I appreciate your emails. I've read through them, and I can definitely tell you all are inside 'sources.'
I probably need to clarify something for you. I never have had (in my previous writings on SWBTS) an intention to remove Paige Patterson from SWBTS. I write on issues, and if any problems arise at SWBTS or come Dr. Patterson's way because of them, they are the results of his own doing, not my writing.
For that reason, I am going to prayerfully consider whether to be involved with writing about SWBTS again. Honestly, there are two things that cause me to lean toward not writing to expose what Dr. Patterson is doing regarding admitting professing non-believers (i.e. Muslims and Mormons) into the School of Theology.
(1). I've lost most of my former interest. I'm way too different from traditional, modern SBC'ers who focus more on religion and tradition than Christ and the kingdom.
(2). I'm very, very busy and am not sure the 'time' I can devote to such a writing project.
(3). I must find a 'principle' which 'lights my fire,' for I have no desire to write against a person.
So, let me think through some things, and if I feel like writing about SWBTS or Patterson.
Wade BurlesonLast week two things convinced me to write. First, I found out that the Director for the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement had been released from his duties by Paige Patterson. This is a pattern I've seen over the years. I've written about Sheri Klouda. I've written about John Cornish. In fact, I wrote a book about tactics Patterson used to get rid of Jerry Rankin. I'm not unfamiliar with moralistic fundamentalism that has more in common with Mormons and Muslims than historic Christianity, which uses people (or gets rid of people) for personal gain or the advancement of friends (watch carefully who takes over the RLC). Those words may seem harsh, but when multiple people who used to work at SWBTS (and some who still do) continue to write me with their horror stories, and ask me to write because 'its time to remove Paige Patterson,' then something is wrong. As the old saying goes, "Where's there's smoke, there's fire." I discovered a long time ago that people with careers in the SBC are too afraid to speak up or to speak out. I don't care what people think of me in the Southern Baptist Convention because I have no personal goals in the SBC. I just don't like those who bully other people in the name of God.
Second, last week I began to hear from many more people who had deep concerns about the presence of Muslims and Mormons on the campus of SWBTS. I only wrote specifically about one Muslim to draw out an admission of its truth, but if necessary, I will write details about more people later. I would much prefer to keep the issues about principle, but in my experience, most people respond to stories, not principles.
Nevertheless, I will write this post on principle, not people, and seek to point out the main problems with people who deny faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior being allowed to enter the theological training ground of the SBC.
(1). The secrecy and lack of transparency is a problem.
When the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary takes great pains to make sure that Southern Baptists as a whole do not know what is being done, then something is not right. Transparency should be the number one character trait of men (and women?) in leadership in the SBC. Stand up and tell the Southern Baptist Convention, "I will be changing the admission requirements at SWBTS so that it will no longer be a requirement that prospective students at SWBTS profess personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They must only accept 'our moral code.' They must promise their faithfulness to never drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, swear, etc....." If you can't tell the people the truth, then maybe you ought not be doing what you are doing. We Southern Baptists want and need transparency from our leaders. If some argue that 'exceptions' to the policy are not that big of a deal and the President should be allowed exceptions without reporting to the SBC, then I would say the following....
(2). The giving of a Presidential Scholarship to a non-believer is a problem.
It has been argued by some that the Muslims and Mormons "are paying full tuition." Really? What about the Muslim of whom I wrote. Is he the recipient of the Presidential Scholarship? No, you say? Prove it. What? What do you mean you can't? The recipients of the Presidential Scholarships at SWBTS are "secret" and known only to administration? Hmmm. Like I said, Transparency is a problem. When you give a Presidential Scholarship to a non-believer, you are withholding a Presidential Scholarship from a Southern Baptist. When people know the truth, they aren't real happy, are they? That's why we must keep things locked up tight. Don't make the reporters ask how the student is getting his tuition paid.
(3). The giving of a campus job to a non-believer is a problem.
"Listen, Wade, lighten up! Paige Patterson is trying to lead this Muslim to Christ! You are not showing him the love of Christ!" I don't need a lecture on loving Muslims. I am friends with the leaders of the largest Muslim organization in the nation. They ask me to speak at their gatherings. I lead in prayer at their banquets. I eat dinner with them, and they with me. They've asked me to go to Turkey with them. Muslims are my friends. This isn't about the Muslim on the campus of SWBTS. This is about the secret and intentional violation of a policy by the President of SWBTS. Most Southern Baptists would not appreciate that a landscaping job on campus, usually reserved for dads who are attempting to get their degree and have to support their families while doing so, has been given to this Muslim, excluding help that would otherwise be given to a Southern Baptist training for gospel ministry.
(4). Using the seminary as an evangelism center for non-believers is a problem.
All of us want to see our Muslim and Mormon friends come to faith in Christ for their salvation and deliverance. The place for evangelism to take place is not the seminaries Southern Baptists have set aside to train gospel ministers and missionaries. We are far more effective fulfilling the polices of the Southern Baptist Convention and the charters and policies of our seminaries by training Christians for gospel ministry and then sending them to places where Muslims are, than we are by violating policies and bringing Muslims and Mormons to where our gospel ministers and missionaries are being trained.
(5). Ignoring the violation of policies for the sake of the non-believer is a problem.
To defend Dr. Paige Patterson and the admissions office of SWBTS for allowing Muslims and Mormons and other non-believers to enroll at SWBTS, an act which intentionally (and until the post Friday secretly) violates the written policies and the will of the SBC, emphasizing that what is more important is "the salvation of the Muslim man who is watching how we deal with this issue," is for Southern Baptists to ignore the real issue. We have all heard the phrase "the ends justifies the means," right? Well, admitting professing non-believers in Jesus Christ to SWBTS violates the mission statement of SWBTS and the policies of the SBC. If, in the end, the Muslim comes to faith in Christ because he is at SWBTS getting his degree, you can't justify the violation of the school's charter (the means) for the salvation of a Muslim man (the end). That would be like saying, "I'm going to break my marriage vows because I believe I can win this good looking girl I work with to Christ if I'm more intimate with her." It doesn't work that way.
If it is important to get Muslims and Mormons on campus at SWBTS in order to 'evangelize them' during the time they are getting degrees from the School of Theology, then get the Southern Baptist Convention to change the charter of seminaries to reflect 'evangelism of non-believing seminary students' as a stated purpose for seminary training in addition to "the training for gospel ministry of Christian students."
It's not a current stated policy of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I think there's good reasons why it never should be - but that's another matter.
More to come...