SWBTS’ Muslim Student: Scandal, or Tempest in a Teapot?

I’ve been in Des Moines the last couple of days at our state’s Executive Board meeting. Our hotel provides free internet, which is good because it is so close to no internet at all that if I paid for it, I’d be fairly upset. I read of the newest SBC scandal that has arisen, that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has at least one Muslim student in its archaeology PhD program. The news shocked me and I’ve wanted to opine on the topic for a couple of days. However, with the meetings I was a part of and the lack of internet access, plus travel time and other ministry responsibilities, I have been prevented until now.

When I first heard this story, I did a little fact checking. Frankly, some pretty fanciful stories about the evils of Dr. Patterson have circulated through the years, as well as some harsh personal attacks against him and even his wife. So, it was necessary to check out the accusations and insinuations.

I am satisfied that the story as circulated is essentially true. It was confirmed to me and then the seminary released a statement by Dr. Patterson about the incident. From what I know, Southwestern has at least one student in the PhD program in archaeology who is a practicing Muslim. There were, evidently, some relationships built through archaeological work done through Southwestern and the young man wanted to be educated there.

Those are the facts. What I don’t know is what to make of them. Is this a typical blogging scandal – much ado about nothing, tempest in a teapot? Or is it a real issue, one with legs?  How big a deal is the fact that SWBTS admitted a practicing Muslim into its doctoral studies program? Here are my thoughts on the topic. Ultimately, whether this is a big issue or not will likely be decided by the messengers in Baltimore, where I’m sure that questions will be asked and resolutions offered to address the the situation.

1) The sky is not falling!

Wade Burleson’s title to the article that broke the news was somewhat hysterical and overwrought. “Southwestern Baptist Islamic Theological Seminary….” As they say on the Monday Night Football Countdown show, “C’mon man!” Unfortunately, the lack of civility and the hyperbole displayed in that title alone has marked Baptist blogging all too often. Wild accusations such as this do not foster healthy and reasoned discussion.

One can disagree with the admission of a Muslim student to the PhD program at SWBTS without insinuating that SWBTS is becoming Islamic. That is patently absurd. Admitting a student who is Muslim is not exactly the institution of Sharia law at SWBTS. As is evident from the article, there are a lot of other issues from the past that provide a background for the charges that Burleson raises and provide some background color for the article.

This is a real issue. Should an SBC Seminary admit a non-Christian student to learn there? And the issue of whether Dr. Patterson, by presidential fiat, violated established policy is troublesome and worth discussing. But when you engage in the kind of hyperbole Burleson does, some credibility is lost. He insinuates in the first post that Dr. Patterson may be guilty of some form of modalism, doubles down on that in a follow-up post and puts on a full-court press against Patterson’s commitment to the gospel (or, perhaps, its perversion into moralism).

None of that is necessary, or even helpful. Once in a while, a guy like Glenn Beck says some good things. But we are so used to the hyperbole and extreme rhetoric that we tend to discount it. A real issue can be lost in the recitation of old grievances and the piling on off wild accusations. There is a danger of becoming like the boy who cried wolf – the credibility of the real issue can be lost in the hyperbole. This man is not a pedophile, nor is he (from all accounts) Al-Qaeda or any other type of radicalized Muslim. We need to be careful about inflated rhetoric on the topic.

Better to focus on the issue at hand, which we will try to do here.

2) This is a problem.

This is a real issue, one which Southern Baptists have a right to wonder about and discuss and which our seminaries should answer. I would say that there are problems at several levels.

a) SBC Seminaries exist to train leaders for churches. Obviously, if he remains a Muslim, this man is not going to serve churches anywhere. I’ve not read the governing documents of the school or seen whether non-Christian students are restricted by policy. The application asks about one’s relationship with Christ, but I’ve not seen exactly what the established policy is. Clearly, this is unusual and an anomaly. SWBTS’ statement says that the president has granted exceptions in the past.

b) That leads to my second issue. Ought the president to be granting exceptions to established policy (assuming that policy to be established)? It is a dangerous thing when entity heads do not view themselves as subject to the lines of authority established by the SBC or by the Board of Trustees. This is always troubling.

c) Did the Board of Trustees approve this or was it kept from them?

d) Was Cooperative Program money expended to provide this young man’s education? As I understand it, CP money is not used to help students with costs at the doctoral level as it does with masters level programs. I do not know all the ins and outs, but CP money should support the ministries of the SBC.

3) Is the evangelistic rationale sufficient?

The common refrain from the seminary and its supporters has been that Dr. Patterson made this exception to policy out of a desire to see this young man saved and serving Christ. That is unquestionably a noble goal, but is it either sufficient to ignore policy and is it effective? Will this man either a) become a Christian as a result of his time at SWBTS (hallelujah) or might he b) serve as a bridge builder for SWBTS work in Middle Eastern countries? And regardless of the answers to a) or b), is the exception justified? . This is a legitimate and fair topic for Baptist debate.

4) What’s done is done.

I hope that whatever discussions we have will not cause hurt to this young man or leave a bad taste in his mouth. If what I read is accurate, this young man is 2/3 of the way through his studies and has created no problems. He should be allowed to finish, should be treated with respect and kindness and not embarrassed in any way.

The discussion about whether this is acceptable in the future should be held by Boards of Trustees. Have other schools granted such exceptions? Have such exceptions, which SWBTS admitted to granting in the past, demonstrated the value of the evangelistic purpose.

Any discussion should focus on setting policy for the future, not hurting people for the past.

5) Argue the issue, not the people. 

There are a lot of people who love Dr. Patterson and some…well, not so much. He is a polarizing figure. We must make sure our views are based on biblical truth and solid facts, not on the person involved. If you would excuse Al Mohler or Danny Akin for such a thing, you ought not prosecute Paige Patterson. If you would freak out about another seminary doing this, you ought not excuse SWBTS. All too often, our personal feelings toward particular individuals color our positions on issues.

6) We have a forum for this discussion.

On blogs, we can throw ideas around, but there are ways to register your opinion. I’m sure that Dr. Patterson will be questioned during his presentation time in Baltimore, or perhaps he will address it directly. Any of us can write opinion letters to the Board of Trustees. Entities vary in their openness to outside opinion, but a well-worded, collegial, genial letter to the Board of Trustees can often have some effect. At the convention, I’m sure motions will be offered and resolutions will be presented to address the situation.

And, of course, we can blog about it. As long as our discussion is reasoned and civil, it can have some effect in shaping opinions.

This is a genuine and troubling issue. Should our doctoral programs (or masters, for that matter) admit non-Christian students? Would we care if this was a Jewish student, not a Muslim? What is the policy and what should it be? This is now a forum for you to state your views and discuss things.

A Warning about the Discussion

Now, a moment of painful honesty. I have not been a huge fan of a lot of Dr. Patterson’s actions in recent years – I’ve disagreed with several. I have a tremendous gratitude for his leadership in the CR, but I am not an apologist for Dr. Patterson; there are aspects of his leadership I find troubling. But this is not a forum for people to blast the man. Keep the focus on the policy, please. Also, Wade was once a prominent figure in Baptist blogging, and perhaps even more polarizing than Dr. Patterson. I have no interest in providing a forum for blasting him either. His opinions and words are fair game, as are Dr. Patterson’s actions. But let’s focus on the topic, not the personalities.


  1. Dave Miller says

    Now, in the comments, let me share my preliminary opinion. I do not have a problem with our schools admitting non-Christians. The faculty ought to be inerrantist, high-view of Scripture, Baptist folks, fully and enthusiastically supportive of the BF&M. But having non-Christian students is not threatening to me.

    However, if there is a clear policy against that, then I would be against the president decreeing exceptions to that policy in whatever situations arose. If the BoT acted on this issue and affirmed the exception, I don’t have a huge problem.

    Again, I’m not sure what either SWBTS’ or SBC policy/constitution/bylaws says on the issue. Certainly, the purpose of the seminaries is to train Baptist leaders, but I’m not aware whether that is stated exclusively or not.

    So, for me, the FACT of a Muslim student at SWBTS is not troublesome (providing he is not supported by CP funding) to me, but the METHOD by which he came to be a student gives me some pause.

  2. Jason Sampler says

    Dave, unless the CP funding since I was wrong enrollment summary reports for NOBTS 3-4 years ago, and I doubt it has, Ph.D. students DO COUNT towards CP funding. It’s a part of headcount. That’s why, among other reasons, schools are pushing for increased enrollment in D.Min. programs. More students = more CP money.

    As for enrolling non-Christians, I think B H Carroll was prophetic on his deathbed when he said, “Keep the Seminary lashed to the Cross. If heresy ever comes in the teaching, take it to the faculty. If they will not hear you and take prompt action, take it to the trustees of the Seminary. If they will not hear you, take it to the Convention that appoints the Board of Trustees, and if they will not hear you, take it to the great common people of our churches. You will not fail to get a hearing then.” While I wouldn’t classify admitting non-believers as “heresy”, I do believe it is a clear violation of the school’s purpose and, in that regard, should be taken to trustees, the Convention, and to the churches.

    • Dave Miller says

      I would agree in terms of the professors being “lashed to the Cross.” I’ve not seen that it would fundamentally corrupt the school to have a few non-Christian students.

      I’m open to being convinced.

      • volfan007 says

        I’m not really ready to weight into this one, but I’d dare say that there are lost people in all of our SB Seminaries and State Baptist schools. Don’t you think?

        Also, I know that some Dr. Patterson haters are gonna jump all over this; all because they just don’t like Dr. Patterson. And, that’s a shame.


        • Tarheel says

          I understand what you’re saying Dave..but don’t be too quick to relegate well meaning concern and criticism in with “hating”.

          Plus – If what “haters” say is true – remember- even though thier motives are bad – they can still be right.

          • volfan007 says


            There are many people, out there, who are real haters of Dr. Patterson for a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into now. I’m not saying that every person, who might have concerns about this issue, are haters of Dr. Patterson. But, there are legions, out there, who will jump all over this to try to “fry” Dr. Patterson. That’s the shame of it.


          • Tarheel says

            I would agree with you – and if that’s the motivation it is sad and shameful.

            I respect Patterson greatly despite the disagreements I have with him.

