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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Nationalism, July 4th, and the Kingdom of Christ

First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, on Freedom Sunday
I'm about to make a confession that almost guarantees half of you will immediately stop reading this post.

If possible, don't quit reading, but I understand you'll have a strong desire to stop after you read the next sentence.

I am a political conservative who voted for Donald Trump and think he's doing a pretty good job as President.

I know about half of you reading this are now very angry.  I'm asking you to continue reading even if you disagree with me about my politics, especially if you are a professing Christian. 

For I'm about to upset the other half reading this post as well.
At my request, the American flag has been removed from the auditorium of Emmanuel Enid, the church where I serve as a teaching pastor. 
Some members of Emmanuel Enid don't like that the American flag is gone. It has made them - friends of mine - about as upset as those of you who now know I voted for Trump.

So let me take the time to explain the principle behind the American flag's removal from the building where Christians gather for corporate worship at Emmanuel Enid.
Christ's people belong to an eternal Kingdom which has no flag. 
Some church members have a tough time understanding this principle because they've been raised in America, believing nationalism and Christianity go together like peanut butter and jelly between slices of bread.

In other words, they're comfortable with worship like that at FBC Dallas.

If I were at a political rally, I too would love what took place at FBC Dallas last Sunday during their church services.

I just don't think nationalism is appropriate in a Christian corporate worship service.

As a student of history, I understand that fascists and totalitarian governments always demand nationalism during Christian worship services. Little kings don't like their people bowing to a bigger King.

Some respond: "Wade, aren't you a patriot?" (Yes). "Aren't you a theological, political, and cultural conservative?" (Yes, yes, and yes). "Don't you wish to honor our military and our country?" (Yes). "Aren't we called by God to pray for our country's leaders?" (Yes).

Then why don't you place the American flag in the building where we corporately worship? 

Because too many people in America confuse and fuse Christianity and politics.

Nations come and go. Republics rise and fall. Countries create conflict and collapse or conquer. Nationalism, patriotism, and statism are all temporary.

Christ's Kingdom is eternal.  National kingdoms are not.

Never confuse the two. Our eternal citizenship is in Christ's Kingdom  Our temporary citizenship is in the kingdom (little "k") of the United States (or other countries). Never confuse Christ's Kingdom with an earthly president's or king's kingdom.

By the way, political liberals, as well as political conservatives, get confused over this because they both don't understand the principle that Christ's kingdom transcends every kingdom of the world:
"Political liberals want the government to look like their concept of the church as much as political conservatives want the church to look like their concept of the government."
Avoid the temptation to dilute the Kingdom with other kingdoms.

Emmanuel Enid has a Christian school where every morning we teach our children good citizenship to the United States. Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They learn about the Constitution of the United States. They pray for our President, regardless of party or affiliation.

But that's a school that teaches nationalism, patriotism, and good citizenship.

It is not a Kingdom church.

So, this July 4th there will be no patriotic service at Emmanuel. There used to be one every year.

But Emmanuel Enid now understands better the principle that in corporate worship the Kingdom always supersedes kingdoms.

There's nothing wrong with patriotic, fire-works worthy, nationalistic, triumphant celebrations using choirs, flags, military salutes, and bands! I enjoy them as a patriotic American and will participate in a nationalistic, patriotic celebration Wednesday night, July 4th.

But I know that my true citizenship is in a Kingdom that is eternal, one that will long outlast America, and I don't wish to downgrade the eternal with the temporal during worship of the King.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

He Took My Place And In Love Bore Death's Sting

Last month I took a swat for the first time since elementary school.

I know that most school districts ban paddle spankings for children, but with parental permission, Emmanuel Christian School still gives "swats" for misbehavior.

I took a swat from Headmaster Steve Glazier and bore the sting of the swat for a second-grade student at ECS. I became the substitute for one I love.

Here's what happened.

The parents of a second-grader at Emmanuel Christian School had asked me to be responsible for their son while they took a trip. The young boy got into trouble while at school. The details are not important. Basically, the student's behavior was disrespectful to a teacher, a secretary, and he'd been disruptive in class as well.

I was called to the office. The offender was still upset, so Dr. Glazier and I sat him down and talked with him about what he'd done. After a while, he admitted that his actions were wrong.

We gave him a choice.

The young man could go seek forgiveness of his teacher, the secretary, and his classmates, or he could receive a "swat" with a paddle; one swat for each offense (a total of three).

I took time to explain the concept behind receive a paddle on the rear end.
"A swat causes a minor, temporary sting which illustrates how if you continue in the behavior that caused the swat, you're actions will eventually lead to deeper and more permanent pain in your life. Of course, seeking forgiveness for your actions means you won't receive a swat because you've humbled yourself, admitted what you did was wrong, and you are expressing a desire to make it right with others."
The second-grader said he would seek forgiveness of his teacher and the secretary, but he would not seek forgiveness of his classmates.

I told him that his parents had given us permission to swat him, and he would receive just one swat since he chose to seek forgiveness for two of the three offenses.

I asked Dr. Glazier for the paddle and told the young man to stand up, to turn around and place his hands on the desk, to bend over and prepare to receive a swat from me.

As he stood, I could see hesitation. I reminded him that if he sought forgiveness from his class, he would not receive any swats. It was his choice.

He said he would not seek forgiveness from his class - but he didn't want to receive a swat either. 

I told him the punishment had been established and could not be revoked.

The young man then lost it. He became hostile and out-of-control emotionally and verbally. For lack of a better term, he had a "melt-down."

I had to leave to officiate at a funeral, so I told our headmaster after the young man calmed down to have him sit in a chair in the headmaster's office and wait for me to return. We would finish the discipline at that time.

As I drove to the graveside, I reflected on what had just happened. Then I had an idea.

I called the headmaster on my cell:
 "Steve, when I get back we'll enforce the agreed upon discipline. I will tell the young man again that he can either seek forgiveness or receive swats. It's his choice. But if he chooses the swats, I want to take them for him."
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"Dr. Glazier?"
Finally, our headmaster spoke:
"On no, Pastor Wade. I can't do that."
I insisted and told Dr. Glazier that it might be an opportunity for me to show my love to this young boy. Dr. Glazier was still not sure, but we hung up with the understanding I'd be back in his office in about 30 minutes and we'd finish the discipline.

When I arrived back at Emmanuel Christian School, I went to Dr. Glazier's office and found the boy sitting in his chair, much calmer than when I'd left an hour earlier.

I sat down and explained again that his disrespect to the teacher and the secretary and his disruption in the classroom harmed all involved, and it was his choice to seek forgiveness from all three people/parties or receive a swat for each offense.

He said the same thing he'd said earlier. He would seek forgiveness from his teacher and the secretary, but he was not going to seek forgiveness from his class.

I told him that was his choice. The punishment was fixed. He would receive one swat.

