Dr. Paige Patterson Is Out As President of SWBTS
Dr. Paige Patterson is out as President of SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and will be promoted to President Emeritus as well as theologian-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center at Southwestern.
To quote the official statement from Southwestern:
After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.
SWBTS Will Move in a New Direction
I suggested that this should happen. Frankly, I agree that Southwestern needs to move in a new direction with new leadership.
The irony should not go unnoticed that Southwestern has forced out Dr. Patterson. As Christianity Today noted in its reporting of the Board of Trustees meeting:
Patterson becomes the second president in SWBTS history to be forced out of the role. The only other was Russell H. Dilday, who was dismissed in 1994 as part of the Conservative Resurgence, the wave of denominational leadership changes orchestrated by Patterson himself.
In extended session, the Board also sided with Nathan Montgomery. The Board tried to thread a difficult needle. They tried to appease the people who appreciate Patterson and his service to the seminary as well as the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet, I believe that the Board of Trustees was mindful how society would react to the Board showing favoritism to Patterson and his interests.
The SBC Should Move Forward
Dr. Patterson is the co-author of the Conservative Resurgence. Many Southern Baptists (myself included) believe that this fight against liberalism in the denomination was necessary at the time.
However, times change. Dr. Patterson should have seen the significance of the #MeToo movement and the call from many younger Southern Baptists for him to repent of previous misstatements. It would have been helpful for Dr. Patterson to address these misstatements to more open Christian compassion.
Honestly, I believe that he still can. I believe that he can use the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas next month to address these issues. He can use that convention address to heal wounds in the convention and bridge the divisions that exist in the SBC. Ultimately, Patterson can pass on the leadership of his generation to a new generation.
Photo by Michael-David Bradford [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons