6, which prescribes how Christians are to settle disputes rather than using the secular court system. So far, SEBTS has not accepted this request.

While confident that no SEBTS documents were taken, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson are glad for SEBTS to have copies of any appropriate correspondence that they are unable to locate.

It is regrettable that these matters have been handled in the manner that they were. Had Dr. and Mrs. Patterson been included in the process and given an opportunity to respond, a much more amicable and less public outcome could have been achieved.

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UPDATED: Paige Patterson: “meeting with the student alone so that he could “break her down” 30 Days AFTER Rape Reported

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UPDATE: June 6, 2018

In an article released by the Baptist Standard that can be accessed here, gave the following statement concerning Patterson’s unusual comment in an email:

During the May 22 Southwestern trustee meeting, Patterson “explained the full context” of a 2015 email concerning a rape allegation by a female student at the Fort Worth seminary, including his alleged statement that he wanted to meet with the accuser alone to “break her down,” he said.

Patterson’s explanation was “to the apparent satisfaction of the full board, as evidenced by the fact that the full trustee board voted to name Dr. Patterson ‘president emeritus’ instead of terminating him.”

Sharpe said the accuser met “with Dr. Patterson and with others and reported the rape. The guy was immediately expelled from school and it’s reported to law enforcement. A week later, she sends an email to Dr. Patterson thanking him for the way he handled the delicate matter.”

More than a month later, Sharpe said, Patterson made the “break her down” statement to express his desire to more fully understand circumstances “concerning a forthcoming meeting that had nothing to do with the reporting of the rape.”

Original Article from June 4

In a statement from Kevin Ueckert, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SWBTS, concerning the decision of the Executive Committee of the trustee board, he wrote the following:

“In addition, as previously disclosed, a female student at SWBTS reported to Dr. Patterson that she had been raped in 2015. Police were notified of that report. But in connection with that allegation of rape, Dr. Patterson sent an email (the contents of which were shared with the Board on May 22) to the Chief of Campus Security in which Dr. Patterson discussed meeting with the student alone so that he could “break her down” and that he preferred no officials be present. The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS. Moreover, the correlation between what has been reported and also revealed in the student record regarding the 2003 allegation at Southeastern and the contents of this email are undeniable.”

I read this statement and shook my head and thought, “Wow; I cannot believe someone of Dr. Patterson’s stature and position would say something like this.” Perhaps I am missing something here. This perceived careless cold-hearted comment is not one a seasoned, statesman of the SBC would make. A story was shared with me. Evangelist E.J. Daniels told the story of a deacon who was driving past his preacher’s house one evening and glanced at the house and saw the silhouette of the pastor’s wife through the window jump up on the bed and the pastor began striking her with what appeared to be a broom. He saw this with his own eyes.

He called an emergency meeting of the deacons without consulting the pastor. The deacon related what he had seen with his own eyes to the deacon board and they voted to fire the preacher on the spot. Well, someone had called the preacher and said, the deacons are meeting to fire you. In shock, he came to the church walked into the meeting as it was about to conclude to learn of his fate. The deacon who saw what he saw, related that to the pastor.

Here was the pastor’s response. “You saw what you saw but you did not see what you saw.”

He went on to explain. My wife walked into the bedroom and a mouse jumped onto her back and she jumped onto the bed and I grabbed a broom to knock the mouse off her as quickly as I could. “You saw what you saw but you did not see what you saw.”

Today many are guilty of “hearing what they hear but not hearing what they hear.” We all have a tendency to hear “what we want to hear” and not “hear what we do not want to hear.” Those who make these kinds of accusatory statements public are aware of how powerful they are especially in the days we are living in today. Once again, this perceived careless cold-hearted comment is not one a seasoned, statesman of the SBC would make. We were intentionally led to believe it was.

I want to make two comments with respect to the statement in the email that Mr. Ueckert has made public. The first is to my own thought when I read this statement, meeting with the student alone so he could “break her down” and that he preferred no officials be present.

It was explained to me that the phrase Patterson did use had a much different idiomatic meaning for Patterson’s generation than it does today. This phrase can be an expression to say, “let me ‘break her down” or “get the details”. The statement that “no officials be present” also seems problematic depending on how it is heard as well. Did this mean that Dr. Patterson intended to meet with this lady alone or with someone else other than “officials at the school” or “law enforcement” with the intent of finding out what the circumstances were before other outsiders were brought in. We do not know. Dr. Patterson knows.

This brings me to the second and more problematic issue with all this: Dr. Patterson has not been allowed to adequately respond to these allegations. It has been stated that Dr. Patterson has been given very little opportunity to defend himself against these allegations and to share his side of the story. Even in the 13-hour meeting of the full trustee board, it was reported that Dr. Patterson was in attendance for roughly 2 and a half hours of the 13 and was given very little time to respond to these issues. He was only allowed to respond to specific questions of board members in the May 22 meeting and He had no opportunity to respond to the May 30 meeting of the executive committee because he was in Germany. This is absolutely inexcusable by anyone’s standards.

A final question is this. Mr. Ueckert said in this latest press release that the email Patterson sent to the Chief of Campus Security was shared with the full trustee board on May 22. What changed between May 22 and May 30 that would constitute a convening of the Executive Committee that would change the decision of the full board on the 22nd? If the email in question was available to the full board in their first meeting, what would justify dismissing the provisions made by the full board with respect to Dr. Patterson’s future as laid out initially on the 22nd? Ueckert’s public statement did not say.

This email saying, “let me break her down without any officials present” is one of two things. It was a calloused cold-hearted comment or a cautious, concerned statement made by someone who cared about the individual involved before jumping to conclusions and prompting public exposure irresponsibly. That is the response of a seasoned statesman of the SBC.

The latter was the confirmed intent of Dr. Patterson’s statement.