            I’ve seen that same kind of thing toward Mohler and to a smaller extent Aiken. I think some of that comes with the territory. But, I agree it’s still sad.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            I don’t think dismissing this to the word haters is right to do. This is a serious issue and it needs to be addressed on the Convention floor. Non believers and especially Muslims or Mormons or Christian Scientists have no place in our Christian college. If another denomination wants to enroll them, there is nothing I can do as it is not my denomination.

            This is however and to dismiss it as is being done here, with accurate information on Wade Burleson’s blog is the ultimate wrong. If one cannot see why it is wrong I can only drop my mouth open and say evangelism is a poor excuse for this type of enrollment. The SBC is going down fast and Paige has made some terrible decisions which have been overlooked. Hate is not a word I would use, jaw dropping at his lack of common sense and going against what we stand for as Christians and no longer tolerating it may be closer to the truth. My jaw drops at most of these comments as well. If Paige gets a pass on this and it is not discussed it will be just one of many things swept under the rug and it may be time to reevaluate if we are more for corruption and power or common sense and Christian values.

        • John Fariss says

          I am not a “Patterson-hater,” nor have I engaged in bashing him. I do, however, disagree with him on many, MANY issues, and have argued as forcefully as I can on these issues. Furthermore, I have generally agreed with Wade Burleson over the years. However, I have no problem with this Islamic student being in a Ph.D program at SWBTS. After all, as I see it, the best place for any non-Christian is to be is where he will be repeatedly and extensively exposed to Christianity.

          My pastor back home, some 30 years ago, was a trustee at NOBTS. I recall him saying that a large church in New Orleans (I think he said FBC, but am not certain) had at least one paid choir member (a soloist), who had to be a professional musician and meet some pretty rigid criteria. He said that once they hired a singer who was Jewish, and a practicing Jew at that (must not have been an Orthodox Jew). When it became widely known in the congregation, a firestorm erupted. The pastor confronted the situation, and simply asked, “What better place is there for a Jewish man to be on Sunday morning than right behind me when I am preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified?”

          I don’t know if that man ever came to Christ or not. But I do know that under my pastor, the one who told that story, a new Jewish doctor in town started attending. The practice he joined was headed by a church member, as was the lawyer who had a suite in the building (in fact, his father was Dr. Ray Frank Robbins, of NOBTS). He became a Christian! There was a lot that went into his conversion, and it took years. He began life as an Orthodox Jew, but got away from that when he was drafted, went into basic, and was served kosher hot dogs three times a day while everyone else was getting piles of eggs, ham, and so on. There was another milestone when an aged, dying woman was brought into his ER. He told the family there was nothing medically he could do, and that she had only hours to live. The family and her church had a prayer vigil right there, and a week or so later, the woman walked out of the hospital, and it impacted the doctor. And then finally, attending FBC Talladega and singing in the choir there, he made a profession of faith. I don’t know where this young Islamic man is in his pilgrimage; maybe he is nearly ready to cast aside the shackles of his native faith, or maybe he is just ready to move a few steps away from it. But either way, I affirm his presence at a Southern Baptist seminary.


          • Adam Blosser says

            The end does not justify the means. Your pastor was wrong. Churches should not be in the business of hiring non-Christians to participate/lead in Christian worship. Your story does nothing to validate the actions of PP in the current situation.

          • says

            John Fariss,,

            I appreciate your thoughts.

            I thank God for Paige Patterson’s commitment to missions and evangelism, and his combining that with scholarship and archeology.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Tarheel says

            Adam, you are right here.

            I am quite aghast at seeing a rationale made for the hiring of non believers in Christ to leadership within our churches under the auspices of evangelism. Evangelism is obviously biblical and called for but really? Wow, just wow.

            Again, just like the issue we are discovering at SWBTS…this argument just FAILS the common sense test.

          • John Fariss says

            Adam (and Tarheel),
            It’s a free country, and you are certainly free to disagree. I don’t think the pastor was wrong at all. Can you justify from Scripture, and without extensive extrapolating, why he was? So far all you have done is to give your opinion, without any scriptural basis for that–just your opinion. And by the way, you did not read closely what I wrote. The pastor with the paid soloist who was Jewish was not my pastor, but the pastor of a larger-membership New Orleans church whom my pastor knew.


          • Adam Blosser says

            John, there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that a non-Christian can worship God and lead others in doing the same. All of the examples of true worship in Scripture are of true believers worshiping the one true God. Jesus said that those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth. It is beyond me how anyone can justify having a non-Christian lead the church of God in worship.

          • says

            David B.

            Having been in the SBC only a short time, I do not know much about Brother Patterson.

            But i also thank God for Paige Patterson’s commitment to missions and evangelism.

            And if archeology studies is a useful path for our future ministers, then great, I am glad it is there.

            I also think that a seminary is not the place for an unbeliever, although I am sure there are some there.

      • Jason Sampler says


        I’m on vacation this week but I’ll try to make some time to convince you. I think there is a fundamental difference in purpose and acope between a divinity school and a seminary. And until the SBC, as sole owner, permits SWBTS to change its charter, it is a seminary.

        And as for people piling on because it’s Patterson, and they don’t like him, I think that is true (and unfortunate). To me, this is such a fundamental issue that personality should have no sway on the matter. But we both know that won’t happen; we are a polarized convention. And, concerning those in opposition because it is Patterson, I think the inverse is also true. Patterson lovers would decry this action faster than the fried chicken runs out at a Baptist pot luck if Mohler had (secretly) admitted non-Christians to SBTS.

        • Dave Miller says

          And on this issue I am very convincable.

          would love to hear how you distinguish Seminaries and divinity schools.

          • Jason Sampler says

            Dave, I made a case (I think) last night to Todd Littleton. When I get back to the hotel and charge up my (almost dead) phone, I’ll respond.

          • Dave Miller says

            If a) you type a response on a phone and b) the response is not filled with typos, I will be duly impressed.

          • says

            Jason and I did chat about this issue. His grasp of SBC history may be greater than my own seeing he is a recently minted PhD in Baptist History. What I am still chewing on are the distinctions alleged between Divinity School and Seminary. It seems more semantics than real distinction, though Jason may make an important differentiation. Also, he quoted Carroll. I take the rigor BH applied to ferreting out heresy lay with teaching not among students there to learn. Give young students, even old ones, time and a heresy may be uncovered.

            For now I think I am leaning toward Joel Rainey’s position.

            I will be fishing in June. Play nice in Baltimore.

        • cb scott says

          “Patterson lovers would decry this action faster than the fried chicken runs out at a Baptist pot luck if Mohler had (secretly) admitted non-Christians to SBTS.”

          It has been my experience over the last couple of days having had phone conversations with a few guys who are definitely not Calvinists and are very much in the Traditionalist camp to declare that the above quote in not necessarily true. Not by a long shot.

          • says

            I’ll jump in with the folks I know – Jason S., Todd, and CB.

            Dave, I have to agree with Jason Sampler here. We talked about this the other night. My initial thought was along the lines that Todd was saying in that having non-Christians and/or people from other religions present in theological discussions can give a broader background. Many divinity schools throughout America have people from different backgrounds present. Thinking of Duke, Chicago, Yale, Princeton, etc. So, there is precedent.

            However, the purpose of the seminary is to prepare people who are Christians for Christian/gospel ministry. This changes things quite a bit. We are not just talking about theological discussions. We are talking about preparing people for gospel ministry. How do you prepare a Muslim for that? Is a seminary the place for evangelism? It should not be.

            Now, this brings up the question: Has the purpose of SWBTS gone beyond being a seminary? With programs in homemaking and archaeology that do not seem to have a ministry component, one must wonder WHY these programs exist? Which was the whole point that was being brought up about the homemaking program in 2007 or so. The critics of that are the same critics here, in many regards. So, there is consistency.

            If SWBTS is now just a place to discuss theology from different perspectives, that can be a good thing, but the school probably needs to apologize to the moderates that it dismissed years ago. If it is a seminary where Christians are trained in gospel ministry, they how can a Muslim be there to receive a degree? If a Ph.D. in Archaeology is not preparing people for Christian ministry, then one must wonder why SWBTS has the degree to begin with?

            So, it is a matter of purpose, I think.

  3. Nate says

    Regardless of Dr. Patterson’s motives for sharing the gospel, what would this do to our seminaries if all programs are suddenly open to those who aren’t feeling led by the Holy Spirit to pursue ministry and aren’t vetted by their churches. And why not have Professors (teaching Archaeology, for example) who aren’t Christians. This is a very slippery slope.

    Sorry Dave, going to have to disagree with you about the purpose of seminaries and who should be admitted.

    • Dave Miller says

      I don’t think we disagree as to the Purpose of seminaries. I’m only speaking of a random exception now and again.

  4. Tarheel says

    Is it also true that there are practicing Momons enrolled there as well?

    I disagree, Dave. I do not think that SBC seminaries should be enroll practicing members of Cults and false religions …. It just doesn’t pass the “common sense” test.

    Liberal Arts Christian College is different…but seminary is advanced denominational theological training and it just makes common horse sense that such training be limited to practicing Christians.

    Mormons are serious about establishing themselves as “mainstream” and a “Christian denomination”…..seems to me that this might aid them in that endeavor.

    Well, hey I guess some might say – when your enrollment numbers take a nosedive….gotta do what ya gotta do….

  5. says

    This man, a non-Christian, wants to study archaeology at a Christian institution of higher learning. As he is obviously not part of an SBC church, he will not receive “subsidized” tuition via the Cooperative Program. He will pay the full cost for Ph.D. studies as would any other non-SBC student. He has caused no problems.

    I honestly don’t see the problem here. In fact, I applaud Dr. Patterson for thinking beyond tribalism and seeking to engage non-Christians at the highest level of academia–and in a way that will foster peace, and also the opportunity to share the Christian Gospel with new friends.

    Here in the Baltimore area (where many of you are coming in just a few weeks), we have developed a fantastic working relationship with some in the Muslim community. They know what we believe, and they know we would love for them to believe it too. Yet we continue to build relationship and get to know one another in a way that drives us into deeper conversations along these lines as deeper friends. I cannot speak for Dr. Patterson or SWBTS, but I would suspect this admission was made with similar, if not identical, dispositions in view. If I’m right, then we are seeing Dr. Patterson’s passion for both understanding and reaching the world. I am glad he admitted this gentleman, and I’m equally thankful he hasn’t caved to the pressure of reversing that decision simply because it makes a few folks nervous. You don’t reach the world by separating yourself from it at the DOCTORAL level.

