Thursday, May 31, 2018

Patterson, Greear, Hemphill & Spiritual Authority - A Cautionary Word to New Leaders in the SBC

Ronnie Floyd, J.D. Greear, Steve Gaines (Photo Courtesy MBC Pathway)
Dr. Paige Patterson has been completely removed from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was terminated last night by the seminary's Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. The vote was unanimous.

For nearly twenty-five years I have opposed the authoritarian tactics of Dr. Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler. That was not always the case. From 1979 to 1993 I was an active supporter of the Conservative Resurgence. I believed we Southern Baptists were in a “Battle for the Bible.” I served as a driver for Judge Pressler as he toured Oklahoma to “get out the vote” for the SBC in the late 1980’s. I was part of the platform security team for Paige Patterson and his crew in the early 1990’s.

It was at the 1994 Southern Baptist Convention that I began to see the strong-armed tactics of Dr. Paige Patterson. Some believe that the 1994 Convention was also the beginning of Paige Patterson and his loyalists targeting me.

I began to see that the “Battle for the Bible” was actually about power and control in the SBC. And sadly, it began to dawn on me that a particular harmful and false doctrine which harmed women was taking center stage in the SBC. Southern Baptist leaders (all male) began espousing the unbiblical teaching that males have an inherent “spiritual authority” over women, and that pastors (e.g. “the holiest of all males”) have the greatest spiritual authority of all. This doctrine became the driving force behind the male dominated leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

In 2006, Paige Patterson’s disciples who served with me as trustees of the SBC International Mission Board sought to ruin my reputation, end my pastoral career, and threaten my family and church because I stopped those same IMB trustees from doing Paige Patterson’s bidding in firing IMB President Jerry Rankin and a female Vice-President named Wendy Norvelle (you can read about those days in the book Hardball Religion). My fellow trustees went after Wendy because “no women should be in a position of authority over a man.” 

Those IMB trustees failed in their mission to humiliate and silence me,  and I thank them for making me the person I am today. 

Now their leader, Dr. Paige Patterson, is gone. The only question left is what to do with the stained glass windows at SWBTS. I predict they will be removed by the end of an ominous court trial set to take place in Houston, Texas. I have no joy in my heart over Paige Patterson’s termination. Only a sense of justice. 

A New Day Is Dawning in the Southern Baptist Convention

A young generation of Southern Baptists pastors, trained in the politics and spiritual authority propogated by Paige Patterson, had better be careful in aspiring to SBC leadership. Replacing old white SBC pastors who believe in the inherent “spiritual authority” of males over females with young white pastors who believe the same false doctrine will eventually mean these new SBC leaders could make many of the same mistakes Paige Patterson has made. 

Let me show you what I mean. 

J.D. Greear will be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas this coming June 12, 2018.  J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. He seems to be a wonderful man with an equally fine family.  He has led Summit to be actively and generously involved  in missions and church planting. However, J.D.'s view of women, and what women “can and cannot do” in the home and in the church, serves as a microcosm of the problems we face in the Southern Baptist Convention.  

My son, Logan Burleson, and his wife, Nicole, love J.D. and attend Summit regularly. I have friends who tell me J.D. is a “shoe-in” to become President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I think the election will be closer than most imagine. But I am also of the opinion that both J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill,  the other man who will be nominated for SBC President, would serve the Southern Baptist Convention well.

J.D.'s views  (or at least his church's all-male elders' views) regarding men and women reflect the unbiblical doctrine of "male spiritual authority" over women and serves as the foundation for the SBC's poor treatment of women.

J.D. attended Southern Baptist schools, including Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. While most Southern Baptists will be focusing on the soteriology of the two major Presidential candidates (e.g. “Calvinism vs. Arminianism”),  the question every Southern Baptist should be asking each candidate is this:
“What is your view of spiritual authority?”
The problems surfacing in the Southern Baptist Convention over the mistreatment of women directly stem from this unbliblical and harmful view of “spiritual authority.” In the Southern Baptist Convention, pastors see themselves like the priests of the Old Testament: 1. Uniquely holy, 2. Distinctly authoritative, and 3. Unequivocally in charge.

Only prophets dare questioned the priests of old, and it will take modern day prophets to bring SBC pastors to their knees.

Authoritative pastors have been in charge of the SBC for decades. That’s the reason women are overlooked. It’s an issue of wrongly viewing pastors as having “spiritual authority” to the exclusion of everybody else, particularly women (ask Beth Moore). This unbiblical concept of “spiritual authority” is THE problem in the Southern Baptist Convention.

It infects both Calvinists and Arminians.

Oh, sure, there will “resolutions” and “statements” about women, all offered by Southern Baptist pastors or theologians. But until people and gifted leaders (e.g. “pastors”) in the Southern Baptist Convention begin to understand and practice what Jesus Christ and the New Testament teaches about spiritual authority, we’ll continue to struggle with how women are being treated.

Jesus teaches that He is the sole spiritual authority in His Kingdom. All authority rests with Him (Matthew 28:18). Leadership in His Kingdom is based upon giftings, not gender; humility, not hubris; service, not status; character, not control; and esteeming others better than yourself instead of promoting yourself before others.

Any person - whether male or female (e.g. a patriarch or a feminist) - who “grabs authority” by obtaining an office to “rule over people” is disqualifed as a Kingdom leader.

Jesus said as much in Matthew 20:25-27:
25 Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 It is not to be this way with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your servant 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To be a true pastor in the New Covenant is a verb of service, not a noun of status. But the Southern Baptist Convention has taught for decades that men are to lead, and women are to submit, because God has granted men “the covenant position of authority” and women are to be “under the umbrella” of that authority.

That is pure, unbliblical nonsense. But it’s this faulty and erroneous view of spiritual authority that drives the Southern Baptist Convention’s mistreatment of women.

An Example from Summit Church

Three years ago (May 2015), J.D. Greear had a woman named Elyse Fitspatrick "speak" at The Summit on Sunday morning. Elyse is the author of several books, and according to J.D. Greear, is his wife's "favorite Bible teacher."

J.D. should be commended for having Elyse speak on Mother's Day, 2015. It seems, however, that this invitation for a woman to speak caused some consternation at Summit. 10 days after Elyse spoke, J.D. wrote a blog post entitled Can Women Teach in the Church? He writes:
Our elders have been working on a statement explaining the roles God has given to women in the ministries of our church. That statement is still in the works, but our recent invitation to have Elyse Fitzpatrick share during weekend services has led some to ask whether we believe a woman can preach and teach in the mixed-gender gathering of the church.
J.D. then attempts to answer that question by quoting I Timothy 2 and John Piper. J.D. concludes:
 “In context, I think [1 Tim 2:12] means that women shouldn’t be the authoritative teachers of the church..."
J.D. goes on to define what "authoritative teaching" means:
“Authoritative teaching” in a church is (1) teaching that is binding for that particular congregation and (2) the teaching that comprises that church’s fulfillment of its responsibility to pass on the faith to the next generation. The elders have the “authority” to remove from that local covenant community (under the consent of the congregation as a whole) those that reject this official teaching of the church (Titus 3:10–11).
J.D's teaching on "authoritative teaching" is both unbiblical and harmful to women. There are two biblical reasons I say this:

1. The authority behind Truth is always the greatness of the messagenot the genitalia of the messenger. 

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it (e.g. "the gospel" not the "messenger") is the power of God that brings deliverance to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16).

