The defenseless and inequitable employment practices of Leighton Paige Patterson, Pt. 2.

Yesterday’s post raised the following issue of Paige Patterson’s integrity and accountability:

If it is improper for Sheri Klouda to teach pastors at Southwestern’s School of Theology because she does not meet the New Testament’s enumerated qualifications to serve as a pastor, i.e. she is not a man, then is it proper for Paige Patterson to attempt to hire men who are similarly disqualified for failing to meet other New Testament criteria for pastoral leaders?

I ask this question not as hypothetical, but in order to examine a real case involving a real dilemma that arose at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004, the same year Sheri Klouda was informed she was disqualified to teach in the theology school.

A series of questionable accounting practices and failed ministry ventures caused the lay leadership of First Baptist Church in Euless, TX, to launch an audit of the expense accounts of the pastor and former SBC Executive Commitee Chairman, the Rev. Claude Thomas. By July 1, 2004, the budget of FBC Euless had experienced a $700,000.00 shortfall, causing the church to begin a dangerous downward spiral of deficit spending.

The lay leadership team, comprised of past and present deacon chairmen, finance chairmen, and other prominent laymen, retained an indepedent firm to conduct a targeted audit of certain key areas of the pastoral expense accounts. Specifically, the auditors were charged with the responsibility to examine the following ministry expenses:

1. The credit card statements of the pastor, administrator, and other key staff to determine whether church-issued credit cards were being used exclusively for church-related expenses.
2. The proper authorization of housing allowances and the lawful reporting of executive staff salaries.
3. The existence and amounts of unsecured cash loans made by First Baptist Church of Euless to the Senior Pastor, other ministers, and/or members of the executive staff.
4. The history, structure, and functions of Life Points, the television and radio ministry of Claude Thomas, to determine if the non-profit corporation was solvent.
5. Any and all transactions between First Baptist Euless and Life Points.
6. The total expense and accounting of the Senior Pastor’s 10th anniversary trip to Europe, which was paid by FBCE.
7. The payments and benefits provided by FBCE and/or Life Points to all persons between the years 2002-2004.

During the course of the audit, the lay leadership team discovered the following:

• The Senior Pastor (Thomas) and the minister of administration had together charged over five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00) onto church credit cards, including more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) in personal expenses and first-class airfare.
• The church was paying the entire balances of the pastor’s credit card(s), though no evidence was available that any serious reimbursement had been made by the pastor for personal expenses, which included but were not limited to purchases at Neiman Marcus and Northeast Mall.
• The pastor was not reporting his expenses on church authorized documents.
• The pastor had received up to fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00) in referral fees by the building contractor (who happened to be a relative of the pastor) responsible for construction of the church sanctuary. These referral fees appeared to be, and were, in fact interpreted as “kick-backs” derived from a violation of the church competitive bids policy. It appeared that the pastor hand-picked and awarded a multi-million dollar building contract to his close relative, who in turn gave the pastor “referral fees,” or kick-backs.
• The pastor either authorized or allowed “Excess Benefit Transactions” for both himself and the minister of administration, using church funds to cover tremendous personal luxury expenses beyond the approved and regulated expense accounts in the pastor’s budget.
• The pastor misappropriated over one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) in designated contributions to cover the expenses related to his radio and television ministry, Life Points, Inc., which was twice recommended for dissolution by outside auditors. The pastor made no credible effort to secure 501(c)3 tax-exempt status for Life Points, Inc., thus compromising the good-faith charitable deductions of donors. Evidence suggested that the pastor deceived both church leaders and donors about the solvency of Life Points, Inc.
• The pastor overspent his 10th anniversary budget of twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000.00), pushing the total spent in a 30 day period to over sixty thousand dollars ($60,000.00). In an effort to conceal the real and unauthorized expenditures, the overages were “coded” in the church financial report as “nursery,” “leadership development,” and other inappropriate line-items.
• None of the pastor’s anniversary expenses were reported on his W-2, nor was he issued 1099s by the church administrator, which is a clear violation of IRS guidelines.
• Under the leadership of Claude Thomas, nepotism became the defining feature of church employment and business contracts. Among the many concerns regarding the pastor’s nepotism were the extension of full-salary and benefits to two of his own sons, one of whom did not even reside in the United States. Other violations include over fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) being awarded to family members of executive staff for consulting and interior decorating.
• The pastor used the facilities, staff and technology of FBCE to produce, sell and distribute his sermon recordings and published works without any arrangement concerning intellectual properties. The pastor, then, benefited financially from non-church related business ventures while using the church resources to enable, fund and support his failed enterprises.
• Church records reflect that the pastor’s church-issued credit card was used for inappropriate and unlawful charges, including but not limited to luxury restaurants and theatre tickets that were charged to social security expenses, thus constituting potential tax fraud.

