Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why I Love Dr. Paige Patterson

Looking back over the past two years, I see a lot of posts attacking Dr. Paige Patterson. I also see several affirmations of Dr. Patterson, mostly prefixed or suffixed with something along the lines of "...not that I agree with everything he does."

Well, I don't prefix or suffix my affirmations of love for the remainder of my friends, and I'll not do so for Dr. Patterson, either. Just so there will be at least one post of this type offered by somebody somewhere, here are my reasons why I love Dr. Paige Patterson.

  1. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because I am so thankful for what God wrought through him and others in the Conservative Resurgence of the SBC. I understand that many people hate him for precisely the same reason. You are entitled to your opinion; I am entitled to mine. The Conservative Resurgence was not the phenomenon of the Southern Baptist Convention becoming more conservative—the majority of Southern Baptists were conservative all along—but was the phenomenon of Southern Baptist conservatives becoming more assertive. Dr. Patterson epitomizes assertive conservatism, and I am thankful for what he has done.
  2. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because I have had the repeated, ongoing experience upon hearing him preach of saying to myself either (a) "I've said the very same thing myself," or (b) "I could have said that myself," or (c) "I wish I had said that myself," or (d) "I'm going to say that myself." I find that his theological viewpoint is very nearly identical to my own.
  3. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because you know where he stands. I admire someone who will take a position.
  4. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he helps other people. I didn't realize the extent of this phenomenon until I took up blogging. I've long ago lost count of the people who, thankful for some online defense of Dr. Patterson, have come to me with stories of how Dr. Patterson took an interest in their ministry and assisted them at some point. Introducing Dr. Patterson at the recent SBTC Empower Evangelism Conference was one such young man who related advice that Dr. Patterson had given to him in a rough patch of a seminary pastorate.
  5. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because of his love for his wife. I'll be very shocked if I ever hear that Dr. Patterson has strayed from his marital vows—not so shocked with regard to other Christian leaders I have met.
  6. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because I have, since childhood, loved Labrador Retrievers.:-)
  7. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he loves the Lord, the Word, and the Church.
  8. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he has exemplified grace and restraint in his dealings with his very public, very ungracious, and very unrestrained accusers.
  9. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he is a phenomenal storyteller.
  10. I love Dr. Paige Patterson because I know that, if I worked for him and I departed orthodoxy, he would fire me before I could blink twice. Maybe it would catch my attention and turn me back to the right path.

Most of you don't know me. I'm betting that very few of you know me as well as you think you do. But just to make sure that you can have some idea whence these ideas arise, let me add things that are not reasons why I love Dr. Patterson:

  1. I am not indebted to Dr. Patterson in any way other than our biblical debt to love one another. I came to my church, earned the vast majority of my degree, met my wife, adopted my children, accepted Christ, and came to my theological convictions all while I knew Dr. Paige Patterson no better than I knew St. Augustine. Although I once taught adjunctively for SWBTS, I began to do so before Dr. Patterson ever came to SWBTS.
  2. I have not spent any inordinate amount of time with Dr. Patterson. We converse with one another no more than four or five times a year at the most, and those occasions take place in public settings where our paths happen to cross.
  3. I do not intend to "make something of myself" by any association with Dr. Patterson. I am either (a) just confident enough in the Lord who called me, or (b) just arrogant enough in my own abilities, one or the other, to think that God took good care of me before I ever met Dr. Patterson and that God will take care of me from here until Heaven. [EDIT: Addition] For what it is worth, as my opinion goes, the key to avoiding this kind of temptation is to want the right things in life and to know (i.e., remind yourself) what you want. I've set it upon my heart to be faithful to the Lord and be content with wherever that takes me. Know what you want: the Lord's favor. Then you need not fear or use any man. [/EDIT]

No, the only explanation is this: I am thankful for what he has accomplished in our convention, largely agree with his theology, appreciate him as a brother in Christ, and enjoy his company on those occasions when I am in it. For all of those reasons and more, I love Dr. Paige Patterson.

If you wish to speak negatively of the man, you'll have no trouble finding a blog post somewhere to do just that. If you can't find an appropriate place, let me know and I'll be happy to direct you to one. But I would ask you to leave this one post—of all of the material out there on the Internet, this solitary post at least—as a forum to speak positively about Dr. Patterson. Those of you who would like to say something nice about Dr. Patterson and his influence upon your life or ministry, I invite you to do so in the comments.