Then I called him by name and said:
"But I'm going to take the swat for you."
 The young boy's tear-filled eyes got very big, and he looked at me as if he didn't comprehend. I explained:
"I'm asking Dr. Glazier to give me the paddle instead of you."
Dr. Glazier asked me, "Are you sure, Pastor Wade? Do you want to take the place of _______?"

I said that I did. The agreed-upon discipline would be carried out, but I desired to take the swat for the offender.

It had been a long time since I'd been in a principle's office to receive a swat. In fact, I could only recall one occasion during the 1960's and 1970's when I received a spanking with a paddle during my public school education.

I don't mind admitting my heart was racing just a tad.

The secretaries were seated outside the office in the reception area. Dr. Glazier's office door was closed, but there were windows with shades. Dr. Glazier pulled down the shades, asked me to stand, bend over his desk, and prepare to receive a swat.

Pastor Wade got a loud pop on his broad posterior.

And it did indeed sting.

When the shades were pulled up, I took the young man by the hand and led him through the reception area to go seek forgiveness of his teacher. The secretaries all thought the young boy had received the spanking. But the smile on the young man's face seemed incongruous with the event.

I listened to him as he spoke with his teacher and later the secretary. He was humble, took ownership of his disrespectful behavior, and sought their forgiveness.

As I walked boy back to rejoin his classmates, I asked him if he knew I loved him.

He said he did. He knew Pastor Wade loved him.


"Because you took my swat for me?"

Is there anybody else that loves you like that?

The boy shook his head no.

"Yes, there is," I told him. "God loves you so much He took your swats on the cross."

We had a little gospel talk, and I think the boy understood much better the love of God for him.

I was told that after the discipline in the headmaster's office, there'd come a remarkable change for the good in the boy's behavior for the rest of the school year.
"It is the love of God that constrains us." II Cor. 5:14 

Just a word to my reformed friends who preach and teach substitutionary atonement. Indeed, Jesus the Messiah died in our place. He took our place and bore the sting of death.

But be careful.

The atonement is not about an angry God being satiated by the death of Jesus Christ.

The atonement is about a loving God putting an end to death by taking death's sting for us.
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is etermal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23).
"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:55-57)
"But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (II Timothy 2:10)
The reason there's so much angry preaching is that preachers think they serve an angry god.

But the God the Scriptures is the loving God who removes the sting of death by His sacrifice.

He took my place and in love bore death's sting for me.

Nobody loves me like He.


Monday, June 18, 2018

The Pythian of Acts 16:16 and Ancient Divination

"The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven sent." 
Socrates on The Oracle of Delphi.

The Pythian Oracle at Delphi
When the ancient peoples around the Mediterranean Sea basin wanted wisdom from the gods, they went to oracles. An oracle was a person who spoke (orated) for the gods in various temples. During the time Israel was in Babylonian captivity (6th century B.C.), a ruler in Smyrna, Lydia (modern Turkey) named King Croesus wanted to find the best oracle in the world, one with powers to divine the future better than all others. So in 560 B.C., Croesus sent his emissaries on a 100-day journey to the seven most popular oracles in the world with a question: What is King Croesus doing today?

Croesus kept a diary during those 100 days, and when his messengers returned to Smyrna, he compared notes in his diary to what the oracles said. Of the seven oracles consulted, only the Oracle at Delphi (Greece) accurately described what Croesus was doing on the day the question was asked. The Oracle of Delphi said:
"I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea; I understand the speech of the dumb and hear the voiceless. The smell has come to my sense of a hard shelled tortoise boiling and bubbling with a lamb's flesh in a bronze pot: the cauldron underneath it is of bronze, and bronze is the lid." 
To eat turtle soup mixed with lamb's meat prepared in a bronze pot was exactly what Croesus was doing on that particular day. This dish was not typical cuisine for kings, especially one as rich as Croesus. Amazed at the Oracle of Delphi's prescience, Croesus sent emissaries back to Delphi with gifts of gold and silver for the Oracle, and they asked additional questions.

For the next one thousand years (560 B.C. to A.D. 371), the Oracle of Delphi would serve as the most prestigious and revered fortune teller in the world. Her answers guided the civilized world for the timing of wars, the establishment of new settlements, and wisdom to appease the gods.

The Spartans consulted the Oracle before the Battle of Thermopolae, a turning point in the war between the Greeks and Persians, expertly portrayed in the recent Hollywood motion picture 300. Alexander the Great traveled to Delphi to consult with the Oracle before he set off to conquer the world. Socrates often went to Delphi from Athens with his students. The Oracle once declared Socrates, the wisest man among the Greeks. This led Socrates to say, "This one thing I know: I know nothing." Yet the Pythia's pronouncement made such an impression on Socrates that it propelled him into a lifetime of learning by asking questions of others, something we now call the Socratic method of learning. Every major Greek and Roman leader, soldier, or politician would either personally travel to Delphi or send emissaries to Delphi to consult the Oracle. The influence of the Oracle of Delphi only dissipated after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and the Roman world adopted Christianity as the official religion of the state.

The Oracles at Delphi Were Women

Delphi (pronounced Delphee in Greek, not Delph eye) is a community in the mountains 100 miles northwest of Athens. Greek mythology declares that Zeus let loose two eagles to find the most beautiful location on earth. The eagles circled the lands and collided at Delphi. The Greeks believed Delphi to be the center of the world (naval), around which the universe revolved.  They built a temple to the god Apollo at Delphi, and within that temple, they placed a chamber where the Oracle of Delphi greeted guests on only one day a month - the 7th day, Apollo's favorite number.

Apollo was often called Pythian Apollo because he allegedly killed a giant python snake at Delphi and took the Oracle of Delphi as his bride own. The women who served as the Oracles at Delphi were given the title of Pythia in honor of Apollo's heroic feat. Two great stone pythons guarded the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and those who wished to have their futures foretold would enter the Temple of Apollo and go to the Oracle's room in the southwest corner of the Temple.

The Pythia were common women from the village of Delphi who had been chosen by the priests of the Temple to serve as the Oracle. The word common defines ancestry, for some of the women from Delphi who served as Pythia were slaves. The word common, however, does not define their physical beauty. Greek and Roman historians often commented in their writings on the striking beauty of the Pythia at Delphi. This beauty seemingly was a prerequisite for being chosen as a Pythia. In her divination room would be the naval stone (omphalos) which marked the Temple as the center of the world, a golden tripod upon which the Pythia would sit as she greeted guests, and across the room from where the Pythia sat was the alleged tomb of Dionysius.

The Temple of Apollo was built on intersecting geographical fault lines at Delphi. The Pythia would sit on her golden tripod over two intersecting crevices in the earth which seeped ethelyne, ethane, and methane--a cocktail of non-addictive but highly hallucinogenic gases. Contemporary Greek historians recorded a strong, sweet smell filled the Oracle's chamber, the tell-tale sign of ethylene, one of the world's first anesthetics.

