On the matter of chattel . . .


Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. — Nahum 2:9

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees have reportedly changed the locks, and seminary employees now face the daunting task of cataloguing the inventory of the presidential home, Pecan Manor, and the personal residence and archives of Paige and Dorothy Patterson. Email and campus server access for the former president and First Lady Emerita have been restricted.

This is both wise and proper.

When Paige and Dorothy Patterson left Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the summer of 2003, the seminary’s presidential home, Magnolia Hill, was empty. When incoming SEBTS President Danny Akin arrived, the seminary had to spend nearly $140,000.00 to replace furniture, furnishings, and decorations the Patterson’s took with them to Fort Worth. At the time, reports were spreading like wildfire across the Wake Forest campus. Not only had several cars been taken to Fort Worth, as well as taxidermy paid for with seminary funds, but files had been stolen under cover of darkness by Dorothy Patterson’s personal aide. Some even reported that the hardware on Magnolia Hill’s cabinetry had been removed, in addition to seminary-purchased table settings.

Southwestern Seminary is in trouble. The trustees have acted prudently to contain the damage to the seminary’s reputation and its real property assets.  Knowing the Pattersonian penchant to plunder, the only way to ensure that seminary property is not improperly taken by the Pattersons or their aides is to lock the place down.

Nobody in. Nobody out.

At least not without the written permission of Interim President Jeffrey Bingham and only then under strict supervision.

The Pattersons have a well-documented history of confusing corporate property and personal property. It’s understandable. The popes had a tough time with that too back in the 14th century. But we digress.

In a strange twist of events, Southwestern Seminary’s erstwhile First Couple has come to resemble another First Couple.

To view some of the evidence The Baptist Blogger has documenting costs to replace, refurbish, and repair Magnolia Hill click here and here.


All good things . . .


In 1998, I sat in Paige Patterson’s office weeping. He came around from behind his desk and sat in the chair beside me. He pulled out a note pad, and a pen from his pocket.

And he began to write. Reading upside down through watery eyes I could tell the first words he was writing:

“Concordance Study”

Then he wrote down six enumerated words and handed the notecard-size cardstock to me.  The words were simple: quiet; peace; silent or silence; still; tongue; and mouth.

He told me to take the next few days and with an open Bible and concordance and go through the entire bible looking for every use of those words. And then he told me to pray that God would cultivate in me the virtues of a quiet soul, a peaceful approach to other people, and the ability to be still and trust God before ever opening my mouth (or using my pen).

For the past several months, that notecard has been on my desk. I’ve kept it in my briefcase. I’ve used it as a bookmark in my Bible. I’ve taken it with me to Florida, and Scotland, and London, and Texas, and North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

This morning — with that notecard on my nightstand — I read the sixth chapter of Galatians:

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 

Be not deceived. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith . . . ”

Many years ago Leighton Paige Patterson tried to teach me in the Word, and I confess I was a stubborn student. Nevertheless, he patiently sought to instruct me how to respond when my own actions had brought me embarrassment and shame. At a very precise moment in 2000, I realized that I did not want to follow Paige but rather forge my own path.

But twenty years later, I’m still trying to learn some of the things he taught me.

So this post is for him.

  1. Quiet
  2. Peace
  3. Silent or Silence
  4. Still
  5. Tongue
  6. Mouth

A reader responds . . .

This morning over coffee, The Baptist Blogger received a message from a long-time reader.  The reader was also enjoying coffee, and had some interesting thoughts on last night’s developments at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

And then, I receive this picture on my phone.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 9.16.35 AM

Well played, sir.  Well played.

Our long denominational nightmare is over . . .

The sun, which has never set on Southwestern Seminary, today began to rise again.

From SWBTS — May 30, 2018

During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.

Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.

Under the leadership of Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, SWBTS remains committed to its calling to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.

Further, the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse. Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, Dr. Bingham called for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.


ARCHIVE: An interview with Augie Boto


Editors Note: D. August “Augie” Boto is a licensed attorney who serves as the interim president of the SBC Executive Committee. Before accepting the interim post, Boto was executive vice president for convention policy and general counsel for the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, TN.

In interview conducted on July 12, 2007, for original publication on the now-defunct SBCOutpost blog, Boto gives a perspective on the Southern Baptist Convention, local church ministry, and the legacy of Baptist theology and history from the vantage of a layman who’s served in churches of all sizes in Southern Baptist life. 


1. What are your earliest memories of being a Southern Baptist. When did you claim the name Southern Baptist for yourself and recognize your own confessional identity as consistent with those beliefs and values commonly held by Southern Baptists?