If God spoke truth to Balaam through an ass, He can surely speak authoritative Truth to the world through both men and women.  Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," He is the Truth; and if He is the topic of the message, the authority of the message comes from Him, not the messenger.

2. If you wrongly believe that there is inherent authority in males, then you must treat female messengers of the powerful gospel differently.

This is where it gets weird. To show how a woman speaking "truth" at the Summit is one without authority, J.D. sets up a "hedge of protection" for the congregation lest they perceive (his word, not mine), that the woman has authority when she does not. He writes:
A woman can teach in a large formal setting, like a  mixed Sunday School class or an evening Bible study, but she must not do so in a way that “mimics” the teaching authority of a male elder. Perceptions are important, and if some in the church begin to look to a woman-teacher as their primary shepherd-leader, both she and they have gone into error.
But what about Elyse Fitzpatrick? She spoke on a Sunday morning during the "sermon time" at Summit.  J.D. explains how he and the males at Summit took several steps to prevent the wrong perception that Elyse had some authority over the congregation. He writes:
A teaching elder at Summit (e.g. J.D.) set the context, invited Elyse up to ask her a series of questions, and then (I) wrapped up the service by applying her words specifically to The Summit Church. The elder’s introduction, presence on stage, and application at the end “officialized” the explanation and exhortation given by her for The Summit Church, and made clear she was not teaching (as one with authority) in our church. She explained the content, but we, the Summit elders, bore the weight of responsibility for teaching.
If you watch Elyse Fitzpatrick's message on Sunday morning at The Summit, you will notice she was not allowed things that other male speakers can do at The Summit. For example:
  1. Elyse could not stand as she taught, she had to sit, lest it be perceived she had authority.
  2. Elyse could not "declare" truth, she had to be asked questions from one in authority.
  3. Elyse could not "apply" the Truth to the congregation, only those with authority could do this.
  4. Elyse had to be "introduced" and "followed-up" by a male with authority.
Had Elyse Fitzpatrick spoken truth the way males usually do at Summit, there would have been shock among the Summit men

I've written herehere and here that the problem within the Southern Baptist Convention is a warped view of authority. A wrong view of male authority got Village Church in Dallas in huge trouble, Ironically the problems at Village - male elders disciplining a female victim who sought to annul her marriage to a man over his child pornography addiction - occurred during the same month Elyse Fitzpatrick spoke at Summit (May 2015). J.D. Greear, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll share a common view of male authority over women.

Unbiblical views of inherent male spiritual authority and the resultant harmful treatment of women infects both Arminians and Calvinists, young pastors old pastors, large church pastors and small church pastors. For some unknown and ungodly reason, biblical conservatism is defined in the Southern Baptist Convention in terms of a woman’s submission and a man’s authoritative leadership, rather than the New Testament definition of Kingdom leadership which is always based on giftings, not gender; character, not control; humility, not hubris; and service, not status.

Southern Baptists say we believe the Bible, but we believe more in our list of "rules" about "roles" for men and women than we do the message of the Bible. 

The Good News, the New Testament, the New Covenant signed and sealed by Christ's blood, elevates women to equal status in the Kingdom of God with men. Equal does not mean identical. Men and women in the Kingdom of God are different, but men and women in the Kingdom of God are equal in spiritual authority. There is equal worth (in Christ), equal significance (born of the Spirit), equal authority (we are all "priests unto God"), equal inheritance (co-heirs with Christ), and equal value ("we are the blood-bought redeemed"). 

I did some research on the antonyms of "authoritative" and discovered that "acquiescent" is a good word that describes the opposite characteristic of authoritative. To acquiesce is to "to accept, agree, or allow something to happen by staying silent." 

According to Greear (or at least the all-male elder board at his church), women who teach the Bible can't be in a position of declaring truth authoritatively, because nobody is to submit to a woman teaching truth. Women are the acquiescers; males are the authoritarians. Males give; women receive.  If a male receives "truth" from a woman, then "error" has a occurred because a male can't get anything authoritative from a woman.

There's a Greek word for such thinking - baloney. 

Paige Patterson just lost everything because he consistently behaved according to how he believed. Male authority over females is NOT biblical; it is cultural. And way too many elder boards at Southern Baptist churches have been infected with this false view of male "spiritual authority."

At some point, people in the Southern Baptist Convention are going to need to wake-up to the New Covenant truth that Jesus Christ makes the ground at the foot of the cross equal

Whether J.D. Greear becomes President of the Southern Baptist Convention or Ken Hemphill wins the election, reporters should ask both men significant questions about whether they believe men have inherent spiritual authority over women.

I'll be listening closely to their answers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Practicing What God's Inspired Word Teaches

As a writer and a firm believer in the inspiration and infallibility of the sacred text, I am always looking out for men and women who put into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ, who comprehend that the New Covenant makes leadership in the Kingdom about service, not status; humility, not hubris; and gifting, not gender.

According to God's infallible Word, men and women can both lead, teach, and organize Kingdom advancements, and both men and women are called by God to encourage one another by loving, serving, and submitting to one another as into the Lord. Christ is King. We are all servants in His Kingdom.

Roles in the New Covenant are shared by both genders. Nobody has spiritual authority but Jesus Christ, and He has it all. We love one another, we serve one another, we esteem one another better than ourselves, we encourage one another, we submit to one another.

This is what the Bible teaches. This is Kingdom living. It is the opposite of the way the world thinks. It is upside-down living. But it frees people. It liberates.

Meet Sallie Borrink

I have found her writings compelling. For all my conservative, Bible-believing friends who can't understand how encouraging, empowering, and equating Christian women to be equal to Christian men, read you some Sallie Borrink at a Woman's Freedom in Christ.

Recently, Sallie wrote:
I had a surreal moment this morning when I realized that sometimes as a conservative biblical egalitarian I feel like I have more in common with the Christian patriarchlists whose work I’ve been picking apart and publicly refuting for the past fifteen years than the Christian egalitarians I should be able to relate to.
Yes, really. Crazy to think about, isn’t it? 
While I may vehemently disagree with the conclusions the Christian patriarchalists come to, they believe that the arguments regarding how women function in the church begin and end with the Scriptures. 
As do I.

I can’t even follow the discussions of many “Christian” egalitarians any longer. Whenever I stop by Facebook groups or some websites to read, my head nearly explodes with the flat out heresy that is completely given a pass. 
In a misguided attempt to be compassionate and non-judgmental, all kinds of blatantly unbiblical discussion is allowed to go unchallenged. I finally had to stop going to such places because it is so distressing. 
The sad part is that the Bible is not the final authority in matters of faith for many Christian egalitarians. It is about feminist ideology, social constructs, progressive politics, and psychology. 
It’s not about what the Bible says when carefully interpreted according to the author’s original intent and the culture in which the recipients lived. It’s about being relevant in current cultural conversations and movements. It’s the Bible + a lot of other things.
And it makes me profoundly sad. 
For me, this question of women functioning in the body of Christ has always been about understanding the truth from Scriptures. What is going on in the culture can never answer that question. 
It is sobering to see so many people going completely off the rails. Instead of being Bereans and trusting God can adequately answer their questions through the Word, they look for anything and everything that will give them the answers they want to hear. 
The Bible has the answers to the questions about how men and women should love and serve each other. It’s sad to see people think that it’s not enough.
Well said, Sallie.

