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Why Firing Paige Patterson From the Presidency of SWBTS Was a Serious Mistake

Paige Patterson 
Paige Patterson 

First of all, it was done at the wrong time. Dr. Patterson was close to retirement age. They should have waited and allowed him to retire honourably and properly.

Second, it was done to the wrong person. He did nothing worthy of being fired. No biblical grounds were given, let alone, seriously considered. There are numerous Christian leaders who have committed sins worthy of discipline. Patterson is not one of them; he hasn't committed any such sins. On the contrary, he has done many things worthy of exaltation. In fact, he is one of the top conservative Christian leaders of our day. Indeed, I have long contended that a bronze statue should be erected in his honour in Nashville. I still do.

Third, it was done the wrong way. It was done too quickly—within hours. This did not give proper time for reflection, interaction, and thoughtful action.

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Fourth, it was done on the wrong grounds. The vote was a mere majority of the Trustees present. For a significant event like this it should have been at least a two-thirds or more majority vote.

Fifth, it was done in the wrong spirit. Many who opposed Dr. Patterson were apparently caught up in winds of the #MeToo movement of the day. But no doctrinal or moral charges were even offered, let alone proven by two or more credible witnesses against him. Rather, personal opinions about isolated cases were offered.

Sixth, it was done without proper forethought. Patterson is one of the great evangelical leaders of our day. His departure in this manner will send a strong and wrong signal, namely, one of encouragement to the less-conservative movement in the country.

While only Jesus has an impeccable record, Patterson has one that is highly commendable. The Southern Baptist Trustees have made a tragic and influential mistake.

Norman Geisler (Ph.D., Loyola University) has taught theology, Christian apologetics, and ethics on the graduate level for over fifty years. He is the Chancellor and the Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Theology at Veritas International University in Santa Ana, California. He is also the Distinguished Senior Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has written on the ethical considerations of marriage and divorce in Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues & Options, Second Edition (Baker Academic, 2010).

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