"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Wake Up, Southern Baptists! Baltimore's Coming

"Is it not sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy
for the person over whom some fear always looms?" Cicero


The admission of an observant Muslim at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is filled with irony. We are told that the Muslim was admitted into the cooperative educational efforts of Southern Baptists, according to the President of SWBTS, because he 'accepted our  school's moral code' (no smoking, no drinking, etc...). Some SWBTS students suggested that I post photos of the Muslim young man smoking on campus ("close to a pack a day"), then hopping on his bike to go work at his on-campus landscaping job. Not a good idea, in my opinion. That would make this entire fiasco about our Muslim friend. This story, contrary to the puerile thinking of many Southern Baptists, not to mention the secular media, is not about the Muslim student. So what if he smokes? So what if he's a practicing Muslim? So what if he's getting his Ph.D. in archaeology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? The issue at hand is Southern Baptists as a whole are allowing people in power within the Convention to play fast and furious with our cooperation in education and missions, arbitrarily determining who is 'in' and who is 'out' by a set of rules that keeps changing. Let me explain.
 
I pray our Muslim friend comes to know Christ, and when he does, I'll send him a congratulatory cigar, a cigar from the same stock that B.H. Carroll,  the founding President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1908), used to smoke for pleasure. B.H. Carroll, the divorced and remarried first President of SWBTS, was a wonderful theologian and leader of pastors, a devout follower of Jesus Christ, and one of the leading Southern Baptists in the history of our Convention. George W. Truett, longtime pastor of FBC Dallas, called Carroll's crowning work  the education of "God's preachers." Yet, in the SBC's bizarre world of modern day neo-fundamentalism, the fingers of B.H. Carroll's left hand have been cut off from the portrait that hangs in the rotunda of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to hide the omnipresent cigar in President Carroll's hand. I plan, when our Muslim friend graduates from Southwestern Theological Seminary, to take a snapshot with him underneath B.H. Carroll's portrait. Who knows? What might lead our Muslim friend to faith in Jesus Christ is an understanding that moral codes save no one, but a faith relationship in the Person and work of the Anointed One saves any one.
 
Here's my question. Who changed 'the rules' at Southwestern? On whose watch did this occur? Who made acceptance of a new "moral code" (new in the sense that B.H. Carroll knew nothing about it) more important for enrollment in the seminary than the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Who is in charge? Who are the spiritual elitists? In short, who determines what is 'appropriate and not appropriate" in terms of belief and behavior for participation and cooperation in Southern Baptist missions and education?
 
I'd like to address you Southern Baptists who read this blog. Thousands upon thousands of you have read it the last few days. If you are more concerned about a Muslim attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary than you are the SBC Executive Committee's recommendation at the 2014 SBC in Baltimore which, if approved, will more narrowly define  churches in "friendly cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention as only those churches who do not operate in a manner which demonstrates opposition to the BFM 2000, then you don't get the problem that I've been writing about.
 
The major problem we have in the Southern Baptist Convention is not that we are gracious to Muslims (for we should be and we are); rather, the problem we have in the Southern Baptist Convention is that we are NOT gracious and kind to professing Christians who disagree with our views on tertiary matters (and we should be). We keep changing the rules to narrow the parameters of who can be called a 'real' Baptist.
 
If you allow the SBC Executive Committee's constitutional recommendation to pass at the 2014 Baltimore Convention, here will be a few of the consequences:
 (1). Churches who practice "open" communion cannot be called Southern Baptist, for the BFM 2000 teaches closed communion, and those churches that practice "open" communion churches (as we do) will be defined as not "in friendly cooperation."
(2). Churches who believe and teach 'original sin' and that people are judged by God for Adam's sin (as our church holds) will not be "in friendly cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention, because the BFM 2000 teaches that nobody comes under the condemnation of Adam's sin until  "they are capable of moral action, for only then do they become transgressors and come under condemnation."
(3). Churches that teach and believe that Jesus Christ baptizes believers in the Holy Spirit (as we believe the Scriptures teach) would not be "in friendly cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention because the BFM wrongly teaches that "the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the body of Christ."
 
I could go on. The BFM 2000 is a good confession, but it is an errant confession. No confession is perfect, and no Baptist in history should ever advocate the use of creeds. The motion by the Executive Committee to more narrowly define "in friendly cooperation" should cause concern in the heart of every true Southern Baptist - huge concern. The Executive Committee, in its official 'recommendation' to change Article III of the SBC Constitution does not tell you how the new constitutional amendment will affect churches who "operate in a manner which demonstrates opposition to the BFM 2000," but if you think it won't one day include the attempted banishment of churches who hold to what is commonly called Calvinism, then you need to go get your picture taken close to BH Carroll's left hand at SWBTS. The Executive Committee gives only one example of opposition to the BFM 2000;  the acceptance of "homosexuality."   Well of course. That's the only illustration needed to get a chorus of "Amens!" Yet, the issues involved are much deeper. More and more Baptist churches, who otherwise would be in friendly cooperation,  are being squeezed out of participation within the Southern Baptist Convention. I've been warning about this for years. For those of you with difficulty understanding the importance of this matter, which will be definitely decided in Baltimore, let me make it pretty simple by using an analogy.
 
You, sir, are the Muslim at Southwestern. You were told that you would be 'accepted' at the Southern Baptist Convention by the very guy who figured he had been given the power to "write the rules," "change the rules" and "enforce the rules." All of the sudden, you wake up one morning and realize that some crazy Southern Baptist in Oklahoma wrote about you and now YOU ARE THE ISSUE. It's uncomfortable. You don't like it - but don't worry, people will jump to your defense to protect you from being hurt, claiming that the President has good intentions for you. You never realized the writer in Oklahoma never thought you were the issue in the first place.
 
Cooperating conventions like the Southern Baptist Convention work because people collectively refuse to random leaders to narrow the rules in place, or power brokers to selectively enforce those rules, or people in positions of power without convention approval to change the rules (think the IMB new guidelines for missionaries never approved by the Convention). If our cooperation were determined by our beliefs and behavior conformities, our educational and missional funding mechanism should be called the Conformity Program. This, my Southern Baptist friends, is the greatest issue in Baltimore.
 