    With all this happening just prior to the SBC Baltimore, my prayer is that Southern Baptists will not show up in our city and make an unnecessary and divisive scene that we who live here locally will have to explain to our friends. Dave, I agree with what you have stated here, and I hope all Southern Baptists are listening.

    • Tarheel says

      Joel, your comments are helpful, you’ve got a perspective that’s important.

      However, I don’t think I agree though that enrolling cult members and those who adhere to a false religion is wise. Like I said it seems to go against common sense. Lending cred to them is a concern I have as well.

      Also, I question if we’re not opening ourselves up to lawsuits regarding civil rights if we compromise – nevermind how small – our distinctiveness like this (opening up seminaries to people outside of our faith).

      Remember Christian business owners (photographers, bakers, hobby lobby) are being told that since they serve the public and aren’t exclusive they lose the right to preserve thier beliefs….Catholic hospitals and schools are being told the same with regard to abortion services.

      Just seems to be unwise given the legal perils toward free religious rights these days.

      • says

        Tarheel, I understand your concerns about unintentionally legitimizing worldviews that are not in sync with what we believe, and doing it by granting degrees. But at the Ph.D. level, there is virtually no threat of this. And, my main concern is that this issue doesn’t become a major point of discussion in Baltimore. Its exactly the kind of thing that could tear at the fabric of what we who live in and near this city have worked so long and hard to build.

        As for the legal issues, I hear you, but at the same time believe we need to be less concerned with those issues, and more concerned with our primary mandate. If I can ever figure out who you are, I’d love to meet you in Baltimore. 😉

        • Dale Pugh says

          Joel, my understanding is that there will be a big reveal party! Tarheel is going to unmask himself. I won’t be there, but I can hardly wait!

          • says

            Sorry. I can’t share a meal with someone with that level of profanity on their clothing. 😉 Go Tigers!

        • Adam Blosser says

          Joel, I hear what you are saying concerning your fear that the SBC annual meeting leave the people in and around Baltimore with a bad taste in their mouth. However, the SBC annual meeting is for doing the business of the convention. This, of course, is the business of the convention. Would you prefer we keep SBC meetings in the South?

    • says


      It is precisely because we will be in non SBC territory in a few days that I doubt the wisdom of this action. The timing is bad. It will be fresh on our minds and will be a hot topic in Baltimore, and as you point out we don’t need that.

      • volfan007 says

        It just seems kind of funny to me, as well, that this young man has already been at Southwestern for 2 years, and this is just now being talked about….just weeks before heading to the SBC.

        That just seems kind of funny to me. Why was this issue not being talked about 2 years ago? 1 year ago? 3 months ago? Why all of a sudden has this become a big issue to be blogged about?



      • says

        D.L., there is a really simple way for it to NOT become a hot topic in Baltimore……don’t bring it up from the floor. If you or anyone else have concerns, raise them with the respective SWBTS trustee[s] in your state and take it from there.

        • says

          I was speaking generically, I will not be going to Baltimore. Having said that you are of course absolutely correct and that is good counsel on this or any issue. However I am not optimistic that it will not be brought up. Having been at every annual meeting between 66 and 93 plus several since then i have been around the block to many times to feel it will be ignored. I am not saying that is good, just saying that is reality.

          My point still remains the timing is bad for this action.

          • volfan007 says

            Wade Burleson said that he’s gonna raise the issue at Baltimore… from the floor.

          • William Thornton says

            It’s a trustee matter. One hopes that all of our entity trustees have enough wherewithal not to be intimidated into not exercising supervision over entity heads, whatever their stature.

            If in Baltimore he gets to a mic to question PP, PP has already answered and need only give the same answer. There will be no discussion. If he makes a motion it will be referred or ruled out of order. If he offers a resolution it will not be returned to the floor and I’d speculate that there aren’t enough votes to bring it back.

          • says

            William T

            I think you are on target with your evaluation. It will not be discussed beyond presentation. However, my concern is that it will be a flash point for the press who will certainly “headline” with it. It will be another Disney. Am I wrong?

          • Dave Miller says

            I think, William Thornton, that you may have manifested a prophetic gift here.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            My hope is that the press will run with it. They should and will. That’s Paige’s fault, our fault for not addressing it and overlooking it. Let the Press have a field day, we deserve it.

          • says

            As far as “overlooking it” is concerned, this is the first i have heard of this. Have i had my head in the sand? How about others? Did you know about this before these recent posts?

      • Ann says


        I agree completely that you don’t win the world by separating yourself from it at the level of doctoral studies. It’s hard to argue against much of anything in your post, as written. But your post ignores the number of students on campus at SWBTS that are there for the STATED PURPOSE of serving as missionaries in restricted Muslim countries. The Islamic Studies division and International Studies programs are full of them. It is naive to assume that in a student population as small as SWBTS’ has become that this man will have no contact whatsoever with those students.

        • says

          Thanks for your comment Ann. I completely understand that concern. That said, if what I’ve written is truly hard to argue against (and some would tell you it is easy to argue against. :) ) then perhaps the issue here shouldn’t be whether a Muslim can study at the Ph.D. level in a Christian seminary, but whether we might need to revisit our missiology relative to the 10/40 window. I don’t have the time to open that can today–and also believe it to be a separate, if closely connected question. But if as a western follower of Jesus I can’t have a relationship with Muslims here that is consistent with my relationship with them there, I think that may raise a few legitimate questions about my approach. I have struggled for years with the concept of “sneaking around” on the mission field, and while I don’t have the time to go into detail, I can tell you from experience that there are simply better and more effective ways to bring the Gospel to our Muslim friends on BOTH sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The whole concept of the “closed country” is something that, more and more everyday, my experiences tell me is a myth. They may be closed to a 200 year old approach to modern missions, but as one who has been there, I can tell you they are NOT closed to the Gospel.

          Again, another subject for another day. Perhaps we can deal with that question in a future post here, but for now, I wanted to affirm that I have in fact considered the security of our IMB personnel in this question. Thanks again for your response.

          • volfan007 says


            I have wondered about the same thing concerning “sneaking around” to do mission work. It’s almost like we’re lying to these countries, just to sneak in and make converts in their countries.

            I don’t know….I just have questions about this, as well.


          • Tarheel says

            Wow Joel! I’d love to read your detailed opines on that! Please blog on that soon . Seriously.

          • Rick Patrick says

            It’s not “almost” like we’re lying to those countries. If we tell them we are “businessmen” or “teachers” but we are really “missionaries” then we are guilty of bearing false witness. I have always assumed that everybody was fine with “the end justifies the means” on this. That’s at least how I have rationalized it for all these years.

            So… if “the end of evangelism justifies the means of violating a rule” when it comes to the work of our missionaries, then why would this same principle not apply equally to the work of our Seminary Presidents?

    • says


      I am all for engaging Muslims at the highest levels. I love what Bob Roberts, you, and others are doing. We have had Muslims in our church and have been in dialogue wherever we can as well. My questions simply involve the purpose of our Baptist seminaries in preparing people for gospel ministry.

      Perhaps it would be helpful to separate degree programs out according to which ones are gospel ministry oriented and which ones can have people from other backgrounds admitted to foster dialogue and influence? And, if that happens, then we would need to ask if those non-ministry degree programs/classes can then have female professors since they are not training people for ministry but are opening up programs for people from different backgrounds to allow for dialogue.

      Again, I see your point here and it is a good one. But, is that what the seminary is supposed to do? If it is, then ok. If it isn’t, but Patterson wants to do it anyway, then perhaps he should segment the seminary out into ministry and non-ministry degrees/tracks?

      • Mark J. says

        Alan, are you sure that this non-Christian student pays full tuition? How can you be sure he did not just get a full ride presidential scholarship like so many friends and students connected to PP do? A year ago or so, a student told me he got a tuition free presidential scholarship because his brother happened to go to Southeastern when PP was president. Another friend of mine said he gets a presidential scholarship because he and his mother used to attend FB Dallas when Criswell and PP were there. Actually, I would be very surprised if this student could afford to pay full tuition on his own.

  6. Tom Stowe says

    I appreciate the desire to preserve the overarching thrust of the SBC seminaries – that is, training church leaders and servants. However, should the SBC fail to recognize this Muslim’s presence at SWBTS as a potentially divine opportunity to expose him to Jesus and evangelize him with the Gospel, then that is to your shame. Sure, policies exist to maintain structure and regulate the entity in accordance with its mission, purpose, and directives, but “presidential fiat” (as Dave called it) ought to be trusted, especially when this is a rare circumstance (4 times total over the years). Aren’t Southern Baptists able to extend latitude in these situations for the express purpose of allowing leaders to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit? I disagree with Dr. Patterson on many things; in fact, I would go so far as to say he truly disgusts me in his poor treatment of people over the years for political purposes. Yet, I celebrate his evangelistic heart in giving this Muslim student exposure to Gospel truth and Christian influence. I pray he is loved into the Kingdom.

    • Dave Miller says

      Debbie, feel free to opine on the issues. However, you’ve probably expressed enough outrage (outrage is not argument) and personal disdain for Dr. Patterson.

      Please either join the discussion or not. But more comments like these are not welcome.

    • says

      And this is what will happen at the convention. It is naive to think otherwise.

      I am told it is not proper to attack a persons motivations. I to an extent agree with that. Having said that and at the risk of raising the ire of the moderator, the timing of this revelation sure is suspect.

    • says

      Whether or not Debbie has crossed the line, that is a matter for David to decide…however, Debbie is right when she says the secrecy or as I say any back room meetings must stop.

    • cb scott says


      Let me see if I have this straight. You, Debbie Kaufman, feel that Dr. Patterson and others in leadership at SWBTS are in grave error because they have developed an ongoing relationship with a professing Islamist?

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Um CB, no. As you know I developed a relationship with Muslim 4 years ago. I have Muslims I have worked with, been friends with.

        My objection is him being allowed to be a student at a Southern Baptist seminary, whether the program is to train missionaries, pastors or not. My objection is it was done is deep secrecy with the threat of firing if it were let out. My objection is that we have missionaries who minister to Muslims at the risk of their lives, and do not reveal their names due to it, yet Muslims and Mormons are free to be accepted at SWBTS(in secret you understand).