May men and women of your tribe increase - exponentially.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Missing Southeastern Presidential Archives

Social media and the Southern Baptist Convention are in a firestorm over the decision by trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to elevate Dr. Paige Patterson to the position of President Emeritus, to continue paying him an annual salary, and to allow him to live on campus.

Christianity Today and others report Patterson Is Out, but those in the know remember that Dr. Russell Dilday, Dr. Ken Hemphill, and other former Presidents of SBC seminaries were never given such cushy treatment when they were "out."  I also guarantee you that every Southern Baptist pastor who's been told "You're out!" would love their church to define "out" the way the SWBTS trustees define it.

I scratch my head till it hurts trying to understand how President Paige Patterson can be exalted to President Emeritus just a couple of hours after a vote to terminate him as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary failed by just two votes (15-17). 

Then, of course, it hits me. 

The trustee board is stacked with Patterson loyalists who seem so blinded by their allegiance to a man, they can't see the serious sycophancy. Maybe the school's stained-glass windows stunt clear optics for the trustees charged to ensure Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary takes no misteps.

Trustees almost fired Paige Patterson, then in the next breath they exalted him to President Emeritus. I'd say it's unwise, but in the name of every current SWBTS administrator that Paige Patterson will eventually throw under the bus for the imminent financial collapse of Southwestern, I'm compelled to say it's dangerous. There is hope for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but that requires the termination and removal of Paige Patterson from every position of leadership.

I urge the SWBTS trustees to reconsider their decision to make Paige Patterson President Emeritus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary before the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Dallas, Texas, June 12, 2018.

More sad and sordid stories will be coming out soon in the secular media. It will not be pretty. "Houston, we have a problem."

I am warning everyone that I can privately. The 2003 rape victim also went privately to Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the SWBTS trustees, prior to last week’s SWBTS trustee meeting. She did not wish to go public. She still doesn't.

The rape victim was hopeful the SWBTS trustee chairman could hold President Patterson accountable for Patterson’s treatment of her But she was told by Chairman Ueckert that he must have documentation that the rape actually occurred at SEBTS in 2003 before he could speak of it to the SWBTS trustees. The  trustees were convening to consider Paige Patterson’s continued employment as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and documentation was needed of what happened and how it was handled.

The rape victim discovered in the last few weeks that the local Wake Forest police department had no documentation of the rape because Paige Patterson never reported it to them. Of course, she had been told by President Patterson at the time of the rape not to report it because the SEBTS and President Patterson would deal with it. So law enforcement was a dead end.

But the rape victim knew that Southeastern Seminary had the necessary documentation that she could give to Chairman Ueckert. She’d received letters from the President’s office after meeting with him.

Why not just give Chairman Ueckert the letters that she received from Dr. Patterson back in 2003? It would at least prove a meeting occurred, even if Dr. Patterson implied he couldn’t remember such a meeting. 

Well, it seems the rape victim had thrown away her documentation a few years ago because every time she saw them in the cabinets, the memory of what happened to her put her in an emotional tailspin.

But Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary keeps all its Presidential letters in the archives. 

All Southern Baptist institutions keep documents issued by their Presidents on Presidential letterhead. Those documents are the property of the institution, not the President. Back in 2003, copies of institutional letters weren't stored in the "digital cloud." Actual hard copies were kept by the institution in boxes called "archives.”

The archives of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary contain Presidential letters written during Paige Patterson's tenure as well as other documents detailing "The Conservative Resurgence.” (Edit: It is possible that letters from the President’s office were kept in additional places too). 

Let me introduce you to the man responsible for the oversight of the school archives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003-2004. 

His name is Dr. Shawn C. Madden. Dr. Paige Patterson hired this former Marine to be the head librarian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Shawn C. Madden, Ph.D., Major, USMC (retired) now lives in Dallas, Texas. He eventually resigned from his position at SEBTS. 

Dr. Patterson left Southeastern in the summer of 2003,  not long after the meeting in President Patterson's office with the rape victim and three of Paige Patterson's proteges. Dr. Patterson left to become President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

When Dr. Patterson went to Fort Worth, Texas, he took a man named Chris Thompson with him. Chris was Dr. Patterson's Chief of Staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He's a Paige Patterson loyalist. Chris is now a Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina. Chris was interviewed by the Religious News Service this week regarding Dr. Paige Patterson's removal promotion to President Emeritus.
"To retroactively punish him for remarks he made years ago is unfair,” said Chris Thompson, a pastor and former chief of staff for Patterson during his 10 years as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
“I don’t know any pastor, or public speaker for that matter, who would ever want to be subject to someone pulling an audiotape from some archive and having to answer for those words 18 years later. Who’s next, is really what my question would be.”
Well, Chris, I'll answer your question "Who's next?"

It's your turn.

(NOTE: I gave my personal cell number to Chris's secretary and asked that he return my phone call. I would not post till Saturday to give him time to call me. Chris did not return my call).

SEBTS Institutional Archives Are Stolen

"(I am) not happy (to say the least) with your actions and methods of securing  boxes from the archives." Those are the words of Librarian Dr.  Shawn Madden in a letter to Dr. Paige Patterson after discovery the archives had been taken without permission from those responsible for them.

Shawn Madden provided me a copy of his letter. In addition, he sent me a copy of a letter written a few months after Patterson became President of SWBTS in July 2003. Dr. Madden gave me permission to publish it:
"Persons not associated with Southeastern entered our archives without informing myself nor my archivists and removed material that at that point was technically the possession of Southeastern Seminary and my responsibility for their security... My concern is that material from the President's office was removed, material that is the possession of this institution and not of an individual. What is generated by the President of this institution is owned by this institution and ought not to have been removed, especially in the dark of night." (Dr. Shawn Madden, a letter written in 2004)
During the ensuing investigation, SEBTS Librarian Shawn C. Madden was told by Michael Lawson, who is currently the Chief of Security for SEBTS, that the archives were taken by Chris Thompson.

Yes, that Chris Thompson.

Dr. Michael Lawson informed Dr. Shawn Madden that Paige Patterson's Chief of Staff came to North Carolina from Fort Worth and "removed the material" in the dark of night when the school was closed.

Dr. Michael Lawson, Chief of Southeastern Security states on his office's webpage.
"The Department of Campus Security exists to maintain a safe and secure campus environment and to protect the institution’s assets in order to facilitate Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's mission. To meet this mission, we employ Security Officers to monitor our campus 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year, including nights, weekends and holidays. Campus Security also works closely with the Wake Forest Police Department, the Wake Forest Fire Department and Wake County EMS to ensure fast responses to any needs or emergencies that might arise on Southeastern's campus."
I'm calling Dr. Lawson to see if the Chris Thompson video is still available or if someone allowed Chris in the building, without knowledge of those in charge of the archives.