It just took a Muslim to show us that modern Southern Baptists express more concern for not offending a professing Muslim allowed to enroll in the educational program of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, contrary to policies and procedures already in place, than we Southern Baptists ever do over professing Christians who are already involved in Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministry but are now being de-enrolled through a narrowing of the parameters of our cooperation.
 
Wake up.

78 comments:

Adam Blosser said...

"If you are more concerned about a Muslim attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary than you are the SBC Executive Committee's recommendation at the 2014 SBC in Baltimore that will more narrowly "friendly cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention as only those churches that accept and adopt the BFM 2000 , then you don't get the problem that I've been writing about."

While I have concerns about the executive committee's proposal and wrote a letter to express those concerns, the above statement is inaccurate. The proposal requires no formal adoption of the BFM2000 on the part of churches. It requires that churches not operate in a manner which demonstrates opposition to the BFM2000. Here is the relevant section below:

"Has not intentionally operated in any manner demonstrating opposition to the doctrine expressed in the Convention's most recently adopted statement of faith. (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.)"

Wade Burleson said...

Adam Blosser,

Our church 'intentionally operates' in a manner demonstrating opposition to the doctrine expressed in the Convention's most recently adopted statement of faith" -

Our church practices open communion.

Thank you, though, for your statement. I will edit my paragraph to reflect your better wording.

Jon L. Estes said...

Nashville just had an earthquake tremor. They said it was a direct result from Wade Burleson's cloaked threat in his recent blog post title.

Wade Burleson said...

:)

That's funny, Jon. Oklahoma has all the earthquakes, not Nashville.

Jon L. Estes said...

I am sure as few folks can make such OK events your fault. We always need someone to fault when things don't go as we think they should.

Anonymous said...

Personal question for Mr. Burleson: 1) Do you think your time is better spent writing sensationalist blogs or sharing the Gospel with those in need of it?
2) Do you think your type of writing glorifies the Kingdom of God and presents Christianity in a better light or sets an example of infighting Baptists are stereotyped for?
3) There are proper channels to raise such serious charges, is there some reason you do not go through those, but instead bring charges without talking to the one whom you are accusing first? (Matthew 18)
Please be as bold in answering these honestly before the Lord as you were in accusing a brother in Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

(1). Ummm, definitely the latter.
(2). Yep, sure do believe the kingdom of God is advanced through my writing or I wouldn't write. Could be wrong, of course, but that's what I think. By the way, I don't equate the SBC with the kingdom of God. They aren't synonymous.
(3). I agree with Matthew 18, but I have no personal offense, so Matthew 18 doesn't apply now does it? :)

Anonymous said...

Wade,

1. So then...
2. No one is equating the Kingdom of God with SBC, good job twisting words a bit though :) You cannot deny that the way believers act (or write)reflects on the Kingdom of God as a whole though. Agree?
3. You dodged the question there a bit, what about proper channels? Even if you think Mt. 18 does not apply, did you ever think of sitting down or calling Dr. Patterson first to hear his motives? Doesn't seem like that would be too hard, and there might be a better outcome to your writing.

Wade Burleson said...

I've never written about Patterson's motives. Neither prudent nor necessary.

Blessings!

Chris Riley said...

Wow! Just wow! Wade, thank you for the well thought out discussion. Political fundamentalism is all about control. If you control the definition, you control the conversation. Many of the people of the churches of the SBC will simply hear that "a pastor is operating in a manner demonstrating opposition" and simply not hire him. Gotta keep those dollars coming in.
If an educated pastor took the time to study the Scripture and the history of Baptists,one can easily see the tension of trying to figure out how to live in the Kingdom of God while one this earthly world is the very thing that has led to spiritual growth. If you alleviate the tension, how do you build strength?

Jim Guittard said...

The guy is not from Egypt.

Anonymous said...

That, Wade Burleson, is the most compelling piece for what's wrong with our convention than I've read in a long, long time.

Booya!

Steven said...

Jim Guittard,

Hello Jim. His family was in Egypt. Many Muslims living in Palestine or Israel have roots there. However, like Mr. Burleson said its not about him.

John said...

I see the ole,"Wouldn't your time be better spent if" clause has been written on your blog. I for one am so glad that someone like you Wade has not fallen under the hypnotic persuasion of lets just close an eye to the wrong and all just sing, Kum bah Ya! Exposure of unethical behavior and the direct violation of our necessary policies and procedures need to be exposed. If the foundations are destroyed, what will the righteous do?

All your posts are right on and no one should attempt to question your motives. I wonder if your posting on this might delay your stained glass portrait at SWBTS?! :)

Wade Burleson said...

John,

I've been assured a bobble head next to the commode in the guest bathroom of the Rotunda. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a graduate of SWBTS and this whole mess makes me sick. Nothing Patterson does ever surprises me since he can basically do whatever he so desires. The trustees are never going to reign him in since he made their selection possible in the first place. I've personally be in meetings where he either gave a thumbs up or a thumbs down on someone and if they got the thumbs down, they just disappeared from Baptist life.

There's nothing I can do to change the fact that I graduated from SWBTS so I choose to be thankful for my years there (and they were good ones) and then move on. Patterson is going to be in charge as long as he so desires so nothing we say or do will matter.

What I do wonder is why Wade stays a Southern Baptist since so much obviously agitates him. If I was still a member of a Southern Baptist Church (and I am no longer)and things bothered me that much, I would move on and find somewhere that suited my personal tastes and interpretations. I'm sure Wade is a great preacher and pastor but sounds to me like he is actually a "stranger in a foreign land" when he comes in under the SBC umbrella.

I'm sure many of you will pounce on my words and issue the standard condemnations but these are just some wondering thoughts that I have. They are mine and mine alone but just felt like sharing them with the brothers and sisters. Thank goodness there's not a Patterson or Executive Committee to analyze and penalize.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone "gets it", Pastor Wade.

You know well from my replies through the years that I am about as conservative as you can get and yet not a fundamentalist or a Landmarkist.

Transfers kept us out of SBC territory during the late war of southern aggression, known in the south as the conservative resurgence and for those like me as the fundamentalist takeover. What surprises when we returned!

