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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I love Dr. Paige Patterson because you know where he stands. I admire someone who will take a position.
- 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.
- 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.
- I love Dr. Paige Patterson because I have, since childhood, loved Labrador Retrievers.:-)
- I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he loves the Lord, the Word, and the Church.
- 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.
- I love Dr. Paige Patterson because he is a phenomenal storyteller.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.