Dear Dr. Patterson:
We are sick to death of dealing with you. Things have changed in the SBC. It is time for you to acknowledge that we won 1 out of 20 votes at the Greensboro annual meeting, and therefore we are the rulers of the SBC. As rulers, of course we get to set the rules. So why do you keep disobeying the rules? There's a new sheriff in town, bucko, and if you don't step in line, we're going to remove the rather large stick from Kevin Bussey's eye and come after you with it.
But we want to be longsuffering and patient. Perhaps you have forgotten the rules. We know that, once people get older than 40, life is pretty much over and you can't remember anything any longer. So, for one last time, we're going to review the rules with you:
- You may not have an opinion about how anyone does anything anywhere—especially regarding anything that happens in the Southern Baptist Convention. Above all, you and the seminary may never ever seek to communicate behind-the-scenes any opinions about how other agencies ought to run. Other agencies will refine their theology without the input of theologians, thank you very much. To seek to communicate privately with other agencies will be considered smoke-filled-room collusion and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
- However, if another agency is doing something with which WE DISAGREE, then the previous rule will be considered null-and-void. But beyond that, not only will private communication be OK, but anything less than your full efforts to disseminate such criticism of other agencies will be considered DICTATORIAL INSUBORDINATION. We warn you, sir, that we will not stand idly by while you use your bully pulpit to remain silent. To seek not to criticize other agencies publicly will be considered censorship and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
- However, the previous rule will not apply to public information that we have not approved. It we're talking about....oh, I don't know....someone's dissertation, then under no circumstances can you allow anyone to have access to that material. You go get one of those elephant guns out of your safari room and YOU PERSONALLY STAND GUARD OVER AT THAT LIBRARY. Remember, public sermons that criticize other agencies, but with our approval, you are under obligation to promote, but suppression of dissertations or other material that might tend to embarrass us will not be considered censorship; in fact, you are under personal obligation to suppress such material.
- You must return our telephone calls IMMEDIATELY. No matter what else may be going on. Even on days when every press organ within 500 miles is calling. WE ARE IMPORTANT NOW!!!!!!!!!! When we say "Jump!" we expect you to ask "How high?" and to do so within no more than twenty minutes. And we're not talking about some staff flunkie. By golly, you pick up that phone and you call us and you get your instructions and YOU DO IT RIGHT AWAY.
- No matter what you do, we are going to criticize you. After all, hatred of you is the only thing that binds together our rather diverse coalition. So please understand, that it isn't personal. We have commented publicly that we respect you and consider you a brother. It isn't personal; it is business. Our political movement can only keep going forward if, periodically, we trot you out and use you to remind people how much we all hate you because we think you once-upon-a-time trotted out people to use them politically. Especially if one of us has recently said something embarrassing from which we need to divert attention, we will be using you politically.
- Remember, we have unanimously elected you the only person in Southern Baptist life who must be labelled, must never get the benefit of the doubt...we will carp and criticize every move you make until the day that you die (and Lord, may it come quickly). But don't forget, it is all in an effort to teach you to be less critical and more gracious and tolerant.
- And we fully support everything that you and others did to make the conservative resurgence take place, but we just wish you hadn't done any of it. We are solid conservatives, and we will not tolerate anyone who is not conservative teaching in our seminaries, but we don't want you firing anybody. NO FIRING IN OUR SEMINARIES. If you don't obey us on this point, you're fired.
(You know who we are)