SWBTS Reform: Part Four(a)


First, an apology.

The Baptist Blogger has been slow to publish this new blogpost on seminary reform in Fort Worth, in part because our professional commitments have been extraordinarily time-consuming for a summer in the District of Columbia. Between that and a move and a few weeks of much-anticipated beachfront relaxation on the Eastern Shore and Long Island, we have not been as consumed with Baptist happenings as we were leading up to the 2018 annual meeting and the long-overdue ouster of Southwestern’s president.

(Excursus: Our sources inform us that the Doctors Patterson remain on campus, and a quickly-scheduled yard sale/giveaway of Pecan Manor’s effects was quickly un-scheduled by seminary personnel in recent days. We also understand that a suitable North Texas residence has been secured for the erstwhile First Couple, which is no small accomplishment given the housing demands of the former First Lady Emerita. More about that later.) 

There is, however, another reason we have tarried.

The Interim President of Southwestern Seminary deserves the chance to make decisions and implement sweeping changes — or at the very least, freeze changes already underway — as the school prepares for what will surely be a difficult 2018-19 academic year. A presidential search committee still has not been named, all necessary faculty reassignments and resignations have not been made public, and the school still faces significant funding shortfalls and enrollment declines.

These are not small problems. Reforming Southwestern will be something like asbestos abatement in an historic building, but worse because there are structural deficiencies and numerous “improvements” that have been made in the last 15 years by unlicensed contractors.

Paige and Dorothy Patterson spent years making the seminary community in their own garish and corpulent image. On their watch the school built a bloated faculty, an empty chapel, and plenty of stained glass windows.

That effort nearly brought the school to ruin, aided and abetted by complicit trustees who either didn’t ask the tough questions, didn’t know to ask them, or believed that securing the Pattersons’ legacy was more important than preserving the seminary’s reputation and the convention’s assets.

The work of restoration always takes longer than the work of destruction, and so it will be for Southwestern Seminary.  Any fool — or pair of fools — can bulldoze a building. But not everyone can bring an edifice up again.

Or put another way: the mob took only a few short hours to kill Jesus.

But it took days to resurrect him, and then only after he’d descended into hell.

Southwestern Seminary will not come back in a fortnight, if she ever comes back at all. But the last thing Jeff Bingham needs is outside pressure to do this or that — to change this or that — when Pecan Manor has become a transitional care unit and too many inmates are still running the asylum.

Stay tuned . . . tonight (yes tonight) we will post Part Four(b).



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