The Pythia would remove a cap from the naval stone (see picture to the left) that sat beside her chair, releasing the hallucinogenic gases that had collected underneath the naval stone which sat on top of the X of the fault lines. As the gases released, the Pythia would enter into a conscious trance as she considered the questions presented to her. Swaying back and forth, she would eventually utter her answers.  The priests did not invent answers from undecipherable utterances of the Oracle but faithfully recorded what the Oracle said. The Oracle would give a lucid, sometimes cryptic answer, in either poetry or prose. Plutarch called the Oracles of Delphi "inspired maidens." The answers to the questions posed to Oracle would be given to the supplicants, who considered the poetic responses to Apollo's direction for their lives.  Entire nations would wait with baited breath for an answer from the Oracle at Delphi. It is not an exaggeration to say that a woman's words ruled ancient civilization.

Paul and the Pythia

When the Apostle Paul visited Philippi (51 A.D.) during his second missionary journey, he and Silas were followed by a young girl for many days who kept crying out to the people of Philippi, "These men are servants of the Most High God who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). Many Christians have a hard time understanding what Paul did next. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! 'And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:18).

The only way you can understand why Paul did what he did is to realize the biblical description of this young girl. The English versions of the Bible say she had "a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16). The literal Greek word used to describe this woman is Pythia. She could have served in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, or she could have been a lesser oracle. What we do know is she had the spirit of divination. She followed Paul and Silas and spoke of them as being spokespersons of Zeus, the Most High God, and said the people should listen to their words of deliverance in the same manner they listen to the words of an oracle. Of course, the Pythia was misrepresenting Paul and Silas. She was possessed by a demonic spirit, and Paul delivered her. Michaelangelo would later paint the Pythia of Delphi on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but the Apostle Paul showed no such reverence to the Pythia he met in Philippi. One should always remember that all that glitters in organized religion is not gold.

When the Pythia's masters saw their hope for profit in Philippi was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities and demanded the disciples of Christ be imprisoned. Paul and Silas were thrown in jail where they would later lead the jailor to faith in Christ (Acts 16:31). The story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family is a vivid reminder that God orchestrates all events (like the Pythia's actions at Philippi) for His glory and the ultimate good of His people (like the Philippian jailer).

Nothing much has changed in the world in the last 2,000 years. People still revere what God considers evil. People still persecute those who preach the gospel. But in the end, God always wins.

(Originally published by Wade Burleson in 2013 as The Apostle Paul and the Oracle at Delphi).

Gifted Women in Leadership Among Men and Boys

I will sometimes hear Christians say a woman cannot have leadership in the church or teach men in the church because the Apostle Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet" (I Timothy 2:12).

These Christians fail to understand that Paul's instruction to Timothy in I Timothy 2:12 is a specific and temporary prohibition against a woman in Ephesus instead of a general prohibition against all women everywhere.

Some Christians, however, try to make a distinction between "women in authority" over men "in the church" as compared to "in the world." They say there's nothing wrong with it "outside the church," but "in the church" women can't have leadership.

Using that distinction as a defense in keeping women out of church leadership is bizarre ecclesiology. We are the church, and wherever we go, Jesus is. You can't go to church if you are the church.

Let's be consistent.

So, what does it look like when someone consistently enforces their interpretation of I Timothy 2:12 on women everywhere?

About ten years ago I cam across an Associated Press article on Fox News entitled Female Referee Removed From Officiating Boys' Basketball Game:
Kansas activities officials are investigating a religious school's refusal to let a female referee call a boys' high school basketball game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.

St. Mary's Academy is about 25 miles northwest of Topeka, Kansas.
One must admire the administrators of St. Mary's. They are consistent. They take their incorrect interpretation of I Timothy 2:12 and enforce it in their institutional church setting and in the world in which they live.

It's much more courageous - albeit far less admired -  than the inconsistency of Christians who make the artificial distinction of women "in the church" and "in the world."

If Christians continue this artificial distinction, we will look more and more cultish than like the New Testament followers of Jesus Christ we are.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Is Selectively Ignored by Southern Baptist Pastors and Churches

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is a poorly thought out document on several fronts. I've been saying this for years.

The 2000 BFM is supposed to be "the doctrinal parameters of Southern Baptist missionary cooperation," but the truth is, most Southern Baptists ignore the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message except in the areas they wish to emphasize.

It's more a confession of convenience than it is a confession of conformity. As it should be. Baptists place preeminence on the Scriptures. God's Word alone is infallible. Our confessions are not.

We ought never to mistake our interpretation of the Bible with God's inspiration of the Bible.

So, as I point out to you where many Southern Baptists ignore the 2000 BFM, keep in mind that I'm glad the Bible is our infallible guide and am just reminding you that the 2000 BFM is a fallible interpretation of the Bible in which we believe.

Southern Baptists have changed the Baptist Faith and Message three times in the last 100 years (1925, 1963, and 2000), and a fourth time will come soon.

Let me give you a couple of examples where the current 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is mostly ignored by Southern Baptists.

Example One: Article VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper 

 Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.
If your church doesn't dismiss everyone who is not a "member" of your local church before observing the Lord's Supper, you are in violation of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.  Many Southern Baptist churches, if not a majority, do not dismiss everyone before observing the Lord's Supper in an attempt to exclude non-church members.

Our church does not dismiss our guests from other churches because we believe those who name Christ as Lord from other denominations will be around the Lord's Table in heaven (Presbyterians, Anglicans, etc.), so why should we exclude them from the Lord's Supper now? "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

We place the Scripture above the BFM at our church.

Example Two: Article XVII. Religious Liberty

Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends.
When Vice-President Pence spoke at this year's 2018 Southern Baptist Convention, he spoke about the United States government bombed the Taliban and other radical Islamicists and how "the radical Muslims are now running from us."

I tweeted the following:

Several Southern Baptists were offended with my tweet. One responded by saying, "You are so ignorant! Both are needed. The government paves the way for our missionaries by getting rid of the radicals." 

Anyone who thinks like that violates the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

But I would fight for the right of those Southern Baptists who stood and applauded Vice-President Pence's statement that the United States government was bombing the radicals, and "and they are running from us."

You may be violating the 2000 BFM, but your conscience and freedom to interpet the Scriptures as a “priest unto God” are a much better guide for your life.

The Baptist Faith and Message Always Changes Over Time

Again, Southern Baptists have changed the Baptist Faith and Message three times in the last 100 years (1925, 1963, and 2000), and a fourth time will come soon.

Why does the BFM change? 

Because at a point in time a majority of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention think they understand the will of God, but one day the majority wakes up and say, "Ooops. It is possible to see things another way."

Let me show you what I mean.

The 1963 Baptist Faith and Message on the Lord's Day

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.
Sunday football in 1963 was just beginning. Back in 1963, very few "worldly amusements" tempted Southern Baptists on Sunday. Theaters were shut down.  Sports activities were minimal. Southern Baptists were "firm" in their belief that the Bible demanded worship and spiritual devotion on Sunday, with the work of necessity and mercy only being excepted (police, fire, hospital, etc.)

It's amazing the changes that occur in the Southern Baptist Convention after a couple of decades.