 

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The untold truth: Facts surrounding Paige Patterson and his removal from SWBTS By Sharayah Colter

UPDATE: The release of facts in response to further accusations against terminated SWBTS president Paige Patterson

 

 

The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” – Proverbs 18:17 (NASB)

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When I received news that Paige Patterson had been fired from his role as president emeritus, I was standing under a sunny sky listening to my toddler son squealing with pure delight as he chased his dog around my legs. It struck me how oblivious he was to the sobering news, and I felt the weight of the realization that the history we write today is the future he lives tomorrow. In the spirit of writing a truthful history, I’d like to offer a more complete picture of what has transpired over the past month in regard to Patterson and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe we are all better served operating with the truth, and since I am aware of these truths, I feel I need to share them.

The first fact I’d like to offer in full disclosure is that I have had a front row seat to observing Paige Patterson during my time at Southwestern as a student and most recently as wife to his chief of staff, Scott Colter. I have been in his home, ridden in his car, passed him on the sidewalk, been a student in his class, sat through his chapel sermons, emailed with him and shared meals with him. I’ve observed him in large groups and small family gatherings.

Second, I want to be clear that I have compiled this account of the truth completely of my own volition. Paige and Dorothy Patterson have not asked me to write on behalf of or in defense of them, and my words are my own.

Third, the fact is, Southern Baptists deserve to know the whole story. Thus far you’ve heard one side of it, and that is because Patterson holds the conviction not to defend himself personally, following the example of Christ. However, this story has spiraled out of control to a point that demands a balanced and truthful response. The facts below will characterize a man who — while a sinner with feet of clay like each us — is not guilty of all of which he has been accused in recent days.

Please allow me to address the accusations against him here.

Accusation # 1: Patterson encouraged a female Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student not to report an alleged rape to police.

This accusation was outlined in a Washington Post article published May 22 while the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) were meeting. In the article, a student who in a Tweet later identified herself as Megan Lively (Megan Nichols during her time at Southeastern), alleges that Patterson met with her along with four male seminarians and encouraged her not to report the alleged rape to police. The article states that she was placed on probation but that she did not know why.

Truth: Patterson says he does not recall meeting with Lively, which appears in keeping with a letter Lively sent to Patterson dated April 15, 2003 (see attached letter and response).

“Finally, thank you for the accountability and for putting me on probation. Even though Dr. Moseley has handled this, I think it is great that the school enforces discipline,” Lively wrote in the letter. “At first, I was humiliated and embarrassed. But I know now this is from my own actions and the consequences of those.”

In the letter, Lively apologized and admitted what she recalled then as sin.

“I just wanted to write you and first of all apologize,” Lively wrote in the April 15 letter. “I know that you have been made aware of the sin that was in my life. While I have confessed this to the Lord, repented and sought accountability in my own life, I feel that I have disgraced the school.”

In July 2003, Lively sent a handwritten notecard to Patterson again offering her gratitude and appreciation to him (see attached notecard and response).

“I just wanted to take the time to thank you for the difference you have made in the life of our seminary and in my personal life,” Lively wrote in the notecard. “We will be praying for you and support you 100 percent. The faculty and students at Southwestern have no idea how blessed they are to have you as their new president.”

If a rape had indeed been alleged in 2003, and Patterson had known about it, he would have reported it to authorities, as he demonstrated in a different scenario involving a Southwestern Seminary student when he called police even when the student asked him not to do so.

This brings me to the second accusation against Patterson.

Accusation # 2: Patterson did not handle appropriately an alleged case of sexual assault against a SWBTS student.

Truth: Patterson immediately called police in response to a female student claiming she had been raped. The accused man admitted to having sexual relations with the woman, but said it was consensual. The man also produced evidence to the police to that effect.

Southwestern’s chief of police can confirm that the Fort Worth Police Department was called and responded. Patterson expelled the male student accused of rape. However, because the female student refused to press charges, Patterson had done all he could by calling the police, expelling the student and encouraging the woman multiple times to press charges.

Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies Candi Finch, who also served as assistant to Dorothy Patterson during her time as first lady at Southwestern, was in one of the meetings where Patterson met with the female student and her family members.

“I personally sat in a meeting with Dr. Patterson and this female student and two of her family members,” Finch recalled. “Dr. Patterson opened and closed the meeting with prayer for this young lady. He encouraged her in my presence to press criminal charges against the young man, but she said she wanted to think and pray about it more.”

Finch said to her knowledge the woman has not pressed charges to date.

Accusation # 3: Patterson says an abused wife should return to an abusive husband.

Truth: Fifty-four years ago, a woman in Patterson’s church told him she was feeling spiritually abused because her husband would not let her go to church or tithe. After the woman emphatically assured Patterson her husband had never hurt her physically and would never hurt her, Patterson advised her to go home and pray for her husband. Surprisingly to the woman, the husband did hurt her. They both came to church, and the man was saved, about which Patterson said he was happy. Contrary to the narrative spun through social media, Patterson was not happy the woman was hurt. Patterson has apologized for not expressing himself clearly in the retelling of this story giving the impression he condones abuse. As one who has risked his life to remove wives from domestic violence, nothing could be further from the truth.

Many Southern Baptist leaders have condemned Patterson by explaining their stance on abuse and setting it up in juxtaposition to Patterson’s portrayed beliefs. Patterson has offered multiple statements clarifying his stance on abuse.

“I utterly reject any form of abuse in demeaning or threatening talk, in physical blows, or in forced sexual acts,” Patterson stated in “An Apology to God’s People,” posted on Southwestern’s website on May 10, 2018. “There is no excuse for anyone to use intemperate language or to attempt to injure another person.”

For Patterson, those are not just hollow words; they are strong beliefs which he has demonstrated by physically removing women from abusive husbands on more than one occasion.

“I was the one being hit and Dr. Patterson never suggested to ‘stick around and get smacked.’” tweeted Angie Brock on May 4. “What he did was bring the authorities, remove my violent husband and encourage me in the Word. Not recommending divorce does not mean approval of abuse.”

Accusation # 4: Patterson objectified a 16-year-old girl in conversation with a woman and her son.

Truth: Patterson, upon hearing a teenage boy say to his friend that a girl passing by was “built,” commented to the boy’s mother that the boy was just being biblical, meaning that he was using the same language the Bible uses to describe Eve in the creation account. In the retelling of this story during a sermon illustration while preaching on Genesis 2, Patterson said that the “young co-ed” who had passed by the boys, was “nice.”