I attend a Southern Baptist church. I am not a member, and cannot be a member, because the church bylaws state I have to ascribe to the BFM2000, or so I have been told. It may not actually say that, but my state convention makes it pretty clear for a church to be in friendly cooperation it has to ascribe to it.

Mind you, I am as conservative as it is, maybe more so in places. But Jesus is still the final arbiter of my faith. I cannot swear allegiance to the BFM2000 when it is used as a creed that can change on some distant men's whims. How can I promise to uphold something so changeable? No, I uphold God's Word and that is enough.

Beyond that, I am a Baptist, for crying out loud. I believe in soul competency. I can't sell out on that.

I've been saying since about 1997 that these big boys are going to be hung with the same rope they used to whip other equally conservative Baptists out of the seats of power.

Were there liberals leading and in need of going in 1979? To be sure, but fairly and without power brokering. Not all those put out of power were even remotely liberal--just believers in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide the believer.

But it appears the idea that those "liberal leaders" were pushing the convention where it did not want to go was sufficient, in good Baptist manner, to get them dismissed.

What sweet irony that now some of those fundamentalists may be shown the door for pushing the convention where it does not want to go.

My prayer is that the cross of Christ will not be harmed, and that we raise up a new crop of leaders, neither liberals nor fundamentalists, but Baptists.

Until then, every time it is pointed out to me that if I joined I could fill a much needed space in our church I get to explain what Baptists used to believe, and hopefully will again someday.

Linda

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why younger SBC pastors are uninvolved in SBC life just look at the last few days. They despise fundamentalism and the good ole boy network (read here SBC politics); they also detest frauds and those who are overbearing and unaccountable (read here the SBC power players like P Patterson).

Bill

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blogs regarding the fiasco at SWBTS. I agree with your statements, but I would point out the cigar was covered up long before Patterson became president. I was there in the late 80's with Dilday and it was already covered up.

David (Not Adrian's Son) Rogers said...

The fingers cut-off paint job has been around at least since 1986 when I started seminary. Talks of the cigar were abuzz then. I don't know if Dr. Patterson was behind that, but it certainly predates his tenure as president.

Note: the above comment should not be taken as any kind of endorsement for Dr. Patterson before or after this current controversy.

The Govteach said...

Bro. Wade,
I too am an alumni of SWBTS, and I am sickened by the mess going on in Ft Worth.
I am neither a pastor, and due to the mess I witnessed while in seminary not a Southern Baptist. I refuse to attend a denomination that will not leave 1952.
The denomination is in a world of trouble and has lost its witness due to stunts that Patterson, Mohler and the other so-called leadership has pulled over the last 20+ years.

Keep up the good work sir.....

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous and David,

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wade. I would love the SBC if not for that hatefulness that you're describing. I'm at a Methodist church now and will be there until some sensical men and women begin serving in the positions Patterson and others now hold.

I'm so blessed by your blog. It encourages me in the faith. Thank you.

RRR said...

To tuck-tail and run away from the Southern Baptist Convention when we see it under attack would be like someone giving up their US citizenship due to its principles being attacked by socialist ideology rather than staying and fighting for our traditional values. We stay because we care. We fight because it’s worth fighting for.

RRR said...

The SWBTS Trustees response to these “non-Christian student” issues by saying they would address it at the regularly scheduled “September” meeting projects to me a Board of Trustees that either do not see this violation of the most basic Seminary policies as serious and an abuse of trust or they are cowering at the thought of confrontation with The President. It reminds me of the Liberty Baptist University Trustees response to the “Ergun Caner- scam” fiasco. They did "nothing" until the public outcry became so loud they could no longer ignore it. (Can you believe that he’s now the President of Brewton-Parker College??)

RRR said...

A final (?) thought: I wonder why the SBC Executive Committee is going to such lengths to make this amendment requiring churches to function in agreement with the BFM 2000 if their intent is to exclude churches that are in support of “homosexual behavior”. If that is indeed their motive, why not just address "homosexual behavior"? (Has that issue not already been addressed in previous Conventions?) Seems to me that the amendment is as you suggest; to address other issues they perceive to be problematic. This proposal implies that there is an underlying intent to their proposal which is not readily discernable at this time but may only be apparent in days and years to come.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

The Old Conventions of Virginia and Texas DO NOT accept the BFM 2000 but adhere to the BFM 1963.

Does that mean they are in opposition to the Executive Committee’s recommendation and will not be allowed to attend…vote…etc.?

Sounds like to me they plan to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

GREAT question. I don't know the answer.

Rex,

GREAT observation. Crazy is as crazy does.

Rex Ray said...

The 1962 SBC adopted a motion to update the 1925 BFM. Presidents of state Conventions were to updated the BFM and present it next year to the SBC. “Any group or individuals may approach this committee to be of service.”

The BFM 2000 was written by 15 hand picked people by Paige Patterson, and their meetings were behind ‘closed doors’. (“We can’t tell you the changes, but you’re going to like it.”) The church messengers didn’t have a clue until it was ‘pushed through’.

These statements in the 1963 BFM were removed or changed by the BFM 2000:

1. “In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.”

2. “Such statements have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority.”

3. “Baptist emphasize the soul’s competency before God, freedom in religion, and priesthood of the believer.” Vs. 2000 “We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers…our accountability to each other….”

4. “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” Vs. 2000
“All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

5. “church…committed to His teachings…” vs. 2000 “governed by His laws.”

6. “Its Scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.” Vs. 2000 “the officer of pastor is limited to men”

The BFM 2000 added “The Family” where a wife is to submit to her husband etc.

In my opinion what really takes the cake is the 2000 stating: “…deny the right of ANY secular or RELIGIOUS authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches.”

Is not the SBC a “religious authority”, and didn’t they impose their BFM 2000 on every Tom, Dick, and Harry they could? And they are still at it with their new recommendation!


“BEWARE OF THESE EXPERTS IN RELIGION" (Luke 20:46)
“BEWARE OF THE TEACHERS OF RELIGION”, (Mark 12:38),
“TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDS OF MEN.” (Matthew 15:9)

Les Prouty said...