 The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message says about the Lord's Day

The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
It's amazing how the NFL can change a command of God into a matter of conscience.


The Next Changes Coming to the Baptist Faith and Message

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message greatly erred in matters of "male authority" and "pastoral authority." 

The writers emphasized "a wife's submission” yet ignored “mutual submission." (Ephesians 5:21).

The BF&M 2000 committee - rejected every appeal to include Ephesians 5:21 which commands men and women to be mutually submissive to one another.  

In an attempt to battle perceived "feminism," the Southern Baptist Convention has fallen into the opposite pit of "patriarchalism." Both errors destroy families, churches, and conventions.

The Bible requires all Christians to pursue relationships of mutual submission and of reciprocal servanthood. Feminism and patriarchalism both desire to control by power.  A biblical Christian desires to serve others first through humble character.

My wife tells me that I am a visionary. She is usually always right. 

Mutual submission will be part of the next Baptist Faith and Message.

But what about "women pastors?" The answer to that question should always be: "What saith the Scriptures?" As has been shown in this post, Southern Baptist churches and pastors disagree among ourselves as to our interpretations of the infallible Scriptures. 

If Southern Baptists truly believe in local church autonomy (and we do), then answering that question should be up to the local congregation, not a national denomination. We are not Roman Catholics with a top-down hierarchy. We are Southern Baptists with grassroots leadership.

We have a problem with "authority" in the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Listen to Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, Professor Emeritus of Wheaton College - and take him up on his challenge. 
The practice of ordaining select people to hold positions of authority in churches should be viewed as an ecclesiastical tradition rather than as a biblical prescription. Thus, Paul and Barnabas were already among the recognized prophets and teachers of the church in Antioch when they received the laying on of hands, not to make them prophets or teachers but to commission them for a short-term sub-ministry (Acts 13: 1-3). It was their recognized spiritual gifts as prophet/teacher that had validated their ministry, not the subsequent laying on of hands.
The organization of the Christian community is never described as a gender-based hierarchy in the Scriptures. To the contrary, it is the doctrine of the community of oneness that sets the norm (Matt. 19:4-6; John 17:11, 20-23; Acts 4:32; Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 4:4-6; etc.).
There is no text in the Bible forbidding women to be ordained because, according to the New Testament, all believers without exception are ordained by God to do ministry on the basis of their spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; 14:31; Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11).
The Scripture absolutely forbids racial, class and gender discrimination by reason of the oneness of the church as a body. This oneness is consistently defined in the New Testament as full participation of the total constituency in the ministries of the church. This and other teachings of Scripture rule out gender-based hierarchy as a structure for biblical oneness.
I predict Southern Baptists will one day wake up and say, "Wait! There's another perspective on this issue!"

Just like we did the Lord's Day. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dr. Al Mohler, a Baptist Woman Home Missionary Teaching the Bible to Pastors, and Drunkenness

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Wade at Mic 6 
During the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention, I stepped to Microphone 6 to ask Dr. Mohler and the other Southern Baptist seminary Presidents a question.

Before I tell you what I asked, let me give you some background.

I, like most Southern Baptists, believe the Bible is God's infallible and inerrant Word. What I've discovered over the last dozen years is that men in control of the Southern Baptist Convention desire to tell you what the Bible means and don't like people disagreeing.

There's nothing wrong with giving others an interpretation of God's Word. Pastors do it all the time. It's called exegesis or "a critical explanation or interpretation of a text of Scripture."

But the Southern Baptist Convention will always be in trouble when there is a demand for conformity on tertiary matters of theology instead of a decision for cooperation around the primary message of the Gospel.

There is a huge difference between believing the Bible is God's Word and interpreting the Bible as God's Word.

None of us is God.

God doesn't stutter when He speaks, but we're often at a loss when we listen. "He that has ears to hear let him hear," Jesus said. The problem is us, not God.

If I don't think I can make a mistake in interpreting God's Word, then I have a problem with pride. I've placed myself in the position of God, telling you that you better believe what I say. God doesn't like pride, and pride will always lead to a personal fall.

That's why we all better be humble about telling others what God is saying. We may actually be misunderstanding God's Word. To believe God's Word is infallible is a confession of faith in God and God's Word. But to believe my interpretation of God's Word is infallible is a confession of faith in myself and my abilities.

So Christians have a simple job as fallible people who follow Jesus Christ.
We are to always make sure we don't confuse our interpretation with God's inspiration. 
That's why I like to ask seminary Presidents questions.

They are some of our most educated,  intellectually astute, and theologically-minded people in the Southern Baptist Convention. But if they're not careful, seminary Presidents - like pastors -  can get in the bad habit of thinking their interpretation of God's Word is infallible.

Al Mohler (Photo: Van Payne, Baptist Press)
Al Mohler does not believe that a woman can teach pastors the Bible. In Southern Seminary's School of Theology, there are  35 professors - 34 white men and 1 black man  - who are teaching and training Southern Baptist preachers and teachers, pastors and theologians, for the purpose of building the kingdom of God to the glory of Jesus Christ.

There are no women. 

Al Mohler, Paige Patterson, and a host of other current and former leaders of the Conservative Resurgence interpret God's Word as saying, "No woman shall ever teach a man or have a position of authority over a man (e.g. especially holy men like pastors)." 

I believe their belief is built on an erroneous interpretation of God's Word.  God commissions His people to serve His Kingdom based on their giftings and not their gender

Male pastors taking "spiritual authority" over people is a fraudulent authority in Christ's Kingdom. It's not supposed to be that way. It's contrary to the teachings of Jesus. The idea that male pastors have some kind of "special authority" is the result of a misinterpretation of just one or two passages from the New Testament

Yet SBC Presidents pontificate on pastoral power as if this pagan principle is actually a Papal bull. 

And it's also why female Hebrew professors are wrongly fired in the SBC. It's why male students leave class when a female seminary student exegetes the Scripture. It's why females are not in leadership in the SBC. 

That's all background for why I went to Microphone 6 and asked my question of Dr. Mohler and the other Southern Baptist Seminary Presidents. 