At the end of the audit, the lay leadership team received and signed a seven-page executive summary, a twenty page audit letter, and hundreds of pages of evidence from church records. Before this information was released to church members, I was given a copy of the audit by a Southwestern trustee.

Copies of the audit, the executive summary, and the letters and agreements between the lay leadership team and Claude Thomas can be found here. The attachment labeled “Schedule K,” that accounts for Thomas’ $61,000.00 European spending spree can be found here.

The registered articles of incorporation for LifePoints, Inc., can be found here. Readers should be alerted to the fact that one of the founding directors of LifePoints, Inc., was Mr. Don O’Neal, who currently serves as a trustee at Southwestern Seminary and whose signature is affixed to the lay leadership audit report.

By the time the audit was finalized, Claude Thomas had retained the help of his lawyer, Thomas Brandon, to fight the move to terminate his employment at First Baptist Church. Brandon was also listed as the legal incorporator for LifePoints, Inc., according to the articles of incorporation. Brandon’s letter to Thomas advising him how to fight the audit can be found here.

When the handwriting started to appear on the wall, Thomas contacted his predecessor at FBC Euless, Jimmy Draper, who is reported to have advised him to resign. With few options before him and needing a safe fall for an easy exit, Thomas went to Paige Patterson for help. Patterson was apprised of the details of the audit, and determined to make room for Claude Thomas on the faculty at Southwestern Seminary over the protest of the seminary’s Vice President of Institutional Development and FBCE Sunday School teacher, Dr. Jack Terry, and at least one former seminary trustee who drove to Fort Worth and demanded a meeting with Patterson to warn him of the fallout if he persisted in hiring Claude Thomas.

Stubborn as ever, Paige Patterson refused the counsel of his vice president, his chief advocates on the board of trustees, and faculty members who had voiced their objections. He called a faculty meeting, announced his intention to hire Thomas to provide him with a place to rehabilitate his ministry, and issued a press release that Thomas would join Southwestern’s faculty to teach preachers. Thomas would simultaneously fill the role of “special assistant to the president,” leaving all Southern Baptists wondering how, exactly, Claude Thomas would assist Paige Patterson?

Because when it comes to the extravagant spending of institutional resources and feathering his own nest, Patterson needs little assistance. Incidentally, few people were surprised when Claude Thomas’ name was added to the list of those expressing support of NAMB’s embattled former president, Bob Reccord, who stood accused of similar fiscal mismanagement and graft. But I digress…

When it became apparent that Patterson was recalcitrant about the matter, I was asked by a Southwestern trustee to review the audit and provide a position paper for him to share with fellow trustees in an effort to stop Patterson’s appointment of Thomas.

On the evening before the October 2004 trustee meeting, I delivered twenty copies of my review to a hotel in South Ft. Worth where seminary trustees were staying. I made my way up the elevator to a suite where a caucus of trustees had gathered to review the FBC Euless audit, and called my trustee friend on my cell phone from the hallway. He stepped outside, leaving the door open long enough for me to see that a group of trustees were meeting inside the hotel room, and I gave him the stack of papers.

The actual document I delivered can be found here.

That evening, a cadre of seminary trustees counted votes and determined that enough opposition existed to derail the appointment of Claude Thomas and limit Patterson’s ability to abuse seminary resources and potentially jeopardize the school’s credibility.

When trustees arrived at the seminary campus the next morning, a second press release had been prepared and was timestamped 8:00 AM. This new press release explained that, upon further reflection, Claude Thomas would decline Patterson’s job offer. Baptist Press carried the story, which included this peculiar statement from Paige Patterson:

When I think of all the people who have come to Christ under Pastor Thomas’ ministry, all the young people whose weddings he performed, all the memorial services he preached, all the families he comforted, all the troubled souls that he counseled, all the wounded and hurting that he consoled and encouraged, I could not but covet his ministry to my young preachers.