        Other Christians were not admitted or fired due to supposed strict theological standards, yet those who don’t even believe Christ is who he said he is, that there is only one way to salvation, are not Christian, but Muslim and Mormon are accepted and we are to be aok with that. These are my objections.

        • cb scott says

          Thanks for clearing that up, Debbie Kaufman. And yes, you did make it clear that it was done in secrecy. I thank you for your complete transparency.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          This is so serious in my view, on top of all other things that have occurred and were very wrong, that although my church will continue, I am no longer a part of the SBC.

          • dr. james willingham says

            Dear Debby: If you had lived through as many conflicts and mistreatments as I have and found out that things on the outside are not only not better, there not even as good, as things on the inside, you would hang in there. So please realize, this is really like the life of a Christian, one of suffering and conflict no matter which way one turns. We will fuss and discuss, but eventually it will come out in the wash as the old saying is. It is like hoeing a long row of cotton all growed up in weeds and grass due to rains, etc. The only way to get that row hoed is to just simply to keep at it, if it takes all day or several days. Otherwise, you will lose all that you have invested across so many years.

          • Max says

            “It is like hoeing a long row of cotton all growed up in weeds and grass due to rains, etc. The only way to get that row hoed is to just simply to keep at it, if it takes all day or several days.”

            And sometimes in your Christian journey, Dr. Willingham, you have to stop hoeing, stand erect, and look the landscape over. “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand” (Prov 8:1-2).

            While Debbie and I disagree on certain theological matters, it appears that we have both reached the end of our row in SBC life. While Christians should expect “suffering and conflict” at the hand of the world, it should not be an accepted course within the church. Southern Baptists will always fuss about something … until the Lord starts doing the “washing” (and He will). I don’t know Debbie’s age, but I am a seasoned veteran of life with 50+ years in SBC ranks. I hear wisdom calling like never before. Time to get alone with the Lord, out of the SBC noise, and seek His face for the last chapter of life.

            Debbie – what we have invested for in our relationship with Christ will never be lost; what we have invested in “religion” would have perished any way.

          • says


            I am not Dr. Willingham, but let me say that i am sorry that your experience has been so negative. I am also in 50+ years as a SB ordained minister. I can identify with the autumn of life and the opportunities still out there for me. I have not always been happy but I suppose I will finish life within the SB family. While it is not perfect it is still the best mission agency around.

            The liberals took it away from us and we got in back beginning in 1979. That is my hope for today. In the past strong Godly voices have prevailed and I believe they will continue. I hate to see a Godly voice leave when we need them so badly.

            I trust that God will greatly bless you with whomever you fellowship.

          • dr. james willingham says

            Dear Max: I wrote a reply, but it was put somewhere above. I was not implying that you had left the Lord or any such thing as that, but see me answer above, if you can find it. In any case, going out for me was a learning experience. I found the outside to a degree worse than the inside. At least inside one can find friends and support, and one can even come to appreciate those who do not agree with one’s own theology. Whitefield and Wesley, D.L. Moody and C.H. Spurgeon, as well as others have set the example for us.

          • says


            I can understand your frustration. However it is my and your convention. I refuse to let it be taken away from me because of the actions of some. There are a lot of people, like me, who are not movers and shakers, and who do not want to be. We want to serve the Lord and advance His gospel and we are the majority. There is a lot of good within the convention. While I have a deep respect for your walk with the Lord I would encourage you to hang in there, and let your voice be heard.

          • Tarheel says

            Amen, DL and JW!

            Tge wisdom and gentleness of you both become more and more evident with every post you fellas make. Thank you for your example.

            God bless you sirs!

  7. says

    I usually do not like the “common sense” argument partly because of the plethora of rebuttal. However, here perhaps an exception can be made. This just seems to be wrong. There are many schools that the student could attend to study. Hence he would not be denied an education. With today’s climate this will bring a needless controversy to a Convention that is already embroiled in controversy. This is my “well mannered” response.

    In truth I believe our seminaries should maintain our distinctive. It is another step toward leaving our Baptist heritage and that greatly disturbs me. When a wagon gets rolling it is hard to stop.

    I am neither a fan nor critic of Dr. Patterson. I do no spend much time thinking about him. I do not have all the facts, but if what I hear is true he overstepped the bounds of his office greatly.

  8. Dale Pugh says

    I think one really has to consider the student’s motivation for coming to SWBTS. It isn’t like the archaeology program there is a top-tier research program at this point (spoken as a former master’s level student in that specific program). It appears that he developed some strong relationships with professors at SWBTS. That’s a good thing, and I’m sure that they have shared a strong witness with him over the past few years.

    That being said, I don’t agree with the exception to the rules here. I have no opinion on the personalities involved. I wonder where Burleson got his info about the rumblings on campus? Has he had personal conversations with people in Ft. Worth? Is there not one disgruntled individual who is willing to go on record as being disgruntled? Are people really that spineless?

    Everything about the application process is geared toward ministry. In my opinion, only those preparing for vocational ministry should be accepted at any of our seminaries. What happens when a vocal atheist applies, even though he or she fills all other requirements for admission? Do we admit them in order to evangelize them? Sorry, but I happen to think that’s unacceptable.

  9. William Thornton says

    PP’s explanation sounds reasonable to me. Most college presidents have some discretionary admits that they can exercise (and he stated he had done this a few times over decades). If PP did not violate trustee policy or did not have some authority to make certain exceptional admits, I would expect some word from the trustees in his support. If it were the case that PP violated policy without approval I would expect some backroom conversations.

    What is more troubling is this (quote from WB): ” In a faculty meeting in 2012, Dr. Patterson warned anyone who questioned him about Muslims being admitted into Southwestern, or anyone who was disloyal to him and discussed this matter with others not associated with Southwestern would be terminated. Dr. Patterson went on to explain that “it is not necessary to be a Christian” to enroll in Southwestern’s Ph.D. program.

    This raises the question that if the matter was above board and legitimate, why the threats?

    WB does some very good blogging. In this case, I’m afraid he is rather shrill even if he raises a good point.

    • Dave Miller says

      I would want that information corroborated by a source without an ax to grind against Patterson.

      In fact, what little information I got (and it was little) led me to believe that very little was known about this and that students were in anything but the uproar described.

      This kind of “insider” information has been notoriously inaccurate in the past and therefore I chose not to respond to that. I kept my article focused on that which has been verified as true.

  10. dr. james willingham says

    What is really coming down the pike is dissatisfaction with the leadership with our present Southern Baptist leadership. Look at it this way: We have the admission of a none Christian student to the doctoral program at SWBTS, we have the present heads of two institutions in Georgia who have no connection to the past of Southern Baptists and one of them has the audacity to attack the founding theology (reading a few secondary sources and misunderstanding a few primary sources while totally ignoring the main sources) of the SBC, we have an ethical commission where four or five are hired who have no connection with Southern Baptists, another hired at lifeway who attended another denomination supposedly because he thought immersion was a contentious issue, we have professors who were bounced out of an invitation due to their theology (the founding theology), we have in addition to the admission of a student who is a Muslim to a doctoral program in our seminary other issues in the past at SWBTS, we have at SBTS support being rendered to a person who had or has his own denomination and who gets invited to our seminaries to speak (at least two of them) and whose organization is facing a legal case over covering up the sexual abuse of children, we have a totally ignoring of older Southern Baptists to take in folks not even Southern Baptists (when the older ones have more and better training), we have one bounced from a seminary which means we will not get the information on an Alumni and his wife (veterans of WWII)(and the wife won the fellow who supervised her torture to Christ and Margaret Mitchell the author of Gone With The Wind) which ought to be a part of the Archives of the seminary from which they graduated, we have young officials with our schools who don’t mind in the slightest insulting and offending long time supporters of the Cooperative Program which pays their salaries, we have, but why continue. The litany of complaints is far greater than I could record in multi volumes of books. What it portends, as Baptists become more and more dissatisfied with the leadership, is that the rank and file will demand a change, and they will vote accordingly. Some of our leaders know neither the genius nor the hard facts of Southern Baptists and their origins. Just consider the example of one who is advocating getting rid of the local association and its DOMS/missionaries. And if they don’t need the local association, they will soon think of reasons to do away with the state conventions and the folks employed there. The main thing some want is the money flowing their way without let or hindrance, a big case of pure greed and money grubbing.

    Meanwhile, standing in the wings are others ready to take our place as the leaders of biblical faith in America. I asked my daughter who she thought was now the leading denomination in our state from what the tv was now saying, and she immediately named the denomination that is most in the news (usually good, sometimes bad, but primarily that denomination and that alone in this state, second to Southern and North Carolina Baptists. There is more, but this discussion ought to get down to basics, deal with realities (not personalities), and ask why our leaders are doing things like those mentioned above? Why? And who do they think they are in so doing?

  11. Ron F. Hale says

    Stirring up a hornet’s nest and declaring that this issue will be brought up on the SBC floor in Baltimore means a lot of people are going to get stung. This Muslim PhD student must be stinging already realizing his name and face is being shoved into the spotlight. Let’s say that he does come to Christ–now he is a big target to be killed. New believers in Muslim communities/families are being killed every week.

    It can’t be healthy for Pastor Wade Burleson to be carrying and nursing this grudge for so many years against Dr. Patterson. Pastor Wade–just give it to the Lord.

    I’ve heard a dozen stories over the years of Dr. Patterson witnessing and winning people to Christ–I’m just going to take him at his word on this one.

    • Ann says


      Thank you for stating so clearly that you are more concerned for the future safety of this one student than you are for the future safety of dozens of other current students and their families, who are also presently at SWBTS preparing to serve in restricted Muslim countries.

      • Ron F. Hale says

        It is possible that you read more into my comment than I actually wrote. Having traveled in some of those areas, and knowing field missionaries for the last 35 years–I have the utmost confidence in our IMB helping guard the safety and secrecy of our wonderful missionary families. Blessings!

  12. says

    You all might be interested in reading
    “Chapter and Verse: A Skeptic Visits Christianity” by Mike Bryan.
    This was when Dr. Paige Patterson allowed a skeptic to enroll in Criswell College when Patterson was president there.
    I purchased a copy at the 1991 SBC in Atlanta, Georgia.