Wade,

I really appreciate the stance you're taking on this Muslim issue. I attended NOBTS for a year back in the mis 1980s and ultimately graduated from Mid America Baptist in Memphis in 1987. After serving in 2 SB churches I ended up in the PCA since 1992. I do, however, keep up with SBC goings on. I have many family members in SB churches and my ministry has a few SB churches. So, my interest in these kinds of things are very real.

Brother, keep sounding the horns on the way SWBTS is being run. From what I'm reading, it is not being done in a God honoring way (not to mention I'm astounded that some think it's ok to admit an unbeliever to seminary)

God bless,

Les

Les Prouty said...

Well, typos and inattention:

"back in the mis 1980s" should be "back in the mid 1980s."

and "and my ministry has a few SB churches AS PARTNERS. So, my interest in these kinds of things IS very real."

New BBC Open Forum said...

I wonder if your posting on this might delay your stained glass portrait at SWBTS?!

I hear Patterson has already commissioned Wade's window. (The quote is by Patterson himself.)

And this should have been the image used for Paige Patterson's.

New BBC Open Forum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

It is true when you say, Wade, that you have been warning the SBC on Patterson, et.al. But nothing changes (indeed they are even more bold) because no one with real power dares to take them on. You are a voice calling in the wilderness. It seems to me that the only thing that will get the attention of these men is money...or lack of it. When churches such as yours stop funding their projects then MAYBE things will change.

Tom Parker said...

The phrase "friendly cooperation" means what? I guess this is more of the purification process.

FUNDAMENTALIST are never satisfied, they are always on the lookout for the enemy, but never look in the mirror to see the true enemy.

They got rid of all of the "liberals"--sarcasm intended- so now they have to create other enemy's.

"They will never stop this madness."

Rex Ray said...

Tom,
You ‘nailed FUNDAMENTALIST!

In 1998, when Paige Patterson became President of the SBC, the ‘leaving’ President, Tom Eliff, told him, “All barnacles and parasites had been removed from the ship of Zion.”

The Baptist Standard printed a letter from me:

“If I was a seminary teacher or maybe a missionary, I could have been shook from the boat or cut from the tree long ago. But I’m just a construction volunteer looking forward to my ninth trip of building churches or missionary homes in Japan. I’ve just received a usual “Certificate of Appreciation, May-June 1998” on behalf of the SBC. This “barnacle” and “parasite” is wondering if there is a double standard,”

Looks like “friendly cooperation” is just another way to get rid of barnacles and parasites.

Fundamentalist build walls to keep sin out but make prisoners within.

New BBC Open Forum said...

It is true when you say, Wade, that you have been warning the SBC on Patterson, et.al. But nothing changes (indeed they are even more bold) because no one with real power dares to take them on. You are a voice calling in the wilderness. It seems to me that the only thing that will get the attention of these men is money...or lack of it. When churches such as yours stop funding their projects then MAYBE things will change.

This is true. Money talks, and that's the language people like Patterson understand best. I commented in an early thread that if enough churches stop funding the CP or at least designating that their contributions do not go to SWBTS (if they can do that), only then will you see change.

It's also true that you're the "voice crying in the wilderness." Doesn't mean you should stop (you should not), but where are all the other voices who should be screaming from the rooftops and demanding accountability from Patterson?

Are the SWBTS trustees paid? Are there any perks that come from being a trustee? I wouldn't think all these men (and I assume they're all men) would so rabidly support Patterson if there weren't something -- money, power, position, prestige -- in it for them.

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC,

Laughing my head off.

Thanks for the pic!

wade

Wade Burleson said...

New BBC,

The perks trustees receive are pretty good - travel, flights, hotels, meals, trips, prestige, speaking engagements, recommendation and placement at other churches, etc...

Too difficult for many to speak out.

Jon L. Estes said...

NewBBC - "...where are all the other voices who should be screaming from the rooftops and demanding accountability from Patterson?"

Hiding behind the hidden name of anonymity. For the most part, Wade stands alone or with only a few who will be given an ear. If you want the ones in power to listen, have the masses come out of their closet (homosexuals do not corner the market on that term so no suggestion of such towards all the shadow people).

Anonymous said...

Your writing concerning the muslim man attending the Seminary is especially compelling. If I was to directly give to a seminary, I would expect the monies to go to training pastors to teach the word of God, not to funding muslims who are interested in Archaeology, and have no interest in preaching the Word of God. A seminary is a place of training men and women for the ministry,(preaching and missionary work), not equipping Muslims to be better archaeologists!

Kathy

The Govteach said...

Bro. Wade,

On the SWBTS Trustee getting speaking engagements? Are these PAID speaking engagements?

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I'm a "cut to the chase" kind of guy. So I just have one question. What do you think should be done with Patterson at SWBTS?

Wade Burleson said...

He should be 'allowed' to retire.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I was the anonymous who asked the previous question. I agree with you completely on Patterson's "retirement". Do you think it will actually happen?

Jim Roebuck

The Govteach said...

I got to agree....time for Paige Patterson to " retire." He is 71. Time is time....

Patrick Mead said...

Any legal actions that can be taken against Patterson and/or trustees?

RP said...

I am a free grace traditional dispensationalist, in the old-school Dallas Seminary tradition, so my theological viewpoints should be similar to Paige Patterson's progressive dispensationalism and Baptist focus on soul competency. But oh, how much difference character makes! When my wife and I first listened to a Chapel message he delivered, we both couldn't quite put a finger on it, but there was some, perhaps, spiritual pride in his tone. Thanks to Wade Burleson's longitudinal data on Dr. Patterson over the years, I'm able to flesh this out better. Please consider this:

I: Patterson extends a SWBTS invitation to a Muslim student, whose heart is enmity to Christ according to the Scriptures, but he refused an invitation to the husband of a divorced wife to be on faculty. On one occasion, he replaced the requirement of saving faith with obeying a moral code, which is completely contrary to all of Scripture and all that the Son of God has revealed to us. But on the other occasion, he refused to extend grace to an ex-abused woman who remarried.

II: Paige Patterson tells his students in a Chapel message that they are taking a vow of poverty, but he lives in wealth and was exempt from budget cuts when SWBTS cut 4 million in 2009, retaining personal aides, cooks, and lavish travel. He tells his students that they are poor because they don't tithe, and that he is rich because he titles 20%.