The full text of the Southwestern Seminary Press Releases can be viewed here.

By early the next year, Thomas’ Baptist Press column was discontinued, and LifePoints, Inc., was dissolved by the State of Texas. The only remaining component of the FBC Euless audit is Keystone Church, which filed articles of incorporation with the State of Texas on September 9, 2005, and lists Claude Thomas as a member of the church’s corporate board of directors.

The evidence of Patterson’s inequities and inconsistencies when it comes to enforcing the biblical guidelines for pastoral ministry are indeed peculiar. When it comes to women’s roles, Patterson regulates his faculty like a Shiite cleric. When it comes to the love of money, his heart is strangely warmed.

Why fire Klouda and try to hire Thomas? Why insist on a strict interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, but “lax the parameters” when applying 1 Timothy 3:3?

And how could the trustees have been so “sloppy” in hiring Klouda in 2002, but so vigilant when it came to hiring Thomas in 2004? Did that many trustees rotate off the board? What could have happened between 2002 and 2004 to explain these discrepancies?

Oh, yes. I remember what happened.

For more than a year now, Wade Burleson and I have been told that we were making “unfounded claims.” We’ve been accused of rumor and falsehood, slander and lies. We’ve been told to put up or shut up, to release documentation or stop protesting.

Today, the slow but steady release of documentation begins, and I’m willing to make a few predictions:

1. Those who have called for documentation will attempt to shame Wade Burleson and me for providing it.

2. People will argue that I have acted without charity for Claude Thomas and his family by releasing this information, but they will forget that this would never have happened if Paige Patterson wasn’t permitted to throw Southwestern Seminary into a vortex of liability.

3. Southwestern Seminary trustees will either be forced to deal with the Klouda matter by paying her a hefty settlement, issuing an apology to her, and formally censuring Paige Patterson, or they will circle their wagons and watch the seminary suffer repeated embarrassment, enrollment declines, and loss of faculty morale.

4. Paige Patterson will either announce his retirement from Southwestern Seminary, or he will make one last ditch effort to hold onto the reins of his power through an attempt to change the subject, most likely by attempting to coerce Dwight McKissic’s resignation from the board of trustees. If Patterson thinks his head is on the chopping block, he will try to make sure his neck isn’t the only one that’s severed.

5. Documentation regarding Patterson’s attempts to manipulate the International Mission Board will begin to surface, and Wade Burleson will be exonerated for having made so bold a claim.

33 thoughts on “The defenseless and inequitable employment practices of Leighton Paige Patterson, Pt. 2.

  1. I am assuming you contacted council (“the 12”) and Dr. Thomas before making these documents available to the public? Even within the walls of the church, they were viewable, but not distributed, and that should be noted. Very interesting that you would spend so many words on Tomas to make a point about Patterson. You easily could have proven your point by keeping Thomas’ name out of it and making said documents available for viewing upon request. Please remember that this subject many people pain, those that are now welcoming a new pastor, and those that have moved on to new beginnings. For you to use it to this extent to prove your unrelated point is reaching at best and raises a question as to the aim of your message. CRD

  2. Ben, I’ve been a lurker on your site for quite a while. In general I like what you have to say. I appreciate you, Marty, Wade, and others being a voice of reason. I do, however, have a small problem with the main thrust of this post being about Dr. Thomas and you using the events at FBCE to further substantiate your argument against Patterson. In point #2 as you ended your post:

    2. People will argue that I have acted without charity for Claude Thomas and his family by releasing this information, but they will forget that this would never have happened if Paige Patterson wasn’t permitted to throw Southwestern Seminary into a vortex of liability.

    you claim that Patterson throwing SWBTS into a vortex of liability gives you the right to post the details surrounding the departure of Dr. Thomas. There is absolutely no reason this post needed as much detail about the events at FBCE to prove your point about Patterson. It’s simply information overload, and alludes to you having a problem with Dr. Thomas more than it does with your issues against Patterson.