    This does not surprise me at all. Dr. Paige Patterson passionately believes in evangelism. He believes Christ died for all and all are within reach of the Gospel.
    That would include a special case of a Muslim desiring to learn about Christianity from the inside.
    While Patterson would certainly not recommend him as a “Christian” PhD graduate, a non-Christian can get a degree from a Christian school. And a non-Christian in such a setting just might find Christ as Savior.

    Also, many Christians have gotten degrees from non-Christian schools.

    Paige Patterson is a hero of the SBC Conservative Resurgence. But he is willing to take risks and do unexpected things to proclaim the Gospel to all.
    David R. Brumbelow

  13. Jason Sampler says

    If this was a good idea, why did it take 150 years of SBC seminary existence for someone to (secretly) come up with the idea of admitting non-believers?

    • cb scott says


      SBC seminaries “openly” admitted non-believers as students and “hired” non-believers as faculty and staff and maybe an administrator or two for years prior to the CR and you well know it.

      During my tenure at SEBTS we had a multitude of non-believers as students. Many (not all, sadly) were saved during chapel services, some of which Dr. Patterson preached himself.

      Strangely enough, upon a couple of occasions when seminary students were saved, there were a few folks who argued that they should be put out of seminary because they entered seminary lost and without a true call. I know a couple of those guys who were saved at seminary who are serving effectively in the Kingdom’s work today.

      • Jason Sampler says

        CB, the CR was before my time so I did not well know such a practice existed. And if was going on them, it’s as wrong as it is now.

      • says

        Being the old timer that I am I remember the CR and well before. I did not know that the seminaries hired non believers as faculty. Had I have known that I would have been real upset.

        Thank you (I think??) for that info.

        • Tarheel says

          Ditto, DL.

          CB, isn’t a person who enrolls thinking and professing to be a believer but realized in chapel he was lost and saved a completely different “animal” than one who is admitted while openly practicing a false religion (islam) or part of a religious cult and false religion (Mormonism) ??

          Surely you see that? I think there’s a pretty obvious difference.

          • cb scott says


            My comment was in reference to my friend Jason’s concern about non-believers being in the seminary/seminaries.

            Your “different animal” comment is correct. However, there was a time when lost people worked at seminaries as well as other SBC entities.

            I remember an administrator at one of our missions entities declaring we did not need to preach the gospel to Jews.

            We have had employees who did not declare the exclusivity of Christ regarding the way of salvation.

            At least in this situation it seems that all parties involved realize the student in question is lost and hopeless without Christ and Christ alone. There was a time in our history that that would not have been the case across the board.

      • says

        Are you saying….(1) Seminaries hired professors who when hired professed to be saved but discovered later that they were not in fact saved or (2) the seminaries hired professors who made no claim of being a believer?
        My question is extremely important to me because like Tarheel said these are different situations.

        • cb scott says

          D.L. Payton,

          I am saying we have had professors in the past who lied and got hired. Later their true positions on salvation, the Bible, the Virgin Birth, and other absolutes of the faith became evident.

          • says

            With respect to your sharp mind and experience, what you have described here is a far cry from knowingly “hiring non believers”. There is room to argue I suspect, that a man who would be this dishonest is not really born-again. However you statement leaves the impression that the seminaries hired professors who professed not to profess faith in Christ. This is misleading at best.

          • cb scott says

            D.L. Payton,

            Forgive my confusing statements. I did not say seminaries “knowingly” hired non-believers.

            My statement was: “SBC seminaries “openly” admitted non-believers as students and “hired” non-believers as faculty and staff . . . .”

            I meant seminaries did “knowingly” (openly) admit lost people as students.

            I meant lost people were hired as faculty and staff. Whether that was done “knowingly” or not, I do not know for sure. However, it did become evident later that some hires were not born again, followers of Christ.

          • says

            Forgive me for pressing this issue I know the hour is late. One more question please. Are you saying that seminaries openly hired faculty knowing that they were not believers?

          • cb scott says

            D.L. Payton,

            I stated in the above comment the following:

            “I meant lost people were hired as faculty and staff. Whether that was done “knowingly” or not, I do not know for sure. However, it did become evident later that some hires were not born again, followers of Christ.”

            Whether the hiring of lost faculty was done “knowingly” is something I do not know.

          • says

            I have a great concern about what you are either saying or implying. I apologize for the word “knowingly”. Let’s scratch that from the equation. You said, “SBC seminaries ‘openly’ hired….non believers as faculty ….for years prior to the CR. This leaves a negative impression any way you word smith it. You may be saying that prior to the CR we hired people who thought they were saved but were not in fact so. The impression you leave is that AFTER the CR this has no longer happened. I find that difficult to believe. The impression I got however, was that these professors were hired while knowing no profession of faith had been made. The word “openly” was the operative word in that assumption.

            The word “openly” suggest intention. When you later said you do not know if it was done knowingly you leave the impression that you think it could have been done so.
            If these hires are people who thought they were saved but later discovered that they were not, this could be said about pastors, deacons, anyone in any area of SB life. When you relegate it to seminaries pre CR there is the definite impression of intentionality or at least carelessness that was corrected post CR.
            Dr. Scott, this is a serious accusation. A man in your position must be extremely careful making such statements. You are the pace setter. Set the bar high for the rest of us to follow. I expect carelessly worded statements from various circles, I do not expect them from college VPs.

          • cb scott says

            D.L. Payton,

            The word “openly” was in reference to students. I tried to be specific in the distinction between students and faculty. I think that was plain in my first comment. Here it is again:

            “SBC seminaries “openly” admitted non-believers as students and “hired” non-believers as faculty and staff . . . ”

            The word “openly” in the above statement is in reference to students, not faculty.

            Seminaries have openly/knowingly admitted students who were lost in the past.

            Regarding faculty and staff I am stating lost people were hired as faculty and staff. Whether that was done openly/knowingly, I do not know.

  14. says

    Thanks David W., for posting the link to Patterson’s response.

    This incident sounds like vintage Patterson and if anything, gives me a more positive view of SWBTS.

    I do not worry at all about the question coming up at the SBC; Patterson would be happy to answer it as he has already done below.

    My only concern would be for the student who might feel very uncomfortable being made an issue.
    And Patterson probably wanted to protect him from this becoming a media circus.

    I thought it might be helpful to some to list the entire brief statement below.

    By Keith Collier on May 16, 2014
    Patterson responds to questions regarding Muslim student at Southwestern
    Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson responded to recent questions regarding a Muslim student studying at the seminary. He acknowledged that a Palestinian Muslim man was allowed to enroll in the school’s Ph.D. program in archaeology.
    “For several years, Southwestern Seminary has operated a dig at Tel Gezer in Israel,” Patterson said. “During that time we have been joined in the effort by around 20 of our own students and about 60 students from secular schools and religious schools. We have had both Israelis and Muslims.
    “One of these young men from a Muslim background loved our people and asked to study with us. He accepted the necessity of abiding by our moral code of conduct. He is a man of peace, and we agreed to admit him into the archeology program.”
    Patterson said he has made similar exceptions on rare occasions during his presidencies at Southwestern, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Criswell College. He estimated having done so four or five times in his nearly 40 years of academic administration. His intention for the exceptions each time, including this one, was based on a desire to see these individuals understand the good news of Jesus Christ.
    “This man’s progress has been good,” Patterson said, “and we are especially grateful for the close relations that have been forged with peaceful Muslims and the opportunities that we have had to share biblical truths with them. In all of this there is not even a hint of compromise of our historic position.” -swbts.edu

    David R. Brumbelow

    • Dave Miller says

      Feeding into my self-pitying theory that people jump into the comments without reading the post – the link to Patterson’s response was in my post as well, guys.

      • says

        I read every word of your post before I ever made a comment.
        But I did not follow the link until I noticed David W. giving it.

        So, thanks to David M. and David W. for providing the link to Paige Patterson’s response.
        David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            No problem. I did not mean to sound smart aleck, etc.
            Another problem is after reading everything it’s easy to forget who said what.
            But I appreciate both of you linking to Patterson’s response.
            David R. Brumbelow

    • Ann says

      David Brumbelow,

      If this genuinely gives you “a more positive view of SWBTS,” and if now your only concern “would be for the student who might feel very uncomfortable being made an issue” then let me be the first to thank you for your honesty and for declaring that your feelings of personal loyalty towards Dr. Patterson take precedent over your concern for the safety of our IMB personnel and their families in Muslim countries.

      I can only pray that at least a handful of SWBTS trustees will prove to be less myopic than you have declared yourself to be.

      • volfan007 says


        Who are you? You sound like someone with an axe to grind against Dr. Patterson.


          • volfan007 says

            I don’t know Ann. She is anonymous. You and I….on the other hand….are not anonymous. So, how can I have an ax to grind against Ann when I don’t even know who she is?


        • Ann says

          Actually David, many times over I’ve agreed with him 100%. There have been times I’ve not agreed with something he has said or done, too. But I’m not going to let my feelings towards him, my gratitude for what he did to bring about the CR, or any other thing related to his person or personality cloud my judgment on this particular issue. He could be my own father and I’d disagree with this decision.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Thank you, Ann, for your clear vision of the possible consequences of such actions. A friend last night asked me, “Whatever happened to the requirement that a Baptist Church had to recommend a student for the seminary.” He had been, and I had been. I dare say most who read this and who attended seminary had a letter of recommendation. Now what church recommended a fellow who says that there is no God but Allah and scares our missionaries into taking off their badges?

        • says

          It is my understanding that if you want seminary financial assistance from the SBC Cooperative Program, then you need to let them know you are a Southern Baptist and have a letter of recommendation from your church.

          However, if you are not Southern Baptist, you can still attend a SBC seminary, but you would pay full price.

          I could be wrong, but I think through the years many non-Southern Baptists have attended and graduated from SBC seminaries. I don’t see any scandal here. And it is good publicity for the SBC.
          David R. Brumbelow

          • Adam Blosser says

            David, there is a clear difference between admitting non-SBs and admitting non-Christians.

          • says

            One of my greatest experiences as a student at ETBU was having a part in leading a Muslim student to Jesus Christ.
            I’m glad they allowed Muslims to attend a Southern Baptist school.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Adam Blosser says

            David, praise God!

