|SWBTS Chapel Window|
Southwestern Theological Seminary's board of trustees had no knowledge of Dr. Patterson's decision to violate the school's charter. The seminary's trustees were informed of Dr. Patterson's decision through a letter the President sent to them on Friday, May 16, 2014, just a few hours after the story posted.
Late this afternoon, the chairman of the trustees for Southwestern Seminary, Steven James, issued the following public statement.
"The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee executive committee has a meeting scheduled in September and will discuss this issue and will deal with it accordingly at that time. That is the role and responsibility of the trustees... (F)rom the executive committee meeting in September we will make any adjustments that need to be made. If it needs to come to the full board, it will come to the full board."Chairman Steven James is to be commended. He understands the issues. The problem is not the nice Muslim young man. The problem is not that Baptists and Muslims refuse to get along. The problem is definitely not that we Baptists don't like Muslims. No, not at all. I can't speak for everyone, but I have some very close Muslim friends and have shared many meals and conferences with them and will do so in the future. The problem is not even that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary can't educate a Muslim side-by-side with evangelical Christians.
No. The problem is one of integrity. It is an issue of power and control and 'who answers to whom.' It's a matter of holding in check the power of a President.
The stained glass windows at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary multi-million dollar chapel "immortalize Baptists who helped effect the culture change to more conservative attitudes in the Southern Baptist Convention," as Paige Patterson described them to the Forth Worth Star Telegram in December of 2013. The 69 stained glass windows at Southwestern's chapel include images of Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy.
Before we Southern Baptists criticize our Roman Catholic friends again, we should remember we have a tendency to canonize saints faster than the they do. It's never smart to make your heroes iconic and place them in stained glass before they are dead. All of us have clay feet.
Roman Catholic historian Lord Acton (1834-1902) once wrote, "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Few realize that Lord Acton made this statement in an attempt to defeat the doctrine of Roman Catholic papal infallibility.
Southern Baptists don't have a pope. But for a number of years, Paige Patterson has been given impunity for his actions. It was Paige Patterson, who with the help of David Allen, orchestrated the removal of Dr. Kenneth Hemphill (my source: David Allen's office personnel at the time). After Paige Patterson was hired as President, he made David Allen dean of the School of Theology. When Dr. Patterson fired Hebrew professor Sheri Klouda, this blog came to Sheri's defense. When Dr. Patterson removed John Cornish for his wife's previous divorce, this blog came to Dr. Cornish's defense. The story behind Dr. Craig Mitchell's removal is still yet to fully unfold. On at least one occasion, I have been able to stop Dr. Patterson from removing those he desired gone. The opposition to Dr. Patterson has never been against him as a person. I've had a very enjoyable private meal with Paige and Dorothy in their Presidential home at SWBTS.
No matter what people say, I have no problem with Dr. Patterson as a person. I find him a very likeable fellow. The concern I have, and the concern every Southern Baptist should also have, is the possibility of unchecked power by anybody in a position of authority and influence within the Southern Baptist Convention, regardless of their previous involvement in the Conservative Resurgence. The question to be asked when considering whether or not too much power has been granted to any one man is a simple one: "What can't he do?"
It sounds like I heard the chairman of the Southwestern Seminary trustees say today, "Paige Patterson can't violate the policies and procedures for admissions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary."
Maybe, just maybe, we finally have a trustee board at SWBTS who understands that they are the real boss.