    The events surrounding FBCE and Dr. Thomas have caused a lot of hurt for a good number of people. I was there. I saw first hand what kind of devastation it caused. I don’t for a second condone the actions of Dr. Thomas or members of his staff, but I think you went too far with the details you gave here. Not only did “the 12” act unbiblically in many ways, I find it utterly ridiculous that you were given a copy of the audit before the deacons & church members were able to read it for themselves. You were not a member of the church and someone overstepped their authority in giving you a copy before the church had a chance to read it for themselves.

    People in your position, and who carry a voice like you do have to walk a very fine line in how you dissiminate your views. Your post carries a tone of bitterness, and could have been done with a greater degree of integrity.


  3. I’m just dumb founded. I am curious what this thing will look like when it all comes crashing down. Words are flooding my mind but I don’t know how to piece them together…house of cards, thief, den of thieves, humpty dumpty, legacy, ‘a skunk by any other name…’. God help us when we get to San Antonio. I am praying for you Ben.

  4. Ben:

    I am assuming from what I know about you, from folks close to you whose identity you are aware of, that this post was not without considerable pain on your part.

    Second, the problem with all the excuse-making and non-confrontational methods of dealing with things like the mess in Euless is that folks are given the opportunity to save face while exiting a situation which was egregious and an insult to the blood of the martyrs. That may seem kind, but the net effect is that egregious wrongdoers leave unrepentant. That’s the unkindest thing I can think of.

    Were I on the committee at Euless, I would’ve recommended complete disclosure and forced termination. Period.

    This reminds me of the original mess that Jimmy Swaggart generated. The AoG actions were forthright and open, and in the end, Rev. Swaggart had the opportunity to be restored. He chose not to do that. I cannot help think that the same opportunity should have been offered to Dr. Thomas.

  5. I find it fascinating that some would blame you for the pain and hurt that Dr. Thomas caused and that Dr. Patterson was willing to cover up.

  6. Oh! That these who come forward bemoaning your pursuit of truth in these matters had been there when this fine servant of the Lord was going through monies donated in the name of Jesus in pursuit of crass worldly luxury and ego! To ask his church to fund his lack of preparation for his on-the-side pursuits! To steer church business or jobs to relatives! This sounds more like a Latin American dictator or an organized-crime story.
    Steve Austin

  7. jowiki – If you’re insinuating that I am blaming Ben for the pain and hurt Dr Thomas caused and that Dr. Patterson was willing to cover up I think you may have mis-read my orginal comment. Ben has not caused any pain regarding the matter at Euless. My point was that if the original point of Ben’s post was to point out an integrity issue with Dr. Patterson there was no reason for the depth of information given regarding the situation at Euless.

    Bob – I can assure you that there was no excuse making, and it was most definetly not non-confrontational. And you’re correct, Dr. Thomas should have been given the opportunity for restoration, but he wasn’t.

    And suscepit – I’m not bemoaning Ben’s pursuit of truth in this matter. The matter at Euless is over, and no truth is to be found in it – you should be able to see that from the sheer volume of Ben’s data. There is a pursuit of truth that needs to be maintained regarding the integrity of Dr. Patterson, and for that I applaud Ben. Once again, Ben’s original post did not require the amount of detail given to get his point across.

    It does nothing to restore the church, only to divide. And Steve, comments like “it sounds like a Latin American dictator or an organized crime-story” are inflammatory.


  8. Blogging, once again, is proving to be the primary method by which Baptists find out about what is being done with their money, and what is going on in their name. How many Southern Baptists are aware, and would approve, of Cooperative Program money being spent on a bail-out to create a position for a personal friend of a seminary administrator?

    I’m stunned. The fact that the only press references to this are from non-SBC sources is even more stunning.

    There is a level of accountability that goes along with both the use of church funds and Cooperative Program money. Dr. Thomas was accountable for the former, Dr. Patterson for the latter. Certainly they considered that accountability before they made the choices they did, hence, I do not see that you have acted “without charity” toward Dr. Thomas or his family. How “charitable” was what Dr. Thomas did, and what Dr. Patterson intended to do to the Christians who gave that money sacrificially, never dreaming that it would be used for those purposes?