Librarian Shawn C. Madden, Ph.D., Major, USMC (retired) fired off a letter to Dr. Paige Patterson:
"(I am) not happy (to say the least) with your actions and methods of securing (50) boxes from the archives."
Dr. Shawn C. Madden publicly used the term "thief" and "theft" to describe the unauthorized removal of institutional materials from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Madden is emphatic and has written:
"My public use of those terms accurately describes the action in question."
Dr. Patterson was not happy with anyone questioning his actions and let it be known to Dr. Madden. After Dr. Madden eventually resigned as the librarian at SEBTS, Dr. Patterson sent a letter to Dr. Madden's wife about why Dr. Madden was unemployable.
"Shawn's tendency to speak his mind has not helped his situation.  Too many here remember his responses to me when I was departing SEBTS.  That is the past, but we all should learn for the future and I am praying that amidst this sorrow, that lesson may be fully grasped."
 So, Pastor Chris Thompson, you ask, "Who's next?"

You are.

When you come to the Southern Baptist Convention this year in Dallas, Texas, would you kindly look in those boxes and bring any letters from the President about a meeting that occurred in his office in 2003 with a young lady who reported she was raped?

I'd like to give her a copy.

She and her husband are considering coming to Dallas as Southern Baptist messengers. I know you will be one of the SBC pastors present. I hope I can introduce you to the woman SBC pastors should be helping, not shaming.

Or, if you gave those boxes to President Patterson, make sure all the letters are properly filed at Southwestern's new archive center and not destroyed. I am sure it will be a highly sought after research letter.

The rape victim may be willing to have her name known nationwide because the actions of President Emeritus Paige Patterson toward her do not reflect honorably on the Southern Baptist Convention and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

And she hopes what happened to her never happens again to anyone else in the SBC.

Sadly, what I am learning in the last 48 hours is that there are some who are going on a full court press to shame, intimidate, and frighten this rape victim. It is sickening. She is scared.

My wife and I prayed for her and her family this morning. We understand her pain. The person who exposes the problem in dysfunctional systems becomes the problem. I've never known a more forgiving, gracious, kind, and Kingdom-oriented  Southern Baptist than this woman who was tragically and brutally raped at a SBC seminary in 2003.

But she is not used to Hardball Religion.

I am. I will protect this woman's anonymity if that is what she ultimately desires. But I am unafraid to carry her message to the world.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Paige Patterson and the Rape Victim He Shamed

I have permission to tell you this story.

Last Sunday night, May 20, 2018, I was resting in my chair after a long day. I typically read or write to relax, so I was multi-tasking when a "ding" sounded on my computer, informing me of a new email.

I ignored it.

After a few minutes, several additional "dings" indicated it was time to check my email.

As is my custom, I began to scan the first email quickly since it would take too long to read each email carefully.

I raced through the following email.

May 20, 2018, at 6:48 PM
Hello Mr. Burleson,
A student ( along with others, I am afraid- I don’t have confirmation yet) was raped while Paige Patterson was president at SEBTS. I was a student at the time, working on my MDiv from 2002-2005.

I confirmed this week the attacker admitted to the awful act back in 2004-it’s documented. He was expelled and told he could never attend any of the 6 SBC seminaries in the future.
The worst part. The student (victim) was counseled by Dr. Patterson and told she shouldn’t go to the police....

There was more to the email, but I stopped reading. I shouldn't have, but I did. When "I have a friend" or "I don't have confirmation..."  is written, I know after thirteen years of writing about the unbiblical, authoritarian, anti-women, approach by SBC leaders, there's not much I can do. Confirmation is needed.

However, the treatment this person's friend allegedly received from Dr. Paige Patterson is consistent with his belief system regarding women and the church (as I'll show you below). I stopped reading and fired off a short "Reply" which contained the following bullet points.

Dear _______,
I would suggest that your friend move QUICKLY. I would not be surprised if documents are being destroyed.
I would suggest that the young lady go to the police and file a report. Second, I would suggest she get an attorney and follow his or her counsel.
Third (if counsel allows), I would go public with the accusation.
If the young lady wishes to remain anonymous and NOT go through an attorney, I would go public ASAP.
You are her confirmation. She will be protected, and she could remain anonymous.

I typed quickly and sent the email.

My wife asked, "To whom are you writing?"  I pulled up the email I had received. "Listen to this." I began reading to Rachelle the contents of the email. I read it out loud. This time, when I came to the place where I'd initially stopped reading, I continued and found myself reading out loud these words:

I know. Because the student was me.

My wife and I looked at each other simultaneously. Rachelle said, ""

I immediately sent another email and apologized for not reading to the end and for missing that the writer was the rape victim. I gave my cell number and asked her to call.

Within a few minutes, the woman called. Over the course of the next few hours, in both conversations and several emails, my wife and I had our hearts broken by this courageous Christian mother and wife as she shared her story.

The recent controversy surrounding Paige Patterson's counsel to an abused woman to go back to her abusive husband and submit to him,  trusting God rather reporting the abuse to authorities, had opened a deep wound in this woman's heart.

In 2003, she was an M.Div student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She told us that one night, she was sexually and brutally attacked. Screaming and fighting the attacker means its nonconsensual.

I was determined not to ask specifics of the attack, so it was only hours later after several follow-up emails that the full scope of the sexual assault was clear. When my wife finally understood what had actually happened, she struggled to comprehend President Paige Patterson's response to the assault.

The rape victim reported the assault to Dr. Alan Mosely (see Washington Post article). Dr. Mosely worked in an administration that required all matters like this to be directed to the President's Office. Why? Listen to Paige Patterson's own words from a message he preached in 2013:

  • Patterson suggested women who have had “a problem in your home” should not bring their case to a judge because it could get in the way of that judge becoming a Christian.
  • Settle it within the church of God,” he said. “And if you suffer for it, and if you were misused, and if you were abused, and if you’re not represented properly, it’s okay. You can trust it to the God who judges justly.”
  • He then prayed, “Lord, may we make up our minds that we won’t take our troubles to the press, we won’t take our troubles to the government, we won’t take our troubles anywhere except to the people of God and beyond that to the Lord Jesus.”

Within an hour of reporting the assault, Paige Patterson contacted the woman and asked her to "come to my office." If you've ever been in Paige Patterson's office, you know that there are a lot of trophy game, dead animals that are displayed. As the rape victim recounted to us her story, I had a visual in my mind of this 23-year-old walking into the den of death.

I asked her, "Did anybody go with you?

"No," she told my wife and me over the speakerphone, "I went by myself."

When the rape victim arrived, Paige Patterson introduced the traumatized woman to three men in the office, men Patterson introduced as "my proteges."

I am reserving details about that interrogation until I am able to speak with the other men in the room.  What I can say is that this woman, after being traumatized to reveal every sordid detail of the assault to four men, was told by Dr. Paige Patterson not to go to legal authorities.

I believed her story immediately.

Dr. Patterson practices what he preaches. He keeps everything in the church.

The most succinct and graphic depiction of what the rape victim felt from that meeting is found in the Washington Post article by Sarah Pulliam:
"They shamed the crap out of me, asking me question after question. He (Dr. Patterson) didn’t necessarily say it was my fault, but [the sense from him was] I let him into my home.”
This rape victim was placed on probation by the seminary for having a man in her apartment.

That's consistent with the bizarre theology of women held by Paige Patterson.

A woman divorcing a man is far worse than a woman enduring physical abuse. A single woman inviting a man into her apartment is a far worse sin than a single woman being raped by the man she invited over.

