Paige Patterson withdraws from preaching at SBC's annual meeting
Friday, June 8, 2018
Bill Bumpas, Jody Brown (OneNewsNow.com)
An embattled Southern Baptist icon has withdrawn from delivering the keynote sermon at next week's annual gathering of his denomination.
In a letter to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (see below), Dr. Paige Patterson – who in the last month had the titles "president" and "president emeritus" of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary both removed from his job description – said he will not preach the convention sermon on Wednesday in Dallas. He also told SBC president Steve Gaines he was relinquishing his position as chairman of the denomination's Evangelism Task Force. (See related Baptist Press story)
Patterson writes he is doing so "... in an effort to do what I can to contribute to harmony within the Southern Baptist Convention and to respond to the request that has come especially from you and other Southern Baptist leadership."
Dr. Tom Hatley is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church Global Outreach Center in Rogers, Arkansas, and a former board chair of the SBC's International Mission Board. Hatley reacts to Patterson's letter. "The letter was very gracious and typical Paige Patterson," he tells OneNewsNow.
Hatley recalls the era when Patterson was leading the denomination's "Conservative Resurgence" and how Patterson was accused of things he never did. "Through all of that he remained perfectly calm, a gentleman, respectful of the institutions – and this is just a continuation," says the pastor. "He knows to be gracious under fire."
While he expects the meeting in Dallas will still have its share of conflict, Hatley says by "bowing out gracefully" Patterson will allow the convention to get a lot of business taken care of with fewer distractions.
"But there's still two factions vying to control one denomination," he shares, "and none of us have surrendered to the kind of powers that have lately come upon us that remind us a lot of the authorities we had to overcome back in the '70s and '80s."
In an open letter to Southern Baptists earlier this week, Hatley recommended that because of their actions the seminary board chairman and executive committee members resign their positions for failing to use traditional protocols that have served Southern Baptists well in past situations. He is still calling on those seminary board trustees who fired Patterson to resign.
Letter from Paige Patterson to SBC President Steve Gaines
Dear Mr. President:
Days of soul-searching before our God, whose blessed forgiveness and grace are continually poured out upon us all, have led me to the conclusion that I herein now communicate to you. In an effort to do what I can to contribute to harmony within the Southern Baptist Convention and to respond to the request that has come especially from you and other Southern Baptist leadership, I am relinquishing my position as chairman of the Evangelism Task Force. The vice chairman, Dr. Adam Greenway, will bring the report we have prepared for the Convention in its 2018 annual session.
In addition, I will not preach the convention sermon as I was invited to do by the 2017 committee on order of business and SBC messengers. The able and gifted Dr. Kie Bowman, who is the convention-elected alternate will preach in my place. My hope and confidence is that all will pray for him as he preaches and will hear him gladly.
All of this I do with a heart full of confidence in our God and with the hope that He will favor the Convention and her churches with the benediction of heaven. I remain a proponent of God's plan and purpose for marriage as the union of one man and one woman in lifetime commitment as delineated in Genesis 2 and 3; in the biblical, complementary role assignments for men and women as given in Scripture (1 Cor. 11; 1 Tim. 2); in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture in every syllable (2 Tim. 3:16-17); in the task of world-wide evangelism since Christ died for all and has invited all to trust Him as Savior (1 Jn. 2:2); in the protection by the strong of all who are weaker (Is. 40:11); and in calling for absolute justice for every human being (Mic. 6:8).
To those of you who have supported me with love, prayer, and encouragement, in addition to the reasons shared above, please understand this decision as an effort to protect my family as much as I can. Forever I am a debtor to all of you. May our Lord in heaven comfort your hearts and bless your every step.
Until He comes,
Editor's note: Hatley's comments added after story was originally posted.
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