    Considering your point #3 above, I think we’re already seeing a “circling of the wagons.” Sorry to sound cynical, but I don’t think there is a trustee board in the SBC these days that I would trust to do the right thing. Messengers to the SBC have not been inclined to deal with these kinds of things. There will be no pressure from Southwestern’s trustees on Dr. Patterson, and it will be a long, long time before the convention can replace those currently serving with others who would be inclined to do the right thing regarding Dr. Klouda, if ever.

    I hope I can convince the decision making leaders in my church that the way to deal with these issues is for our full complement of messengers to show up and vote in San Antonio in June, instead of slashing our Cooperative Program giving. In light of the SBC’s past history in dealing with these things, the problem will be convincing them that going to yet another convention will produce action.

  9. Ray: Wasn’t thinking of Euless, particularly, in that paragraph. More the many times I’ve seen that in the 26 years I’ve been a Baptist.

    All I know about Euless is what I read here, and the documents themselves are confrontational enough.

  10. 1 Timothy 5:19-20 (NIV)
    “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.”

    If FBC Euless did not rebuke Claude Thomas publicly, they should thank you for obeying God’s Word for them.

    Since Dr. Patterson wants to think of SWBTS as a local church and himself as the pastor of SWBTS, 1 Timothy 5:20 is applicable here as well.

    It’s fairly easy to say you believe the scriptures are inerrant (as I do); takes a real man of God to actually obey what the scripture says, especially with something like this.

    But the Word of God sets the standard for pastors higher than the average Joe – public rebuke is the standard for this kind of sin, not “gracious” coverups.

    Is it asking too much for folks to focus their attention on the problems and their source instead of those who are shining some light into the darkness that is being used to coverup the problems?

  11. Ben, I am curious to know why you chose to omit pages from the attorney’s response concerning the allegations. He seemed to be indicating that there may have been some ulterior motives behind the audit. If that is the case, how can we be sure that Dr Thomas was not falsely accused? Has that notion ever even been considered. I would love to see the missing pages and to know why you chose to omit them from the post.

    Just trying to figure this all out. Thanks.

  12. Another quote from Tombstone,

    Doc said to Big Nose Kate: “You may be the Antichrist.”

    some may feel this is more fitting of Ben Cole now.


  13. I want to speak up for the people of Latin America.

    They have suffered the rule and oppression of the few, and that includes the royalty of the Church. Corruption is rampant; the “golden rule” prevails.

    Latin America will be the focus for IMB going into the next few years. We can support that effort by cleaning up any dictatorships here at home that we know about.

    Whether all of this documentation was available to administrators at SWBTS is not known. It should have been. Either way, the institution was tarnished and habits of thought and action were reinforced.

    Regarding requests for financial disclosure, any progress on Ben’s request, on behalf of many, for financial reports from SWBTS? Any rationale from a Trustee for the delay?

  14. Isaiah:

    I scanned what I had. I’m looking to see if I have misplaced something, but it was all kept together in the same file. Maybe Dr. Patterson would share his copy?


  15. Ben:

    I, for one, see no problem with what you have revealed. Maybe I am missing some legal or ethical point here but: (a) a pastor violated the law and robbed a church, (b) somehow the matter was kept quiet, (c) you let the public know.

    Why do churches let people break the law and every code of ethics imaginable and keep it quiet? Do men like Thomas threaten a lawsuit if the info goes public?

    Paul made matters like this public. Anyone who has read his letters knows that.

    Anybody know where Thomas works today? I hope it is not for a church. Making license plates in a prison would be a better idea. I hope the IRS is reading this. They could find a punishment worse than prison for Thomas.

    Derek Leman

  16. Derek:

    I understand that the Internal Revenue Service did investigate this matter. I am unfamiliar with the outcome. My concern is not about the continued ministry of Claude Thomas. I believe that the Lord can restore the foulest of sinners to a place of ministry success.

    Rather, I am concerned that Paige Patterson used the influence and authority of his office to subject the seminary to incredible liability. In doing this, he deceived the convention and his own trustees, who would not have known about the details of the FBC Euless matter if they had to rely on Patterson to apprise them.

    At some point the reckless and haphazard administration of Paige Patterson must be held to account for matters like the Thomas and Klouda situations. Until the SWBTS trustees address Patterson’s pattern of irresponsible behavior, I will persist in addressing theirs.

    Keep reading….