            Certainly you are not suggesting that the end justifies the means though. What if Dr. Patterson shared the gospel with a young man at a bar while the two drank a beer and the man was saved? Would you then recommend that evangelism strategy?

  15. John Cornish says

    I think the bigger issue here is not what was done but how it was done. If this decision was made with accountability to the board of trustees and whoever else is responsible for admissions policies at SWBTS, then this is really a non-issue, even though I personally find it to be a risk to current and future IMB personnel.

    However, my experience (six years as a SWBTS Masters and Doctoral student) is that a lot of harm has been done because Dr. Patterson has a strong tendency to make unilateral decisions, notably when it comes to hiring and firing of personnel. This has caused a lot of pain for many former faculty and students, including myself (was offered a faculty position upon graduation, only to have it painfully rescinded a year later when Dr. Patterson found out my wife had been divorced out of an abusive marriage 10 years earlier). Much of this pain could have been avoided had there been any sort of effective presidential accountability in place (the trustees popping into town twice a year really doesn’t accomplish this).

    The SBC has theoretically established a system of accountability by which our institutions must be governed, less complete and final authority fall into the hands of one man. Sadly, this system seems currently to be either ineffective or disregarded at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  16. Dave Miller says

    I have two informational questions here today. I really don’t know the answers:

    1) Does any form of policy or settled tradition grant a seminary president the authority to make such exceptions to policy?

    2) Is this kind of thing done regularly? Do Mohler and Kelley and Akin do this kind of thing regularly as well?

    In other words, are we going to find out that this kind of thing has been going on for a long time in a lot of seminaries?

      • says


        These are the two key questions that you have asked here. Thanks for asking them. Until we get answers to these critical questions, it is really difficult to reach a settled conviction on this matter.

        • says


          Shouldn’t all of us know the answer to question one? Private discussions with Dr. P and the trustees is fine. We need not be privileged to that discussion. But, whatevere the policy and tradition is regarding this issue should be public. The people who pays the bills ought to know what the policy I regarding allowing non-Christians to attend our seminaries. Certainly the SBC subsidizes the salaries of this Muslim student archaeology professors. Therefore, we have a right to know if our policies permit the admission of a Muslim student. If the policy permits this, then this is a non issue. If the policy does not permit this, then we need to address this matter very seriously.

          It would be interesting–if nothing more than a matter of curiosity–what are the policies, practices, or pattern at the other seminaries regarding this issue. Rick, you are correct: what the other seminaries do or not do on this subject should not ultimately. determine SWBTS policy should be; but it is wise and helpful to know how other like-minded entities have dealt with the same or simular issues.

          • Rick Patrick says


            I agree with you. After the Trustees explore this matter with Dr. Patterson privately, they should make any revised policies or clarifications about non-Christian enrollment exceptions public knowledge. I think we deserve to know the outcome. I just don’t think we should address the problem solving in a committee of the whole in Baltimore in front of three thousand people.

          • dr. james willingham says

            Dear Brother McKissic: Our trustee system, when the trustees are appointed that the head of the institution can control, allows for the head to be a dictator. He has power to take unilateral action. SEBTS, for example, was founded out of a set-to between the more liberal professors at SBTS and the President at that time (his name escapes me for the moment, but a friend of mine’s uncle actually financed that president when he went to seminary), and he had the power to bounce them out. That led to the birth of SEBTS. Institutions and structures are the kind of things that control freaks love; they go after them like wolves after a herd of sheep or cattle, because domestic animals don’t know enough to flee. We Baptists know our Bible so poorly that we have yet to understand how its demand for transparency (providing all things honest before all men) off-sets those with control issues.

          • Rick Patrick says

            I may be wrong in my estimate. Consider the stats below. We have more people whenever we are closer to our Southeast base, as in Orlando and New Orleans. We have fewer people whenever we are a greater distance away, as in Phoenix and Houston. Even if we have 4,000 people attending, there may only be 3,000 in the hall at the moment when the seminary report is given and the issue we are discussing might be addressed.

            Orlando in 2010—11,075
            Phoenix in 2011—4,852
            New Orleans in 2012—7,874
            Houston in 2013—5,100
            Baltimore in 2014—4,000????

    • Rick Patrick says

      Question One is a relevant issue for Southwestern Trustees to discuss privately with Dr. Patterson. Basically, this concerns his executive authority in carrying out the policies of the institution. Oversight boards and administrators deal with these sorts of issues all the time.

      Question Two does not seem relevant to me at all. Each President has a different leadership style, approach to executive authority, and manner of doing their work. We do not need centralized expectations or some form of *Supertrustee Board* overseeing all seminaries by applying the same standards for each. As my mother would say, “Young man, I don’t care if all of your friends are doing it or not doing it.” She was right. Whatever other parents allow should not dictate what my parents allow.

      • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says


        Thanks. I appreciate your answer concerning the estimate of the number of potential messengers.

  17. Christiane says

    Out of curiosity, are there any links about what kind of archeological digs are taking place in the Holy Land that involved this young man working with Southern Baptists from SWBTS ?

  18. Doug Hibbard says

    I think it’s pretty obvious, at this point, why Dr. Patterson would have wanted this kept quiet. The storm arising is a big deal.

    My concern is that, if the incident regarding IMB missionaries brought up on Wade Burleson’s blog is accurate, there were people who needed to know but were kept in the dark. While we certainly can hope and pray that everyone who comes into contact with any faculty and students (well, Christian students) at a Southern Baptist seminary should hear the Gospel, we must consider the likelihood that this individual will return home (I understand him to be an international student) and once home, is there a risk that he walks up to a former fellow student or an IMB missionary he met while at SWBTS and says “Hi?”

    There are risks inherent to that meeting. Lives and souls, plural, are at risk if that string of events is accurate–after all, some of those IMB personnel can’t even tell their home church where they serve.

    As a side note: the difference I would see in a seminary and a graduate school is that the seminary explicitly exists to train ministers through graduate learning. Graduate schools exist to teach for whatever purpose the student seeks.

    And having gone to MABTS, my first thought was “How is this guy going to do his practical missions? Isn’t he required to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to one person per week, minimum, as well as participating in Christian ministry outside the local church?” Then I remembered…oh, yeah, not every seminary rolls like that.

    • volfan007 says


      I always appreciated Mid American Baptist Seminary for the requirement of having to witness to at least 1 lost person per week. And, I also appreciated the requirement of doing one practical mission per week…. street preaching, or preaching in the jails and prison, etc. I always thought this was a great thing about Mid America….that, and knowing that every Professor was a Bible believing, inerrantist, who loved Jesus…. especially back in the day when I went to Mid America.


      • Doug Hibbard says

        I think, after several years at MABTS, it became such a natural extension of being a student that I forget other schools don’t require it. Plus, you’re right about the faculty, and knowing they did. I know our previous state convention exec placed the same requirement on ABSC staffers and since our current one is an MABTS grad, I feel confident he has continued it.

        That really was my first thought about this whole thing: how in the world do you enforce the practical missions requirement? And granting an exception for admissions is one thing, but to grant an ongoing one like that? Then it clicked–not a problem at SWBTS.

        Just a side illustration of how important your seminary environment really is. The habits and practices shape your outlook probably more than the textbooks–certainly no less than the books. They might be equal in influence, but I think the environment is the greater half.

  19. dr. james willingham says

    The fact that some our missionaries realized the price that might be paid by them and removed their identification tags tells me that someone has not given enough thought to this issue. I read Mr. Burleson’s posts and found that they were more reasonable than emotional, allowing for some emotional responses due to frustration. After all, when one gets ignored or explained way or buried in oblivion, it does tend to provoke irritation. Mr. Burleson did stop one fellow who got carried away, one who has had his reins jerked up short on this blog, too.

    Dave, I think your response was more out of a let down from the failure at SWBTS. Mr. Burleson’s real failures came in his personal replies to you. However, I do have to admit that he, too, was writing out of a pique at being ignored, explained away, and buried in oblivion. Gentlemen, welcome to the real world of let downs. It is sort of like, when my friend told me that if the grade on my paper on inspiration stood (a C- without a mark), I would be flunked out of the doctoral program at SEBTS back in the Fall of ’74 or the Spring of ’75. I said to my friend, “What did I do? I didn’t attack the professor. In fact, I did not even know his position, etc.” My friend said, “That’s alright. Just go tell him your sorry, and he will pass you with a “B”.” I did, and the professor did. But it did not sit well with me. After all, I had taught Senior Papers at Morehead State in Kentucky, two years of U.S. History at South Carolina State, and delivered a lecture at an afternoon lecture series. Why such a flap over a reference in a footnote (Yep, you read it right: a reference in a footnote, where such things belong).

    One of the realities I came to face is that of elitism: The “I know what is best, and we will do it my way or the highway.” Elitism, I fear, is not limited to the Moderates (they had some, but not all). Conservatives have some, but, hopefully, not all. The more I studied the issue, the more I came to realize that real Christianity is egalitarian, and this egalitarianism is not the same as that promoted, provided, and produced by socialism, whether Fabian or Marxian. In any case, you fellows are not that far apart. We all choose to express our frustrations in rather abrasive ways. Stop and think about it. We all feel betrayed, when such a faux pas occurs. It is sort of like the hound who has his tail or leg stepped on. He is liable to respond with fangs, regardless of relationships. However, we are called to a more conscientious conduct by the agape love of God. Let us get our acts together to see what could be done.

  20. Ann says

    As long as SWBTS has students on campus who are studying to be missionaries in restricted, Muslim countries, this should never happen. It matters not that he is in Ph.D. studies in archaeology and that they are in Islamic studies, International studies, or M.Div. courses. It is foolhardy to put their future lives at risk, even if that is but a slim possibility, just because Dr. Patterson has by fiat declared him to be a “person of peace.” It is patently arrogant to assume that he will be won to Christ merely by being on campus for a few years and rubbing elbows with professors and big game hunters.

    I feel badly for the young man who now finds himself the center of controversy through no real fault of his own. The person who put him there should have known better.

    • says


      Last paragraph….yes, he should have known better. This type of blunder is not becoming to a scholar and high level administrator such as a president of a seminary.