III: Paige Patterson initiates a Homemaking major for women, but his wife Dorothy is a SWBTS professor.

IV: And this is the worst of all - Paige Patterson tells abusers to keep their secrets in the church - in the wake of child sexual abuse scandals that were perpetrated because ministry leaders unscripturally chose not to tell the police that there were pedophiles in their midst.

Please contribute more.

Anonymous said...

And the list goes on and on but aren't you glad that noone is keeping track of all the things (sins) that we preachers have in our lives. Its lots more fun listing all the things that Patterson has done wrong in our eyes. Phariseeism isn't a complimentary term but its something that manifests itself among Baptists on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
Thanks for sharing about this newest abuse of power. I do not comment much on blogs but this one has cause me to respond with a few comments. I am a 1992 graduate of SWBTS. I have not heard about this issue before, but it does not surprise me either, it sadden me. It was only a matter of time before the next example of abuse surfaces at SWBTS. I guess it has again. Which is dishearten in many way that we have leaders that abuse the authority and integrity entrusted to them in the positions they hold and when they abuse it, we just shake our head and say " that is the normal way we do business". When it should not be. How sad it can be for those of us who try to maintain a high sense of personal and position integrity in the life and church work and see others abuse it. Its now so acceptable to lower that bar of integrity that we all are affected by it. I do not have much respect for Dr. Patterson as a leader and feel that SWBTS present student body and teachers are the real losers in this issue. They have to deal with it every day in your face, where I see it from afar.
thanks for letting me respond.

RP said...

Re: Anonymous - Scripture teaches us that pastors and teachers are held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Paige Patterson's actions have a real affect on the SBC, and by extension the church at large.

There are real children who are abused as children in SBC churches. Google Darrell Gilyard and his relationship with Paige Patterson - "no one is keeping track of this" as you suggested is not the Biblical response.

Paige Patterson keeping up his standard of living and giving his wife different standards than other women really does affect young impressionable seminarians.

Pointing this out is neither fun nor Pharisaical, and nor is it personal.

God appraises the heart, men appraise actions. These are actions that I have pointed out, I did not make a judgment on his heart.

To dismiss everything Paige Patterson has done wrong, as you suggest, when he occupies such a visible position in the eyes of both the world and the church, would be an error.

It would also be an error to point out moral shortcomings of the unsaved, because they don't know Jesus. But this is something we can do with fellows who profess saving faith in Christ and yet who defend their unBiblical actions - Paige Patterson has gone on the record defending each of my points, and has been unpersuasive and he has not shown signs that he will change. This is why these posts are not a waste of time, as you have indirectly suggested.

RP said...

Re: Re: Anonymous, In short, if Patterson came out repentant and said he is sorry, of course it is unbiblical to focus on all of this. But on the contrary, he has defended these actions publicly, on SWBTS, on Christianity Today, on Christian Post, etc .. the list goes on and on. T

New BBC Open Forum said...

Get off your high horse, JLE. I'm just as big a nobody as you are, and no one would take me any more seriously if I chose to blog using a name. It could be any name actually. It's the internet. You don't know me, and you don't know if the name I signed would be mine, would you? How do I know your name is Jon Estes or that the photo you plaster everywhere is actually you? The answer is I don't.

Remember this guy? One of the most deceitful, you-must-sign-your-name, come-out-of-the-closet people I've ever seen. Some of his comments reminded me of some of yours.

The truth is the truth. Signing a name to what you write doesn't make it any more credible if it's the truth.

I have said for years I'd be happy to correspond with Wade privately and reveal my name to him. He still wouldn't know me from Adam (no one does), but to my knowledge he's never responded. As for you, JLE? Never in a million years!

New BBC Open Forum said...

The perks trustees receive are pretty good - travel, flights, hotels, meals, trips, prestige, speaking engagements, recommendation and placement at other churches, etc...

Then follow the money. It's that simple. The good old boys' network is alive and well and spending your CP dollars.

New BBC Open Forum said...

For the most part, Wade stands alone or with only a few who will be given an ear. If you want the ones in power to listen, have the masses come out of their closet (homosexuals do not corner the market on that term so no suggestion of such towards all the shadow people).

I actually agree with this, but they need to vote with their pocketbooks. That's the only language people like Patterson understand because he will never, ever give "the masses" an ear. He's too high up on his pedestal for that. Also, over half "the masses" are female, and we know what Patterson thinks of them and their opinions.

New BBC Open Forum said...

And, if I might add one more thing, the average pew sitter in the average Southern Baptist church is about as informed about what's going on in the SBC (unless it involves something that makes the national news which makes Baptists look like idiots such as boycotting Disney) as the average American is about what's going on in our national, state, and local governments. I call it willful ignorance.

The Govteach said...

BBC Open Forum,

You are correct. I retired from teaching high school seniors because I finally had enough trying to make 18 year old people care about anything concerning the government. ( and their parents could care less too.)

Jon L. Estes said...

New BBC -

No high horse here as I clearly stated it will take the masses to quit hiding in the shadows to begin to make a difference. The powers to be have no need for anonymity complaints and will dismiss them. But, if real people with real names will join together and, in mass, bring to the convention the needed direction (you do remember how the CR was won don't you?). It needs to start now, and have a willingness to remain for the long haul.

I think it would be safe to say Patterson will not get in trouble mostly because he has the numbers which will vote to make sure of it. Any change in the SBC must come from numbers in the vote. Without that it is jut blowing in the wind.

Remaining shadow lurkers instead of gathering the troops will lead to blogs like this remaining full of criticisms towards something they really are unwilling to see changed. Oh yeah - they will let Wade fight their battles but don't forget - he is only one vote.

I really could care less if you remain in your closet or not but the fact remains your criticism is only going as far as you are willing to let it go. And so far it is in hiding and not working to gather the troops. The troops must be courageous enough to risk their reputations and jobs. It can and will get ugly if the battle is worth fighting and the shadow people come out in the light and begin to make a difference.