The Question
"Dr. Mohler, I want to thank you and the other seminary Presidents for your leadership and your reports. I've sat through many years of annual meetings, and the reports from our seminary Presidents this year constitute the best I've heard. Thank you all for your transparency, theological acumen, and love for Christ's Kingdom.
In light of several Southern Baptist women writing to me and telling me that Southern Baptist male divinity students are encouraged by seminary professors to walk out when female students fulfilling M.Div. requirements exegete the Scriptures out loud, and personally knowing that there have been unjust terminations of Hebrew and Old Testament professors in our Southern Baptist seminaries because they are females, and observing the lack of competent, gifted women in leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, I have a specific question that I'd like to ask you and the other seminary Presidents.
In 1863,  Joanna P. Moore (1832-1916) was appointed the first female Baptist missionary to the Home Mission Field by the American Baptist Convention, an original member of the Triennial Convention (1814), the forerunner of the Southern Baptist Convention (1845).
According to the Home Mission Monthly Magazine, Joanna Moore arrived for her first mission assignment on Island #10 in the Mississippi River. She ministered among former African American slaves who were now being protected by the Union Army. These former slaves had their own male pastors, mostly illiterate men who faithfully shepherded their fellow Christians in the plantations of the south.
These African American plantation preachers had never heard or thought it was wrong to get drunk occasionally until Joanna P. Moore arrived. She faithfully taught these pastors the Scriptures, especially expounding I Timothy 3:3 and the biblical prohibition against drunkenness. The pastors reformed their conduct, ceasing their occasional habit of getting drunk, and were better pastors due to the influence of Joanna P. Moore. 
So here's my question: 
Was it sinful for Joanna P. Moore to teach those male pastors the Word of God, and should she have remained silent and let those pastors continue in their drunkenness?"
After some laughter from the crowd, Dr. Mohler gave his response which demonstrated a great deal of inconsistency (I'll write on his response at another time).

My goal with this post is to encourage all fellow Christians who love Christ and His Word to consider and contemplate the illogical, fallible, and impractical interpretation that prevents a woman from teaching men or pastors the Holy Scriptures.

Never give in to demands for conformity on a specific interpretation of Scripture when your Master is Jesus Christ, and only His Word is infallible, not the words of a man.

Search the Scriptures for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

I've drawn mine. 

For more information on Baptist evangelist Joanna P. Moore, watch this short video.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

An Attempt to Punish SWBTS Executive Committee

On May 22, 2018, the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary met for 13 hours considering the future of SWBTS President Paige Patterson.

After a vote to terminate narrowly failed, the seminary trustees adopted measures that would give Paige Patterson the title of President Emeritus, the opportunity to live his retirement years on campus, and a salary. These actions were portrayed by the media as "the removal of Paige Patterson as President of SWBTS," but in many Southern Baptist eyes, it was more of a promotion than a termination. 

A few days later, the Executive Committee of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary met and unanimously rescinded the board's actions of May 22, 2018. This time, the trustees who compose the Executive Committee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary completely terminated Paige Patterson's association with SWBTS, removing the title of President Emeritus, rescinding the offer to live out his retirement years on campus, and retracting the decision to pay him a salary.

Today, Tuesday, June 12, 2018,  a pastor from Arkansas named Tom Hatley made a motion at the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas. Tom wants the Southern Baptist Convention messengers to "remove the trustees of the Executive Committee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary" for their actions in terminating Paige Patterson.

In other words, Tom Hatley believes the trustees who voted unanimously to remove Paige Patterson should themselves be removed as trustees of the seminary.

The messengers at this year's Convention will discuss, debate, and vote on Hatley's recommendation at 2:45 pm, Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

Tom Hatley was the Chairman of the Trustees at the International Mission Board in 2005/2006 when the Executive Committee of the IMB sought to remove me as a trustee of the IMB. I won't rehash all that happened in 2005/2006 (you can go back and read on my blog), but in essence, the IMB Executive Committee sought to remove me because I stood up to those who were seeking the removal of President Jerry Rankin and women from leadership positions at the IMB. I had been told by several of my fellow trustees, most of whom were friends and loyalists of Paige Patterson and led by Chairman Thomas Hatley, that President Rankin's tenure needed to come to an end. They had in mind someone else to be President of the IMB.

Two guesses as to who that person was to be the next President of the IMB.

Because I was a rookie trustee and dared oppose IMB trustee leadership, I became the person Chairman Tom Hatley and the Executive Committee of the IMB sought to remove. To this day, I am the only trustee of an SBC institution who faced the prospect of removal by the Southern Baptist Convention at large. Prior to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention, Tom Hatley and the IMB Executive Committee rescinded their recommendation to remove me as an IMB trustee - mostly because they realized they'd have to give me an opportunity to speak to the entire Convention before the vote.

This year, the members of the Executive Commitee of SWBTS, including Chairman Kevin Ueckert, will be given the opportunity to speak to the SBC Convention this Wednesday at 2:45 pm, before the Convention votes on Hatley's recommendation to remove them. I predict that the Southern Baptist Convention will overwhelmingly reject Thomas Hatley's motion to remove the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee of SWBTS had their reasons for termination of Paige Patterson. Very few people know the full story. The Executive Committee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has facts. They voted unanimously to terminate.

But the point I'd like to make about Thomas Hatley's motion revolves around integrity.

When Thomas Hatley, Chairman of the International Mission Board, led the Executive Committee to recommend my removal as a trustee in 2006, they received a huge amount of backlash from the Southern Baptist Convention. In fact, Frank Page was elected at the very Convention they had intended to remove me, a shock to the Patterson loyalists who had never lost a Convention presidential election since 1979.

I find it interesting that Chairman Tom Hatley responded to the criticsm against him and his Executive Committee in 2006 with these words:
"The Southern Baptist Convention should trust the Executive Committee of the International Mission Board. This difficult measure was not taken without due deliberation.... and was completely necessary for the IMB to move forward. The Southern Baptist Convention should trust their trustees."

Today, Ken Whitten nominated J.D. Greaer for President of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the speech, Ken gave the following definition for integrity:
"Integrity is when the tongue of one's shoes follows the tongue of one's mouth."
The number one reason Thomas Hatley's motion should be defeated is because the motion - at its core - lacks integrity. It's offered by a man who said one thing when he was Chairman of the IMB Executive Committee, but now that same man walks a different path when it comes to his treatment of Chairman Kevin Ueckert and the SWBTS Executive Committee.

The Southern Baptist Convention has suffered enough with a lack of integrity.

Convention messengers will see through the smoke and mirrors of a motion that is long on politics and short on integrity.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Arrive Early Tuesday for the 2018 SBC in Dallas

Most messengers are unaware that a flood of business occurs beginning at 8:35 Tuesday morning. Motions that will be dealt with later Tuesday or on Wednesday will be introduced, major announcements from the Committee on Order of Business will be made, and a host of other matters will be addressed very early Tuesday morning.

Arrive early. Be registered and in the arena by 8:30 am.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Pay Attention to the SBC Resolutions Committee

I am in Dallas, Texas for the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention. I will not be blogging much during the Convention, but if you'd like to know my thoughts, I'd encourage you to follow me on Twitter by clicking on the link below and press "Follow."

Wade Burleson on Twitter

The Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has been tasked with collecting, editing, and recommending different "Resolutions" for the Southern Baptist Convention to approve. These annual Resolutions help the general public understand how "determined or resolute" the Southern Baptist Convention is about certain issues (the definition of "resolution").

It will be interesting to see which Resolutions make it to the floor.

The Resolutions Committee  is composed of nine Southern Baptist messengers. It is stacked with Paige Patterson loyalists. The Southern Baptist should be careful not to make any gigantic missteps by seeking to honor our past while unintentionally portraying a general tone deafness to our present.

Here are four of the members of the 2018 Southern Baptist Resolutions Committee.

