Calling out the called….

Regarding the Virginia Tech shooting, and the possibility that the same scenario could play out at a Southern Baptist seminary, one of our presidents had this to say in chapel yesterday:

“Now if you’re a male student, will you just lift your hand for a moment so I can see you? Thank you for that commitment. God forbid that anything happen like this here, but each of you that just raised your hand said, ‘Never be more than two or three shots before I’m on him. Doesn’t matter how many of us he takes out. ‘ See, all you had to do was have six or eight rush him right at that time, and thirty-two people wouldn’t have died. Now folks, let’s make up our minds. I know we live in America where nobody gets involved in anybody else’s situation. That shall not be the rule here. Does everybody understand? You say, well I may be shot. Well, yeah, you may. Are you saved? You’re going to heaven. You know, it’s better than earth . . . Now one more time, how many male students are there? I’m counting on you.”

Excuse me? Did he just say that Virginia Tech students are to blame for the deaths of all their fellow classmates because they didn’t “rush him?”

Interspersed with the president’s comments was laughter from the student body. I’m sorry, folks, but I just fail to comprehend how appealing to masculine bravado and insinuating that Virginia Tech students are wimps serves much of a pastoral purpose. Because that’s what happened. Students who were afraid, faculty members who blocked doors to protect their students and took bullets themselves, dozens of innocent dead all serve as a homespun lesson in the value of the Second Amendment at Southern Baptist seminaries. This is beyond bizarre. It’s beyond callous. It’s just plain freakish. I can’t imagine how parents of the victims are comforted knowing that a gunslinging seminary president is making sure that the next generation of Southern Baptist pastors will be much more courageous than their children were.

What pastor would ask men in his church to raise their hands and volunteer to tackle a gunman? I’m sorry if I fail to hear the tender mercies of Christ in this odd macho mix of guns and God. I apologize if I find other valuable topics of pastoral instruction from the Virginia Tech massacre. But perhaps I’m the only person who feels this way. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks a seminary that is teaching etiquette to women and tactical terrorist intervention to men has lost its focus.

Imagine if Jesus’ teaching followed this line of reasoning:

Luke 13:1-5: “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! They weren’t worse sinners, but they were pretty lousy men. Total wimps, those Galileans. I mean, c’mon fellas. If Pilate had tried that stuff around here, I’d have pulled out my .357 and sent him to Hell in God’s name.'”

17 thoughts on “Calling out the called….

  1. I would say that Im surprised but Im not. There are some things that this Dr. P does that i think are inspiring. But most of the words that come out of his mouth, make it tough to mention my seminary education in a job interview. Apparently, those hokies need a good “southern baptist” education on girding up thier loins. I for one will be praying for VT not criticizing!!!

  2. I’m not surprised either. It’s funny that more of the faculty and staff are jumping ship at SWBTS.

    There is a responsibility for us to fight terrorism, but Patterson shouldn’t have made that statement this week after Virginia Tech happened. There needs to be some sensitivity to the situation, and I am sorry that the statement was made at that institution.

  3. Ben,

    This is bigger than the blatant hypocrisy you are now addressing. There is no certainty of security on this earth. What happened at VT could happen anywhere.

    All men are born depraved, but some enter into a deep, dark evil that brings fear into the hearts of hard men when they smell its foul breath and look into its empty eyes.

    Frankly, Christian men do need to understand our responsibility to protect the helpless. We need to come to the position that if we are living for Christ and in Christ moment by moment then any day is a good day to die if necessary.

    There is an evil so vile that to fight it is the only right thing to do. Even though we will fear the kind of evil I am talking about we must determine that we are willing to kill it if necessary or die trying.

    I spent many years in Virginia. I know there are some Virginia country boys that were studying engineering at VT that know full well that if they would have had their 1911’s in class with them, they could have stopped the savagery, the slaughter and the murder of helpless kids that a madman locked in a building.

    It is true that no one could have stopped all of the killing, but one person skilled with a weapon could have stopped most of it had he been allowed to carry his weapon and had been willing to put himself in harm’s way. Remember that one unarmed Holocaust survivor saved the lives of several by putting his life in harm’s way.

    There is an evil so foul, so vile, so without mercy, so inhumane that there is only one way to deal with it. There are times when a man or woman must fight any way possible remembering that if death might come in the process. If one is in Christ any day is a good day to die.

    This is not about being macho, tough or masculine. It is not about winning or loosing.

    (There are no winners in a gunfight. There are just survivors.)

    It is not about being a hero or being brave. It is about dealing with an evil so terrible wherein the only hope is to fight it any way we can and knowing that if we survive there is no glory in it. There are no parades, no “atta boys”, no medals. There is only the knowledge that the survival of such evil is the stuff of which nightmares are made.

    The only security any of us can ever really have is Jesus and if we have Him in our hearts there is the peace of knowing any day is a good day to die.


  4. Again, you fail to bring out any good in a situation, you only lift one portion of the service and use it to elevate yourself above all others. You fail again to point me to Christ, and you only make me feel sorry for you. Please, ask the Lord to show the evil in your ways. Your not doing Kingdom Work, and you are constantly bringing attention to yourself.