Patterson has issued a statement saying he regrets any hurt his words have caused.

“[A] sermon illustration used to try to explain a Hebrew word (Heb. banah “build or construct,” Gen. 2:22) [has] obviously been hurtful to women in several possible ways,” Patterson said in his May 10 statement “An Apology to God’s People.” “I wish to apologize to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity. We live in a world of hurt and sorrow, and the last thing that I need to do is add to anyone’s heartache. Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been.”

Accusation # 5: Patterson fired student employee Nathan Montgomery in retaliation for Tweeting an article calling for his retirement.

Truth: When Montgomery’s Tweet was shown to Patterson, he instructed that the employee not be fired. Vice President of Communications Charles Patrick, however, had already fired Montgomery.

The matter was taken out of Patterson’s hands when Montgomery appealed directly to the board of trustees instead of appealing to Patterson.

Remaining truths

The last few remaining truths that Southern Baptists should know is the way in which the Southwestern board of trustees has handled the social media crisis and ensuing termination of Patterson. While many godly men and women comprise the board of trustees, the manner in which the matter was handled was disappointing at best, especially in light of the many bylaw infractions and violations of trustee confidentiality.

Trustee violations

The executive committee of the board of trustees worked outside the bounds of its bylaws by not giving the required 10-day notice before holding meetings.

Trustee confidentiality was violated by the release of information from the executive session of the board’s May 22 meeting to people outside the room and not on the board during the 13-hour meeting. Confidential seminary information which was only shared with the trustees appeared both on Twitter (@eyesonSBC) and in a blog.

May 22, 2018 meeting of the board of trustees

Despite the fact that Patterson requested the meeting to have a hearing from the full board, only a fraction of the time was allotted by the trustees for him to address the group. His time was limited and he was only allowed to answer specific questions posed by the board. On the second brief occasion when he was summoned to speak to the board, he was not allowed to bring his cabinet with him, as he desired.

Then, after waiting into the wee hours of the morning while the board met in executive session and upon offering Patterson the position of president emeritus, Patterson returned to a side room down the hall from the trustees’ meeting room to discuss the board’s solution with his cabinet. After about 20 minutes, when Patterson was nearly ready to return to the board’s meeting room in reply, a Southwestern employee noticed the trustees were returning to open session and rushed down the hall to let Patterson and his cabinet know so that they could return to the meeting.

I personally walked down the hall to hear what the board would announce in open session, since they had not waited for Patterson to return. When I arrived at the room, trustees and media were pouring out, having already ended the meeting after only a couple of minutes, if that, in open session. I had to ask a reporter what the board had announced and then returned immediately to deliver the news to Patterson that they had removed him as president and named him president emeritus.

May 30, 2018 action of the executive committee of the board of trustees

After midnight in Germany, while Patterson was sleeping, the chairman of the board of trustees, Kevin Ueckert, ordered Scott Colter to wake Patterson for a phone call. On the call, Ueckert told Patterson he was fired effective immediately, with no salary, no health insurance and no home. He then relayed that Patterson would receive instructions for vacating Pecan Manor upon returning to Fort Worth.

Before the phone call, both Pattersons’ and Colter’s email accounts, including personal contacts and calendar, were shut down without notice and while the three were traveling in Germany on behalf of Southwestern, leaving them without access to itineraries, train tickets, local contact information, hotel confirmation and flight boarding passes.

Also at some point before the phone call, the locks were changed without notice to the room on Southwestern’s campus housing Patterson’s private and personal archives containing ministry materials and documents from Criswell College and the Conservative Resurgence. No notice was given, and the Pattersons had no knowledge that this was being done and had not given permission for such. Despite accusations that the archives were mishandled, the attached correspondence from 2004 from Patterson to Southeastern’s librarian and president indicate he believes all was handled properly.

It is regrettable that the trustees did not contact Patterson during their May 30 executive committee meeting to hear any explanation of these accusations before his immediate termination. I wish to reiterate that the purpose of sharing the details of what has transpired over the past month is the hope that Southern Baptists, who own Southwestern Seminary and control its work, have a fuller picture of what actually occurred.

So why was Paige Patterson actually terminated? Was it for …

– encouraging a female student not to report to police an alleged rape at Southeastern? —We now know that he does not recall meeting with her and that she thanked him and sang his praises.

– not handling appropriately an alleged case of sexual assault against a SWBTS student? — We now know that he called the police, urged the woman to press charges and expelled the male student.

– telling an abused wife to return to an abusive husband? — We now know the wife assured him that her husband had not and would never physically harm her.

– objectified a 16-year-old girl in conversation with a woman and her son? — We now know Patterson has apologized for using a sermon illustration that misconstrued his heart and beliefs.

– fired student employee Nathan Montgomery? — We now know Patterson did not fire Montgomery and instructed that he not be fired.

We serve a God of truth. I have written in the spirit of that truth, and I pray you will receive it in that spirit as well.

Carroll instructed Scarborough, “Lee, keep the Seminary lashed to the cross. If heresy ever comes in the teaching, take it to the faculty. If they will not hear you and take prompt action, take it to the trustees of the Seminary. If they will not hear you, take it to the Convention that appoints the Board of Trustees, and if they will not hear you, take it to the great common people of our churches. You will not fail to get a hearing then.”

– B.H. Carroll – Founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Petition In Support of Dr. Page Patterson

<https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/the-right-thing-for-the-southern-baptist-convention-and-paige-patterson.html

 

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The malicious attacks against Paige Patterson have brought to attention the need to vocally and verbally support the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here is an open letter of support for Dr. Patterson in his role as President of Southwestern Seminary.

The Right Thing for the SBC and Paige Patterson

An Open Letter of Support for Paige Patterson to the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; forwarded to the Vice Presidents and Deans of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Convention President, Steve Gaines

by Samuel L. Schmidt

Brothers and Sisters of the Southwestern Board of Trustees;

I write this letter to you, not in a spirit of malice or anger, but of tremendous grief. I am burdened beyond explanation of all which has recently transpired against Dr. Patterson. Please receive this letter in the spirit of which it was written; one not born of ill intent, but of a desire for wrongs to be righted. You are in the position to fix the evils of the recent wave of malicious assaults and words against a common father in the faith: Paige Patterson.

