“A Socratic gadfly on the SBC posterior”

More from our archives:

Patterson reportedly had deadline
Board gave him 6 months, sources say
Helen Parmley, The Dallas Morning News

Published: April 22, 1992

Criswell College president Paige Patterson was given six months to find another ministry after school trustees failed in their attempts to dismiss him in November, sources close to trustees said Tuesday.

Dr. Patterson announced Tuesday during the twice-a-week chapel service at the East Dallas school that he was resigning to become president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Although his appointment will not be final until it is approved May 14 by Southeastern’s trustees, that approval is considered a formality.

Asked whether he had been forced out, the 49-year-old fundamentalist leader, who has been president of Criswell since 1975, said: “They have not tried to force me to do anything . . . but they have a direction they want to go in. They may be right and they may be wrong. And they’re answerable to God. But they’ll always be trustees.’

With his voice nearly breaking, Dr. Patterson told about 300 people at chapel that “God had freed me and indeed called me’ to be president of the seminary.

“I was a little more emotionally involved than I ought to be,’ Dr. Patterson said several hours later during an interview in his office. “I thought I at least could read a statement.’

Among those present for Dr. Patterson’s announcement was Dr. W.A. Criswell, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas and founder and chancellor of the college that bears his name.

“He’s going to a wonderful place,’ Dr. Criswell said of Dr. Patterson. “He’ll be president of the only seminary we have on the Eastern Sea-board.

“He has an open door there that is incomparable.’

Dr. Criswell said an interim administration will run Criswell College while a search is conducted for a new president.

“It is a matter of supplication before God himself,’ the pastor said. “There will be a search from one side of the continent to the other.’

At Criswell, there was a mixture of regret, sadness, anger and hopefulness after Dr. Patterson’s announcement. Some students said they will transfer to other schools; others said they will wait to see what happens with the replacement.

“If the trustees are not pleased with the leadership of Dr. Patterson, the question remains: What kind of leadership do they want?’ said Wayne Grier, 33, a junior who said he would not return to Criswell in the fall.

“The trustees basically wanted Dr. Patterson out and they did not want to make public their agenda,’ said Mr. Grier, who plans to move back to Dallas, Ga.

Dr. Patterson said his influence at Southeastern will be different than it has been at Criswell, where he described himself as “a Socratic gad-fly on the posterior’ of the Southern Baptist Convention.

At the seminary, he said, “I will be a denominational servant.’

The move is a step up for Dr. Patterson, who leaves a small, independent Baptist school for a large denominational seminary supported and financed by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Conservatives have taken control of Southeastern in recent years, prompting complaints that the intellectual atmosphere has been stifled. Only seven of the 35 faculty members are left from 1987, and enrollment has dropped from 1,125 to 425 during the same period.

Dr. Patterson said he intends to fill seven or eight vacancies with theological conservatives. “It’s what my fellow conservatives want me to do,’ he said.

Criswell College, located in a sparkling new building at 4010 Gaston Ave., has been troubled in the last six months by a dispute between the board of trustees and Dr. Patterson, one of the leaders in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Patterson was almost fired by the trustees in November, but the dismissal raised an outcry from six leading Southern Baptist pastors.

Led by the Rev. Adrian Rogers of Memphis, Tenn., and the Rev. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in North Dallas, the pastors met with the Criswell College trustees at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

After nine hours, according to sources close to the trustees, an agreement was reached to give Dr. Patterson six months to find another ministry.

However, that agreement was not made public. Instead, the trustees issued a statement saying they had agreed to “wait on the Lord in connection with any leadership changes at the college.’

Dr. Patterson said he was “gratified but also humbled’ by the support he had received.

Meanwhile, it became apparent that the president of Southeastern, the Rev. Lewis Drummond, would be leaving the troubled seminary, sources said, and the cadre of leading pastors began putting into motion the process for naming Dr. Patterson as his successor.

After Dr. Drummond resigned, with a retirement package estimated at more than $100,000, a national search for a replacement was announced. Some Baptist insiders, however, say the search was a charade, that the job was Dr. Patterson’s from the start.

The specifics of Dr. Patterson’s dispute with Criswell trustees are not known, but some college officials say that the disagreement had to do with Dr. Patterson’s management style and that some trustees thought he spent too much time on denominational politics.

In moving to Southeastern, Dr. Patterson is leaving a school that 16 years ago had 12 students, four faculty members, no degrees, no accreditation and no money.

Criswell today has about 375 students, nearly 30 full-time faculty members, both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, accreditation and an endowment that totals almost $12 million, most of it from the Criswell Foundation, school officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

More archives…

Last year, Paige Patterson censored Dwight McKissic for expressing views that were critical of the IMB Board of Trustees.  In his statement,  Patterson recognized the dilemma for one Southern Baptist agency to criticize another.

Early in Patterson’s tenure at SEBTS, however, a very interesting event occurred.  The SEBTS booth distributed a pamphlet compiled six years earlier by Patterson that was critical of sister SBC agencies and executives.  Soon after this event, Patterson fired his Public Relations Director, who now serves with the International Mission Board.  Today, I found this article:

Pamphlet for Patterson criticizes prominent Baptist leaders
Daniel Cattau, Religion Editor of The Dallas Morning News
Published: June 16, 1993

HOUSTON — Controversy seems to find Paige Patterson whether he’s looking for it or not.

A Southern Baptist Convention booth promoting his North Carolina seminary featured a pamphlet he wrote accusing several prominent Baptist leaders — including fellow seminary presidents — of being “neo-orthodox’ and “neo-liberal.’ Dr. Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., defined orthodox as accepting “full inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.’ He defined neo-orthodox or neo-liberal as “rejects inerrancy completely.’

The former president of Criswell College in Dallas apologized Tuesday for the 6-year-old pamphlet.

