Influential yet now controversial evangelical theologian Paige Patterson will co-teach an ethics course this month at Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina just months after he was fired from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The 75-year-old Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention who is credited with helping lead a conservative shift within the SBC, will co-teach a week-long course titled "Christian Ethics: The Bible and Moral Issues" with SES President Richard Land.
The course will cover a wide range of hot button social issues, including abortion, sexuality, gender identity, artificial intelligence, religious liberty and church-state issues, among others.
While some might be critical of SES' decision to bring in Patterson to teach a course, it should be noted that Land and Patterson are extremely close friends who have known each other for over 49 years.
"I have known Paige Patterson for half a century. I know of no one who is a more sterling example of Christian character," Land, a former head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told The Christian Post on Monday. "I know that there are lots of Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians who are delighted to have the opportunity to hear one of the leading evangelical figures of the latter third of the 20th and first third of the 21st century teach and preach Christian Scripture and apply it to the moral crises of our day."
Land looks forward to SES students having exposure to Patterson, whom he describes as the older brother he never had.
"There is no one from whom I have learned more about the Christian faith than Dr. Paige Patterson," he said.
"[As for] anyone who objects, it is a free country and no one is being forced to listen or go online and engage in the course. If they don't like it, they don't have to listen. There are lots of folks who do want to listen."
The announcement of the course comes after Patterson was the center of much media attention in the spring after a recording of a comment he made in 2000 about how he once instructed a woman who was being abused by her husband to pray and not file for divorce, was publicized by a popular blog.
Patterson said he often tells women who are abused, "You must not forget the power of prayer," noting that God will intervene.
That same woman came back to him later with two black eyes but that very day, her husband had given his life to Christ and asked for forgiveness after witnessing his wife pray for him, Patterson recalled.
His remarks sparked furor and thousands of Baptist women signed onto a statement calling for Patterson's resignation as president of SWBTS. The influential Southern Baptist leader initially doubled down on his remarks, clarifying that he never condones abuse and does counsel separation when the level of abuse is serious.
He later apologized for what he said was "inappropriate" and "hurtful" language. In late May, Patterson stepped down from his role as president by SWBTS' board of trustees but was initially allowed to stay on as president emeritus. He and his wife were allowed to receive compensation and remain living on campus.
But about a week later, the seminary officially cut all of its ties with Patterson after information emerged suggesting that Patterson lied to the board of trustees about how he handled sexual assault allegation brought to him by a student when he was the head of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003. Patterson reportedly failed to report a rape allegation though he said he does not recall ever meeting with the victim or hearing about her case.
He was also scrutinized by the board of trustees for how he handled a 2015 rape allegation from an SWBTS student.
Following the uproar, he also resigned from the board of trustees at Cedarville University and withdrew from giving a speech at the 2018 SBC Convention in Dallas.
In September, Patterson returned to the pulpit during a revival in Pisgah, Alabama. He criticized women who falsely accuse men of misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement.
"I'm all in favor of the #MeToo movement when there is a guilty party," he said. "By the same token, I have nothing good to say about a woman who falsely accuses a man. She runs the risk of ruining a life. She runs the risk of causing sorrow unknown when the person is, in fact, innocent."
Although Patterson has agreed to co-teach the SES class, he will be in Germany for the first three days of the course, according to Land.
"I normally teach this class by myself," Land, who also serves as CP's executive editor, explained. "I was thinking, 'Dr. Patterson is available and he is no longer associated with another seminary. So he is fair game.'"
Land detailed that the course will address "first and foremost" the question of "who and what is a human being?"
"Every major issue we are dealing with in the Western world today revolves around the question of who and what is a human being," he explained. "It impacts the divorce issue. It impacts the transgender, homosexual, bisexual issue. It impacts the abortion issue. It impacts the euthanasia issue. It impacts genetic engineering. It impacts artificial intelligence and human enhancement. All of those get back to the basic question of who is a human being and what is a human being."
"At SES, ethics is applied theology. We are going to apply Christian theology and Christian doctrine to what we feel are the most important ethical and moral issues of our time."
The course will run Oct. 15-20 and will be available as a graduate, masters and doctorate level course. The event will be taught on campus but will also be available via livestream for those who wish to audit the course.