  17. Ben – thank you for reminding readers as to the main point of your original post.

    After I respond to Derek’s comments I will make no more comments responding to the disparaging remarks made by others about Dr. Thomas.

    Derek, you’re wrong on 2 of your points: the matter was not kept quiet. It was covered by media in the DFW area and was covered by business meetings at the church. And, Ben didn’t let the public know about the situation. He let the readers of his blog know about it. FBCE didn’t “let” Dr. Thomas do anything. He chose to act the way he did. And no, he didn’t threaten to file any lawsuit if things went public. As I said, things did go public.

    And you could stand to show more grace. If you’re a follower of Christ you’ve been given more grace than you deserve. It seems you’re ready to lock Dr. Thomas away, but since Dr. Thomas did not sin against you then what you would like to see happen to him is irrelevant. And Ben is correct, God has the ability to restore men to be vital parts of ushering in His kingdom.

    I know where Dr. Thomas works. I don’t know that it’s any of your business.

    I was a lay leader at Euless during Dr. Thomas’s time there. I spoke with Dr. Thomas personally regarding this matter, and I spoke with members of the 12 personally. I left the church to be a part of a plant team for a new church in the DFW area and have since been sent by the IMB to serve as a missionary in Western Europe.


  18. Ben, I admire this movement you guys have started and believe, like you, that the SBC leadership needs to be held accountable. I am not a supporter of Dr Patterson in the least. Dr Klouda was one of the best professors I had at the seminary and the fact she was removed in ridiculous to say the least. I am simply hoping to shed some light on this subject and let you know that you are very much being presented with one side of the story concerning Dr Thomas.

    Like shorty, I too was at Euless when this occurred. I read the document. I witnessed how these 12 men conducted themselves through out the process. I watched as they laughed over the matter when discussing it with others. I watched as they “high-fived” each other over their success. I watched as they spoke of returning Euless to the “good ole days.” I watched as they announced with glee two, not one, interim pastors. Do you know who that second man was? You should ask your friend why this second pastor later declined to take the job.

    You see, this was not about money. These men did not like the direction Dr Thomas was leading the church. Two areas in particular: 1) to a more contemporary style of worship and 2) to become more ethnically diverse in an attempt to reach those living nearest the church. These men had no interest in changing anything about their church. In fact, they thought things had already changed too much.

    This was a coup d’etat my friends, a coup that was over a year in the planning. These men hired their own accountants who then came in and “made the numbers dance” to give them an excuse to remove the senior pastor. The document I keep asking about indicates as much on the first page but the details are not included in your post. It skips several pages.

    There were mistakes, as there are in any church. The problem is, the few actual mistakes that were made my Dr Thomas (a number much smaller than what is put forward in the report) were innocent and all followed the financial policies of the time. Insead, motive was assigned to those mistake to further an agenda.

    To give an example: the report mentions that Dr Thomas made purchases on his church credit card at Neiman Marcus at Northeast Mall. What is not mentioned is that the charge was for the Christmas presents of some admin workers at the cuhrch, an expense that had been approved. Is that mentioned? No. It sounds bad to say that he went to Neiman Marcus and purchased items, who cares what the truth behind it is.

    This is only one of the many, many examples of how misinformation and half truths formed the foundation of this group and furthered its agenda.

    Ben, I fear the reason you were not given the total response from the attorney is that these 12 men did not want you to have it. There are, in fact, many documents you do not seem to possess.

    Ask your friend about the personnel committee’s response to the accusations and why these 12 then chose to reverse their decision with the help of their new pastor (the one they handpicked.)

    I beg that on one ask me to produce these, or any documents, because I cannot. As was mentioned above, the documents were made available to members of FBC Euless, but not allowed to be removed. Some of what Ben has posted, not even the member’s were made privy to and I have never seen before.

    It should be stated that many, many former members of FBC Euless feel the way I do and are no longer there. It was a heart breaking time from which many are still healing.

    Please know that this is written in love. I believe truth should be spoken. I simply cannot stand by while an innocent man, who left for the sake of the unity of the church he helped build, is slandered unjustly.

    Dr Thomas is a good, decent, honest man and he is innocent of the charges levied against him. I may not know much, but I know that. He deserves better than what has occurred here.