Nothing But A Vicious Onslaught
The immediate past days on Twitter have been rather interesting for us, haven’t they? Decades old comments from one of the SBCs most polarizing figureheads have been circulated, examined, retweeted, and for many, have been determined to be grossly inappropriate, malicious, and downright abusive.
Of the 330 million active twitter accounts, a couple thousand individuals such as self-proclaimed news journalists (writing for the most liberal of newspapers in existence) homosexual bloggers (who have repeatedly marginalized the Southern Baptist Convention) church growth experts (who have zero experience actually growing churches) and social justice warriors (seeking to capitalize on a politically correct drama) have taken it upon themselves to urge Southern Baptists to end the courageous leadership of Paige Patterson.

The Greatest Among Us
Should we be surprised Paige Patterson is yet again the target of another string of unnecessarily evil attacks? Why wouldn’t our common enemy want to destroy Paige Patterson? Satan hates Paige. Satan despises him, and would not be content with anything less than the total destruction of Patterson. No wonder.
Patterson – with key individuals – just so happened to save the Southern Baptist Convention from liberalism and the decline of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

Patterson, by the grace of God, has traveled and preached the Gospel in over 125 countries, seeing untold numbers come to Christ – probably more people than all of you serving on this board combined.

Patterson holds to the Scriptural importance of the permanence of marriage, and is committed to helping couples resolve whatever tension exists in their God-ordained covenant, believing Scripture is sufficient.

Patterson, who advised Christians in chapel (the first I ever attended), “you would be better off dead than to bring dishonor and shame to the kingdom of God.” He’s right, trustees. We should all seriously consider Patterson’s words.

#MeToo
In such a volatile culture, journalists are often looking for the “next big story,” with which they can captivate audiences and generate clicks, likes, shares, and retweets. With the growing prominence of the #MeToo movement, any comment concerning women which might even remotely be perceived as aggressive, inappropriate, or morally unethical, has the chance of coming under tremendous scrutiny.

Paige Patterson has made numerous comments in his half-a-century ministry, many of which relate to the God-ordained institution of marriage.

Naturally, such comments in a politically correct twitterverse, are now more relevant than they have ever been, even though the culture perceived them as irrelevant two decades ago.

Abuse or Marriage?
Why have these comments raised a few people to uproar? While many individuals would try to steer the discussion toward abuse, they are wrong. The issue at stake here has nothing to do with abuse; we all know this.

Paige Patterson strongly condemns abuse in any circumstance or situation. As a matter of fact, comments on Twitter have surfaced of late of ladies who personally attest to Patterson helping them get out of abusive relationships. Ironic that the writers of the Washington Post have yet to capitalize on these remarks of individuals who have personally been helped by Patterson in abusive relationships. Perhaps these comments do not fit their narrative and witch-hunt? Perhaps they don’t fit yours either?

If the core issue in this discussion is not abuse, then what is it? The issue is marriage.

Is marriage permanent, or can a marriage be dissolved? The root of all these arguments goes back to the ever-penetrating question; is divorce permissible?

Dr. Patterson believes marriage ought not to be dissolved in any circumstance. He is right. I, and a host of other conservative evangelicals, agree wholeheartedly. Most importantly, we believe Scripture agrees.

To paraphrase Dr. Patterson’s recent remarks, “as ministers of the Gospel how could we believe otherwise?” Scripture is sufficient, and we need not step outside Its bounds in dealing with any matter!

Fortunately, this issue is minute and we can still serve Jesus together. Marriage has been an issue Christians have agreed to disagree while moving forward. For millennia, Christians have worked cooperatively together regardless of their views and opinions on divorce. If we have stood hand-in-hand for the sake of the Gospel before, why then, is the issue of divorce causing problems weeks before the annual meeting in Dallas and the sermon slated to be delivered by Paige Patterson?

The Real Problem
The members of the Southern Baptist Convention are not stupid. We can read between the lines; we understand what is happening. This is a coup to forcibly remove Dr. Patterson from his position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by discrediting his ministry, from outside sources who are now putting pressure on you, as trustees. Some of you stand with those outside sources. Some of you ARE in bed with those outside sources. This isn’t about divorce at all with some of you; this is about removing Paige Patterson. You know who you are; the Holy Spirit is calling you by name.

There is never a right time to do the wrong thing. Will the trustees of SWBTS now bow to the culture warriors, and worship their idol of political correctness at the expense of the glory of the Gospel?
Will we cowardly cringe at the sight of a few “social-media experts” who have no interest in the Gospel whatsoever, at the expense of a father in the faith?
Will we shamelessly follow the leading of outside sources who have personal vendettas against Dr. Patterson and have had an axe to grind for decades?
Is our Lord and our Gospel so weak and futile that we shudder at their words? Will we stand with those maliciously assaulting Dr. Patterson or will we stand with Jesus?

Strengthen your hearts Trustees, and be courageous! Paige Patterson does not stand alone. Neither do you. Demas may have forsook Paul, but Luke was him. Even greater, stood the Lord. Some may forsake Paige Patterson, but the Southern Baptist Convention stands with him. Greater yet, the Lord stands with him all the more. God will honor this saint’s commitment and courage to the Gospel.

I knelt by the chapel as I left graduation on Friday and I asked God to rightly judge the heart and attitude of every trustee at SWBTS. That includes you. I asked Him to search your hearts, and to decisively execute a divine standard so powerful among you, all who see it would recognize His glory. I pray He does so quickly. I pray you are found on the right side of God’s mighty standard. I pray you are found standing with Jesus. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. The right thing to do, today, is stand with Paige Patterson.

In closing, I want to commend Dr. Patterson, for a lifetime of service he has given to King Jesus. Not content with just preaching the Gospel, he has given his ministry to defend Its glorious truths and oftentimes been found standing alone.

As long as I am alive, Paige Patterson will never stand alone.
Praise God for Paige’s faithfulness.