It is being reported to me that Dr. Patterson is telling others that he has no memory of this woman or any meeting with her. However, the official statement of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary issued this morning states:
"Evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse."
"What does that mean?" That's the question the rape victim asked me about three hours ago.

Punishment for the Perpetrator

According to the rape victim, campus security parked in front of her apartment until the perpetrator was apprehended. School administrators told the rape victim that the man who committed the assault was being expelled from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They told the victim that the perpetrator would never be allowed to enter any of the other five Southern Baptist seminaries.

He was escorted off the campus by school security.

For the next few years, the rape victim suffered through much shame, depression, and difficult personal times. She eventually left the seminary in 2005.

Documentation exists at Southeastern Seminary that details the confession of the perpetrator and the punishment mandated by the school. There are a few people who would like to see the documentation that proves Dr. Patterson complied with reporting laws. According to the Washington Post, law enforcement has no record of a reported rape on the campus of Southeastern Seminary during this time.

There are reasons to believe that two others were raped at Southeastern during this same time period (see the rape victims first email at the top). The victim had been trying for over a week to get in touch with the two others girls that she suspects had also been sexually assaulted.

I've read on social media unconfirmed reports of more recent sexual assaults on seminary campuses. I've been told that the victims were also counseled not to involve law enforcement. "Let Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary handle it."

That's right. Southwestern. Of course, these are unconfirmed reports, and nobody should assume they are true unless a victim finds the strength to come forward. It's not easy when churchmen are telling you to be quiet and let God deal with it.

Time will tell if similar counsel has been given to other sexual assault victims. Truth and time are invariably bound:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17).
Stained glass windows in the images of a living people should never be placed in houses of worship because clay feet stumble too frequently and easily.

Private Attempts to Have Paige Patterson Removed

The goal of this rape victim coming forward was not to sue anyone. She didn't even want law enforcement involved. Ironically, the perpetrator had sought her out over a decade after the assault and sought her forgiveness, which she granted. I explained to her that there is a difference between forgiveness of the perpetrator and accountability for the perpetrator. I told her if the perpetrator's name comes out in the media, don't feel bad. I truly admired her ability to forgive.

Here's what's interesting (ladies, don't be offended). This rape victim is not a fan of the MeToo movement. She is as biblically conservative as they come. She loves Jesus. She understands grace. She's married to a strong, loving man. Before she began making private contact with SBC officials, she sat down with her husband and revealed to him she'd been raped when in seminary. As you might imagine, that was difficult. But her husband's response of comfort, encouragement, and acceptance only confirmed to her how deep true love can be.

She'd been trying for several days to get documentation that the rape occurred. She'd been told by Kevin Ueckert, the Chairman of the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, that documentation was needed. Before she ever contacted me on Sunday, she'd spoken with Kevin and also with Danny Akin, the current President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The rape victim was particularly concerned that I know that Danny Akin had been "kind, compassionate, and helpful to me." She expressed her gratefulness for his leadership.

She told me that school officials at SEBTS could not give her documentation that the rape had occurred. Having trouble reconciling Akin's kindness and good leadership with the institution's refusal to give the necessary documentation, I explained. "There is a fine balance that Dr. Akin is walking right now. He has only been contacted by you in the recent days. I know he is doing all he can, but because of legal implications for the institution, there are certain lines that he will be unable to cross. You will be able to get the documents, but it will involve a lawsuit."

I want every Southern Baptist to listen carefully to what this woman said next.
"Again, Wade, I don't want to sue. I don't want law enforcement involved. I should have gone to the authorities back when it happened, and it's my fault that I didn't."
Your fault? I thought to myself. "Dr. Patterson told you not to go."
"I know. But I should have been stronger. I guess at 23, sitting in the office with those four men, which included the President of the school, a man I looked up to as my authority, I trusted their counsel. Looking back, I guess I didn't know any better."
She regrets she didn't go to the police. They would have obtained physical evidence that the assault had occurred.  For the first few years after the rape, she struggled with guilt, depression, and shame. She would eventually drop out of seminary.

I said to her, "Some people are going to say, 'Why Paige Patterson?' Why is your focus on him? Why not the man who raped you."

She responded:
"Dr. Patterson doesn't believe he did anything wrong." 
This rape victim is brighter than many of our Southern Baptist pastors. In spite of her heartache and pain over the past fifteen years, she understands that you can't excise a tumor unless you know you have one; you can't get treatment unless you know you're sick.

Southern Baptists have got to come to the understanding that there is a systemic disease within our Convention. We have a warped, unbiblical, unChristian view of women. Many leaders wrongly teach that men are made in the image of God; women are made in the image of men.

Women submit; men rule - that's what would lead someone like Paige Patterson to keep "everything in the church" - including the rape of a woman - because men know best how to lead a woman.

The Washington Post

The rape victim really didn't want to reach out to me. She said she'd followed my blog for a while, but she didn't know me, and she did not want this issue to be made public.

"If they'd only given me the documentation that the rape had occurred and that I was told not to go the police, I wouldn't have contacted you."

She'd read a post I placed online Sunday night, May 20, 2018, entitled All Eyes on the Trustees of Southwestern Seminary. I suggested that many trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary received their positions due to friendship for, loyalty with, or employment under Paige Patterson.

The rape victim felt the trustees would not remove Dr. Patterson over his well-established inappropriate comments about women and abuse, and because SEBTS couldn't or wouldn't provide her any documentation over her rape, she felt the trustees might "overlook" what Dr. Patterson had said and done and not hold him accountable.
"I want you to write my story. You are a better writer than I am." 
I told her that I would, but on only one condition. Both she and her husband would have final approval, and if at any time they back out, all they had to do is let me know and I would not post it.

I also made a promise to keep her name confidential.

Over the course of the next several hours, well until after midnight, I worked on a story that I planned, with her and her husband's permission, to post on Monday. The victim sent me several emails with details of the events and people involved.

But around midnight, after reading what I'd written, and talking via phone a couple of times with a friend, I decided that this story was too big for my little blog. There were sources that needed to be checked, legal issues that needed to be resolved. I became convinced that the best people to write the story, check sources, and cross every legal hurdle were those who do this kind of thing all the time.

Back in 2005/2006 when loyal Patterson/Pressler trustees on the International Mission Board sought to remove me as a trustee and ruin my life and career for opposing Paige Patterson's attempts to fire Jerry Rankin and all the women in leadership at the IMB, I became acquainted with a reporter named Sarah Pulliam.

At the time, Sarah worked for Christianity Today and ran several articles on the imbroglio involving me at the International Mission Board.

Sarah now works on religious issues at the Washington Post. She's an evangelical. She understands Southern Baptists. She's an excellent reporter. It was well after midnight when I spoke to Sarah, and with the victim's permission, I put the two in contact with one another.

Sarah's story entitled Southern Baptist Leader Encouraged a Woman Not to Report Alleged Rape to Police came out at 3:00 pm Central Time, Tuesday afternoon, May 22, 2018.

The SWBTS Trustee Meeting, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas

The Washington Post knows how to do reporting. I had nothing to do with the article. I wasn't interviewed. My name wasn't in the article.

I did nothing except connect a reporter with a victim.

One of the advantages of writing a blog for 13 years and consistently pointing out problems in the Southern Baptist Convention is that people want to tell you their stories. I don't write gossip. I don't write lies. I don't write slander.