Jason Duesing
-- Resolutions Committee Chairman

Jason has a long tenure of association with Dr. Paige Patterson. You can read and learn more about Jason Duesing here, here, and here. Jason was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003 when Dr. Paige Patterson was President.

Alicia Wong - Resolutions Committee Member

Alicia was mentored by Dorothy Patterson (see here - page 24).  Alicia now teaches at Gateway Seminary, but she formerly taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in the Women's Studies Department.

Candi Finch - Resolutions Committee Member

Candi Finch writes for Baptist Press and has been one of the most vocal defenders of Paige Patterson.  Candi serves as Assistant Professor of Theology in Women's Studies, Dorothy Kelley Patterson Chair of Women’s Studies, and was the Executive Assistant to the former First Lady at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary  She runs a website called Biblical Woman, and during the most recent controversy has been quoted in several articles defending Dr. Paige Patterson.

Ken Alford -- Resolutions Committee Member

Ken formerly served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and has very close ties to Dr. Paige Patterson. Ken also once served as Chairman of the North American Mission Board of Trustees.

Again, there are only nine Resolution Committee members on the 2018 Resolutions Committee. Nearly half of the members are strong advocates for Dr. Paige Patterson and are indebted to him for either their current or past employment or for present positions of influence in the Southern Baptist Convention. They are all good people, but even the best of people can make missteps because blind loyalty clouds clarity for the Kingdom.

The Resolutions Committee has their work cut out for them. Several hundred potential resolutions have been turned in to the Committee for possible recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Resolutions Committee will be working over the weekend and on Monday. They will issue their first report Tuesday morning.

It would be wise for all Southern Baptists to pay very close attention to the resolutions that come of of committee, and to remember that ultimately Southern Baptist messengers have the final say on whether or not resolutions are adopted.

Follow me on Twitter.

(Postscript: I thought the Resolutions did an excellent job under very difficult circumstances and Tweeted out my thanks to the members and Chairman Jason Duesing). 

Friday, June 08, 2018

Complementarianism Is a Good Word that Has Been Hijacked to Wrongly Mean Authoritarianism

I am a person who believes the Bible. Every word of it points me to Jesus Christ. The Bible is our canon (ruler) for life and death, for the Scripture reveals the Truth, and you shall know the Truth, and He shall set you free.

But the Bible is often poorly interpreted.

For example, many modern evangelicals read prophecies in the Bible and wrongly interpret them to be about the "end of the world," and don't realize that these biblical prophecies are vivid, Hebrew apocalyptic writings foretelling the end of Old Covenant Israel (A.D. 70 and the destruction of the Hebrew Temple), and the inauguration of God's New Covenant with the world.

If you confuse the end of the Old Covenant with the destruction of the earth, then your theology and church practices will be more about a coming Kingdom than about the transformative change you can bring to this world by living out the principles of Jesus Christ in this world.

Another example of poor interpretation of God's Word is the belief that God created man in His image, but that "the woman was made for man." Therefore, a woman must always be "under the umbrella of protection" of a man (father, husband, pastor, etc.) for the man has "authority over the woman" like God has authority over His creation.

I'm not making this up. People really believe this to be a biblical concept. Listen to how Southern Baptists on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood explain this male inherent authority:
Sin has produced in woman an illegitimate desire to usurp the rightful authority God gave to man (Gen. 3:16), God has worked in Israel and in the Church to establish male-headship as the consistent and approved pattern for religious and home life.
This unbiblical and warped view of inherent male authority would be the primary reason I could never join a church or pastor a church where such views were considered biblical. If the leadership of a church believes "only males have authority over people," then that church will be just as dysfunctional as a homosexual marriage. You may like it and be comfortable with it, but you won't give birth to new Kingdom people. You'll grow your church by stealing members from other churches. All-male leadership churches, like nature, aren't designed to procreate.

Male authoritarianism is antithetical to the teachings of my Savior, the Apostle Paul, and the rest of the New Testament:
"The wife does not have authority over .... but yields to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over ... but yields it to his wife. (I Corinthians 7:4). 
There is to be a mutual submission between men and women in the Kingdom of Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Consistent authoritarians like Paige Patterson believe it is an indication of a wicked society when women have positions of authority over men. That belief in male authority is properly called male authoritarianism or patriarchalism.

It's not New Testament. Not even close. Hierarchal patriarchs believe women are permanently subordinate in the family, the church and should be subordinate in culture. Only when God's plan is ignored will a woman ever be in a position of leadership over males.

Complementarianism is a good word. But it's been hijacked by authoritarians.

Complementarianism means:
"The full-orbed image of God cannot be understood without both the male and the female. The two genders complement one another to represent the image of God."
In Scripture, God will often liken Himself to a female, and we are the fruit of His womb.

Why does the Creator do this? Because His image is stamped in both the man and the woman, characteristics of both the father and the mother, and you can't get a full and true sense of God without both sexes. 

Therefore, in the home and in the church...
"Men and women bear the image of God and are only limited in Christ's Kingdom, His church, and the Christian family by character, experience, ability, and giftings of the Holy Spirit."
Most Christians intuitively know that Jesus Christ empowers His people to serve regardless of gender, but those who wish to restrict women do so based upon just a handful of verses, ignoring the clear teachings of Jesus Christ and the rest of the New Testament.

"But what about I Timothy 2:9-15?" object conservative male Christian leaders.
Answer: Jesus Christ sets women free to serve as He gifts them, and any restrictions of women in the home, church, or society is built on a misinterpretation of this text. 

"But what about the specific prohibition on women in  I Timothy 2:15?" object conservative male Christian leaders?
Answer: That prohibition is to "the" woman known by both Paul and Timothy and illustrates a specific, pastoral prohibition for a particular church instead of a universal prohibition for all churches. 

But what about I Corinthians 14:34-35? object other conservative male leaders?"
Answer: Those two verses are teaching that women SHOULD be teaching and prophesying in the church as they are gifted by the Holy Spirit.

So I'm a true, biblical complementarian because I accept the teachings of Jesus Christ and reject the false teaching of the inherent authoritarianism of males. Men and women - both genders - complement one another and reveal the full image and character of God.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Dr. Shawn Madden and the Southeastern Archives

Shawn Madden, Ph.D., Major, USMC (retired), Librarian, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (1994-2013). 

A Guest Post


My brothers show no partiality, as you 
hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Lord of glory (James 2:1 ESV)

Paige Patterson once said to [Unnamed Saint] who sought advice as to how to resolve an unrighteous severance:
 “[Unnamed Saint], drop this and look for God's next exiting step in your own life. Life is too short to fiddle with what is ultimately a futile confrontation. Leave them to God who is far more able to deal with them." Paige
The Unnamed Saint to which Paige Patterson directed his sage advice had been let go for far less numerous and far less severe failings than Paige Patterson has had. In fact, nothing was named save, ‘your contract is up.’ And yet Paige Patterson advised this Saint to ‘drop this and look for God’s next exit... .’ This Saint was too young to retire and had to find other employment. Paige Patterson is at a very ripe retirement age and should be well set to ride into the sunset, as it were.