As I think would be the case with many who were reared by Southern Baptist parents, my earliest memories of being in Southern Baptist life were formed at a time when I had little understanding (if any) of the Convention. I was saved in Riverside, California and baptized at Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church in its first sanctuary, having attended earlier when the church was first organized and meeting in a home.

I have many fond memories of participating in R.A.s, playing in the tunnels under California Baptist College across the street, and attending (it seemed) every service, fellowship, potluck supper, and “pounding” held at the church or the college. My folks were extremely active at both places. I remember my mother practicing her Sunday School lesson aloud at the kitchen table, and my dad volunteering for major projects, like being the lead carpenter when the new sanctuary was built. My grandfather served as the church’s pastor for a time, and also as the college’s president. I remember meals in his home after services during which a visiting preacher would recount how God was moving among His people. I imagine none of the adults had an inkling of how those table talks impacted me, the small (and probably unruly) boy at the end of the table.

Even so, I would have to say that my Southern Baptist identity was galvanized much later, in my college years. The era was one in which “challenge everything” was a mantra. Suffice it to say that I did, repeatedly concluding Southern Baptist beliefs to be in line with the clear meaning of scripture, and finding that the Southern Baptist people and their (our) processes to most closely and more frequently match scriptural and God-honoring models of practical and effective Christianity.

2. During the earlier days of the Conservative Resurgence, you were a member of First Baptist Church of Dallas. In many ways, the resurgence was built on the doctrinal influence of Dr. W.A. Criswell and his commitment to inerrancy. Tell us about those days of sitting under Dr. Criswell’s preaching. How did his influence cultivate the way you view the Bible, Baptist history and theology, and the Cooperative Program.

Answering your question completely would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. My family joined the church in 1964. I was thirteen. My first clear memory of Dr. Criswell was him calling “hello” to me from across a downtown street within a few months of our having joined the church, calling me by my nickname. To this day I am not certain how or why he knew my name, but years later I got a clue. My mother visited him in the hospital, and found him sitting up in the hospital bed, slowly surveying a room full of opened “get well” cards which the nurses had propped up around him. When she asked him what he was doing, he said something about not wanting to overlook saying thanks and mentioning the look of the card to anyone who had cared enough to send him one. He obviously valued and appreciated his church members – every one of them.

As you can tell by the somewhat non-responsive nature of the foregoing paragraph, your question caused a flood of memories of Criswell. It gave me an opportunity to thank God again for the innumerable blessings he has given me. I am so grateful to Him for allowing me to know and have known many great Christians – some well-known and some virtually unknown – getting to see regularly several from both camps through my work here. W. A. Criswell ranks extremely high with me. To say I idolized him would be a step too far, but I do miss him and his influence immensely. He was a truly great man.

His influence upon me in the areas you have mentioned was most prominent in the areas of Biblical authority and theology. (My views about Baptist history and the Cooperative Program were shaped more by my family.) Dr. Criswell did more for his church members than tell them what to believe about the Bible, or what to take from the Bible. His sermons were exercises in understanding the words of the original language, learning about context and connections, absorbing history and geography, and (yes) using science (instead of being used by it.) His intent was always the same – to help us understand that Jesus was the focus of all scripture (He referred to it as the Scarlet Thread through the Bible), and if God thought it important enough to keep pointing people to Jesus, we should be doing that too, intentionally, actively, and consistently. He gave laymen the sense that theology is accessible, understandable and conveyable. Note taking in Bibles during worship services was pervasive. His preaching through the Word verse by verse makes me prefer to this day that sort of pulpit instruction and exhortation.

3. As an employee of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, how do you see the Executive Committee’s role in serving the convention. There are all sorts of views in our convention about how the Executive Committee should or does function. Some suggest that it is the intermediate authority on matters of convention polity in between annual sessions. Others ascribe to the Executive Committee no intermediate authority to act on the convention’s behalf. What, in fact, is the role of the Executive Committee, and how does the EC seek to maintain an accountability to the convention?

First of all, let’s understand that the Executive Committee is not a bunch of insiders, authoritarians, ivory tower theologians, or bureaucratic legalists. The Executive Committee is composed of 83 everyday Southern Baptist men and women chosen from areas as described in SBC Bylaw 18, which may be read at this link. Its role is described in that same bylaw sufficient to clearly settle the difference of opinion you have alluded to, and relegate my opinion about its role irrelevant.

One aspect of its commission is often overlooked by those not familiar with its operations, however. Its ability to act between annual meetings on matters not listed in its charge is limited to matters “not otherwise provided for.”

Insofar as maintaining accountability to the Convention is concerned, the EC’s standard practice is to review matters carefully and present its recommendations to the Convention for approval, adjustment, or denial. I have seen the Executive Committee intentionally avoid taking interim actions on the Convention’s behalf in the absence of an exigent need to do so, but one example to the contrary was its reapportionment of CP oversubscription to the benefit of the New Orleans seminary which was in urgent need of immediate help due to Katrina.