“I did not authorize its use and deeply regret that it has been distributed,’ he said in a brief statement.

Dr. Russell H. Dilday, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and one of those named, accepted the apology. But the “damage is already done,’ he said.

“The document distributed by Dr. Patterson is an unfortunate repetition of the strategy he used in earlier years — spreading inaccurate and unfounded accusations to lure confused messengers into his political camp,’ Dr. Dilday said.

Digging the archives…

Just another article I’ve run across in research for my book. I was challenged a few months back by SEBTS Professor Brad Reynolds for alleging in an earlier post that Paige Patterson had been “fired” from Criswell College.

Today, in a file I was packing, I found this article:

Patterson reportedly dismissed. Dean says other officials of Criswell College fired
By Helen Parmley, Religion Editor of The Dallas Morning News
Published: NOVEMBER 1, 1991

The Rev. Paige Patterson, one of the architects of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been dismissed as president of Criswell College, the college’s dean of students said Thursday. The dean, the Rev. Danny Akin, told students Thursday that the Dallas school’s board of trustees met in an executive session Monday night and “dismissed all the school’s administrators, including Dr. Patterson.’ The college will remain under fundamentalist control.

Dr. Patterson, 49, was out of town and unavailable for comment Thursday, and members of the college’s board did not return phone calls.

Trustees have promised not to say anything publicly about the dismissal until Dr. Patterson announces his plans Monday, said a source close to the college.

Officials knowledgeable about Criswell College say that his dismissal as president is a result of his devoting too much time and energy to denominational politics at the college’s expense. “That’s exactly what happened,’ said one trustee who asked not to be identified.

The reason for the other administrators’ dismissals was unclear.

Mr. Akin said he was told by a trustee that Dr. Patterson is “negotiating’ his future position with the college. “The school is devastated,’ Mr. Akin said. “It’s been traumatic, hurtful and confusing for our school, which is absolutely behind Dr. Patterson.’

The dean said he asked a trustee whether the board’s decision was “based on anything illegal, immoral or unethical in nature.’ ”

He said, “Absolutely not,’ ‘ Mr. Akin said. “It’s all so unbelievable. My love and respect for him (Dr. Patterson) is even greater than before. He has handled this whole thing in such a gracious manner.’

Beginning in 1979, Dr. Patterson and state District Judge Paul Pressler of Houston led a successful movement for a fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

They have orchestrated the election of the denomination’s presidents for the last 11 years. And through appointments, the fundamentalists have won control of the denomination’s seminaries, agencies and commissions.

Dr. Patterson has been a visible and controversial spokesman for the fundamentalist movement within the 14.9 million-member Southern Baptist Convention.

Some officials who wanted him dismissed as president of Criswell College supported the takeover of the convention.

Earlier this year, the Rev. W.A. Criswell, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church and founder of the college, was elevated to senior pastor of the church. He also became chancellor of the school, which First Baptist owns, and his primary job now is to develop the college’s endowment.

Criswell College was founded in 1970 as Criswell Bible Institute.

The following year, the Rev. H. Leo Eddleman became president, a position he held until 1975, when trustees elected Dr. Patterson to succeed him.

The school is accredited for undergraduate and graduate degrees in biblical studies, evangelism, counseling and music. It has 350 students, an enrollment that, like those of other church schools, is down a little from last year. The school also owns religious radio station KCBI-FM (90.9).

After years of crowding at its downtown location near First Baptist Church, Criswell College last year bought Gaston Avenue Baptist Church, a landmark near Baylor University Medical Center.

After extensive remodeling to provide classrooms, dormitory space, a library and offices, the school completed its move this year.

SWBTS to offer additional degree

For Immediate Release
Fort Worth, Texas

In a move to counter the mounting criticism that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its president, Paige Patterson, have received on account of the “homemaking degree,” offered through the seminary’s undergraduate program, the Fort Worth school has now authorized the development of a supplementary degree concentration in Christian Husbandry.

The new degree, which will launch this fall, will further serve the school’s mission to equip Southern Baptist churches to reclaim the Christian home as a counter-cultural weapon against un-biblical family paradigms.

With elective course offerings in lawnmowing, hedgetrimming, weedeating, and fire-ant prevention, Southwestern’s husbandry degree will achieve Patterson’s objective to make the seminary a premier center for theological education in America.

“The Bible is replete with exhortations for men who seek to fulfill their God-given commission as the leaders of their households,” Patterson said. “Southwestern Seminary will spare no effort — we will spend every last dime of convention money, if necessary — to preserve and protect the biblical roles of Christian men.”

The 23-hour concentration will require three hours of archery, sharpshooting, and gun safety complete with a taxidermy lab, four hours of marinade preparation and outdoor grilling, a seminar in automotive maintenance and repair, and a two hour course in corporal punishment techniques. Only male students will be allowed to enroll.

Southwestern Seminary’s dean of husbandry studies, Rev. Dean Nichols, has high hopes for the program’s success.

“We’re not going to tolerate Christian men who don’t know how to change a tire or baste a rack of ribs,” Nichols growled. “Southern Baptist churches will have confidence that preachers coming out of Southwestern Seminary can keep the church bus running, keep the baptistry pump working, and still prepare sermons for Sunday meeting.”

Nichols serves concurrently as the faculty sponsor for Southwestern Seminary’s student organization, The Royal Society of the Deer Pants.

Having watched FTE enrollment drop below 2000 for the first time in decades, Patterson hopes the paired programs of homemaking and husbandry will plug the drain of student attrition. A simultaneous wild game dinner and British tea is planned for the Fall semester to profile the new degree concentrations.

In related news, SWBTS President Paige Patterson has announced a new capital improvement campaign to fund construction of facilities to house the Ted Nugent School of Biblical Husbandry.