  19. Shorty,
    Do you approve of what Dr. Thomas did? And do you approve of Dr. Patterson’s attempt to hire him to “restore” his ministry, at the expense of Southern Baptists? Forgiveness is one thing, endorsement is another.

  20. Ben –

    Patterson, Thomas, Reccord stand in a long line of those who have given the unchurched more reasons to believe that those in church have ulterior motives. Making it public may restore some confidence that we Baptists really do believe that sin, no matter who commits it, needs to be brought into the light! Pious positions, extavagant lifestyles, the “pride of life,” and domination and control are symptoms of un-repented sin. Can you imagine Patterson’s reaction to Nathan the prophet? He’d have him strung up and shot! The long and the short of it is this: the personal and private ethics of Christ seem to be very easily forgotten when anyone loses the gift of humilty to the lure of power, influence, and luxury. Patterson is guilty, as is Claude Thomas . . .of forgetting their first love and indulging in the pride of life. May we never do the same.

  21. rayshort:

    Well, I offended you. If I understand correctly I offended you because I made an erroneous assumption and also condemned a man for his crimes.

    First, the erroneous assumption. I erred in assuming the church kept this quiet. It was not completely an assumption. I did, from reading comments on this post, get that idea. I am not a person “in the know” on Baptist news issues. My sole evidence for all I said came from reading this post. I apologize for assuming the church leadership kept it quiet. I do hope you can see how I got that idea.

    Second, about condemning a man for stealing the donations of hardworking church members, I stand by it. Grace does not mean overlooking sin. God disciplines those he loves. He also, in the inerrant Word, condemns religious leaders who devour widows’ houses.

    I’m sure you are a leader with integrity. I just don’t know why you would defend an embezzler of the church and attack someone justifiably outraged. As for my wondering where he works, I merely wanted to hear that is in not in any capacity supported by charitable donations. Because that would be a travesty.

    Derek Leman

  22. First, let me say that I appreciate Isaiah53:8 taking the time to show that there is indeed another half to the Euless story. And, Isaiah53:8 is very accurate in what he posted.

    But let me address some statements and questions directed towards me.
    lees1975: if the documents Ben presented here were 100% accurate, and if Dr. Thomas was guilty of the charges levied against him, then of course I would not approve. And therefore would not approve of Dr. Patterson’s attempt at hiring him. But, the documents are at best misleading, and at worst completely inaccurate. And I know Dr. Thomas well enough to say that he did not embezzle money from FBCE. I would say that there were some questionable purchases and salary advances given, but they were actually made by, and given to, another staff member, not Dr. Thomas. I do not now, and did not then, approve of that. I can see that my statements could be viewed as an endorsement of Dr. Thomas. My goal, however, was to put the purpose of the original post back on the intended subject, Dr. Patterson.

    I can see how you would make the assumption that the church kept quiet, based on what you read here. That’s a small problem with blogs, readers sometimes assume that what they read is the whole story. In this case, as Isaiah53:8 pointed out, it wasn’t. And that’s why I ultimately have a problem with your condemnation of Dr. Thomas solely based on the documents provided by Ben. This was a much, much bigger situation than what was alluded to here. And you’re correct, grace doesn’t mean that we overlook sin. But in this case the sin may not have been committed by the person you think it was.

    It should be noted that at no time did the 12 men follow Matthew 18:15-19. The only time this issue was brought before the church was at a business meeting after Dr. Thomas resigned. And the main point of the business meeting was to establish signatories for the accounts so that bills & staff could continue to be paid. I questioned several of the 12 as to why Matt. 18 wasn’t followed. I was told “it would have been too hard on the church.”

    These men were not interested in finding the truth. They, and others supporting them, were interested, like Isaiah53:8 stated, in removing Dr. Thomas from his position. They stopped at nothing to see it happen.

    I would encourage everyone to re-read Isaiah53:8’s post. Like I said, it is very accurate. And I would encourage Ben to ask some of the questions Isaiah53:8 raised in his comment.

    I’ll finish by bringing my comment back, once again, to the orginal point of Ben’s post. Considering the events that had occurred at FBCE in 2004, true or not, to maintain a position that is above reproach, and to maintain an unquestionable level of integrity, Dr. Patterson should have never offered a position at SWBTS to Dr. Thomas. It should not have even crossed his mind. Dr. Patterson, at that time, had no idea of the depth of the situation at Euless. And because of that should have kept clear of the situation.


