As a former Southern Baptist pastor, I still care deeply about the goings on of the convention. What I have just learned warrants an intelligent blog post, but it’s late at night, so I’ll just give a rant…an opening salvo to one of the SBC’s saddest upcoming chapters.
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave an exception two years ago, and allowed a Muslim to become a student at the seminary. Allegedly, he has also allowed two Mormons to enroll in the seminary. This is in clear violation of common evangelical sense and the seminary’s own documents. I’ll cite sources later….I’m venting after all.
I have enormous respect for Dr. Patterson, but he needs strong reprimand on this point. Non-Christians have no place in a Baptist seminary dedicated to training Christians for future ministry.
Evidently, Dr. Patterson is citing “evangelism” as the reason he made the exception. He wants to witness and expose the student to Christ, hoping for a conversion. We’d have to wonder, then, why only one Muslim and two Mormons? Why not 20 or 50? And what of Wiccans? Are they not worthy of evangelization? And surely we share the gospel with pedophiles, prostitutes, drunkards, meth users, strippers, evolutionists, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists, Hare Krishnas, Jews and Jehovah Witnesses. If allowing persons of other faiths entry into SWBTS for the purpose of evangelism is a priority, shouldn’t recruiters start targeting these faiths for enlistment? But of course, that is absurd, since the purpose of theological education is to educate one in a certain theology—in this case Christian theology.
But lest anyone think Dr. Patterson is being reckless, we are told he secured assurances from the Allah devotee that he would conform to the moral code of the seminary. Whew! The fellow won’t smoke, drink, cuss or womanize; he’ll only blaspheme Jesus Christ. What a relief…admission application approved! (allegedly along with a nice presidential scholarship and job with the seminary landscaping department).
But there is nary a peep of objection from the bulk of the people called Southern Baptists. They used to call themselves people of the book. When I was there, we fought a battle over inerrancy and the truth of the Bible, fundamentally centered on Jesus Christ. There are a few rumblings and some action coming from an old Patterson nemesis, Wade Burleson. But, for the most part, there is no outcry.
The professors at SWBTS are silent, presumably in fear of losing their jobs. The students at SWBTS are mostly silent, presumably in fear of their futures. The trustees of SWBTS are silent, presumably out of respect for the conservative patriarch Patterson. The presidents of the other five seminaries are silent, presumably because it’s not their business. The churches of the SBC supporting the Muslim student with their Cooperative Program dollars are silent, presumably because they don’t practice accountability. And the messengers in Baltimore’s upcoming SBC Annual Meeting will be silent. A few dissenting voices will sound out, but they will be too measured and tepid, and outmaneuvered by a system that will protect this insanity.
It’s one of the reasons I separated from the SBC. They talk truth. But they don’t practice it.