  21. Jess says

    I think Patterson is right in his decision, and a big thing is made out of something insignificant. I think if Baptists can’t find anything to quarrel about we will quarrel with one another. Laugh out loud!!! I think SWBTS is a perfect place for an unbeliever to be. He should be in the company of many witnesses.

    • says


      At this point it seems we are still tying to separate fact from gossip. However, if all or even most of what is alleged is true I would hardly call it “insignificant”.

  22. Dean Stewart says

    I have a conflicting thoughts on this issue. 1) It does seem to be more about taking shots at PP than protecting the seminary. This is based on all my reading on this issue and not just Burleson’s blog. Tribalism is evident in the writing and remarks of some. 2) I believe in giving the president of one of our institutions the ability to lead. Some I have read have no clue how the trustee system of the SBC works. If you don’t trust your president, as trustees you should fire him. 3) Tribalism works both ways. My first thought is to say this is a PHD in archeology program. This is probably about as far removed from traditional seminary work you could be and still be a student. I am tempted to say its no big deal. However, that may be my tribalism speaking. If Dr Mohler admitted a known homosexual based on Presidential privilege I would want him fired.

    Those without an ax to grind (in any doection) will probably call for some action against PP but not dismissal.

    • says


      Your last sentence of the first paragraph May 18, 9:01pm, raises a salient point, namely where does one draw the line? When the door is open things seem to get out of hand before long.

  23. Stephen says

    A broader question might be, if the degree requirements of the archaeology program (or any program at our seminaries) are not Christ-centered and include basic Christian beliefs, why is the program even offered?

    I agree that we need Christian archaeologists, but if we are not teaching a specifically Christian archaeology program, why not send those students to another school where they can gain secular standing within the field?

    • Stephen says

      By the way, I would say the same about other programs. If Mohler had a “Masters in Leadership” that was not about leading people in such a way as to draw them to Christ, I would say scrap that too. Or if a seminary music degree did not prepare students to discern good and bad theology in praise songs or to show how music is used to equip the congregation and to evangelize the lost.

      I am not saying that the archaeology program at SWBTS is not Christ-centered. But if a Muslim can successfully complete the degree requirements…

  24. Rick Patrick says

    Surprising no one, I agree with William that this is a trustee matter that will be quickly dispatched on the convention floor without incident. I also agree with Joel that it really is not that big a deal—as Dave put it, a tempest in a teapot.

    Why? First, this student is getting a Ph.D. in Archaeology—not studying for the ministry. Second, he is not receiving CP funds in any form. Third, some of the other students on campus (such as the undergraduate students at the College at Southwestern) are also not training for the ministry, so the charter requiring Southwestern to train Christian ministers may not always apply in this new era with different academic programs. Fourth, some level of executive authority or Presidential privilege seems reasonable. Perhaps the trustees and Dr. Patterson need to discuss privately a philosophy for dealing with this matter in the future. And fifth, if I ever get accused of scandalous behavior, I hope it concerns my efforts to win the lost to Jesus.

    Publicly second guessing seminary policy and administration is a bad idea. Other seminaries make controversial decisions that can just as easily be questioned publicly. Consider the Southern Seminary Extension in Auburn. This particular center operates differently than other extension centers by utilizing a system described as a “Cohort Program—Not Open To The Public.” Students receiving Cooperative Program support from all of us are absolutely required to be members of Lakeview Baptist Church. I don’t understand why CP funds should support such a restriction on a student’s freedom to join any Southern Baptist Church of their choosing.

    After a time of thinking and praying about this, if I cannot overlook it, I may write a letter to the Southern trustees. What about other students in the Auburn area who want to go to seminary but don’t want to go to church at Lakeview? Are Southern Baptist CP funds really being used to influence the church selection of students? It’s not really a scandal…it’s an administrative policy decision for trustees and administrators to consider.

    • Tarheel says

      Lol….Rick – didn’t you just publicly second guess Seminary administration and policy immediately (in the next sentence) after saying doing so was a bad idea?!

      Lol. 😉

      (I’m just teasing ya) (kinda)

      • Rick Patrick says

        Well, in a way, that is exactly what I did, Tarheel, although an opinion blog comment stream is not a public microphone like at the SBC. It was intentional. No need to tease or apologize. I was simply pointing out another example of a seminary making a decision that could just as easily be showcased on the convention floor–if someone chose to do so–rather than letting the Trustees deal with it. Another example might be the Mahaney-Southern partnership.

        • Tarheel says

          So open blogs aren’t public discourse? Better think again on that one, sir. Why do you keep bringing up Mohler? It seems you might be deflecting.

          I am concerned with the tribalism we are seeing here in furtherance of defense (or attack) toward certain theologians. This is the tribalism that bothers me. Both are wrong and as someone else said, sad.

          However, I reject strongly that it’s tribalism or wringheaded in any way for Southern Baptists to demand and expect appropriate resolution and explanation regarding the issues mentioned in this post.

          Let’s stay on topic without the invocation of personality as much we can. Although, it’s somewhat unavoidable given the direct fingerprints of one particular seminary President.

          I’m concerned about several things-

          1. Did this happen with the tacit support of the trustees at SWBTS? Does the President have such sole authority? Did he act within it? Is there an atmosphere at the seminary where the president can dogmatically do as he wishes….while the issue is “new”, It is not new for these kind of allegations (dogmatic, authoritarian leadership) have been alleged for years and followed this President from institution to institution.

          2. Our missionaries who are being trained for work within Muslim countries are now known to a practicing Muslim (and could be easily pictured ad distributed) is this wise, I assume this danger has been thought through and satisfied? Our military experience grave consequences when they guess/assume wrong about friends and foes/men of peace…are we more qualified than they at this?

          3. Are we placing our convention (seminaries) in legal jeapordy by opening outer doors to students beyond our faith? I’m not talking about beyond our denomination – I’m talking about beyond our faith. Practicing Muslims are followers of a false religion. I mentioned above numerous examples of religious liberty being stripped once a court sees evidence of even religious businesses serving” the general public outside thier faith”. Seminaries arent churches…they’re businesses. Might we be risking our religious liberty to preserve our distinctive education?

          4. No one in this blog discussion has addressed whether there are Mormon students in our Southern Baptist divinity school. Mormons have an agenda to normalize thier cult by calling themselves a denomination within Christian Orthodoxy….l object to conferring upon them a degree in Christian theological studies….for that would only advance thier agenda and blur the line between our faiths.

          5. evangelism of this sort is admirable and biblical….but might it be better for local churches and individuals to undertake than an academic theological institution? Might it be better and more effective for Dr. Patterson in his capacity as an individual and church member to called embrace this man and share the gospel with them and bring them into church membership – rather than do so in his authority as a seminary president in the confference of degrees?

          • William Thornton says

            Rick said: “..an opinion blog comment stream is not a public microphone like at the SBC.”

            Whereupon the anonymous Tarheel said, “So open blogs aren’t public discourse? Better think again on that one, sir.”

            Think again, indeed. You would not be able to speak at a mic at the SBC annual meeting without identifying yourself and your church…but glad you are going to fix that.

          • Rick Patrick says

            I’m not sure what you mean by “wringheaded” tribalism, but hear this: if certain people at the convention go to a microphone to lambast Patterson for an executive decision he made, they should not be surprised if other people go to the same microphone and lambast Mohler for an executive decision he made. “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

            Alternatively, we can avoid creating a scandal where one need not exist and just let the Trustees of the institution handle it—a much better option, in my opinion.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            One reason that we’ve left on the Mormons, I think, is that there is no second-voice confirmation of that. So far, I’ve seen it only referenced on Burleson’s blog and then repeated.

            The Muslim student is confirmed by SWBTS. Certainly the principle applies no matter who we are talking about: does the president of a seminary have the authority to exempt a student applicant from the published requirement of being a born again Christian?

            Which is seen in this statement: The application for admission includes:

            Official Application for Admission form. It includes a non-refundable application fee, basic demographic information and a statement of call and commitment to Christian ministry. The written statement should document: 1) conversion experience; 2) family background; 3) spiritual development; 4) call to ministry; 5) vocational/ministry goals; and 6) educational goals.

            That’s really the question at stake.

          • dr. james willingham says

            Tarheel: Some might think it wrongheaded and tribalism to demand explanation, etc., but consider for Bro. Patrick’s sake the reality that we have an undercurrent here of the conflict between the Calvinists and the Traditionalists. Consider how Dr. Patterson wrote a blog on Election to which I responded, pointing out that it would go a long way to alleviating the tensions. Then all of a sudden I was kicked off the blog (and as I found out on this blog) and so were others. What is, indeed, going on? Has someone outside the convention finally pulled the strings of their reps and puppets inside the convention so that they can began the process of unraveling and bring to nothing the greatest missionary and evangelistic denomination of Protestants in the modern world? We need not only to look up close, but we need to take a look at the larger picture. Who stands to benefit by the destruction of the SBC? Who?

          • Tarheel says

            Doug, It’s a yes or no answer to a question …. All SWBTS has to do us say no…. It’s out there (Mormon) with no response… He (PP) responded to the Muslim accusation and left the other dangling. What’s up with that?

            Also it’s inconceivable how one who is a Muslim or Mormon could answer those questions in the way it’s commonly understood among us that they should be.

            Rick, so “if they do it…we got something for them” ? Really? Two wrongs make a right?

            That comment is tribalism right there on display.

          • Rick Patrick says


            I did not say, “*we* got something for them.” I said that it should not surprise those who start something (with a tribalist agenda) if others respond in kind (with a tribalist agenda).

            The proper idiom is not “Two wrongs make a right” but “Turnabout is fair play” or “What goes around comes around.”

            My primary point was to remove conflicts from the convention floor and address them privately in trustee meetings–in BOTH Muslimgate AND Mahaneygate.

    • says

      Your first two paragraphs are well delineated and very rational. However, there are times that as SB we do not look at things through rational eyes but with an emotional heart. For this reason I am not so sure it is a tempest in a teapot. Split the Convention? Hardly!. Cause a stink? Likely!
      Why? The media! They will be on this like stink on a skunk. That tends to bring out the worst in us.

      Hope I am wrong.

      • dr. james willingham says

        Dear D.L.: I think your view is too up close. The larger picture is beginning to emerge for those who will look for it. This episode might not accomplish what certain people desire, but it will be a long step down that road. We will find it is a rock in our shoe as we proceed, leading to the next episode.