  23. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people who were at Euless are trying to move on – but this opens a wound again. Two and a half years later. I doubt if anyone responding really gets the whole picture, including you, but some will debate it all over again. Comments siding with one or the other will move this discussion far from your proposed intent – to expose Patterson. Please, remove the links regarding Euless. Get your point across another way. It is not your place to expose Thomas and not your intent to harm Euless people – past or present.

  24. Dear Brother Ben,

    I am still not sure whom to believe, but I VERY MUCH appreciate you providing details with supporting documentation. I will welcome more of the same from you and Brother Wade.

    Love in Christ,


  25. I have been a FBCE member for a number of years encompassing the tenure of Claude
    Thomas. Although I would have preferred the “ugly” details surrounding Thomas’ departure not being publicly aired, they have and deserve serious examination. First,
    the allegation that Thomas was not given an opportunity for restoration is completely
    bogus. He at no time took any resposibility for his actions. His restoration was
    merely an “apology for wrong doing” away. He chose not to apologize and be restored. We loved Pastor Thomas and would have accepted a sincere mea culpa if only one had been submitted. What about the restoration of the body of Christ? Dr. Thomas owes the FBCE more than an apology. He took enormous liberty with the generosity of His church yet sought only to make restitution for funds that would preclude criminal prosecution. The IRS has not fully investigated and might never due to the benevolence of many of the those most directly wronged. So please place the responsiblity where it belongs at the feet of Dr. Thomas.

  26. In response to ISA 53:8..
    First I hope your username is not a veiled reference to the resignation of Claude Thomas. If so, you have chosen to compare the oppression of an innocent (Jesus) to the numerous well-documented wrong doings of a human. I find the only statement
    you make that I can agree with is “I may not know much”. Your allegations against the twelve well-respected men who risked alienation is sad and preposterous. In your emotionally fueled rhetoric you have failed to address the obvious. If Claude Thomas is innocent as you claim why did he step from the pulpit? Why then was his position at the seminary retracted? Why did he choose to make a mulit-thousand dollar repayment to FBCE for improper use of funds vis a vis LifePoints? I fear you have much zeal while lacking in substance. Rather than address all of your misstatements let’s look at some numbers. $6,000,0000+ of debt and a faltering balance sheet
    requiring a $250,000 line of credit and the inability to make current payments to
    our mission committments. That was the legacy left behind. Today we owe less than
    $1 million and we have a like amount in our operating budget. I will allow you to draw
    your own conclusions concerning the blessing of God on His people. Before I close
    this tome I would like to add that Claude Thomas did many good things for His chuch
    and the people of FBCE. His vision for the purchase of Campus West as well as the
    push to expand into our new sanctuary were major steps forward for FBCE. So, let’s
    put this all into perspective and move on. Lk 17:3

  27. Right on Ben. You don’t know me, but I met you when I was a student @ SWBTS in Dr. Yarnell’s Systematic class. Someone needs to be outspoken about these issues. Patterson is nothing more (and nothing less) than a politician seeking power at all costs. His control of the Denomination must soon come to an end. What a baffoon! What a pushy, pampered, aristocrat.

  28. To Isaiah 53:8…Speaking as one who is not a member of FBCE, but as one who is very close to the situation, the 2 reasons you mentioned that the 12 had for wanting to rid the church of it’s pastor are laughable at best. If one were to visit the worship service at FBCE, one would find the style as contemporary as ever (if not more so). As for discouraging racial ethnicity, one need only take a look at the membership rolls, and the increasing number of non-caucasions attending and joining the church. Every effort is being made to reach the neighborhoods surrounding the church, many of which are ethnically diverse. Would that things were the way you see them; anything is better than a shepherd who fleeces the flock. But, alas, the flock was fleeced, and royally. Only the grace of God and the generousity of the members have kept the doors open.
    To Ben Cole…What happened at FBCE is “family business”,and I am dismayed that you have violated the sanctity of the family to further your ambition to bring down Paige Patterson. If you feel you must “save the Seminary” from the likes of Patterson, please try to do it without opening up old wounds in a church that is trying to move on.

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