Put down the Pitchforks and Torches: Patterson in SBC life
As I have read the news of what is being said about Dr. Paige Patterson who is one of the most influential and leading figures in Southern Baptist life, I see pitchforks and torches. I am certainly disheartened and heavy. What is being said? It is being said that he is misogynistic in his treatment and view of women and is dragging it out from 2000. It's not even fresh. Who is he? He was one of the key leaders in the Conservative Resurgence for Southern Baptists. This is huge. Historically when a denomination or institution was headed in a liberal direction, they almost never got the ship turned back around to its conservative roots. Yet, this happened in Southern Baptist life in our seminaries and thus influencing our churches. For this, I am so very grateful. Dr. Patterson’s wife, Dr. Dorothy Patterson, was my mentor at Southeastern Seminary and has stepped through some very difficult waters with me. I learned from her the best hermeneutics and gained an incredibly healthy and biblical perspective on biblical womanhood and a clear understanding of God’s equal value on women to men. I’ve seen his treatment of his wife, myself, and other women and being a gentlemen is a more accurate word.
Having read the news, the quotes, the letters, the references, and watching the video clips, I see a very misrepresented man. I read Beth Moore’s statement and understand completely how she feels, yet it does not leave Patterson in proper perspective. Paige Patterson would not entertain misogyny nor endorse staying in marital abuse and rightly represents that God hates divorce (as he said in his rebuttal). When someone’s few words are taken and expounded upon without considering the rest of what that person has said about the topic at hand, it is a careless report. All of these “pastors” and trustees who are commenting or asking him to step down as President from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary should know better as it is a poor “hermeneutic” of one’s statement. Let me say it again. They should know better.
Furthermore, Patterson and his family is left standing alone while under the scrutiny of the media. What I see in reading these articles is that key leaders (men who in their high positions of influence either in SBC churches or in those receiving and spending SBC and Lifeway money) are making their clear statements on the abuse of women all the while not taking the opportunity to say that they know Patterson also would not agree to abuse of women. They are covering their spineless tails while not standing behind the back of a man who deserves to have someone have his back. Having one’s back—does anyone ever do that anymore?
Back to “they know better.” These leaders who are asking him to step down and who are not making statements to support him and allow all of this public scrutiny also know better. If they were to give this proper thought, they too, would know they could be crucified in the same way over a “snippet” that is spoken.
Finally and most noteworthy, is this the best they’ve got? To be under such scrutiny and to span the course of the Patterson life and legacy, this is the best “dirt” that can be found? This man (and his hard-working wife) is about to retire from a very passionate and fruitful ministry, and this is how we walk them out? Brothers and sisters, is this how you would want to be treated? Don’t forget one of the things the Lord hates is those who stir up conflict. Before we run them out with pitchforks and torches, let's be sure to not rush to judgment, engage in gossip, or slander the character of a brother in Christ who has made such great contributions to our Baptist heritage. Better yet and in my favorite words, keep your fat mouth shut.