I tell the truth. And so does the Washington Post.

I've been told that when Paige Patterson spoke to the trustees last night in a full-court press to save his job, his home, his salary, etc... he presented a power point presentation to prove he's "under attack." The problems are never Paige's beliefs or Paige's actions or Paige's leadership. The problem is that evil Wade Burleson, the devil incarnate, and others.

I understand why Paige believes that to be so. He doesn't see that disagreement among Christians shouldn't mean we don't cooperate. You're either for him, or you're against him. You're for God, or with the devil.

Respectfully, SWBTS trustees, I've been telling you for over a decade there are huge problems at your institution and throughout the SBC. Your enrollment numbers stare you in the face every trustee meeting. In dysfunctional systems, the person who asks the questions about the problem becomes the problem to the ones being questioned.

Just ask Nathan Montgomery.

He was fired by Paige Patterson for recommending an article written by Ed Stetzer. Here it is (below).

After last night's board meeting, the trustees issued an official declaration that "The board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery's employment file."

Why was that statement even necessary?

Because in Paige Patterson's world, the person against him has rotten character. The person who opposes his ideology is a bad person and must be taught a lesson. Teaching that lesson might even include making things up about the person he doesn't like. Things like, "That Nathan Montgomery has a long history of being problematic and indiscreet" - refusing to provide specifics to the reporter to whom President Patterson spoke. But it is on the record. And, Nathan Montgomery saw it.


Let's suppose that Nathan Montgomery's employee file is actually super-clean, maybe even "spotless." What do you do?

You issue an official statement attempting to cover the mistake of your President. He publicly said something that actually wasn't true.

In Paige Patterson's world, if you don't like the message, attack the messenger. Truth is unnecessary; an attack, though, is essential.

In the world I live, the truth is essential. Attacks are unnecessary.

An Obscene Graphic Mocking the Rape - 

Within a few short hours after the Post story of the unreported rape went public, a Southern Baptist pastor who is an adherent to Paige Patterson's philosophies went on social media and did something alarming. He's been taught well by his mentor, Paige Patterson. This pastor posted an obscene and graphic picture/comment about a donkey and Wade Burleson (and a few other men I'll not name), stating that he had witnessed these men gang-raping a donkey. His point was that "anybody can say anything" without proof.

I'm not naming the pastor or displaying his obscene post. He called me this morning and apologized.  But I told this pastor that I'm not the one he should be thinking of regarding an apology.

I told this Southern Baptist pastor that the husband of the rape victim saw his post on Twitter. To say the husband of the rape victim was upset is putting it mildly. You might ask the wall that met his hand. Remember, he just found out a few days ago his wife had been raped and no Southern Baptist ministers did anything to help her.

This Southern Baptist pastor said, "You mean the rape really happened?"

I was stunned. Kindly, but firmly, I said to him.
"Listen, you and others who have placed Paige Patterson on a pedestal for his involvement in the Conservative Resurgence and have been so blinded by your hero worship that you can't even consider Paige Patterson might have done something wrong."
The Southern Baptist pastor confirmed that the purpose of his post was to impugn my character (and others), for planting the rape story - released just when trustees were determining the future of Paige Patterson - as a "way to get at Paige Patterson."

He wanted to speak to the couple. I explained why this was impossible. So, this afternoon, the Southern Baptist pastor (whom I shall not name), wrote out this apology:

I found his apology refreshing.

I promised I would help him if his church leaders came after his job.

Trustees, ask yourselves a question. In the closed-door meeting with Dr. Paige Patterson, watching his presentation and listening to him speak, was he taking responsibility for his failures, or was he pointing his finger at someone else?

Why do I ask? Because as long as you have a bunker mentality and think your leader is under assault, you are ignoring the fact that your city is burning to the ground and you're the ones with the keys to the fire trucks.

Every Single SWBTS Trustee Should Apologize Like The Pastor Above

This morning I woke up and read that in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, May 23, 2018, the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary released the following:
The board passed a motion through a majority vote to appoint Dr. Patterson as President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted. In addition, the board passed a motion to affirm the trustees’ September 2017 offer for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson to live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed in July 2018.
I was stunned.

I truly thought Dr. Paige Patterson would be terminated. Paige Patterson should be terminated. He should never be allowed to live on school property. He should never be given the title President Emeritus. He should never be given a salary.

He should be fired.

For heaven's sake, when Dr. Russell Dilday was terminated as President of SWBTS in 1994, security changed the locks and escorted him off of the property.

Explain to me why we honor Paige Patterson with titles, a house, maids and chefs, stained glass windows, and a perpetual salary - and we changed the locks on Russel Dilday.

SWBTS trustees, we have a problem.

You seem to be star-gazing rather than number-crunching. Shame on you.

It was fourth and one in a game to save your seminary and you were sacked for a twenty-yard loss.

Is it over?


The Southern Baptist Convention has the final say.

A lot of people will be asking you questions in Dallas.

And in the name of a rape victim who is wondering about Southern Baptist pastors and their integrity, I plead with you not to allow Paige Patterson to step foot on that podium in Dallas.

In 2006, I was told by Paige Patterson's disciples at the IMB that I would never again preach in a Southern Baptist Church, never again speak on a Southern Baptist stage, and never again have an ounce of influence in Southern Baptist circles unless I resigned as a trustee.

What they didn't understand is that those things mean nothing to me. I do what I do for the Kingdom. God made me, Patterson missed me, and Christ motivates me.

I'll see you in Dallas.


To my new friends, a wonderful couple who shall remain unnamed, but who deserve an anonymous star on the wall of every seminary in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I hope you feel that you've been heard.

I admire your courage. I admire your grace. I admire you both. I hope to meet you soon.

What you've done is ensure that every daughter of Southern Baptists who steps foot on seminary property to earn a post-graduate degree will be protected as they should be by those entrusted to lead our Convention.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Democracies and Denominations Die in Darkness

The Washington Post has placed a slogan at the top of its masthead - Democracy Dies in Darkness.

The paper, owned by founder Jeff Bezos, is internationally acclaimed and widely known for taking down President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal after the President's men broke into an office complex at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. to steal some very important papers. What destroyed the Nixon Presidency was the cover-up of the crime, not so much the crime itself.

Bezos explained why he chose the new slogan for the paper in an interview with The Post's executive editor, Martin Baron.
"I think a lot of us believe this, that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light."
According to Post reporter Paul Farhi, Bezos apparently heard the phrase from legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward, a Post associate editor. Woodward told Farhi that he referenced the phrase during a presentation at a conference that Bezos attended in 2015 in which Woodward talked about “The Last of the President’s Men,” his most recent book about the Watergate scandal.

Woodward, who has used the phrase in reference to President Nixon for years, said he didn’t coin it; he read it some years earlier in a judicial opinion in a First Amendment case. He couldn’t recall the specifics of the case or the name of the judge who wrote the opinion, but "the judge who said it got it right."

I agree with Woodward. I would add that religious denominations die in darkness as well.