4. You serve as the legal counsel for the Executive Committee. Many of our readers may not understand the difference between the convention’s attorney, Jim Guenther, and the role that you serve. Parse for us how the convention’s interests and assets are preserved through the work done by both you and Mr. Guenther.

The way you phrased the question nudges me toward a self-assessment, so let me just explain what Jim and I do, leaving the review of “how preserving” our work is for time and others to decide.

The SBC and the EC are two different corporations, the first Georgian and the second Tennessean, the second serving as a fiduciary of the first along lines stated in SBC Bylaw 18, as I said earlier. Jim serves as the SBC’s General Counsel. I serve as the Executive Committee’s. We regularly consult each other. Jim has a partner, Jaime Jordan, who, like Jim, also has long track record of rendering quality service to the SBC, though not as long as Jim’s, which spans half a century. I am beginning my tenth year with the EC, and wear two hats, also serving as its vice president for convention policy.

Examples of our lawyering would include review of legal instruments, defense of lawsuits, drafting precise language when amendment of governing documents is needed or requested, assisting entities in legal matters and situations, etc. I do more work in the policy role than I do as general counsel, and sometimes matters overlap both roles. At the annual meeting, when the Convention’s legal interests are being discussed or inquired about, Jim would be the more appropriate person to speak to the messengers, since he is the Convention’s lawyer. If I were to speak, it might be to explain how the Executive Committee arrived at a legal conclusion it thought best to recommend to the Convention.

With regard to litigation, it is no secret that we are living in an increasingly litigious world. Judgments against other faiths have been remunerative for plaintiffs and their lawyers, and the SBC draws considerable interest as a likely place to go next for a recovery. Though the SBC is named as a party in legal proceedings about twice per year on average, so far, to my knowledge, it has not ever had a judgment rendered against it throughout its entire existence (ie. since 1845). SBC polity is the major reason for its frequent dismissal out of lawsuits on motions for summary judgment.

5. All Southern Baptist agencies and institutions have now amended their corporate charters to recognize the convention as the “sole member” of their respective corporations. What on earth does it mean that the convention is the sole member of these corporate boards? Under what sort of circumstances would sole membership be exercised by the convention?

I am often asked similar questions. Many still misunderstand the issue. Rather than restate an explanation here, allow me to refer you to an SBCLife article posted on Baptist2Baptist. The article is still accurate except for its reference to one SBC entity not yet adopting sole membership. That is no longer true, and sole membership amendments to governing documents have now been formally adopted by all the SBC entities and the SBC’s Executive Committee.

Two issues not covered in the article include the most prevalent misconception which still exists, and the answer to the question in your last sentence, above. The misconception I most often respond to is the belief that the Executive Committee pushed sole membership to attain more control for itself. Actually, the Executive Committee’s role, position and authority were all completely unaltered by sole membership. The rights the sole member (the Convention) retains are exercised by the Convention, not by the Executive Committee. Additionally, even the Executive Committee adopted sole membership amendments for itself. The part played by the Executive Committee in the adoption of sole membership by the entities was that of a facilitator, in that virtually all of the research, drafting, explanation and committee review was undertaken between annual meetings, not during them.

The second issue the article is not explicit about is the example you call for. A circumstance where sole membership would be called into play would be, for example, one where the board of trustees of an SBC entity, at some future date, decided to amend their governing documents to become self-perpetuating, meaning that the board would thereafter select its own replacement trustees rather than the SBC doing so. If that were to happen, the SBC would be able to appeal to a proper court and show the judge that the board’s action was unauthorized because it had not been approved by the sole member (the SBC) and the judge would follow the law and reverse the action the board had taken. The judge would do that not because he had any understanding of Southern Baptist history and practice. He would do that because corporate law clearly recognizes the sole membership concept.

6. Southern Baptist polity is difficult for outsiders to understand. In fact, some Southern Baptists may not understand it either. Could you explain for us how you understand the Baptist principle of autonomy, especially as that principle is applied in both the local church and convention work? Is it correct to regard the “autonomous principle” of Baptist ecclesiology as similarly binding upon the way the convention entities are governed?

Differing understandings are a component part of the Baptist identity, so I am glad you asked your first question the way you did. My understanding of the Baptist principle of autonomy is that the local church is not subject to outside, earthly, ecclesiastical authority. It is capable and empowered to make its own decisions as a body in matters of faith and practice.