    Stop the Madness, Please!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Ben,

    I agree with CB. This is not about macho men, it’s about fighting this type of mentality! School violence training used to say “sit tight” to both students/teacher AND the police. However, since Columbine the police don’t wait — they attack. Since Flight 93 we have the same example for the intended victims of this type of violence (mad men and/or terrorists).

    While the SWBTS chapel service, this soon after the tragedy, might not have been the proper venue and/or time; I DO think it’s the right message.


  6. Perhaps Patterson would have been better served by not offering the “all you had to do…” post-rampage evaluation and merely make a low-key appeal. Perhaps it would have looked better to wait a week or two, or a month or two. That millions are thinking the same thoughts is undeniable.

    Believe your anti-patterson animosity got the better of you this time, Ben.

  7. What kind of pastor? One that has the brass to stand behind his bravado. One that understands the importance of courage, and doesn’t wait for “the right time” to exhort men to be men, and boys to realize that it is time to become men. Would David wait 2 seconds before seizing the moment to die taking a gunman down, or his men to encourage all under their charge to do the same?

    Sometimes forcing your way involves sacrificing your life in an honorable fashion. Some men do not threaten with an arsenal of 300 pages of documents, but only with the amount the strength of their palms can crush, or amount of concussion impact their torso can take before collapsing.

    I think that fire in your britches is clouding your vision. But I don’t know if your completely to blame. The model of political prowess in the secular world has taught us that a man can accomplish more by rumor, gossip and blackmail than by fighting the good fight, or waiting on God.

    Then again, a statesman, or dare I say a man’s man, would never have defined his agenda nor his cause on the failings of another.

  8. Ben,

    What P.P. said in chapel is right. Your obsession with him blinds you to the truth of his words. I’ve read your blog for sometime and you’re consumed with trying to bring him down. Let God do it, if it’s to happen. Let go of whatever bitterness you hold toward him and let God handle him.

    I don’t think we’ve ever met. I was at SEBTS from ’96 to ’99, but I do remember CB from a few classes. I pastor in SC, like your blog and agree with most of it; just don’t let P.P. consume you.

  9. I am shocked about the comment. A man is called to protect and provide for his family. Throwing himself in front of agun in a kamikaze attempt to stop a person does not protect and provide for his family at home. Am I crazy for thinking such?

  10. Ben:

    What the speaker said it undoubtedly true. But it’s stupid to say it.

    I’ve heard the old saw about not saying it was God’s will, when the listener is looking down at their child in a casket. The saying may be true, but saying it is stupid. They wouldn’t need to hear that, then. They’d need comfort.

    I mean, you wouldn’t tell someone they were fat at their kid’s funeral, even if they were. Even if it made you feel thin.

  11. Comments such as Dr. Patterson’s–besides being insensitive–overlook human nature altogether. Anyone who has ever been in a combat situation, whether in the military or in police work, understands the element of surprize. It s what often allows a smaller force or even a single person to overwhelm a larger one. It is not a lack of “manhood,” but rather the presence of of humanity, and a chapel address will not change that. Plus, depending on circumstances and situations, overwhelming an assailant requires planning and time, as well as courage, strength, and maturity. The passengers on Flight 93 had that AND a scenario where the terrorists were contained in a small area, but in my understanding of the situation at VT, some of those crucial elements were lacking. Look at Simon Peter for goodness sake! He vowed to defend Jesus or die with him–yet before the rooster crowed, he had denied him. Dr. Patterson may know his way around a hunting rifle, but even that does not necessarily translate into knowing how to handle combat situations.

  12. Maybe I owe Dr. Patterson a partial appology. What he said was still insensitive and has bad timing, and more; but as I was going over my message for Sunday, it suddenly hit me (i.e., maybe God spoke to me) that his comments were akin to “bargaining.” And bargaining (as with God) is part of the grieving process, it is an event of grief. In other words: his words may represent where he is at in grieving for these students, professors, and their families. I don’t know how you CR fellows approach grief, but those of us who are pre-CR generally take our cues from pastoral care, especially as research into grief was pioneered by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. (It has an entirely Biblical basis, by the way, even though not presented that way in her book.) And another element of grief is anger; and perhaps that explains some of the anger I detect in some of the comments. So now, I echo Peter Lumpkins’s words: let’s all pull to the side of the road and let the grief through.

    John Fariss

  13. Hey,

    I can see where he is coming from and the only thing I can say is let our prayer be to honor God in all situations. We do have a responsibility to protect. It is hard to say what I would do. Hopefully save a few lives would be the move I make but the actions I take need to result out my walk with God. I have not heard the message that he gave but you can not order some one to give up their life Instead we grow men and women in Christ so that they can respond and trust God in all situations. I think that is a problem that we are facing. We don’t disciple. This is the problem when we indoctrinate. We give people only bits and piece of what we want them know.


  14. Back in 1980 Alvin Lee King entered FBC Daingerfield and yelled, “This is war!” Within ten seconds he killed five parishioners (one child, three men and one woman) and wounded twelve others. Some men in the congregation tackled him and pushed him out of the sanctuary. Some died while doing so. The courage of those men saved lives. Perhaps there is a difference in the thinking of generations here. The earlier generation understood the need to protect others at the sacrifice of their own lives. I’m with Paige on this one.

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