100 days

Screen Shot 2019-06-07 at 4.35.35 PM

Today marks 100 days since Dr. Adam Greenway assumed the presidency of a seminary in steady decline. By every measure, he’s made bold, sweeping moves to get the school back on track, reinforce its historic mission and gospel-centered culture, and realign the school with the values and vision of most Southern Baptists. With Dr. Randy Stinson helping lay the groundwork for a renewed academic framework, Greenway has jettisoned both programs and personnel that needed to go.

And he got rid of those stinking windows. Let all God’s people say, “Amen.”

Had we been advising Dr. Greenway, we would have urged him to replace every dean at the school except Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, whose steady hand and gentle spirit guided the school successfully in the interim. One of those deans, Dr. Waylan Owens, hastily departed last summer after questions arose concerning his academic qualifications and administrative competence. The Terry School of Educational Ministries is now led by its namesake, Dr. Jack Terry, until a permanent dean is named.

The Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions has been led since its founding by Dr. Keith Eitel, a longtime associate of Southwestern’s former president, Paige Patterson, and perennial candidate to lead the International Mission Board during many past presidential searches. Eitel has been at Patterson’s side for more than thirty years, helping with everything from the Darrell Gilyard matter in the early 1990s to the anti-Rankin denominational espionage efforts of the mid-2000s.

As of today, Dr. Eitel is no longer the dean of the school. Within weeks, he will no longer be an employee of the seminary. We wish him well in his next ministry venture and encourage him to never again make secret recordings of his phone calls and personal conversations.

The talented worship leader, Dr. Leo Day, has been reassigned from his deanship of the School of Church Music to a new post as director of the Southwestern Center for the Arts. This new role will allow Dr. Day to continue service to Southwestern in a way that better suits his ministry gifts and resolves escalating internal administrative conflicts that have plagued the school under his tenure.  Dr. Joseph Crider will now lead the church music school on an interim basis until he is formally elected by the trustees later this year.

Dr. Terri Stovall, the capable dean of women’s programs, has been elevated to a more strategic position within the seminary as the Dean of Women.  In this respect, Greenway has reclaimed a Southwestern tradition and reaffirmed that the Fort Worth school — under his leadership — will be a safe place for women to study, flourish, and refine ministry skills in pursuit of God’s calling on their lives.

Note: The Dorothy Patterson Chair of Women’s Studies remains vacant following the termination of Dr. Candi Finch last Fall. It will surely take time before Greenway can find a woman adequate to fill that seat, if ever.

The Houston campus has now been sold, and there will no longer be a dean needed to serve that campus. The last dean — and its inaugural dean — retired last summer. Dr. Denny Autrey, who served on the search committee that recommended Paige Patterson, was never quite able to lead the Houston campus successfully, and the need for a dedicated facility evaporated years ago under his guidance.

Other than the School of Theology, one of the seminary’s other seven academic divisions remains under the deanship of a longtime Patterson associate, Dr. David Allen. In many ways, Dr. Allen serves as the litmus test for the Southwestern faculty and either an important ally for seminary’s future or a dispensable impediment.

If Allen is able to distance himself from the Patterson regime and fall in line behind Greenway, he may prove that his dedication to the seminary and her students supersedes his personal loyalties and persistent defense of a president who “broke down” women, wasted millions on bogus antiquities, stripped faculty of retirement benefits, mishandled sexual assaults, constructed monuments to himself, and now goes about attempting to undermine the new administration and recruit donors away from the school.

Yes, David Allen is one of Patterson’s chief enablers. He always was, and it remains to be seen if he shall persist as such.

Incidentally, it was David Allen who originally supported the hiring of Dr. Sheri Klouda, only to turn his back on the Old Testament professor and back Patterson’s efforts to ruin her career. It was David Allen who chaired the trustee board when Patterson was hired. It was David Allen who was awarded the theology school deanship upon Patterson’s election.  It was David Allen, who at Patterson’s behest, impeded the work of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (go check out the Johnny Hunt archives in Nashville for proof). And it was David Allen who posted blogs, tweeted, liked and circulated pro-Patterson propaganda on social media even as the lies and cover-ups came to light.