19 comments:

Bro. Robin said...

Bart

Ditto.

Robin

Alan Cross said...

I don't know much about Paige Patterson except for what I have read and heard from others, which is why I stay out of the criticisms of him. It's like we were all taught as children, "If you can't say something nice about someone . . ." Thanks for adding your perspective in to the storehouse of data in my mind. It helps to hear all sides. No matter what anyone thinks, we are never as bad as our detractors say, and never as great as what those who praise us say. We are all just like the flower blown by the wind, and we are in desperate need of a Savior. I am glad that Dr. Patterson has pointed to his Savior throughout his life as the basis of his being and of his purpose. May that be said about all of us.

Bart Barber said...

Robin & Alan,

Thanks for stopping by.

You know, before I met Dr. Patterson, when all I had heard was the rumors and stories, I knew that I agreed with him but wondered whether he was some Don Corleone who might have we whacked if I looked at him wrong. The first time we had a conversation in which he knew who I was, it startled me a bit. I thought, "I've heard that this guy plays hardball; do I really want to get involved?"

I'm glad to have made the right decision. From what I can see, the vast majority of caricatures about him are just that, IMHO. What little I have had the privilege of getting to know him, each encounter has further undermined all that I heard about him, for example, while attending Baylor.

Bart Barber said...

..."might have ME whacked, that is"

pastorsteveweaver said...

Bart,

Great post. I am also a fan of Dr. Patterson. Thanks for the positive word!

Steve Weaver

selahV said...

Bro. Bart, I love Dr. Patterson because he is my brother in Christ. I find his quiet resilience in the face of public condemnation a refreshing example of how Christ kept silent before his accusers. I think that is admirable.

I'm really looking forward to meeting him some day. I've had him in my prayers ever since I read the first negative post about him.

I appreciate this post. It's long overdue. selahV

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

I am going to say that I admire Dr. Patterson and love him as a Brother in Christ. I sat under his teaching in one semester of Systematic Theology. I noticed those that would get close to him for the sole purpose of advancing their own kingdom. I loathed it then and I loathe it today. Dr. Patterson is as trusting as anyone and we have seen where that level of trust has placed him. However, what I admire and love about him the most is that he still trusts people.

Dr. Patterson, as you have so eloquently point out, has not promised me any advancement on any front. The interview I had with him is the first time I have had a conversation with him that lasted longer than, "hello, how are you doing?". I have admired him from afar and never even been invited to Magnolia Hill for lunch though my pastor was his pastor while he served as President of SEBTS. I have thanked God numerous times for sending Dr. Patterson to SEBTS. You should have been at the reception for him in Wake Forest in 1992.

Dr. Patterson has made a huge impact on my ministry with his parting word to the graduating class of December, 2000. He told the class that if anyone ever failed in their marriage vows they would have to answer to God on the day of the bema judgment. But before they answered to God that he would hunt them down and make them give him an explanation of their actions. Each time I am tempted the though quickly flees my mind because a picture of a stump of a man with an Irish red tint to the graying hair and an attitude of an Texan, staring at me. I tremble to just think of it.

I do love Dr. Patterson and I also love and respect Mrs. Dorothy Patterson. She is an example of how Godly women should present themselves.

Blessings,
Tim

Anonymous said...

Bart,
Thanks for your post. May I add a few thoughts?
Things I love about Paige Patterson.
1. He is a first class scholar.
2. He doesn’t act like a scholar.
3. Has a great sense of humor.
4. Solidly believes and stands for the fundamental doctrines and Baptist distinctives that have made the SBC great.
5. Loves the lost.
6. Personal life backs up his public profession.
7. Loves preachers.
8. Peculiar. Aren’t most preachers? Paige is peculiar enough to make him interesting.
9. Can keep a confidence. I could say more… but I won’t.
10. Is steady and gracious under fire.

Should our Lord delay His coming and history is fair, I sincerely believe Paige Patterson will be considered one of the most positive influences in SBC history.
Sincerely,
David R. Brumbelow
PS - In the interest of public disclosure, I have never worked for Patterson and don’t intend to. I’m a SBC pastor. Dr. Patterson works for me.

Tim Guthrie said...

wonderful post and great comments. I totally agree!