The choice for change rests in the hands of those who want it but it won't come from bickering blogs. Most of the powers to be have learned to ignore them or end up like Brunson did (he should have just ignored and did his thing). It seems the rest are ignoring and laughing at those who do not have the gumption to stand up and be counted.

It is also possible that there are not shadow people and those disgusted to gather up to make a difference. I set aside the political involvement in the SBC 5-6 years ago. Life is better without it.

Troy Long said...

Empty the national leadership nest. Let’s see what 40 somethings can do. Maybe they could go to Pizza Hut or Starbucks and work things out. Many of our leaders are too old, too slow, and not motivated to make a difference. It seems to me most of our leadership is too concerned about control and protecting their territory.

Just a thought.
Troy

Jon L. Estes said...

Troy -

Good thoughts. It can be done. If I got my math correct Patterson was only 37 in 1979. Cafe Du Monde was their gathering place in 1977 so he then was 35. If you wait until the 40's you better get some younger blood with you also.

SaveOurShorter said...

Bravo, Wade Burleson, bravo! It's not just pastors who are listening to your message.

Don't expect me to discuss soteriology or the five points of Calvinism. Don't expect me to debate fundamentalism vs "liberal". I am just a former Baptist who has been drawn back into the fray that is the SBC via personal harm to a family member.

I know and have read all about the Fundamentalist take-over - every book, every article, every blog I can find - in an attempt to figure out how the cause of Christ has become so twisted.

I left the Baptist church some 40 years ago, when I saw Sam Oni being denied admission at Tattnall Square Baptist Church, on the campus of Mercer University in Macon and began to hear about some of the going's on within the SBC and in my case, the GBC.
My grandfather had been so proud of the SBC and what it stood for. He drilled into me the importance of the cooperation among churches who were allowed, within a rather open framework, to be called Southern Baptist. He explained at length what "priesthood of the believer" meant, and how it differed from Catholicism and for that matter, some of the other denominations.

I was pulled back into this mess some 3 years ago, when someone I loved was directly affected by the upheaval at Shorter University in Rome.

Working with a group known as Save our Shorter, I started doing research on what was happening in schools who received SBC/GBC funding. What I have learned has appalled me.

Pastor Burleson is EXACTLY right. The problem is not a Muslim student, it's not Calvinism, it's not Faith Pledges or Lifestyle Statements. It's not even allowing individuals who proclaim that they were taught jihad but became Christian - and eventually a college president.

The problem is an unyielding, corrupt power that is systematically destroying your schools. Where is infallibility being ascribed? Not to the Word or the truth of Christ crucified, but to men whose smoke and mirrors that have fooled so many.

It is power and money that has almost destroyed Brewton Parker College. Its campus is a disgrace, its finances are a shambles and its accreditation is in jeopardy. It is power and money that has decimated Louisiana Baptist College.Its campus is falling apart, its reputation is in the dirt within the academic arena (I fully expect SACS to re-examine LC's accreditation, given recent revelations). It is power and money that has, to date, driven out, to date, 135 faculty and staff from Shorter University. The once proud music program, recognized nationally for its excellence, has been destroyed, the nursing program rated LAST in the Georgia Board of Nursing's NCLEX exams.

Pastor Burleson's writings are pointing you, his readers, toward the truth and yes, it's time to WAKE UP! I truly believe the presidents of the aforementioned colleges watch the actions of Paige Patterson. If he is allowed, by state executive directors and the Convention, to flout the by-laws of the college, then the sycophant college presidents who follow his every move will - no, already have - defy the principles and by-laws of their schools.

I hear the "leave it to the trustees" argument. Are you really so blind as to believe that these presidents don't have the entirety of the board in their back pockets? Do you really believe that the Executive Directors of your state conventions don't pull the strings and manipulate the boards to dance to their tune, then you are too busy looking at the minutiae to see what is actually occurring.

You are losing students at these schools by the hundreds. They are transferring to other schools, they are walking away from the church, they are turning their backs on you. I know this for a fact. I have talked to them.

SaveOurShorter said...

You are losing professors at all of the above-mentioned schools, and I suspect you're losing them at SBTS too. We are taught academic integrity and know the meaning of academic freedom. We have to respect our leaders, and what we are seeing make us wipe our feet as we head out the door.
You are losing alumni and their financial contributions. Why should they support a school that they no longer recognize? I hear from many, many individuals (and read here as well) who are ashamed to hang the diplomas that they once so proudly earned. They despair of any action on the part of honest convention leaders.
You are losing respect in the academic community. The continuing revision of academic standards and curriculum is discussed ad nauseum in academic journals. Yes, as private institutions the schools have the right to adjust their curriculum to suit their narrow view, but the academic community doesn't have to view them with any degree of respect. Perhaps that's a "badge of honor" amongst Southern Baptists these days. If so, that's a sad commentary on the state of mind within the SBC.
Is it time for SBC messengers to stand up and shout loudly? You bet your boots it is.
If integrity and honor is sacrificed for ideology and hero-worship, then the SBC has failed. If soul competency is being laid at the altar of fundamentalism, then the SBC has failed. If college or seminary presidents are allowed to make a mockery of the principles on which that institution was established. If they are allowed to dazzle with brilliance in the pulpit but twist and distort the cause of Christ through lies, greed, and corruption, then the SBC has failed.
And if you, as Southern Baptist pastors and messengers fail to call to account those who hold the ever-changing "principles" of fundamentalism over your heads, then you have failed.
Keep in mind that there are, literally, thousands of us from all walks of life, out here watching. Keep in mind that scores of these thousands have had their faith shaken by your lack of action.

Wake up, Southern Baptists! Baltimore's Coming - and the world is watching.

SaveOurShorter


The Govteach said...

SOS,

The SBC has become nothing more than a dying weak sister at the mercy of those who " claimed" that there was some sort of wicked liberal take over....

I hope people in Baltimore wake up, but sadly, I do not. The average pew sitter, the average pastor only want to " go along to get along." That's pretty much the average SBC member today. I remember the old days when the deacons took active parts in their church, today, unless it involves some sort of " pat each other on the back" situation, they don't want to get their hands dirty.

The SBC is going to continue to lose membership, the youth see it as an ancient worthless blob, stuck in the 1950s, where most of the leadership remains.