The reasons I qualified the first statement are these: I said “outside” because each church has some sort of chain of command “inside” itself which the members have approved and should abide by, so persons who have placed themselves under that authority inside each fellowship cannot argue that they should be considered autonomous. I said “earthly” because each church is not autonomous from the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I said “ecclesiastical” because churches are subject in certain ways to civil and criminal governmental authority, and cannot argue autonomy as a defense to breaking the law.

As to your second question, I concur with your characterization of the principle as one of ecclesiology, which means that it is a principle applicable to churches. Subsidiary entities are not churches. If I believed the entities of the Convention fell under the autonomy principle, I would never have gone down the sole membership path, nor would William Bullein Johnson (who crafted the SBCs original governing documents in 1845) have described his notion of the SBC as being “One Convention, embodying the whole Denomination, together with separate and distinct Boards, for each object of benevolent enterprise, located at different places, and all amenable to the Convention…” (emphasis mine). One important way that amenability is addressed via the process of trustee selection by the SBC – a feature over which our entities have no autonomy.

7. Working in the day to day business and administration of the convention, it could become easy to lose a Kingdom focus on the local church. How do you maintain that balance between being a convention employee and a local churchman. Are there any ministries of your local church wherein you use your spiritual gifts to build up that congregation? What do you regard as the most rewarding part of your convention work? Your local church service?

As you noted, I once was a member of FBC, Dallas. After that, I was a member of Forestburg Baptist Church in Forestburg, Texas for about 6 years, and then Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Gainesville, Texas. The Sunday School attendance of those three churches ran about 6,000, 50, and 250, respectively, when I first joined and each enjoyed growth thereafter, so my family has participated in the full spectrum of Southern Baptist church life, including churches in both “established” and “pioneer” states. Of course, different locales later spawned other memberships, but my point is that I don’t think I could imagine a scenario where local church involvement had become a “thing of the past” for me.

You referred to my being a Convention employee. I know what you meant, but technically, the Convention has no employees. I suppose I will someday no longer be a “denominational worker,” and for the first 23 years of my vocational life I was not, but my intention is to always be (and I hope I have always, since my salvation, been) an active member of an active church. So from that perspective, I suppose I do not maintain a balance. The side of my scales most deeply tipped is the church side, though I consider working for the EC a tremendous assignment and blessing.

The church I am in now (Brentwood Baptist Church) is one where a very intentional new member orientation and training takes place, a portion of which has to do with assessing spiritual gifts. My results on the survey used confirmed those I have produced before when using other similar assessments, and showed a spike in the area of teaching. I exercise that gift by teaching Sunday School and leading a weekly Bible Study in the basement of my home. At church I have been teaching adults close to my own age (56). At home I teach a group of younger folk ranging in age between 15 and 24, which group is always mutating – sometimes leaning more toward collegians, and other times more toward high schoolers. They seem to enjoy each other’s company, and being treated as “thinking adults.”

The most rewarding part of my work for the Executive Committee always involves collaboration, teaching and a sense of improvement or production. An example would be the production of the Forged by Faith film series, or speaking to a Baptist group to overcome a difficulty or explain a process as a part of moving toward growth and ministry. The most rewarding part of my church and Bible study work is that same sort of thing – seeing young people or fellow church members get excited and committed in their walk with the Lord, especially when that excitement follows some sort of epiphany that study of a Bible passage may have generated. My home Bible study students express that excitement often by calling me to clue me in that one or more unbelievers will be attending to “check Christianity out.” As I was typing this answer, I got just such a call relative to tonight’s session, and that excites ME.

8. Do you regard your vocational calling to be an attorney as similar to the way a man or woman is called to vocational ministry in the local church? What does it mean to be “called” to serve the Lord as a convention employee?

This question is difficult for me because I cannot compare how I am led to the way others are led. Being led by the Lord is a very personal thing. My call is the “Come follow me” and “Go ye therefore” sort of call. Before I was an attorney I was a printer. I wound down my corporate law practice in Dallas to trade U.S. Treasury bonds on the Chicago Board of Trade. After that I became an elected official. After that I was a lobbyist and administrative counsel in Austin. As varied as my vocational sojourn has been (and I have given you the short version) I have always had the sense that God was involved and leading at every step of the way. I do not claim to have always followed His lead, but even when my walk was more mine than His, He was using circumstances and people to bring me back to Him. Therefore, my sense of “call” is more of a “transitional” thing than a “destinational” thing. He “calls” me every day. My job is to listen to Him, which I do sometimes better than others. All that being said, I believe I am where I am supposed to be for now. But I do not think my call is any different qualitatively than that He makes on any other believer.

9. Okay, we’ve got to ask. Tell us your best lawyer joke?

Choice #1 – How is primordial ooze similar to an attorney? (Answer: Both are slimy, and neither has any chance of ever evolving into a real human being.)