But, Paige Patterson kicks against the goads rather than exit.

One goad is the continued question of his taking away from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary material that was stored in the archival room of The SEBTS Library. That material’s security was my responsibility, and I consider it a failure that material under my charge was removed without my notification, something that I would have thought would have been a common courtesy between brothers.

The run-up to this event was the Conservative Resurgence. As I had come on board as the Director of The Library at SEBTS by Dr. Patterson’s invitation (which I am grateful to this day) and had started to develop the various departments, it was clear that we needed to do something serious with the meager archives that we had. I suggested to him that the material of the Conservative Resurgence would be great and would be an academic draw to SEBTS. Dr. Patterson was delighted with this idea and proceeded to gather and collect material of his own and of others who had been involved, notably Judge Pressler and Russ Kaemerling. I had hired on some great folks, and they were getting them organized and ready for research.

Then Dr. Patterson got ‘called away’ to SWBTS. As he was making his exit, we at The Library kept getting phone calls from the SWBTS library inquiring as to the number of boxes they should be expecting. This, of course, raised the alarm for us! Dr. Russ Bush was the dean at the time and he also, to my recollection, was concerned. Each time we were called I asked Dr. Bush and he, from what I understood, talked to Dr. Patterson and each time we were reassured that nothing was leaving the archives.

Then we came to work on a Monday, and the boxes were gone. No one on The Library staff was approached or informed.

A note I wrote to myself says,
'The Irish and Marine in me boiled straight to the surface when I discovered that there was an unauthorized removal from the Archives of Southeastern Seminary 96 boxes of extremely valuable and irreplaceable archival materials by an employee of Southwestern Seminary. The boiling of my blood was due in large part to the fact that we had had indications in the weeks prior to the removal that someone was planning the move but after every inquiry about this we were assured in no uncertain terms that this was not the plan. Additionally when the removal was affected it was done on a weekend and no one informed me or my staff that it was being done. I talked to [the security chief] at length about this, pointing out the fact that a Southwestern Seminary employee had entered my area of responsibility—had entered the most secure place, with his approval and complicity and without thinking to inform me, the one given the responsibility of ensuring the safe storage and access to that material. When I called [interim president] Dr. Neal to ask if he knew anything about it he told me that he did not but that Michael Lawson did and then handed the phone to him. He informed me that the materials had been removed by Chris Thompson.' 

That was the heat of the moment. Other files on my computer from old archives indicate that I wrote to Dr. Patterson about this. Below is what I think is the original letter but it is undated and is an electronic file, I have not located the hard copy I wrote him.

Dr. Paige Patterson
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 22040
Fort Worth, Texas 76122-0040
Dear Dr. Patterson:

Perhaps there would not be such confusion remaining from the issue of the archives if I, Jim Lutzweiler and Bill Youngmark had been involved in the moving of your material from the archives of Southeastern Seminary. As it is 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. Mr. Lawson allowed an employee of Southwestern to illegally enter Southeastern’s archives without even the courtesy of informing the person responsible for their safekeeping. That was a major breach of security, protocol, and courtesy. I recall that you were rather upset that [un-named person] had removed some archival material from Southeastern and had it deposited at Wake Forest just before you assumed the helm here. A similar situation pertains. Yes, I understand that some of what was stored in our archives was your personal property. And I understand about the Gypsy Smith collection, those materials are not my concern. 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 you do with your personal correspondence is your concern and none of my business but that which was 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.

If I had been informed that you were ready to remove your material and had been given the opportunity to be there when they were removed and had had the opportunity to have Mr. Lutzweiler and Mr. Youngmark present so that a determination could be made as to what boxes were Paige Pattersons and what boxes were the Presidents then we would not been in the situation that we are in now. My archivists organized those boxes and knew what was in them, the employees of Southwestern did not. Nor did they think to ask.

We had heard rumors from Fort Worth that they were expecting your archives and were asking us how many boxes they would be receiving. That was news to us. Repeated inquiries by me to Dr. Bush concerning that matter were consistently returned with “Dr. Patterson assured me that the boxes were not leaving.”

To clear this matter up I suggest that I and one or both of our archivists travel to Fort Worth and meet with your folks and come to an agreement concerning what is Paige Patterson's and what is the President of Southeastern’s. Perhaps some guidelines could be agreed upon before the meeting. As the material was removed without the knowledge and consent of the responsible parties at Southeastern I would insist that your office pick up the tab for the travel. Southeastern would be responsible for the return of her materials.

Dr. Patterson wrote me a letter dated December 10, 2004, a letter that is on several websites now. In it he says that he is ‘growing weary of dealing with all of this... .’ I wrote him back:

January 25, 2005

Dr. Paige Patterson
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 22040
Fort Worth, Texas 76122-0040
 Dear Dr. Patterson:
I am sorry you are “growing somewhat weary” of my persistent quest for the archives that rightly belong to Southeastern Seminary. I grow tired of asking for them myself but duty compels me. Let me quickly note that what I am after is not your personal papers nor the Gypsy Smith papers. Those are yours to do with what you will and I fully concur. I do covet them professionally and I still harbor a hope that you are led to deposit them at Southeastern when the time comes but their disposition is entirely your decision and I make neither claim nor request in that regard.

You mentioned in your letter that “we left behind all of the materials of the President that regarded the life of the institution, curriculum, etc. that were not particularly germane to my own life situation.” Unfortunately, because individuals gained access to the archives of Southeastern’s library without the knowledge, consent, or assistance of those charged with the responsibility of securing those materials housed therein, material other than your personal papers was inadvertently removed and a fair number of your personal papers were left behind. Presently we have nothing from the President’s office during the time of your tenure. Looking through our archives it would be difficult to know who the president was between Dr. Drummond and Dr. Akin.
Such being the case, I need to see about getting your remaining material to you but I also need to make arrangements to identify those boxes that mistakenly made their way to Southwestern Seminary and see about their return.
I remain, as always, His servant and yours,
CC: Dr. Danny Akin
       Dr. Russ Bush
       Mr. Jim Lutzweiler
       Mr. Bill Youngmark

You will notice that my only concern is that SEBTS and The Library know for sure what at that point resided in Ft. Worth. As a side note, my our extended family resided in Dallas, and we visited it at least twice a year. On one such occasion, I visited the Library at SWBTS and asked to see the Patterson papers (remember how often we were called). I was told that they were not in The Library but rather at Pecan Manor.

So, now we come to Chris Thompson, former Special Assistant to Paige Patterson, and the letter he released May 31, 2018. Chris is the person who took the archives from SEBTS. 

Chris writes a very interesting letter. In it, Chris admits that he took the material ‘from the archival room in the SEBTS library’ and that this was done ‘on a Friday and Saturday during office hours and loaded for shipment’ and that he ‘had access to all locations where these items were located.’ My earlier note indicated that his ‘access’ was the security chief of SEBTS. 