Sad part is the leadership only cares about themselves. Stain glass windows to themselves is what this denomination is all about today.....

As said earlier in the comments...

Luke 20:46
Mark 12:38

RRR said...

Govteach said; "The SBC has become nothing more than a dying weak sister at the mercy of those who " claimed" that there was some sort of wicked liberal take over...."

I’m tired of those who say there was no problem in Southern Baptist life with liberalism prior to the "take-over" by the conservatives. I certainly did not agree with a lot of the tactics and the mean spirit that surfaced on both sides during the SBC transition of institutions in the 1980s. But apparently "Govtech" and others were not aware of just how liberal our seminaries were prior to the aggressive takeover by the conservatives.

In those times, the SBC seminaries were controlled by leaders with what I and many others saw was an extreme liberal ideology. I was blindsided when I attended seminary in 1984 and coming from a little Southern Baptist church into the seminary arena I didn't have a clue what all the fuss was about when I first arrived on campus as a MDiv student having no ministry experience. I had never heard of Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson and all the rest who were the primary movers calling the shots to gain control of the Convention and its institutions and wrestle it from the hands of those who were in control and had held tight control for years. The liberals in control at that time refused to open the door for those with a more conservative persuasion or consider making adjustments to a more conservative viewpoint so a complete take-over battle ensued.

I soon found out as a student what all the fuss was about as I attended classes with professors whose liberal positions on Scripture and doctrine shocked this naive country boy. I was in a small minority of students who had been brought up and adhered to the Bible being the Word of God that was historical and the truth throughout. I heard frequent teachings in class undermining the credibility of Scripture, undermining the portrayal of miracles and exchanging what was written as truth by teaching that it was myth, fantasy, allegory and sometimes laughable.

Certainly not all professors were of that radical liberal mindset but too many were. We lost a lot of sincere and inspiring teachers as a result of the take-over but it was a slash and burn crusade which probably seemed as being the only way to regain control of the Convention and returning Southern Baptist institutions to a position of accepting Scripture as The Inspired Word of God.

I am opposed to much of what happened during those messy days and all the power-playing going on by all involved on both sides. It was a very ugly chapter in Southern Baptist life. I hate to see fundamentalists continually narrowing the players invited to sit at the table in today's Southern Baptist Convention. Things have gone entirely too far to the right. It seems that there is no “middle road” but that the pendulum continually swings from first the extreme left and then to the extreme right. But say what you will, there was indeed a serious problem of liberal ideology prior to the "take-over" in the 1980s and a major adjustment was called for.

SaveOurShorter said...

" We lost a lot of sincere and inspiring teachers as a result of the take-over but it was a slash and burn crusade which probably seemed as being the only way to regain control of the Convention and returning Southern Baptist institutions to a position of accepting Scripture as The Inspired Word of God."

You still are. Many that you are losing survived the slash and burn of 20 years ago, have been teaching and teaching well. Does that not make any of you wonder why, 20 years later, these individuals are walking out the door?

The majority that I know would and did embrace scripture as the inspired word of God. What they did not embrace is creedalism.What they did not embrace was untruths from their leaders. What they did not embrace was manipulation and ego-driven leadership. And what they most rejected are the very traits and actions Wade Burleson has so ably pointed out.

Your colleges, universities and seminaries are the poorer for it.

Tom Parker said...

RRR:

You said two things:

"In those times, the SBC seminaries were controlled by leaders with what I and many others saw was an extreme liberal ideology."

Key word in the above sentence I.



"The liberals in control at that time refused to open the door for those with a more conservative persuasion or consider making adjustments to a more conservative viewpoint so a complete take-over battle ensued."

So we are better off in the SBC after the "liberals" were removed.
Did it matter to you and the others that these "liberals" lost their livelihoods.

The SBC is a shadow of what she used to be whether you wish to believe this or not.

Tom Parker said...

Rex:

You said:"Looks like “friendly cooperation” is just another way to get rid of barnacles and parasites.

Fundamentalist build walls to keep sin out but make prisoners within."

How does one define "friendly cooperation?" My answer-the way they want to. It is just like removing the "liberals" from the SBC. I am still waiting for the exhaustive list of the "liberals" removed. They get to make the rules and the rules do not apply to them.

I often wonder if the FUNDAMENTALIST leaders in the SBC ever believe they sin.

Rex Ray said...

RRR,

You said, “Certainly not all professors were of that radical liberal mindset but too many were.”

Patterson made a list of them, and I’m sure he did a good job of naming all. The number could have all ridden in a Volkswagen.

Jon L. Estes said...

SaveOurShorter: "Keep in mind that scores of these thousands have had their faith shaken by your lack of action."

Whether I agree with Patterson or not, these words (the last four) are truth. Remaining critical on a blog has its merits, I guess but it will not change the course of the convention.What happens here, on this blog, seems to be for the most part, the end of the action for most.

its like a train sitting in the station blowing its horn because they want to be heard miles down the track so those innocent people will not be run over. Useless.

Rex Ray said...

SaveOurShorter

Outstand thoughts!

For the life of me, I can’t see why Jon replied to you saying:

“What happens here, on this blog, seems to be for the most part, the end of the action for most. Its like a train sitting in the station blowing its horn because they want to be heard miles down the track so those innocent people will not be run over. Useless.”

I believe what happens on Wade’s blog helps shape the SBC because he inspires people into action.

Years ago I drove over a thousand miles, slept in my car and voted for who he wanted to be president of the SBC and he was elected.

RRR said...

Rex Ray,
“Patterson made a list of them, and I’m sure he did a good job of naming all. The number could have all ridden in a Volkswagen.”

I agree;
The problem is that when a few individuals are in the position of deciding who fits within parameters that they define all objectivity is lost. This applies to whether the parameters are of a liberal or conservative persuasion.

Now, just because I make that statement, some bigoted-minded people (certainly not you RR) will conclude that I support a “slash and burn” attitude or that I am seeking to justify people who are not objective or that I am trying to justify the sacking of Godly seminary professors because they didn’t fit on someone’s “hit-list” during the SBC “take-over”.
As I mentioned earlier, during the times just prior to the “take-over” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I had some great seminary professors whose teachings opened my eyes with insights into Scripture that I had never seen before. I was saddened when they were apparently put on the “hit list” by those fundamentalist who eventually gained control following a series of combative SBC annual meetings.