Choice #2 – A lawyer attempting to redo a guest bathroom in his home fails miserably and finds himself staring at a set of new faucet handles that are unrelentingly spraying all over new wallpaper. It’s 8 p.m. and he calls an emergency plumbing service. The plumber arrives, looks over the situation, reassembles a few parts correctly, and in 30 minutes solves the problem. He hands a bill to the lawyer for $430.

“$430 !!” the lawyer exclaims. “That is over $800 an hour !! I am a lawyer and I don’t even make that much!”

“Yeah, I know,” the plumber says. “I didn’t make that much back when I practiced law either.”

10. Some Southern Baptists say that the “Conservative Resurgence” is over, and that we need to move on from endless talk about the “fight.” Others suggest that the convention will stray from conservative theology if we do not keep the resurgence ever on our minds and preach about it from our convention pulpits. What challenges do you see in the future for the Southern Baptist Convention? How can the convention move forward from difficult days of self-definition to prospective ministry and witness without losing the momentum for biblical authority and inerrancy or losing our passion for missions and evangelism.

Even those in the second category you described above refer to the resurgence in the past tense. There is no question that the CR is over, but I would concur that there is a benefit to “remembering the Alamo” so to speak. This taps into the “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” sort of thing. But too much “remembering” has a tendency to make relating to the present culture difficult. One can imagine what might result if Protestants were still constantly preaching on Luther’s 95 theses at this late date.

I believe the goal in 1980 was to correct what had gone off track and then get back to the main assignments of winning the lost and making disciples. For a time, the first part (course correction) is accomplished, so we need to concentrate on the second (evangelism). With regard to any continuing vestige of the CR, I’d say that maintenance, wariness and/or vigilance are more appropriate than anything stronger. Nehemiah might say, “We can keep the weapons close, but we ought to be laying bricks.”

As to present and future challenges, I have concerns about the following:

• An obviously growing disinterest in personally winning the lost through intentional evangelism.

• An apparent preference for retaining control over an offering in the name of “good stewardship.” (Baptists once preferred the undesignated gift to the designated, believing that sacrificial giving sacrificed not only the money but the control, as an act of complete dependence upon and trust in the Lord. Direct giving spawns competitiveness among recipient entities – a condition which almost killed the Convention before the Cooperative Program came into being in 1925. Certainly designated giving has its place. Giving it prominence is dangerous to both church and Convention viability.)

• Emphasis on speed rather than on stamina (“Quick solution” books rather than day-in, day-out, hard work).

• Interest in the “new” to the exclusion of the “old,” or vice-versa (Institutional memory and experience, and innovation and energy, have to coexist, educate each other, and collaborate. Some old processes are old because they WORK.)

• The lack of inculcation of church members. Relative to that, ignorance of Scripture, our polity and beliefs.

• Use of reversionary clauses which vest determination of a church’s ownership, quality, affiliations or future in the hands of non-church members (though there are proper uses of reversionary clauses in certain situations)

In answering your last question, I am not sure whether inerrancy has or creates momentum any more than a house’s foundation does. It would be unusual for a contractor to point to a subdivision of concrete slabs and say “see what I have built.” Biblical authority has been (re)declared by our Convention. It is the foundation. Now let’s finish the building. We have to value all that God values rather than just the subparts we are “good at.” In truth, we are getting “less good” at soul-winning.

You referred to unity. Unity in doing something requires many, in fact the majority, to be doing that something. Unity in evangelism starts with each individual Southern Baptist determining to be a soul-winner. The more individuals who do that, the sooner we get to a majority, when the unity will become obvious.


Keeping up appearances . . .


As far as we know, Southwestern Seminary’s erstwhile First Lady will continue as hostess for the fourth annual “Tea @ Three” event at this year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. We originally assumed that the First Lady Emerita would step aside, perhaps allowing one of her proteges to emcee the event. But they will both be fully engaged Monday afternoon as the two female members of this year’s Resolutions Committee.

We are reliably informed, however, that Southwestern has cancelled events scheduled on the seminary campus for Wednesday evening during the convention. (Click here for a PDF)

‘Tis a pity, really. We were so looking forward to the SWBTS Outdoor/Indoor Luxury Barbecue with Finger Buffet.

Weren’t you?

ARCHIVE: The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention


The paper below was written to complete a course requirement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Spring 2001 course title was “The Doctrine of the Church.” The professor was Paige Patterson.

I was twenty-five years old.