Thank you Dr. Patterson. Your consistent faithfulness in the midst of gross opposition and heartbreaking mischaracterization, reminds us you will remain faithful to the end. We are eagerly anticipating your sermon in Dallas. God has a powerful word Southern Baptists desperately need to hear at this pivotal hour and it is you who must deliver it to us. Our denomination is at stake. No one else but you will do. Just as God has chosen you time and time again to be the sounding trumpet to a wayward denomination, so He has chosen you once more.

In the GREAT name of Jesus and in defense of Paige Patterson,
Samuel

Samuel Schmidt
SWBTS MDiv, May 4, 2018

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JD Greear for President of the Southern Baptist Convention: Since When Did We Become Southern Baptist?

Click on the picture below to hear Greear’s comments to his church.

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JD Greear announced to his church that he had been asked to allow his name to be placed in nomination for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his remarks he noted three questions that the church members would have and the third was an eye-opener. He said, “the third question many of you will ask is ‘Since when did we become Southern Baptist?” I get that. That is not something we wear on our sleeve here. There are obviously parts of the Southern Baptist Convention that do not excite us and represent who were are as a church.”

Here is a guy who pastors a multi-campus church that is not even aware that they are part of the Southern Baptist Convention and this is after he had run for the same position two years ago. So in the past two years, the Summit Church that Greear pastors still has no idea they are Southern Baptist.

It would also be interesting to note what there is about the Southern Baptist Convention that does not represent their church and who they are.

I do not know JD Greear. We have met. He seems to be a great guy and one that I do believe with all my heart loves the Lord and is faithful in being the servant God has called him to be. While this is a good start as a qualification to serve the SBC as president, there are other factors that do need to be considered.

Listen to Greear’s own words as he states why the Summit Church ought to be thankful to be part of the SBC. He notes that their church has 158 people serving on the foreign mission field. He notes that their church could not afford to send them and that the International Mission Board funds those members to the tune of $6 Million Dollars. What an incentive to continue to be part of such a wonderful organization!

Now, step back from Greear’s statement to his church for a minute. Understand something. The president of the SBC is not really a big deal with one exception. The president nominates the Committee on Committees that in turn nominates the Committee on Nominations who then nominates trustees to fill various positions of the entities of the SBC. 

Generally, the process described in the SBC Bylaws is as follows: 1) The president of the Southern Baptist Convention appoints the Committee on Committees; 2) The Committee on Committees nominates the Committee on Nominations [two members from each qualified state or region] to the messengers attending the next annual meeting of the Convention; 3) During the following year the Committee on Nominations reviews the qualifications of potential nominees to fill SBC trustee and committee vacancies whose names are brought to its attention by interested Southern Baptists; 4) The Committee on Nominations nominates to the messengers attending the next annual meeting of the Convention those nominees they believe to be most worthy of election; and 5) The Convention then elects its trustees and committee members for terms stipulated by the bylaws of the Convention and other appropriate governing documents [http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/bylaws.asp]

This is important for one reason; the influx of Calvinism has brought the trustee nomination process into central focus because the direction the entities take with respect to Calvinism will determine the direction the SBC eventually goes and the Southern Baptist Convention is in serious trouble where the issue and influence of Calvinism is concerned, especially for those who are not Calvinist and have no interest in seeing the SBC become a Reformed denomination.

The truth is, JD Greear will in the selection process of nominating the Committee on Committees without question choose individuals who will advance the Mohler/Akin effort to Calvinize the entities of the SBC. This is a non-debateable statement. Some will argue that Greear is not a Calvinist but the Gospel Coalition would disagree with that position. In an article that lists the Top 125 Influences in the Gospel-Centered Movement, JD Greear is listed as number 52. Notice the following statement about the Gospel-Centered Movement: “Who has shaped this gospel recovery movement?”

Notice that phrase, “Gospel Recovery Movement.” Folks will say that there is no move to Calvinize the SBC but it appears the GC thinks there is. Ok. Some will argue that the “Gospel-Centered Movement” is not a Reformed Movement but rather a return to a solid Biblical Position. Once again, the Gospel Coalition clears that issue up very well with the following statement: “2. I tried to think keenly about all the folks whose voices have given shape to this still-developing movement, sometimes called “young restless and Reformed” (YRR), “neo-Reformed,” “gospel-centered,” etc.”

Note the top 15 influencers according to this article:

1. John Piper
2. Matt Chandler
3. Tim Keller
4. R.C. Sproul
5. Mark Driscoll
6. Al Mohler
7. D.A. Carson
8. John MacArthur
9. Justin Taylor
10. Francis Chan
11. Tullian Tchividjian
12. Collin Hansen
13. Tim Challies
14. Russell Moore
15. C.J. Mahaney
[https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/jared-c-wilson/top-125-influences-gospel-centered-movement/]

JD Greear is a Calvinist. He believes that God is the One who decides who does and does not get into heaven. He believes that men are totally depraved and totally incapable of repenting of their sin unless and until God gives them new life allowing them to THEN repent and exercise believing faith. In the Calvinist system, one does not repent and believe to be “born again”, one is “born again” so that he can THEN repent and believe. This is the direction the current tide is taking the SBC and a JD Greear president will further promote that agenda to move the SBC to a Reformed position.

Others have highlighted the CP giving of the Summit Church noting that their giving is half the national average of churches giving in the SBC. It should be noted that the Summit Church does give to other mission causes but to lead the SBC, one should first lead their church to support the Cooperative Program before asking the churches of the convention to do so. [See http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/a-true-cooperative-program-champion/]

The Southen Baptist Convention simply cannot afford to have JD Greear nominating the Committee on Committees for the next two years. This election places our convention is a critical position and the outcome may well determine the direction the convention goes in the very near future.

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Free Will in a Response Driven World

I am not a proponent of any discussion concerning the subject, “free-will.” The term itself is vague and ambiguous in and of itself. The whole idea that men are “free” to will what they choose, is in and of itself a losing argument even outside the field of theology. A man cannot of his own accord, choose to fly. He cannot step off a 20 story rooftop and “will” to land safely on the ground. He will land.