Dr. Albert McClellan, the former Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke to a writer for The Baptist Program on December 31, 1980, and said,
"In 43 years there have been fewer than six executive sessions (closed door, private meetings) . . . The Executive Committee (SBC) has an open ear for anyone one who wants to speak to it. For almost 25 years the gallery has been two to three times bigger than the size of the Committee, and the gallery has been permitted to ask any question, to give any information, to make any point and to offer any objection."
Since those words were spoken by Dr. McClellan, there has been an exponential increase in the number of secrets kept by Southern Baptist leaders behind closed doors, pulled curtains, or dark places sealed off to exclude listening ears. Almost two-thirds of the meetings I attended as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board were executive sessions behind closed doors.

Someone has rightly said, "You are as sick as the secrets you keep."

Why are secrets kept among leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention? Why do leaders wish to keep people in the dark, and by all means keep records sealed or closed from public eyes? What is the purpose of leaders hiding behind veils?

I would be interested in your opinions, but allow me to offer a couple of possible reasons through the form of two memorable quotes on transparency.
"One man's transparency is another's humiliation." Gerry Adams
"What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press." Esther Dyson
Leaders who like secrets are leaders who like control. Oh sure, they may act as if they are interested in helping you, but if you allow things to be kept behind closed doors, then the agenda, the message, and the future will play out the way they those who've run over people to obtain and sustain power want it to play out. Whatever you think of the #MeToo movement, whether good or bad, one cannot deny that leaders who attempted to cover-up and control the agenda and message created the movement.

You never create a stained glass window in your image unless you can protect it from shattering. Secret meetings are like acrylic lucite for stained glass.

My message to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is really a message from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17).
It's an important enough principle, Jesus repeated it to His disciples again:
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Luke 12:2).
When those doors swing open, you must be prepared for what awaits. Will you do the right thing in secret? I trust you shall. If not, the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas will make the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas look like a kindergarten picnic.

And rightly so.

Denominations die in darkness.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

All Eyes on the Trustees of Southwestern Seminary

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will convene behind closed doors to determine the future of President Paige Patterson. Discussions will include his living arrangements after his impending resignation, retirement, or forced termination.

Over 3,200 Southern Baptist women have signed an open letter stating,  "The Southern Baptist Convention cannot allow the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way that a leader with an unbiblical view of authority, womanhood and sexuality be allowed to continue in leadership."

The Christian Post lists 5 Things to Know about the Paige Patterson Controversy.   I have listed on my blog ten reasons why It's Time for Paige Patterson to Step Down.

All eyes are now on the 40 trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  There are just two women on the trustee board and thirty-eight men.

For the past 40 years, the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention has been tightly controlled through trustee appointments. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention directly appoints the members of the Nominating Committee (ed. "through the Committee on Committees"). The Nominating Committee then recommends institutional trustees to the Southern Baptist Convention, including all six seminaries, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, Guidestone Financial Services, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee of the SBC.

From the 1979 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas, until the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, every President of the Southern Baptist Convention was chosen for nomination by the tandem of Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler. There was a pecking order of who would be "the next President of the SBC."

The Southern Baptist Convention President holds an important office because, according to Judge Paul Pressler, "it takes several consecutive Presidential election victories to dominate the boards and agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Most Southern Baptists have little clue that the real power of the Convention lies in the hands of trustees.

Former Presidents of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary were terminated because Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler vetted and appointed SBC Presidents. Then, their loyal followers (e.g. the Committee on Committees)  vetted and gave names to the Nominating Committee of other loyal Patterson/Presslerites who would serve as SBC trustees. This tight Patterson/Pressler control of SBC trustees occurred at every Southern Baptist agency since the 1980's.

Over two decades, the boards and agencies have reflected the trustees that controlled them.

I was elected to serve as a trustee of the International Mission Board in 2005. I was "vetted' by a group of trustees sympathetic to the Patterson/Pressler coalition before the Nominating Committee ever contacted me. When I began serving as a trustee of the IMB, I was shocked at how legalistic, authoritarian, anti-women, and Fundamentalist our Southern Convention missions agency had become. I refer not so much to the field missionaries as I do the sitting trustees.

Trustees were running things into the ground. Trustees considered their assignment a "privilege" instead of a "responsibility." Exotic hotels, fancy meals, multiple meetings, and all expense trips became the norm. Further, anyone who didn't agree with the very narrow doctrinal views of those in charge was targeted for removal.

As an example, trustees on the International Mission Board passed a new doctrinal policy - in direct violation of our SBC Constitution and By-Laws - that narrowed the scope of missionary participation in the Southern Baptist Convention. The doctrinal change was a direct attempt to remove Dr. Jerry Rankin. This effort was led by a coalition of trustees controlled by Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler.

As a trustee of the IMB, I discovered the agenda of Paige Patterson and his loyal IMB trustees to remove Dr. Rankin and sought to protect President Rankin from a forced termination. Jimmy Draper recently wondered aloud to Barry McCarty "what motivated Wade Burleson” to write his blog. I think I need to send both men a copy of Hardball Religion.

Hardball Religion details the process of how the trustee board was packed with men who would remove Jerry Rankin, honoring Paige Patterson’s wishes. Ultimately, in my successful attempt to protect Dr. Jerry Rankin, I became the issue.

Soon after I began speaking out about the problems in our Southern Baptist Convention, people began writing to me. I soon realized that Southern Baptist women throughout our Convention were being denigrated and removed from leadership. I heard some horrific stories, and the more I heard, the more I sought to expose. Those Southern Baptists who "didn't toe the line and give allegiance to Patterson and/or Pressler" - which simply meant not seeing "eye to eye" on every little doctrinal point -  would never be placed in positions of leadership and service.

I began receiving letters and phone calls from seminary faculty, agency administrators, and a host of men and women in leadership positions who asked for my help. From 2005 to 2018, I became the Southern Baptist unafraid to speak out because those in power had taken a swing at me and missed, but in the process, they had opened my eyes that others in the SBC were not as fortunate as I.

Then, I began to hear of alleged corruption.

Maids and slaves; slush funds and retirement homes; abuse and cover-ups; CP dollars and taxidermy; and a host of other crazy goings-on.

The day of reckoning has come.
“The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.” (Psalm 7:16).
Southern Baptists should “trust” that “trustees” will always do what is best for the Southern Baptist Convention and abstain from cronyism, quid-pro-quo agreements, and hidden agendas. However, in my experience, many trustees place self-promotion above Kingdom devotion. It's time for the Southern Baptist Convention to hold institutional trustees accountable.

In the June 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, I opposed from the floor the nomination of Bart Barber as a trustee for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Bart was an adjunct professor of SWBTS in the spring of that very year (Spring 2009), and I believed then - and still do - that any employee of a Southern Baptist institution should not be a trustee from that same institution.

You can read what I wrote about Bart Barber’s nomination as a conflict of interest in this blog post I wrote during the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. Bart Barber's nomination was approved by the Convention, and he has served as a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for the past nine years (2009-2018). He will be in the SWBTS closed-door meeting this coming Tuesday as the trustees determine what to do about Paige Patterson.

