To preach or not to preach . . .


The 2018 Southern Baptist Convention was originally scripted — from start to finish — as the Paige Patterson show.  The year before, at the recommendation of former SBC President Steve Gaines, the Committee on Order of Business nominated Patterson to serve as the convention preacher. He was named Chairman of the Evangelism Task Force appointed by Gaines. He would give the Southwestern Seminary report.

His former Chief of Staff and student was named Chairman of the Resolutions Committee.  Another member of that committee occupies the Dorothy Patterson Chair of Women’s Studies, for the time being. The Chairman of the Committee on Committees was one of Patterson’s Young Turks, quite literally.

It was meant to be a victory lap. Some thought it was going to be Patterson’s swan song.

Instead, it became his Waterloo. Or perhaps, more fittingly, his Münster.

By the time the Broadus gavel dropped to open the first morning of the annual session, Patterson was out.

No sermon. No task force report. No seminary presentation.

Not even a mention of his name one time from the platform or the floor of the convention. Baptists, as a rule, have a splendid capacity to ignore the Proboscidea in the parlor.

It was, perhaps, the most ignominious defenestration in denominational history. Only the Behatted One made an appearance, and then only for afternoon tea. The Conservative Resurgence — or Fundamentalist Takeover, depending on which side you took — had chewed up any number of Baptist potentates since 1979, but perhaps none was more deserving of so poetic a benediction as that given to Paige and Dorothy Patterson.

For a moment, we were a little sad.

When Patterson’s letter of withdrawal was published, one point stood out.  His decision, the erstwhile seminary president contended, was “an effort to protect [his] family” as much as he could. When the dust settled, not even his home church of Birchman gave him pulpit or platform before the convention.

But one North Texas church — and one pastor — kept Patterson’s name on the marquee: Hunters Glen Baptist Church in nearby Plano.  And on the appointed morning — mere hours after he’d stood down from the convention sermon to “protect his family” — Paige Patterson gripped the corners of that sacred desk and went unhinged.

According to numerous direct reports from those who were present, Patterson launched into one invective after another.  Decrying the #metoo movement as “liars,” Patterson seemed to liken his tribulations to those of Joseph, the biblical patriarch. His accusers were like Potiphar’s wife making up falsehoods against him and attacking him because of his righteous convictions and unassailable character.

Some people walked out. Others sat quietly, not sure what to do.

Through it all, the church’s pastor watched the undoing. His wife surely sat there in waves of simultaneous pain and horror. Over the next days, the two of them would make numerous visits to apologize for Patterson’s hurtful words.  The following Sunday, the pastor stood before his congregation and apologized for what Patterson had said to his church, reassuring the congregation that his words did not reflect the beliefs of the church.

Neither the audio nor video of Patterson’s double-hitter sermons on the morning June 10, 2018, are available on the church’s website. Neither is the audio of the pastor’s repudiation of Patterson’s remarks the following week. But the damage was done, and the fallout was largely contained by the careful, transparent way the pastor addressed the matter.

But here’s the rub.

Paige Patterson, who insisted that his desire to “protect his family” prompted him to stand down from the convention sermon, went full tilt at the only place in Dallas that would give him a pulpit to preach the week of the convention. So horrendous was his sermon — so offensive and hurtful — that the church cannot even make it available online.

Oh, we almost failed to mention: the pastor who apologized the following Sunday at Hunters Glen Baptist Church is Patterson’s own son-in-law.  In one of the cruelest, most self-centered misjudgments of his ministry, Patterson made a difficult moment even more difficult for his own family.  So forgive us if we were a little skeptical that anything he was doing that Sunday was “to protect his family.”

In late April– against the counsel of his trustee chairman — Paige Patterson released one of several statements of defiance. The opening paragraph insisted that his family did “not deserve” what was happening to them.

We totally agree with that. No man’s children should suffer because of him.

But it wasn’t a blogger in the pulpit that Sunday morning. And it wasn’t a #metoo victim that sent women crying from the sanctuary or compelled the pastor of Hunters Glen to apologize to his church the next week.

16 thoughts on “To preach or not to preach . . .

  1. As has been said, when the pressure builds, what’s inside comes leaking out.

    True, dat!

    ps: I’m guessing it’d always been there.

  2. How God must weep! What a Greek tragedy! Patterson outdoes Oedipus in his hubris.
    Although God, (through the grace of our salvation in Jesus),
    holds no record of our sins, He does allow us to suffer consequences of continued sinfulness. We see this in David and Israel in Scripture. So, yes, God weeps over His children.
    I am beginning to understand Lamentations more and more as one sees the sorrow of the prophet and the damage done by arrogant leaders.

  3. Our family was severely hurt by PP actions a couple of years ago. We lived by “vengeance is the Lord’s”
    A complete (and obviously continuing) unraveling of a 75 year old person a couple of months before they summit their mountain is hard to watch regardless of the circumstances. Someday I hope to earnestly pray for him.

  4. Yes and Amen to all the above comments. Bob Cleveland: Your comment is exactly what I would have said. The decision of the Ex Comm and we has a Convention is shown to be correct. A decision that should have been done many years ago, but I more than alright with it being now.

      1. That is true! There are also chapel services that were deleted at SWBTS that made Patterson look bad.

  5. Dear Ben. How do we know this story is true? How do we know that Patterson “melted down” like this since you are the only person reporting on this alleged event? Can you provide us with external confirmation that collaborates your allegations?

    1. Marky Mark,

      There are many people who have known Dr. Patterson and Mr. Cole for years, even before you released your first single. All of us know that Ben is not lying now, nor has he ever lied about Dr. Patterson. That’s what infuriates so many that know the history of the SBC and Dr. Patterson’s tenure therein. They know Ben is not lying and they are unable to refute him. They do rebuke him from time-to-time, but never are they able to refute what he has written. The truth is that several SBC leaders know that Ben has said what they have been afraid to for years.

      In addition, most certainly, people who were present during Dr. Patterson’s sermons at HGBC have read this post. Thus far, not one has refuted Ben, not even the pastor. The silence from HGBC is loud. It is loud in affirmation that what Ben has written here is true.

    2. Did you mean Ben should provide anything that confirms a conforming, condescending or contrary communique not consistently or colloquially conscripted herein?

    3. I spoke with two attending families the afternoon of Patterson’s Hunters Glen sermon. Their testimony corroborates what Ben reported here: Patterson cast himself as Joseph, the hero of the story; cast Potiphar’s wife as a lying #metoo woman; that the sermon caused consternation among the attendees, including crying and exiting.

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