The truth is, when God created man, He gave him the choice to choose. Man did not have a choice in that matter. Life itself is the result of the decisions we make that are themselves a response to everything that takes place round us. Those who argue against “free-will” in the theological arena are correct when they say, “man is a slave to his nature and is not ‘free’ to choose outside that nature.” That is an accurate statement, where our physical nature is concerned. It is not necessarily accurate where our spiritual nature is concerned. We have physical limitations and we have mental imitations. We are not omniscient so our choices are limited to our experience and our ability to assimilate information that is both available to us and understood by us. We can have accurate information available to us but we have to be able to understand how that information can help us to accurately make the best choice.

One has to recognize that even the task of “making the best choice” is relative. In this sense, the whole concept of “free-will” is both possible and impossible. We are not free to choose what we “will” or want to choose. We are only free to choose within the limits of the options we have at the time. For example, we cannot walk into a bank and freely will to take out any amount of money we want. We are free to choose to take out any amount of money that we have access to. We can withdraw money we have in an account at the bank or we may borrow more money and we may even choose to take what is not ours by robbing the bank. All of those choices may be valid choices and each of those choices carries with them certain consequences.

This illustration should accurately settle the whole notion of “free-will” where salvation or conversion is concerned. An individual walks into a bank to leave with some money. That is a “free-will” decision or better yet, a choice one makes. That choice in and of itself is really a response to some outside influence or more accurately, a number of outside influences. First of all, there is the influence of economics that makes money a necessity and then there is the social influence that necessitates the need to get money. If money was not a medium of exchange there would be no need for banks to exist and there would be no need to acquire money.

For example, cigarettes are not as valuable as money. Now, many choose to purchase cigarettes and then decide to smoke them. If one were to ask the question, “Which would you choose, a pack of cigarettes or $100” most would choose the $100. Here is the fallacy of “free-will.” Our choices are limited to our sphere of influence. We are only free to choose from among the choices we have to choose from and our ability to accurately assimilate information related to those choices. Let me explain what I mean. Is there ever a circumstance where choosing a pack of cigarettes is the better choice over choosing $100? Most would answer, “no.” In almost every circumstance, that would be the correct choice. However, if that $100 was in confederate money, the choice to accept the pack of cigarettes could be the better option. The problem with “free-will” is men are limited in their choices. Men not only have the ability to choose but he also has the responsibility to choose and then there is the need to make the best choice given the options he has as he understands them.

Here is another consideration. Our choices are responsive and relative. Is it ever bad to accept a $1000 gift? Some would conclude, “no.” While it is true that a $1000 gift would be universally accepted as being a good thing, that choice would be bad if it disqualified that person from receiving a $100,000 gift. This is where temptation comes into play. It is not that temptation necessarily offers us bad options, temptation always robs us of what God has in store for us and so the choice to choose to submit and succumb to temptation is always the wrong choice. When that which is good robs us of that which is the best, a good choice can be a bad choice. There are consequences to our choices. The consequences of our choices yesterday can have a lot to do with the choices we are forced to make today. For example, if we went into the bank yesterday and withdrew all our money and spent it at a casino, it is obvious that the choices we have to make today are heavily dependent on what happened yesterday! If we took out a loan and took that money to a casino, the consequences of those choices are probably going to be life changing! It is one thing to spend all the money one has in the bank, it is another to throw away all the money one gets from a loan that has future long term obligations tied to it. If one robs that bank, he may or may not even have the option of getting to a casino and the consequences of that choice is most certainly going to be life changing.

So, while we are indeed free to choose, we are not free from the consequences of those choices. So in that sense, we do not exercise “free-will” but we do have “free-will”” when it comes to the choices we are confronted with, given the options we are free” to choose from.

If it is true that men were created to respond, it would be difficult to argue that he is not response-able. To attempt to argue that man is not response able in a world that is response driven is like trying to argue that one can defy gravity if he chooses to do so. If one defines life itself as the result of the responses one makes in every single decision he makes, then it would be accurate to say that he is response able and responsible for every single decision he makes and every decision has the potentiality to impact some or even every future decision.

Here is an example of what I mean. An individual makes the decision to get into an automobile and drive to the bank to make a withdrawal to go to the casino. His cell phone rings and he reaches for that phone and in the split second he takes his eyes off the road, a car pulls out of a side street and there is an accident that leaves the driver paralyzed for life. One decision that would have been fine in 9,999 cases out of 10,000 changes one’s options to choose for life. The same thing could be said of a decision to stop at a convenience store and in the check-out process, you tell the cashier to take the $2 in change and give you a power-ball ticket that could be worth millions and that ticket is a winner! In most cases purchasing a power ball ticket is absolutely a waste of money. It is in almost every case an irresponsible decision. The odds of being struck by lightning a dozen times is probably better than winning the powerball but someone does win and the consequences of that choice are life changing just like the choice to pick up a cell phone can dramatically change one’s life.

It is also interesting to note the choices one makes and the consequences of those choices are varied as well. The person who wins the powerball would seem to be on top of the world. However, statistics show that winning huge sums of money has proven to cost entire families dearly. On the other end of the spectrum, there are testimonies of individuals who have made poor choices that landed them in jail or prison, that ended up helping them come to Christ because they attended a bible study because that was better than sitting in a jail cell all alone. Now, most of us would certainly choose to win the lottery than go to prison. However, we do not have the benefit of hindsight. If we knew that winning the lottery would cost us the life of our children to drug abuse, we might choose not to purchase that lottery ticket and if going to prison brought us to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus and impacted our eternal destination, we might look at that differently as well.

Life is nothing more than a series of choices we all make one right after the other. Decisions and choices are as essential to life as our heartbeat and the necessity of oxygen molecules to be taken into our lungs and delivered to our cells. One is no more important than the other nor is either any less important.

To attempt to argue that this is not true of conversion on any level is an interesting endeavor in and of itself. Logically, it makes no sense whatsoever that God would create man and give him life that is in its essence the sum total of the decisions he makes and then attempt to argue that the single most important decision in his life, is not his to make but God’s. It can be argued that the whole purpose of a man’s life is to get his soul to heaven. Since man is both response-able and responsible for every single decision he is confronted with in his life and his life itself becomes the sum of the decisions he makes, it would seem strange to attempt to argue that God would take that most important decision from him.