The 15-million member Southern Baptist Convention, having just emerged victorious in the now famous ‘Battle for the Bible,’ is boldly pushing forward with reinvigorated and revitalized mission thrust to take the ‘more certain word’ (2 Pet 1:19) to the nations in an unprecedented strategy of indigenous church-planting and missionary zeal. As her armies now march forward, their backs are still warmed by the soft glow of the smoldering coals of camp-fire controversy and strife, which though regrettably necessary has removed the dross of ‘liberalism’ and ‘neo-orthodoxy’ from the holy armor now adorned in exuberant triumph. Before they journey too far, it seems appropriate for those young soldiers yet unmarked by the scars of ‘holy war’ to ask themselves whether or not the smoldering coals of yesterday will rage again, lest in their own crusade they be summoned home to find the territories conquered by their forefathers reclaimed by interlopers and destroyed. This question is as troubling as it is rewarding. The wisdom to be gained by critical analysis of the strategies of yesterday’s battles provides both insight and warning for battles that lay (sic) ahead. The past does indeed shape the future, and this paper is more an exercise in preparation than anything.

To read the rest of the paper click below:

Image (135)

To read Patterson’s hand-written comments on the cover and back page, click below:

Image (134)





FBC JAX Pastor announces boycott of SWBTS conference center

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Heath Lambert, the senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, has notified Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors — an organization Lambert concurrently serves as Executive Director — will not host their annual meeting on the seminary’s campus despite earlier plans.

The reason, according to Lambert:

Like so many others, I was watching with great interest as the Southwestern trustees met to determine the path forward for their president. I was disappointed by the decision of the trustees that sent a confused message to all those who have been hurt by the abuse of another. Since that decision, we have been working very hard on an alternative location for our conference this October 1-3. I have communicated  with the leadership of Southwestern Seminary, and let them know that ACBC will no longer be convening our annual meeting at their campus. Instead, our conference, Light in the Darkness: Biblical Counseling and Abuse will now take place at Countryside Bible Church, which is also in the Fort Worth area.

Click here to read more.

The trustee decision to continue enabling and supporting Paige Patterson is now costing the seminary the opportunity to host conferences on campus that deal with the critical issues of ministry to victims of abuse.

A time for choosing indeed.

We are curious if Patterson will be getting any more invites to preach at the annual pastor’s conference in Jacksonville. #boycottswbts

ARCHIVE: An unpublished letter


This letter was sent via certified mail to Paige Patterson more than 11 years ago. A response was never received.

February 7, 2007

Dr. Paige Patterson
Office of the President
PO BOX 22000
Fort Worth, TX 76122

Dear Paige:

This letter is as difficult to write as it will be to read. You and I alone know the conflicts that have separated us, and it is certain that you are as frustrated by my actions as I have been by yours. I hold no hope that this letter will repair the personal breach that has severed our reciprocal affections, though I wish you to know that underneath my harshest criticisms there is a love for you that eternity will reveal.

I will not use the occasion of this personal letter to enumerate my concerns regarding your leadership at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, or your previous administration at Southeastern. My public critique of your public behavior has been sufficient to apprise you of these concerns. Rather, I intend to notify you of the presence of other matters not yet revealed publicly and the evidentiary preponderance of which will warrant investigation into your administration of two Southern Baptist seminaries. This investigation will either be conducted by the trustees of those respective institutions and result in a full report to the convention, or will be conducted by secular media with a report to the world.

Specifically, I will be requesting that the boards of trustees of Southwestern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminaries look into possible misappropriation of funds, sufficient evidence of which I have obtained, and that occurred under your immediate supervision at both schools. I will also be requesting an investigation into negligent fiscal mismanagement of Cooperative Program and other seminary resources.

Paige, you have done much to advance the cause of Christ. You have contended earnestly for the faith, and fought the good fight of scriptural authority. Why you would have succumbed to the love of money — as it appears you have — grieves my soul. That you have proven Lord Acton’s thesis about the corrupting influence of absolute power surprises no student of history, but it shocks those who have known you most intimately through the years.

I am pleading with you, Paige. Desist from this present course that you have chosen. Allow your legacy in Southern Baptist life to go untarnished by closing chapters of shame. Come clean with Southern Baptists about the questionable way you have “dwelled in paneled houses while the house of God lies in ruins.” If you would assume the role of retired statesman rather than the persistent eccentricities of an aging warrior, you will preserve our convention the embarrassment of a prolonged inquiry into your leadership that will only weaken your limbs for battles more nobly fought and honorably won. God may not choose sides between us, but he will never regard your irresponsible stewardship of the widow’s mite.

Should you wish to respond, I will wait fourteen days to receive that response. After that, I will copy you on all correspondence to convention trustees.


Benjamin S. Cole

The Age of Aquarius?


Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions . . .

Let the sun shine in.

It is our standard policy at The Baptist Blogger not to direct our readers’ attention to another blogger’s musings. This is not some law of Medes and Persians, mind you, nor because we eschew the consideration of other bloggers’ thoughts.

