An open letter to Rev. Jack Graham


May 24, 2018

Dr. Jack Graham
Senior Pastor
Prestonwood Baptist Church
6801 Park Blvd.
Plano, TX  75093

Dear Pastor:

It has been some years since we last visited on the phone, and even longer since we had a chance to visit in person. This time and distance have not diminished my great respect and appreciation for your consistent kindness to me, your graciousness when we have disagreed, and your steadfast Christian character. I shall not soon forget the night I met your precious wife, Deb, in the bookstore of Prestonwood Baptist Church.  She is a treasure to your ministry, and your ministry a treasure to the Southern Baptist Convention and the greater cause of the Gospel.

It is with sincere anguish of soul, therefore, that I am compelled to write this present letter. For weeks, I have agonized over the growing sense the words that follow herein are both necessary and beneficial for you. It may be presumptuous of me to believe that they could sow seeds of righteousness in your own heart; and it is not without evidence of the many motes in my own eye that I now struggle to find the right words to identify potential splinters in your own.

Beyond that, I’m trying my very best to obey the pastoral commands of Paul: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as a father.”  Having lost my own father when I was thirteen years old, I confess the absence of that perduring filiation has confounded my judgment on more occasions that I can recount. So I ask your forgiveness  should my approach in this matter seem clumsy, or my words imprecise, or my tone harsh.

In February 2017, I learned that you led Prestonwood Baptist Church to consider making “major changes” to your support of the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.  The reason for your action was clear: a perceived “disrespectfulness” on the part of the ERLC President Russell Moore toward “Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders, past and present.”

Prestonwood’s executive pastor amplified the church’s position further: “various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

By taking this temporary action, Prestonwood withheld as much as $1 million in Cooperative Program support. That translates to nearly $250,000 in lost revenue for the International Mission Board at a time when missionaries were being recalled because of reduced revenues.  Thankfully, this decision was reversed within a few months, and Prestonwood resumed support of the Cooperative Program without designation.

The message was clear.  When a Southern Baptist Convention entity and its leader make public statements and take “significant positions” that are in conflict with the “beliefs and values” of Prestonwood Baptist Church, you will apply a tourniquet to your church’s mission funding stream to negotiate a course correction.

The present crisis at your alma mater, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary may, in fact, constitute “significant action.” Moreover, the statements of its erstwhile president regarding spousal abuse and the sexual objectification of minors may be construed as “disrespectful” of women.  The trustees of that institution have elevated — rather than removed — the man charged with these offenses.

More than 24 years ago, you were outspoken in your disagreement with the Southwestern Board of Trustees. Your public silence during this present conflict is both evident and discouraging.

I am sympathetic with your pastoral caution to get involved in this matter. Following the tenure and tumultuous departure of a highly-respected Prestonwood pastor with a history of a sexual improprieties could make any minister think twice before addressing such matters. Moreover, I recognize past critics have attacked your character and commitment to justice for sex offenders with aggressive, unyielding scorn.

But I must ask you, pastor, do the statements and actions of a respected Southern Baptist leader about the immorality of the President of the United States reach a higher level of evangelical concern than the mistreatment of women and children?

Does the alleged coverup of rape not rise to a similar level of corrective action?

The evidently disproportionate response that you have given to each of these matters is confusing.  Have Southern Baptists come to a place where public disagreement with a Republican candidate for president is of greater concern than the abuse of women, the sexualization of minors, and the perversion of complementarian theology to substantiate the same?

Pastor and friend, I beg you to consider how this incongruity undermines the Gospel and the effort of Southern Baptists to make Christ known among the nations.

I remain, as always, a younger brother grateful for your courage in the past and your leadership in the present.


Benjamin S. Cole

The Cardinal and the Red Bishop

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 12.15.10 PM

If you haven’t already had a chance to read Al Mohler’s latest blog, “The wrath of God poured out,” stop reading this post now and visit  Then come back to The Baptist Blogger.

We’ll keep the lights on for you.

Something Mohler said strikes us.  In fact, it haunts us.

I think Mohler intended it to:

We thought this was a Roman Catholic problem. The unbiblical requirement of priestly celibacy and the organized conspiracy of silence within the hierarchy helped to explain the cesspool of child sex abuse that has robbed the Roman Catholic Church of so much of its moral authority. When people said that Evangelicals had a similar crisis coming, it didn’t seem plausible — even to me. I have been president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twenty-five years. I did not see this coming.

I was wrong. The judgment of God has come.

Paige Patterson is the Cardinal Law of the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s known things. In fact, that’s one way he’s stayed in power. He knows the dark, dirty secrets of many Southern Baptist leaders. He’s milked the Baptist grapevine for more than six decades. He has files. They’re building an entire building on Southwestern’s campus for those files.

In recent days, I’ve accessed some of those files.  They were full of lies, inaccuracies, slander, and idle gossip.

I took those lies to the men who participated in one of Patterson’s gossip gathering sessions. They were embarrassed, and they called me.

Southwestern Seminary officials have already begun the purge of these archives to erase and redact content that is slanderous and false. I’ve communicated with seminary officials and two of the men who participated in the Patterson’s oral history project about the matter. I’ve been assured that the slanderous files will be deleted.

There’s no telling what else the Pattersons have gathered over the years.  Rest assured, the trustees are giving 12,000 sqft and a well-funded staff to protect them.  On top of a generous sinecure as “theologians-in-residence” for Paige and the First Lady Emerita.

But that’s only the beginning.

When all hell broke loose in the Boston diocese, the Vatican pulled Cardinal Law.  The pope didn’t revoke his red hat, but instead appointed him to the ceremonial post of Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

When he died in December of last year, he was still living in the Vatican City, safe and secure from the American legal system and justice for the victims of the crimes he not only covered up, but the ones he himself committed by his concealment.

Paige Patterson was just given a new, honorific title. He’s moving to a “private apartment” in a new building on campus. He has a salary. He still has his servants and staff. Probably a travel budget.

All at the expense of Southern Baptist churches who support the Cooperative Program

When Cardinal Law fled the United States, he left an archdiocese in complete disarray, more than 500 lawsuits, $100 million in damage claims and bankruptcy. In exile, he continued to wield power over the American Conference of Catholic Bishops, helping the Vatican make selections for prominent posts in the United States. His proteges still got their promised appointments.

Southwestern Seminary trustees have just created the Baptist Cardinal Law.

We might even call him The Red Bishop.

Stay tuned for more . . .