Having known Paige Patterson for forty-three years as mentor and friend, and serving under his leadership at SWBTS since 2004, first as the Dean of the School of Theology and currently as the founding Dean of the School of Preaching, I am compelled to speak.
As a student (1978-1981), later as a trustee (1992-2004 and chairman of the board 2003-2004), and then faculty member/administrator (2004-2018), I have invested thirty years at SWBTS. My tenure on the Board of Trustees overlapped three presidents: Drs. Dilday, Hemphill and Patterson. The SWBTS Board of Trustees elected Dr. Patterson as the Seminary’s eighth president in 2003.
Pucker or duck, when it comes to Dr. Patterson, there is little middle ground. Larger than life public figures have enemies who oppose them for different reasons and at different levels. Some oppose his leadership in the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. Some oppose his strong stand theologically on a variety of issues such as inerrancy and marriage/family. Some oppose his remarks made about certain issues or decisions made as president of three theological institutions over four decades.
Though his friends occasionally disagree with Dr. Patterson, the larger picture of his leadership and commitment to the Word of God, the Kingdom of God, and the churches and institutions within the SBC is self-evident to them. His heart for a lost world is unparalleled in the SBC, and his concern for the churches in the SBC is undisputed.
Though I am in agreement with Dr. Patterson on most things, occasionally there have been issues over which we differed, and there are letters and emails in his files and mine to prove it. Support of a friend does not necessitate lock-step agreement on all issues.
Some are linking comments made by Dr. Patterson in a counseling situation fifty-four years ago with comments made more recently and are now calling for his resignation or termination. No doubt some of this concern is genuine and some people feel that strong action should be taken. On the other hand, the way the issue is being treated, especially on social media, is dishonest and misleading on the part of others. Disagreement does not warrant being ugly and ungodly. I have observed what appears to be a fair amount of feigned outrage, piling on, double standard, virtue signaling, and some just good old-fashioned reprehensible behavior. Sadly, Christianity has its own version of the drive-by media.
Over four decades, in numerous venues from a distance and up close, I unequivocally attest to Dr. Patterson’s integrity as a man who seeks to act in accordance with his conscience guided by the Word of God and a desire for the good of God’s Kingdom.
I join Dr. Patterson and our Board of Trustees in denouncing abuse, physical or otherwise, as sin. https://swbts.edu/news/releases/statement-abuse/
What is the way forward? Let us leave the matter in the hands of the Lord, Dr. Patterson, and the Board of Trustees at SWBTS. Let’s treat Dr. Patterson the way we would want to be treated. After all, that has something of a Biblical ring to it.