Rather, we are aware that The Baptist Blogger boasts the most literate, informed, and intelligent readers in the Baptist blogosphere.

Which is to say, if it’s worth reading, you’ve probably already read it.

But as anyone familiar with the Patterson era at Southwestern Seminary knows: rules are made to be broken.

So without further ado, we direct your attention to the following:

Surviving SWBTS- Life As A Female Employee and Student In A Pattersonian Culture — by Diane Montgomery

Coming into seminary, I naively believed that we would all be unified spiritually and everyone would be kind and godly since we were all called to ministry. But, I was desperately wrong, and my first year at SWBTS was difficult to say the least. The leadership and administration reminded me of all the characteristics of “church people” that turned me off of the gospel in my younger years. Arrogance, hypocrisy, narcissism, and the “Good Ol’ Boys” club mentality permeated most every part of the SWBTS culture to which I was exposed. It was then that bitterness, hurt, and anger began to take root in my heart towards the leadership at Southwestern which embodied all of these distasteful characteristics.

Thankfully, God rescued me from that bitterness and introduced me to wonderful and godly students and staff who helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. Nevertheless, the environment continued to be filled with toxic air stemming from its toxic leadership. The Patterson’s were to be feared and obeyed – or risk suffering the consequences. You were either in line with Patterson’s 100% or you were the enemy. It was an environment of fear and intimidation.

Click here to keep reading . . .

(Note: Any number of the claims made in the post above could trigger an accreditation review for Southwestern Seminary.)

Preview on a fortnight


In two weeks, Southern Baptists will have descended on Dallas in preparation for the annual meeting scheduled to begin at 8:15AM on Tuesday morning, June 12. In the coming days, there will be lots of talk about potential motions from the floor, resolutions proffered by this or that messenger, and growing speculation about whether this year sets a new course for the future of the SBC.

Already there are lots of questions.

Like whether SBC President Steve Gaines will be able to avoid an awkward photo-op Sunday morning, June 10th at Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth during the handoff from SWBTS theologian-in-residence Paige Patterson.

Or whether the Interim First Lady of Southwestern will replace the First Lady Emerita as the emcee for Tea at 3, the seminary’s mentoring program hosted during the annual meeting.

Actually, nobody has been asking that last question. I just like to bring it up.

In the coming days, The Baptist Blogger will be posting on a few fronts:

  1. We will be posting the text of motions we’ve helped craft for messengers to offer on the floor of the annual convention. These motions deal with everything from convention bylaws to the proposed order of business and SBC entity reports. To put it bluntly, we’re laying our cards on the table.
  2. We will be publishing a series of letters pertaining to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that have come into our possession.
  3. We will be providing links to relevant archived material that promises perspective and contextualization for present developments across the SBC.
  4. We will be publishing interviews we conducted with two prominent Baptist leaders.

Stay tuned . . .


Past is prologue: The 1994 SWBTS Controversy in Orlando, FL

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When Southern Baptists met on June 14-16 during the 1994 Annual Meeting, the dust had not yet settled from the March 9th firing of Southwestern Seminary President Russell Dilday. Having been offered a $400,000 golden parachute to retire, Dilday refused the trustee request and forced a showdown that resulted in his forced termination, a change of the locks on his office doors, and an armed escort into house arrest on the campus of the Fort Worth school.

The move took the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by surprise. Odd enough, it came five years after an effort to censure Dilday — led by then trustee Chairman Ken Lilly of Ft. Smith, AR — failed to garner sufficient trustee support. The situation was rather frosty going into the 1990s, though one year later it seemed like things were beginning to thaw.  Dilday had apologized for harsh rhetoric, and Texas pastor Jimmy Draper reported from a seminary leaders’ retreat that while both sides had not “always handled things right,” they were willing to “reaffirm a commitment to the Lord and each other.”

The peace didn’t last.

Draper went to Nashville, and Dilday got the axe.

The outcry was loud and swift. From country church deacons to megachurch pastors, the anger intensified as the convention’s annual meeting was fast approaching. Confusion and doubt hung over the future of the school, its accreditation, student enrollment, and the seminary’s financial position. Top donors pulled their support. More than 1,000 students protested on campus. Unlike recent student disciplinary action, none were terminated or had their scholarships revoked for public disagreement with seminary leadership.

Dilday’s actions, trustees alleged, had “brought embarrassment and potential permanent injury to the school.” His management style was one of “arrogance, isolationism, and disdain for authority.”

Dilday had, they accused, “repeatedly criticized the convention and its elected officers and leaders.

More than anything, trustees were angry that student enrollment had declined from more than 5,000 students to just over 4,000.