Remember those AGMs? Talk about “two-sided” combat! 40,000 or more people attended the Annual meetings year after year to elect the next SBC President and for about 5 years the vote was split about 49% to 51%. The campaign was not one-sided. It was intense vicious combat. The Spirit of Christ was not apparent during that time in the manner that either side conducted their campaigns. I concluded that Satan was ravaging our Convention and he was not only working on one side of the fight.

As much as some people like to think it was a case where the liberals were submissive lambs and the fundamentalists were the vicious wolves, it was not. God was not getting any glory for the mindset and hearts of those involved at the top of either side of the raging battle. Hate and anger prevailed in the ranks of both sides as it often continues to do today. Zero trust; zero objectivity; zero acceptance of those with differing viewpoints and zero grace.

Because I express "my" opinion that leaders of both sides had serious heart issues that were reflected during that time some readers conclude that I buy into the conservative fundamentalism element and support all that they did then and are doing today. That seems so reflective of many people, both liberal and conservative, and is the root of the problem.

If anyone expresses an opinion that does not grovel at the feet of their position they immediately conclude that you are "not one of us so you must be one of them". You are the enemy because you do not join their ranks with blind adherence to their side’s position. Because you seek to understand the motive of both sides it means you must oppose their side. To me they are as "fundamentalist" as those they oppose.

SaveOurShorter said...

Jon L Estes -

"Remaining critical on a blog has its merits, I guess but it will not change the course of the convention."

And that is where you are woefully wrong. Burleson is building consensus, and he and others are building it rapidly.

Perhaps you don't know the power of social media. I know of over 43 blogs directly and intelligently addressing the issues at SBC schools. The majority are backing their statements up with links to facts, not just conjecture. Those blogs are reaching several thousand people directly, on a daily basis. Many of those readers are sharing the information that they read with others - sometimes with links to the blogs, sometimes by printing out the information they find there and sharing it with those who are not internet savvy. Do not be deluded - the internet is the new voice, both secularly and theologically of what is becoming a new conservative movement. If you doubt it, look at the price that the GOP paid for not embracing it during the 2008 presidential election. The left jumped on the internet bandwagon and beat the GOP over the head with it. Old-line conservatives, who ran the election strategy, learned too late that an occasional post on blogs and Facebook, intermittent tweets and the lack of monitoring of such sites as Reddit and Digg doesn't cut it with the under-40 set.

Blogs like Pastor Burleson's are providing much needed, verifiable information to Baptists (and others) in a way that floor resolutions can't. Former trustees, professors, deans and staff are speaking out about what has gone on in their schools, both directly and through conduits such as Burleson's blog. The cloak of secrecy is being pulled back, and what is being revealed is not pretty.

Ignore or scoff at it at your own peril. Change IS coming; maybe not as quickly as some of us would like, but far more swiftly than most imagine. Those who are reading, sharing and discussing these blogs will be tomorrow's messengers, and they are not happy.

Beth Duncan said...

Wade,
Our churh practices open communion; the pastor just says that it's for baptized believers before we take it. Do you not think that goes along with the BFM 2000? After all, the BFM 2000 doesn't exactly say that communion is to be closed.
Also, between the sway Mohler and others hold in our convention, and the fact there does appear to be a groundswell of Calvinism with the YRR movement as well as pastors and church members in general just deciding after study that's what they believe, do you really think there can be an attepmt to get Calvinist churches out of the SBC? I mean, the Conservative Resurgence sparked the formation of the CBF, but it's very small compared to the SBC; most churches remained in the SBC. If there is a real attempt to get Calvinism out, I'm thinking that would cause a huge split in the SBC, maybe even close to 50%. The anti-Calvinist forces in our denomination aren't that bold, are they?

Wade Burleson said...

Beth Duncan,

Your church practices communion the way we do as well. Baptist "Identity" folks in the SBC prefer closed communion and could (and will) argue the BFM only speaks of closed communion.

Truth be known, neo-fundamentalism is never happy until everyone who doesn't conform on every issue is out of fellowship with them.

Jon L. Estes said...

SaveourShorter -

"And that is where you are woefully wrong. Burleson is building consensus, and he and others are building it rapidly."

I do not see it. I think it is foolish to say that Burleson and any of the other 43 bloggers in their consensus building can bring a simple majority to the convention to see anything changed by vote.

If this even begins to take traction and knowing it takes two years to get anything done,let there be a vote in one year to go the way Burleson speaks of and watch the next year be so crowded with the old guard, it fails.

The RC took a decade or more of continual out voting the perceived enemy and the numbers for voting are there to prove it. Go look at the Dallas convention numbers and read about the busing in for the vote. I might be wrong but I do not see the numbers or the dollars to sustain the vote from today's crowd.

Bob Cleveland said...

This report is one of the main reasons I chose not to attend the convention this year. If this is what the SBC has made itself into, allowing a seminary president to defy the rules laid down by the convention and the trustees, then my position is: LET THEM.

I think back about what I said in Greensboro, and find nothing in the years since to indicate I was wrong (even though I am certainly not a prophet).

What's happening is just that painfully obvious.

Jason said...

"If you are more concerned about a Muslim attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary than you are the SBC Executive Committee's recommendation... you don't get the problem that I've been writing about"

Or, you know, they happened to READ your earlier posts.

Paul of Largo said...

Why worry more about what "man" does or doesn't do than keeping our focus on our Lord and Savior. In other words, W.W.J.D. what would Jesus do under similar circumstances.
He probably would not ask that the Muslim renounce the Koran or to ask a Mormon to renounce the Book of Mormon. He would look into their heart to determine if they are true believer of His word and teachings. The BFMs of the past do not change one word of the teachings of our Lord. These are edicts of men, not God.
From the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ by the Catholics to the present day various denominations of Christianity, because of the sinful nature of man, they have all fallen short of the true meaning of Christ's teachings.
The forces of evil are all around us, but as long as we keep our eye on our Lord and Savior, we will leave this world with the knowledge that we be with Him in Paradise.

Isn't that what it is all about?