Friday after 4:30 the full-time staff of The Library had gone home. There was no full-time staff on duty on Saturday. Further, Chris names no one from SEBTS who authorized him to take the material and he does not mention which of the staff of The Library he had informed. 

Pastor Chris Thompson repeats what Dr. Patterson did – that the only things that were taken belonged to the Pattersons. We apparently are enjoined to trust them, which I would like to do. But, why in the world was it done on a weekend and why was no one given the Christian courtesy of a simple awareness of what was going on?

This was done back in 2004/2005. As the administration changed at SEBTS, I informed each of my new VPs orally of the missing archives, and the letter indicates a cc was sent to Dr. Akin, the new President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at the time.

I left SEBTS during Thanksgiving week of 2013. In 2014 my wife and I moved to Dallas to live with and care for her mother. My wife had seen that SWBTS needed a new librarian and wrote to Dr. Patterson about perhaps hiring me because he was the one who hired me at SEBTS. He declined, noting that “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.”

I was raised and trained to ‘speak my mind.’ It is a trait lauded in the Marine Corps but few other places. I own that tendency fully. I find it interesting that The Washington Post notes that 'Akin said he believes files that would help an investigation fo the incident were taken from Southeastern when Patterson left. "You technically could've said they were stolen. I wouldn't say that. I think they took them unwisely," he said. "They're still Dr. Patterson's, in his mind. He doesn't want to return them.' Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a statement that Southwestern has located those documents "and is working on returning them to Southeastern." ’

I really would have liked Dr. Patterson and someone in leadership at SEBTS to tell me that they were going to do. Such would have been the respectful, honorable, polite, Christian thing to do. I would have liked for Chris Thompson to have approached me and informed me what he was about to do in a building I was responsible for and what he was going to do with the material whose security I was responsible for. Such would have been the respectful, honorable, polite, Christian thing to do.

And so,

I remain, ever, His Servant and yours.

Shawn C. Madden
Dr. Shawn C. Madden

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Elijah Craig, SBC Preachers, Scripture, and Women

One advantage of being a student of history is to know that the world - even the religious world - is always changing.

Southern Baptists will be gathering in Dallas, Texas next week. Some Southern Baptists pastors are bemoaning the changes that seem to be coming in regards to an increased role of leadership for women in the Southern Baptist Convention. "This should never happen!" they cry. "We who believe the Bible must stick to what the Bible teaches! Women should be silent and submit to men." 

Well, it could be these Southern Baptist pastors who are restricting women are misinterpreting what the Bible actually teaches about women.  I believe they are misinterpreting the Scriptures; big time. I also believe change is coming soon in the SBC to reflect a more biblical approach toward women. The Southern Baptist Convention may even have a female President sooner rather than later.

But if Baptists believe the Bible, how can Baptists change their minds about what the Bible teaches? How can these wrongheaded Baptist pastors ever change their views on women?


Let me show you what I mean with a quick history of Baptists changing our minds.

Baptist Pastors Receiving No Salary

Elijah Craig (1738-1808), was one of the most well-known Baptist preachers of his day. He was influential in the Baptists of Virginia helping to adopt the First Amendment of the United States. Elijah later served as pastor of the large Crossing Baptist Church (Kentucky). Elijah is said by one historian to have “played a vital role in communicating the views of the Virginia Baptists to the new state government."

Elijah Craig wrote a book entitled A Few Remarks on the Errors That Are Maintained in the Christian Churches of the Present Day (1801). In it he wrote:
"Pastors…are precluded by the Scriptures from receiving any compensation for their services...”
Well, I would expect that out of the 10,000 Southern Baptists pastors present at Dallas, Texas next week, the vast majority of them will be glad that Baptists have changed our position on what the Bible teaches about paying pastors.

But there's more...

Baptist Drinking and Distributing Whisky

Baptist Pastor Elijah Craig made his living to support his wife and six kids by inventing Kentucky Bourbon, a corn liquor aged in charred barrels, and selling it to the general public. Elijah Craig Bourbon, produced since 1789 in the distillery Baptist pastor Elijah Craig named Heaven Hill, is still available for purchase around the world. This past year (2017), Elijah Craig Bourbon was voted America's best bourbon.

What? I thought the Southern Baptist Convention has always deemed the sell and use of alcohol to be a sin? No. Not even close.

In 1796, the Elkhorn Baptist Association, a Kentucky association (constituted in 1785), ruled that "denying a member church membership because he sold intoxicants was unjustified." It was not until 100 years later (1886) that the Southern Baptist Convention began passing resolutions against alcohol.

So Southern Baptists have changed our minds on paying pastors and drinking whiskey.

But there's more.

Baptists Smoking and Selling Tobacco

The first Baptist church which called Elijah Craig to be their pastor, the Blue Run Baptist Church, met in a tobacco farm shed. That's right. All the members smoked tobacco and sold it to make a living - including their pastor.

Baptists in Elijah Craig's day smoked and chewed tobacco, drank and sold whiskey, and wouldn't pay their pastors a salary.

But there's more.

Baptists Giving Grief to the Government

It was while plowing his field in 1768, that Baptist pastor Elijah Craig was arrested and imprisoned for seventeen days for preaching “schismatick doctrines.”

Contrary to many modern Southern Baptist leaders who believe national government and the church should be one and the same, Baptist pastor Elijah Craig advocated that government and the church should always be separated. Government officials imprisoned him.

But apparently, the prison couldn’t keep Elijah from preaching. Baptists gathered outside the jail, and this Baptist pastor named Elijah Craig preached the gospel through the bars of his jail window. Consequently, the authorities built a high wall around the prison to keep people from hearing.

Eventually, Elijah Craig was released to go back to his whiskey and tobacco business - and preaching the gospel.

Baptists Seeing Slavery as Scriptural

Baptist Pastor Elijah Craig and the members of his congregation needed people to work their tobacco fields, char their bourbon barrels, and carry their fermented corn (bourbon) to the market.

Southern Baptists for decades believed that holding slaves was not only biblical Christianity, they also preached tens of thousands of messages on the evil of abolition

Of course, we've changed our minds...once again. 


Nobody has ever accused me of holding back from speaking my mind, so let me summarize this little history lesson and bring it back to 2018 and the Southern Baptist Convention's imminent change on its wretched view of women. 
"I'll not believe a Southern Baptist pastor cannot change his mind about what the Bible teaches about women until I meet a Southern Baptist pastor who receives no salary, who smokes tobacco and drinks whiskey regularly, who refuses to identify with any political party to the point of prison, and who can introduce me to the slaves he keeps in his house."
Until then, I'd encourage Southern Baptist preachers to stop the shallow sanctimonious sermonettes on how the Bible is authoritative about restricting women from "authority over men" and from "teaching men." 

Maybe it's all of you who are missing the actual teaching of the Bible on women.

The history of Baptists and the changes that have come our way indicates I know of what I speak.