Ron P. said...

Bart,

I first met Dr. Patterson in 1986, where he took time to meet with me and my newlywed wife after preaching near my home in Oklahoma. He stayed after the service to counsel us on where to go to school. I will never forget his kindness and graciousness that he extended to us. When he prayed with us, it was clear that he was more concerned about God's will for our lives than recruiting us to attend Criswell. Through that time of prayer and counsel and during a night in prayer, God clearly revealed that He wanted us in Dallas at Criswell. We moved there within a month.

I have never met a man as hospitable and loving as Paige Patterson. One thing that has always impressed me with him, is that he is "harder" on those who should know right from wrong than he is with those who are unbelievers. His love and concern for them is undeniable. For those that attack him and disagree with him, he is the most amiable and charitable person, yet without compromise of his personal integrity and Biblical conviction.

Like you Bart, Dr. Patterson shares many of my Biblical views. As a student, I wanted to learn from him, precisely because of his commitment to the same principles that I held (and still hold today).

Simply put, I love Paige Patterson and thank God that he is leading two of my sons in their education at Southwestern. I can think of no one else that I would rather put in charge of my son's theological education! I just hope he is there when my youngest son is ready!

Blessings,

Ron P.

Scott Schuyler said...

Bart:

Thank you saying things that many of us have wanted to say for some time.

Paige and Dorothy Patterson have been a blessing to so many people over the years, and they should be honored for their faithful service to the King.

Thank you for the positive words!

Rev. Scott Schuyler
Pastor & SEBTS Grad. '04

Steve Young said...

Bart,
I remember a few years ago when Dr. Patterson spoke at the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention. I was sitting with my DOM and his wife. After the service they said "He is not at all like we have been led to believe - he is so gracious and unassuming."
Dr. Gray Allison of Mid-America used to say "Many people are down on what they are not up on." I believe many people are "down" on Paige Patterson because all they know is what someone (with an agenda) has said.

doug munton said...

I love the kindness Dr. Patterson has invariably shown me- even when I was a young seminary student with not one thing to offer him. I also love his office and recommend a visit if you are ever at swbts. My favorite part is the collection of hand-written sermon notes, outlines and manuscripts by famous and less-than-famous preachers throughout the years. (I must note that I've never been asked to contribute my own notes. Does anyone else find that odd?:)) When is the last time you saw the hand-written notes of "Gypsy" Smith? Doug Munton

John Killian said...

Amen, Brother Bart.
Here in Alabama, we had a Governor who ran for President and promised his supporters that they would "shake the eyeteeth of the liberals." Mention Dr. Patterson to liberals, and their eyeteeth shake.
Dr. Patterson's efforts have made a positive difference in our Southern Baptist Zion.

Tom Bryant said...

A man is known by both the friends and enemies he makes. Like Robin said, ditto.

GUNNY said...

I had a great conversation with Dr. Patterson in his office a little less than a year ago.

Not only did I find the conversation stimulating and enjoyable, I was overwhelmed by his interest, care, and concern for a spare adjunct professor ... AND I'm REFORMED in my leanings!

I think there are a lot of caricatures out there about Dr. Patterson, but as I've said before, I'm glad he's on "our side."

Suck it up liberals!

Tim A. Blankenship said...

Bart, I am in agreement with you.
Though I have never met the man personally I did sit in a class one day with a friend at Criswell Bible Institute while he was President there.
I have heard him preach many times,and was thoroughly blessed.
I thank God for the man who led Consevative SBC people to get hold of the leadership positions of the SBC.
God bless you.
T.A.

Andrew Hebert said...

I love Dr. Patterson for many of the reasons already mentioned. He has a concern for training the next generation, not just leaving a legacy. He has a great sense of humor and has a love for guns and hunting. You can't trust a man who doesn't like to hunt :).

Christiane said...

I have never met Dr. Patterson so my 'opinion' is not of value. What I do know about him is from the report of what happened to Dr. Sheri Klouda.

I can't imagine her ordeal. Or that of her family, particularly her husband whose health was at risk.

There are some things I can't understand. It is beyond me because of my Catholic faith to understand, I suppose.

Dr. Klouda's treatment at SWBTS is one of those things.

I pray for her, her family, and all who put her through such an ordeal. We have a merciful God. I trust Him to make all things new.