If God is a God of love as the Bible contends, there has to be the possibility of rejection where mankind is concerned; it is humanly impossible for love to exist without the option of rejecting love offered. That is true in our relationships one to another and it is true in our response to God’s initiatives of love toward us. God loves us unconditionally; our love to Him is everything but unconditional and that is certainly true of our love one to one another. To argue a Calvinist position of love, one would have the ability to walk into a room and simply walk over to a person and say, “you are going to marry me today and we will live happily ever after.”

Life does not work that way here and it does not work that way where our eternity is concerned. God has taken the initiative in redemption by sending His Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and through the initiative of revelation He has made the way of salvation plain and simple enough for anyone to understand it and through His initiative in reconciliation the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and convinces us of His love for us so that we will in turn respond to those initiatives in repentance and find forgiveness or rejection resulting in our damnation. The choice to repent is ours, not God’s. The initiatives are his and the results are His but the choice is ours.

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My problem with Calvinism and Reformed Theology:

Calvinism as I see it is an indictment against the character of God; it portrays God as the One who decides who does and does not receive the “get out of hell” card that all deserve (hell) but only a few get. It is an illogical theological position that is based on a philosophical position related to the atonement and its efficacy. If Jesus’ death itself paid the penalty for the sins of the world, then there would be no need for eternal punishment in hell; since that is obviously not the case THEN Jesus could not have died for the sins of ALL MEN and walla we have the philosophical underpinning of the calvinist response.

The problem is simple; the atonement makes provision for forgiveness; it did not effectuate forgiveness not even for the extreme calvinist, whatever that is. For even in that system, the benefits of the atonement are bestowed on the elect; and until they are “bestowed” the elect is in an unregenerate state. If the atonement were in fact effectual, there would be no sins to atone for nor repent of IF they were atoned for on the cross. There is an ambiguity in the efficacy argument where the atonement is concerned in the theological system itself.

The position of total depravity and inability cannot be effectively defended Scripturally; especially in the OT… there is unquestionably no concept of TD in Jewish writing nor in OT Scripture. The whole notion that an individual is incapable of responding to God’s initiatives in redemption, revelation and reconciliation is ridiculous in and of itself and is not found in ANY other philosophical argument that I am aware of. Men are constantly making decisions in every aspect of their lives even down to the choice to read this statement; to argue one’s inability to respond to God of ALL entities seems so outrageously incredible to me and that anyone would even accept that premise today blows my mind. To me it smacks of God’s sovereignty… how powerful can He be if He cannot speak to the unregenerate? The statement, one cannot be responsible if he is not response-able deserves thought.

Finally… the Word says the “gospel is the power of God unto salvation; calvinism says regeneration is the power of God unto salvation for in that system… the gospel is POWERLESS to save the unregenerate. In the calvinist system… repentance and believing faith are first acts of sanctification NOT new life for new life is necessary FOR repentance and not the other way around. So the gospel is a manual for Sanctification in the calvinist system, not conversion since conversion is at the sole discretion of God’s efficacious will with no input from sinful man; God simply rebirths who He chooses to re-birth and they THEN take hold of the gospel and begin to grow from there.

God saves those who repent; He is not the One who decides who gets to repent. That is the problem I have with calvinism. PERIOD.

 

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New Life In Christ

There continues to be this question about regeneration and the issue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If one is dead, that means there is no life. Death is like darkness; it does not really exist but is the result of a lack of light or a lack of life. The Spirit is what gives us life. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63 Spiritual life is the result of the presence of the HS and spiritual death is a lack of life given by the Spirit. Spiritual death which is the lack of spiritual life can ONLY be overcome by the life giving presence of the HS. If death is the absence of life and since it is the Spirit that gives life, the presence of the HS is necessary for regeneration, which IS NEW LIFE in the RT system.

New life or regeneration cannot overcome spiritual death apart from the presence of the HS. Now… regeneration does not GIVE SOMEONE THE ABILITY TO COME ALIVE. Regeneration is NEW LIFE which ALLOWS the individual to repent and believe. To try to reword this is to attempt to sidestep RT. The HS cannot make someone alive to repent and believe and THEN make them alive again. This makes no sense and there is no way to avoid this issue for the proponent of RT.

 

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Troublemakers in the SBC: Do We Want Unity or Division?

Only July 12, the New Orleans Baptist Association published a statement titled, Which Way Forward, Toward Unity or Division?” It can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. I understand the need for unity and the desire for unity. As Christians, one would think that this would be a given. As the old saying goes, union is one thing; unity is another.

Reference is made in the article to J.D. Greear’s move in stepping down in the SBC presidential race to help lay a foundation for unity in the convention. The article stated, “This act sparked surprise, relief, gladness, and even celebration.  We witnessed an act of grace motivated by a desire for unity.” Dr. Greear’s decision was a gracious one and was without question one that helped avoid other potential problems. It must also be stated, Dr. Gaines was prepared to do the same thing for the sake of unity. Both of these men are to be commended for their humble response to what was a very difficult position to have been placed in.

The article acknowledges positive strides in their association toward racial reconciliation and then moves its focus to the divide related to the theological issues specifically tied to the rise of Calvinism in the SBC and the issues the state convention and its college, Lousiana College has faced in recent years. They acknowledge disappointment in attacks against certain agency heads in SBC entities: “we are troubled by the critical editorials in our state Baptist paper against SBC agency heads David Platt and Russell Moore.”

The article asks a pointed question and then makes a definitive statement: “Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate?”

I want to address the question, “Do we want unity or division?”

How we answer that question certainly addresses the thrust of the article and the statement, “Leaders lead.”

I will address the issue from the “other side of the tracks” and speak to the issue of Troublemakers in the SBC. The perception is that those who LEAD are going to do so for the sake of unity while those who do not work toward unity are not leaders but in fact troublemakers.