This week, a blog site called SBC Voices published a guest post by SWBTS Bart Barber. Bart wrote that "good trustees don't (and shouldn't) blog about their business." Bart and I have disagreed over the issue of trustees. I am of the opinion that the "trust" in trustee is between the Southern Baptist Convention and the trustee. The trustee must hold the institution's administration accountable for the performance of the agency in question. Trustees should have "the trust" of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Bart Barber was an adjunct professor at SWBTS when he was nominated to serve as a trustee at SWBTS. In the comment section of SBC Voices, I questioned Bart Barber about this “conflict of interest." Here was my question:
Bart, I admire any man who lives by principle. Just a quick question, Bart. Do you believe, on the basis of principle, it is wise to have current students, paid employees, or family members of the administration and/or faculty serving as trustees of the institution in question
I think we disagree on this issue. And, with respect, I point out that via bylaws of our Convention, institutional trustees of the SBC work for the Southern Baptist Convention, not the institution itself. That’s why only messengers to the SBC can appoint or remove trustees, not the board itself. Trustees are held “in trust” by members of the SBC, not administrators of the SBC institution or even their fellow trustees.
If at any time the problems within the institution rise to violations of the SBC constitution, trustees are obligated to make the Convention aware or violate their inviolable responsibilities as trustees to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Thanks for your service to the SBC.
After another commenter chimed in and said he too felt it was a conflict of interest for an adjunct professor to serve as a trustee of SWBTS, Bart Barber responded to that commenter (without addressing me or my question):
When the very first mention was made of my serving as a trustee, long before it was a “done deal,” I resigned the very part-time adjunct teaching position and notified Dr. Biles, my supervisor, that I would no longer be available to serve as an adjunct. I still have the emails.
Also, I notified Wade Burleson of this when he first made mention of his objection back a decade ago. He has long known that at no time have I simultaneously been an employee and a trustee of SWBTS. I’ll not speculate about his motives for ignoring these facts. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions
I enjoyed teaching. I miss it. But I, too, think it would be a conflict of interest for anyone to be an employee of an entity upon which he sits as a trustee, and therefore I have foregone this pleasure for ten years.
SWBTS publishes the class schedule every semester. Before attacking me online, did you check those records to see whether I had ever taught while serving as a trustee? Did you perform any research at all? Or do you just believe everything you read on the Internet?
The commenter came back and said to Bart Barber, "I didn't know that you had resigned from SWBTS, and had never seen that fact stated elsewhere" Bart Barber responded:
"Well, you’re right, and that’s my fault, I suppose. You haven’t seen it stated elsewhere because it has been years and years since I bothered to state it. A lot of us who were involved in all of this blogging back when Wade first got started—a lot of us managed to move on and find a real life with good, healthy, face-to-face relationships with real people...
Wade’s still stuck back in the way things were in 2006, it appears. And that’s his choice and his life. But I prefer a life of building people up rather than tearing them down. I prefer working to make peace in our convention rather than measuring my success by the people I can take down. I prefer having friends over having enemies. There is no part of me that wants to go back to 2006.
For this reason, I try to avoid reading Wade’s blog, conversing with Wade, or clarifying Wade’s false statements. I’ve moved on and I don’t want to go back. As a result, you’ve read things about me that aren’t true, and you haven’t had any opportunity to read corrections, since I haven’t offered them. That’s a whole lot more MY fault than it is yours, because as you have rightly noted, you haven’t seen these statements anywhere else, and I never gave you the opportunity to know better."
I had not seen Bart's answer on SBC Voices, but after someone pointed out that he never directly answered my question, I went back to the site and read Bart's comment for myself. There's an axiom that in dysfunctional systems, the person asking the question becomes the problem. I wrote my second comment to Bart and asked two additional short questions.
I have a couple of short questions. A “Yes” or “No” would be sufficient to save time, but freel free to elaborate if you desire. PRIOR to my opposing your nomination as a trustee of SWBTS from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention:
1. Had you resigned from your adjunct position at SWBTS?
2. Did you notify me that you had resigned?
If your answer is “Yes” to both questions, I’d like for you to provide me with the written documentation. If produced, I will apologize for assuming that you were teaching at SWBTS at the time of your nomination. Contrary to your comment above, I had no knowledge of your resignation. Is it is possible I could have forgotten? Of course, but my memory is usually excellent and rarely fails me. I trust you that you would never intentionally mislead anyone in stating I was aware you resigned before I opposed your nomination.
Obviously, you could have resigned and not informed me. If you can’t produce an email where you notified me, then possibly your resignation was due to the appearance of a “conflict of interest” and your resignation might have occurred after the Southern Baptist Convention where I opposed your nomination? I’m just asking for clarity.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Bart never answered my question, but the moderator of SBC Voices, one who's been called out on Yelp for being "condescending...and answering genuine questions about topics included in his blogs with sarcasm and snarky being belittling and downright rude" wrote a few choice comments directed toward me, and then shut down all comments.

In my experience, those who turn off the mic and shut down debate know that their arguments or positions will not stand up under scrutiny.

I’m sure Bart Barber is a fine pastor. I use his appointment as trustee of SWBTS as an example of how trusteeship at SWBTS historically has been a “reward for loyalty to Paige Patterson” more than it is a responsibility to the Southern Baptist Convention. Can Bart Barber and others who are friends of Dr. Patterson, or previous employees of SWBTS or hopeful future professors and administrators of SWBTS, or loyalists to a person more than an institution or Convention actually make an unbiased, fair, and good decision about Paige Patterson for the benefit and welfare of SWBTS and Southern Baptist Convention?

I think so. Particularly if SBC eyes stay on this particular trustee meeting.

I close with why I believe the trustee meeting at SWBTS this Tuesday is a very important one, and why all eyes of the Southern Baptist Convention should be on the SWBTS trustee meeting this Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
1. SWBTS administration has a history of hiring trustees who make favorable decisions for administration. Denny Autrey, the pastor who served as Chairman of the Trustee Presidential Search Committee who hired Paige Patterson, was in turn hired by Paige Patterson at SWBTS. Other trustee search committee members and family members of search committee members were hired by Paige Patterson to work for SWBTS.
2. Trustees of SWBTS are given plum preaching assignments in chapel services at SWBTS, and are often recommended for positions of service at large SBC churches throughout the nation by Paige Patterson - when loyal to President Paige Patterson.
3. SWBTS trustees should be accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention for the precipitous decline in enrollment at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The IMB trustees never asked questions about the adminstration selling off assets to pay for missionary salaries in the annual general budget. In 2015, all the IMB assets available to sell were gone, and the only thing left to do was reduce the missionary force. IMB trustees were more concerned in 2006 with a blogging trustee than they were with being responsible for doing their job of financial and institutional oversight. I would encourage SWBTS not to make the same mistake as their IMB brothers. 
4. Whatever decision the SWBTS trustees reach on Tuesday, ultimate accountablity for the trustees will occur June 12, 2018 at the Southern Baptist Convention. 
I genuinely wish the best for Paige and Dorothy Patterson during their retirement years. I hope they enjoy them in comfort and enjoyment. I wish for them prosperity and blessing.

But it's time for accountability.

Years of closely orchestrating who serves as trustees of SBC institutions have provided insulation and shelter from the consequences of poor decisions.

The Southern Baptist Convention is going to say "enough is enough." Those who demand conformity on every secondary and tertiary doctrinal issue while refusing to cooperate - and removing from service - all who disagree on these secondary and tertiary doctrinal matters are called Fundamentalists. Fundamentalism is known for its legalism, authoritarianism, and sectarianism.

The SBC is filled with all three characteristics of Fundamentalism.

Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, but Southern Baptists are now reaching for the water buckets to douse the fires consuming our Convention.