Today, it’s hovering just above 1,000 FTEs.

Marching toward Orlando, concerns about how the trustees had acted — and the rationale they offered for their actions — began to eclipse concerns about the actual firing itself.

With that history in mind, The Baptist Blogger is pleased to provide a video montage of all motions, debate, parliamentary considerations, and voting results related to SBC messenger efforts to address the trustee actions during the 1994 Orlando convention.

If nothing else, it is interesting to watch the day O.S. Hawkins and Adrian Rogers lined up publicly on opposite sides of a question:

Paige Patterson’s secret money man


There’s a little rule we learned when investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government.

Follow the money.

Have you ever wondered what Paige Patterson has against Wade Burleson? Have you ever considered that despite Patterson’s homespun rumors that Rev. Burleson is embittered and vengeful, that the opposite may be true?  Is it possible that Paige has never gotten over Wade Burleson’s successful effort to displace the Patterson’s money man from a trustee spot on the SBC Annuity Board?

Well, consider the following.

In 1994, Wade Burleson was a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations. That year, the committee was responsible to fill a “local” trustee vacancy on the Annuity Board. At the recommendation of Rev. Burleson, the 1994 SBC Nominations Committee voted to approve Rev. Alton Fannin of Ardmore, OK, to fill the local trustee vacancy on the board.

But that nomination didn’t settle well with some convention power brokers.

So there was a challenge to Fannin’s nomination in the run-up to the 1994 Convention in Orlando, FL.  A sub-committee of the 1994 Nominations Committee was empaneled to review the challenge.  Rev. Kenneth Barnett of Denver, CO, was the chairman of that subcommittee.

On the Saturday before the annual meeting, Barnett’s subcommittee of seven members voted to overturn the recommendation of Alton Fannin and replace him with Charles Armstrong of Dallas, TX.

On the convention floor, Rev. Burleson moved to amend the committee report to re-nominate Fannin to the Annuity Board of Trustees and block Charles Armstrong’s trusteeship. Speaking against the amendment was Kenneth Barnett.

Burleson’s motion prevailed, and Alton Fannin was elected to the board of trustees for the SBC Annuity Board.  He later served on the presidential search committee that recommended O.S. Hawkins to succeed the late Paul Powell.

Well, we all know who Wade Burleson is.  And we know who Paige Patterson is. Or at least, we’re learning who Patterson is.

But who is Kenneth Barnett?

For starters, he was the nominee in 1998 to replace Lee Porter as the convention’s registration secretary.  He was nominated by Rev. Jerry Spencer of Alabama, who stated that Barnett’s heart beat “in harmony” with Paige Patterson. Despite Barnett’s loss in that election, Spencer was successfully elected the following year as the SBC’s 2nd Vice President. He served in that role in 2000 alongside Paige Patterson, who was convention president.

And who is Charles Armstrong?

Well, for starters, he’s the father of David Armstrong, former comptroller at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, former Vice President of Administrative Services at Truett McConnell University (where current SBC Committee on Committees Chairman Emir Caner serves as president), and current Vice President for Business Services at Bethel College in Indiana.

Armstrong is also the former Southeastern Seminary employee who was responsible for uncovering a questionable financial transaction Patterson made before moving to Fort Worth.

But there’s more.

Charles Armstrong is a Certified Public Accountant living in Dallas, TX.

He’s also the personal accountant for Paige and Dorothy Patterson, and the Treasurer of their non-profit organization, the Patmos Evangelistic Association, which is headquartered on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.  As we reported in 2007, the Patmos Evangelistic Association has an interesting financial history with some questionable expenditures.

So here’s something to think about:

Paige Patterson may have wanted his personal accountant on the SBC Annuity Board. Wade Burleson successfully prevented his election to that board in 1994, despite the efforts of Kenneth Barnett — whose “heart beats” with Patterson’s — to get Armstrong elected.

So maybe, just maybe, Burleson got on the wrong side of Paige a long time ago.

And maybe, just maybe, Paige doesn’t like it when somebody messes in his sandbox.

In any event, the only way to replace nominees to SBC entities is by a motion from the floor to amend, one-by-one, the slate of nominees presented by the Committee on Nominations.

Wade Burleson has done it before.

Could he do it again?

Enjoy this clip from the 1994 Southern Baptist Convention:

The 1994 SBC Presidential Election

In a contentious year that saw controversy swirling around the termination of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Russell Dilday, there was a consequential election for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fred Wolfe of Mobile, AL, was nominated by Charles Stanley of Atlanta, GA.

Jim Henry of Orlando, FL, was nominated by Jack Graham of Plano, TX.

Stay tuned to The Baptist Blogger . . .