There are two types of troublemakers. There are those who take the bull by the horns and seek to make tough changes to the status quo. This is what the reformed leaders of this Calvinist revival in the SBC have done and are continuing to do. While I do not agree with WHAT they have done, I applaud their successful efforts and even acknowledge that they have the RIGHT to do what they have done. I might argue rather successfully that their methods were underhanded as far as being forthright in their intentions from the onset… but that would have been horribly unsuccessful so if I were in their shoes I might have done the same thing.

These guys are rightfully troublemakers. So were the reformers of the past. That is not being critical it is actually complimentary, even though I do not like what they have done.

The other type troublemaker is the one who seeks to maintain the status quo. In the Conservative Resurgence both of these groups existed as well. The liberals did pretty much then what the Calvinists have done today with one exception; they were not as successful! The conservative camp did pretty much then what the non-calvinist camp is doing now with ONE KEY exception; they were successful while the non-calvinist camp today has not been.

In the CR, there were LEADERS/Troublemakers who stood up and spoke out and the liberal faction in the seminaries was pushed back. There were two key factors that came into play there. First, the liberal faction did not manage to gain control of the larger group of entities and I am not sure that was ever their intention and so their influence was still rather limited. This group was not “bunkered down” as well as the Calvinists of today are. I believe this group today learned some important lessons from the CR and those lessons have proven effective in the new CR, Calvinist Resurgence today.

There is one other issue that stands out as we compare the problems we face today as compared to the CR. Liberalism in Biblical theology was an easier topic to popularize than Calvinism is today. People could grasp it. 80% plus of the people in the pew in the SBC have no idea how to even spell Calvinism much less understand what it teaches. There is no sense of “urgency” in this struggle although those who understand the issues KNOW that this is every bit as important a theological issue as has ever existed in the SBC. While it is true that Calvinism has been in the SBC since its founding, it has never held the level of importance it has garnered in the last decade and its influence has never been more prevalent than what it holds today where the direction of the convention is concerned.

There is a vacuum of leadership willing to stand up and speak out today against this Calvinist Resurgence. This is what is so surprising where this issue of Calvinism is concerned. Some have suggested that the CR of the 80’s and 90’s took a lot out of people and there is no “fight left in a lot of folks.” Well, to ask for “fight” in Christians is sort of a tough expectation in the first place but as Solomon said, “There is a time for everything under the sun.” There seems to be a move within the MEGA church pastors to not want to “rock the boat” and to stay in good graces so to speak with the new power brokers of the SBC. Calvinism is just not an issue that is garnering much attention among those who have the clout to do what it would take to stop its continued influence. It just is what it is.

So who are the troublemakers in the SBC today? Are the troublemakers those who are working feverishly to change the SBC? Are the troublemakers those who are actively involved in reforming the SBC and moving it to a Calvinist Convention?

Are the troublemakers those who have finally woke up and realized what has happened under their noses where this Calvinist Resurgence has been concerned? Are the troublemakers of today the unifiers of yesterday who had no clue what the reformers were doing until this “lady” was eight and a half months pregnant before anyone even noticed and realized that “she” was about to give birth?

Calvinism is a real issue. It is a real issue for both sides. It is not going away. It is an issue for those seeking to move the SBC in that direction. It is not going away when the majority of the entities of the SBC are being led by men associated with the Mohler machine. This is not an idle cry; it is a bold faced fact. This has not simply “just happened” This is the “eight and a half month” reality that could not be hidden any longer.

Now, let’s go back to the initial quesiton, “Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?”

The answer to that quesion sadly is going to be this: it depends on which side of the Calvinist issue one is standing. If it is not a big issue then the answer is going to be “No; it is time to seek unity and let this Calvinist Resurgence continue.” Leaders will lead in that direction. Those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

For those who see Calvinism as an indictment against the character of God because it contends God and God alone decides who does and does not get into heaven and they see it as a faulty philosophical theological system that is every bit as dangerous or even moreso as the liberal faction of the 80’s and 90’s then you can expect their leaders to lead and those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate? Do we want unity or division?

The answer sadly depends on which side of the issue one is standing.

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The Crux of Calvinism

At the heart of Calvinism is an answer to a very simple question. Is a person saved BECAUSE he repents and by faith believes in the finished work of Christ on the cross or is a person saved so that he can THEN by faith repent and believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross?

Calvinism stands solidly on the latter. Calvinism contends that an individual who is lost has no capacity or ability to respond to the gospel message unless and until he is given new life at God’s sole initiative and the result of that initiative of grace on God’s part. At that point, the new born individual’s only response is one of repentance and believing faith. In this scenario, repentance and believing faith are in reality the new born’s first acts of sanctification.

The question must be asked, is repentance necessary for salvation? It is crystal clear that the Scripture establishes the fact that repentance brings forgiveness, which brings about conversion.

Notice what Peter said in Acts 11 when he recounted the event of the Holy Spirit falling on a group of gentiles: “17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Peter did not say, “God gave them the same spirit that He gave us so that we COULD believe.” There is a major difference in these two concepts.

Consider the following passages of Scripture with respect to the importance of repentance to salvation, not salvation for repentance.

Acts 2:38 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.     We do NOT receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is essential to regeneration) before we repent; we repent and THEN receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 3 “19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,[a] 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Notice repentance comes before times of refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord. This alone would seem to negate the “regeneration prior to repentance position.

Romans 1:16 says, “the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes.” It does not say the gospel is the power of God unto salvation so that ALL may believe.” Salvation is the result of believing faith not the other way around.

Mark 1 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom[e] of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Acts 16  29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 3So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

John 3 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[b] have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Confession comes BEFORE forgiveness which procedes new birth.

Rom 10:13   For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul did not write, everyone who is saved will call upon the Lord.”

Mark 16:16   Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Notice once again, believing precedes being saved.

Ro 10:9   Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If one confesses, believes and repents he WILL be saved. We do not do these things BECAUSE we are saved.

Romans 10:10   “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.”

Acts 2:21   And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

2 Cor 7:10   “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”    Repentance leads TO salvation, not the other way around.

John 1:12   “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Believing in Christ gives us the right to BECOME children of God. We do not become children of God and THEN believe.

 

Galatians 2:16   “16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

 

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