At the moment, Greenway has not signaled any intention to replace Allen as dean of the School of Preaching. If ever there were a remaining faculty member at the school who is being shown grace to bear fruits worthy of repentance and get in line behind the school’s new president, it is he.

We have our doubts, but we’re choosing to follow Greenway’s lead on this one and give time and space for Allen to prove the value of his continued contribution to the school. But thirty years of blind loyalties and open-eyed complicities will take more than three months to undo. So we are waiting . . . and watching.

Now for a bit of history.

By the time the allied tanks rolled into Berlin in the spring of 1945, the senior officers of the Third Reich had largely dispersed throughout the world. A great many of them landed in places like Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Rio de Janeiro. Within weeks of the end of World War II, a Holocaust survivor named Simon Wiesenthal had compiled a list of hundreds of Nazi war criminals to bring to justice. At the top of that list were senior lieutenants like Adolph Eichmann and Josef Mengele.

For years, Wiesenthal worked with United States spy agencies and Israel’s Mossad to bring these men to justice. He stalked them in hamlets and jungles; he rounded them up one by one and hauled them to Berlin or Munich or Jerusalem to face charges for their evil acts. In the late 1970s, Holocaust survivors founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and worked to remove all statutes of limitations for Nazi war criminals.

With the help of the Wiesenthal Center, the Trump administration did last year what neither the Obama nor the Bush nor Clinton administrations were willing to do.  They arrested the last Nazi living in the United States and deported him — at age 94 — to stand trial for his crimes. He died earlier this year in Germany.

Several months ago, we were contacted by a colleague of David Allen’s and asked what we wanted to see done about his continued leadership at Southwestern.

“Southern Baptists don’t need a Simon Wiesenthal Center,” we responded. “The men who gave cover for the atrocities of the Patterson era should be given an opportunity to come clean and spend their remaining days doing right things and correcting wrong things.”

As Southern Baptists prepare to converge on Birmingham, we can all be grateful for the dramatic changes that have occurred at Southwestern in the past 100 days. But we should be cautiously optimistic that men like David Allen will align their ministry focus to support the school that once was and is fast becoming again, rather than use their ongoing influence at Southwestern to whitewash a fifteen year legacy of abuse they helped create and sustain.



2 thoughts on “100 days

  1. When I read Matt 23, I always feel uneasy that Jesus characterized all the religious leaders with extremely strong words. I do not believe all Pharisees were like that.

    Reading how the Patterson ordeal unfolds provided me a new understanding to the passage. Sure there are great individuals but the religious institution as a whole deserves Jesus harsh words.

    To this day, no body from SWBTS has the courage to publicly admit what had been done to SWBTS for the past decade. Yet every Sunday in the pulpit non-believers and non-believers are urged to come clean with God.

    Do these people who are responsible for SWBTS not know that corporate sin against God is real and in the Bible? When will SWBTS come clean publicly? How is SWBTS different from secular org when there is no official admission of sin and right the wrongs?

  2. I understand the issues surrounding Dr. Allen in terms of his alignment with the Patterson era but the people I have spoken to that know him personally regard him so highly that I have to suspend judgement on whether he should stay or go. Creating a separate school of preaching to invent another Deanship, however, was a mistake of the past administration.

    Under any circumstances, Southwestern needs to cool the rhetoric around “text-driven” preaching. How many people even know what that means? To elevate it in quotes such as this one on their Twitter feed yesterday just doesn’t make sense: “Preaching must be text-driven and it must be Christ-centered. It cannot be the latter until it is the former.” @DrDavidLAllen at “Conversations in Church Revitalization” at #SBC19 with @SBTCRevitalize

    Text-Driven preaching should be taught as a technique, not a doctrine. I have seen numerous statements over the years about the supremacy of text-driven preaching that reeked of hubris.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s