    • Ann says

      If this were Mohler or Akin instead of Patterson, your position would be the opposite. My positions, however, would be the same. It’s a bad idea to have a practicing Muslim student wandering the same halls and classrooms as students preparing to serve in restricted Muslim countries.

      • Rick Patrick says

        I’m not sure I would feel differently…provided that Akin or Mohler had a history of leading Muslims and Skeptics to faith in Christ through the witness encounters these students experienced at their schools. This is not the first time Patterson has done such a thing. On other occasions, the prospect has been converted. There is a pattern of witness here. If something is out of bounds at Southwestern that was perfectly fine at Criswell, the Trustees will make it perfectly clear.

        • says


          This pattern of witness is not well-known. Besides, for anything to become a pattern it must start somewhere. So why would it matter if Akin or Mohler had such a history? History is not created in a vacuum.

          • Rick Patrick says

            So the fact that Patterson has led Muslims and Skeptics to Christ through enrollment at institutions of higher education in the past should have no bearing on this matter whatsoever? We should just ignore this pattern well known to those close to Patterson? I think it provides some helpful background information.

            But I do see your point about patterns starting somewhere. Even if he had not done this at Criswell, if this were the very first time he had done it, the same thought process would need to be applied in order to arrive at the conclusion that this is fine.

            As for Ann’s hypothetical about my reaction to Mohler and Akin doing the same thing… IF Mohler and Akin did this thing AND I criticized them for it, all Ann would have to do to point out my hypocrisy would be to cite the occasions when Patterson had enrolled Skeptics in the past and had attempted to witness to Muslims in a similar fashion.

            This is yet another reason I don’t think I would give Mohler or Akin any grief for evangelistically reaching out to Muslims. If it’s okay for Patterson, then it’s okay for Mohler and Akin.

          • Tarheel says

            “This is yet another reason I don’t think I would give Mohler or Akin any grief for evangelistically reaching out to Muslims. If it’s okay for Patterson, then it’s okay for Mohler and Akin.”

            Here’s the deal….Many of us are not convinced it appropriate fir any of them.

            As Christians and church members reaching out to the lost -absolutely! As seminary presidents confering a degree in Christian and Baptist Studies – not so sure.

          • Rick Patrick says

            I guess I don’t consider Archaeology to be quite the same thing as Christian and Baptist Studies.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Except that “Archaeology,” according to the catalog, is in the School of Theology.

    • says


      You said,

      “Third, some of the other students on campus (such as the undergraduate students at the College at Southwestern) are also not training for the ministry, so the charter requiring Southwestern to train Christian ministers may not always apply in this new era with different academic programs.”

      The solution to this then is to probably go ahead and explain all of that in how you define the seminary and its programs into ministry and non-ministry related programs, which would, I think, change the very mission of SWBTS. So, this has a lot of implications, I think.

  25. dr. james willingham says

    The hiring of non believing faculty members, etc., began after the Moderates got control. They had planned this back in the late 1800s in reaction, I think, to the firing of C.H. Toy. The Moderates formed what is known as dodeker (Greek for 12) group, clique, ?, and the aim of this group was to place 12 Moderate ministers in leading positions in the Southern Baptist Churches, Conventions, organizations, institutions, etc., every year. Eventually, they were so successful that they thought they could push the rest of us over the threshold. (By the way, I had a leading Conservative who denied the existence of any such group, but I had a tract written by another Conservative from over 50 years ago who told the tale. I also came across materials in the SEBTS library which indicated that in one case the Moderates were placing DOMs in the leading associations in North Carolina (and perhaps other states) whose job it was to see to it that Moderates got the leading churches in each association. The Conservatives got the tag ends, except they had a hard problem handling those Conservatives who managed to get a church started in an area where they could grow it up as some did throughout the SBC and our own BSCNC.

    Admittedly, we need to hear what others are saying, even when it totally contradicts what we hold dear. This is because we must understand where our opposition is coming from. Admittedly, due to the anti intellectual stance of most evangelicals over the past 150 years, we have been wanting in the area of scholarship, Bible believing scholarship. However, the truth is that Christian believers and scholars were once the leaders of Western Civilization, and the Bible, being what it is, we can hope and expect for a return of the same. The Book is inspired by Omniscience, and it reflects that depth of wisdom and subtlety which is indicative of that reality. Now that we are on the verge of going to the stars, we really need a better understanding of what we are about intellectually.

  26. volfan007 says

    Again, does anyone else find it interesting about the timing of all of this? I mean, 3 weeks before the SBC, we start hearing about this “scandal?” Whenever the student has been there for 2 years already? Does something not sound fishy and smell fishy about all the interest now? I’m not sure what it is, at the moment….but, something’s not right about this.


    • says

      See my post at 11:04 (we were typing at the same time). Yes the timing is fishy. I do not like to make dogmatic statements about things I cannot prove, but c’mon, if it walks like a duck etc. etc.

  27. says

    Best I can tell, a PhD in Archaeology at SWBTS falls under the School of Theology. (See: http://catalog.swbts.edu/school-of-theology/doctor-of-philosophy/)

    Why is a PhD in Archaeology not considered a degree that prepares one for ministry? Just because a person does not get an MDiv does not mean they do not consider their work as ministry. Such a PhD is described as program that “prepares persons of exceptional ability to serve as teachers in specialized areas of theology and as pastors, chaplains, denominational leaders, or authors.”

    • says

      This is my question, Mark. If it is a ministry related degree, then I think that there is more of a question about how one admits a Muslim to that kind of degree without changing the nature of the program ontologically. If it is for discussion and influence, then we could welcome that.

      This is a significant question, I think.

  28. John Wylie says

    I can honestly say I don’t know what to think about this matter. I can see both sides of the issue, but the protection of the IMB missionaries should be given a priority.

  29. Dave Miller says

    You know, honestly, we were having a good discussion on this, until some of the old-time nonsense, grudges, bluster, etc kicked up. Personally, I have no desire to return to 2007 blogging battles.

    I’m not planning to abide it. Folks that cannot carry on a civil conversation are going on moderation. Too many good people having good conversation to let a few bad apples ruin the thing.

    • dr. james willingham says

      Dave: There is a lot of pain out there, pain caused by actions on the part of our leaders that were not always too wise or even very Christian (to say the least). A lot of what really happened does not make it to public consideration. Rage and frustration usually grow out of a sense of perceived mistreatment. Where there is a lot of smoke, well the rest is evident. This is not to say all that smoke is necessarily justified, but it does recognize the reality that there is some justification for it that has not been addressed.

  30. Adam G. in NC says

    after perusing the comments, was anyone else not surprise as how they fell in line regarding the different sides o this issue? I mean, I could almost predict who would say what here without even reading them.

  31. volfan007 says

    As I said before…I’m not sure what I think about this situation. I can see both sides of the issue. And, many people, who love Dr. Patterson, are divided on their opinions on this, as well. The only thing I’ve been saying in here is that my concern is that the timing of all of this is fishy…..why is all of this being blogged about now? Why would this….all of a sudden….be a big issue? so close to the SBC in Baltimore?

    And secondly, I just hated to see people, who hate Dr. Patterson, jump on something like this, and then just use this OP and Wade’s grinding ax, to just lambast Patterson……all because some of them told like him, because of his commitment to Baptist distinctives, or because he’s not a Calvinist.

    What I thought would happen has come true…..as we’ve seen some people go after Patterson in this comment thread with more than just a little anger and hatred. While others are just acting like this is the story of the century.

    I’m hoping and thinking that maybe the SBC, overall, is not as divided, as we’re seeing in some of the blogs….but, I’m not so sure. Maybe the divide just runs deep with some of the people, who spend time in blogs, and who’ve had a lot of discussions and even a few boxing matches over some issue? I don’t know. But, I hope so. I hope the SBC is really not as divided as some of the blogs suggest.


    • says

      I do not think the divide in the Convention as a whole is as deep as one sees on the blogs. I have been involved in commenting for only 6 months or so. I am much more aware of the “divide” now than I was 6 months ago. In the real word, i.e. the non blog world t,his discussion is not as deeply divided and frequent. I feel that most SB are moving along doing the work of the ministry.

      I am willing, however, to admit that i see this thusly because i want to see it.

    • Max says

      “I hope the SBC is really not as divided as some of the blogs suggest.”

      There are 45,000+ SBC churches, with 16 million members (OK, 8 million … or perhaps 4 million?) I would venture to say that the multitude of Southern Baptists don’t have a clue regarding the current theological debate. The pew is uninformed, misinformed or willingly ignorant when it comes theo-politics. These issues are primarily covered by a handful of opponents in the blogosphere and rooms with elephants in them. While most Southern Baptists don’t even know who the seminary presidents are, they would probably choke on their fried chicken if they knew a practicing Muslim was admitted to an SBC seminary by one of the presidents and that another was leading a charge to change the belief and practice of majority members which largely don’t practice what they believe.

  32. John Wylie says

    Okay, I have been thinking about this a lot since I read it and here are some thoughts I have about this.

    1. I am deeply concerned that as Adam G. said earlier up this comment stream that he could have predicted who would say what. Folks, whether or not you like Dr. Patterson should play no role in your opinion here.

    2. I am also deeply concerned about the legal ramifications that arise when you allow non Christians to enroll. So if a Metropolitan Community Church (pro gay) pastor enrolls at Southwestern what can you do?

    3. I have always been deeply concerned that the trustee system largely makes whatever action accomplished on the Convention floor of no authority.

    4. What about the young man in question? How do we handle this in a way that doesn’t push him further away from Christ?

    I’ll have other things to add later but this is as far as I’ve gotten.

    • John Cornish says

      Hi John, I think the challenge with #1 is that people who dislike Dr. Patterson often do so because of his unilateral, dogmatic leadership style. This situation is another manifestation of that, making it hard to differentiate between dislike of a man and dislike of specific actions.

      #2 is a bit of a slippery slope argument, but is something that institutions like SWBTS will undoubtedly face in the future. Allowing a muslim student will certainly weaken any legal case for separation of church and state in the future. I can only imagine how SWBTS attorney’s will try to explain to a judge why they would admit a muslim but will not admit a homosexual that professes to be a believer.

      #3. Agreed, and it also provides little transparency. Also, the trustees are so limited in their involvement of day-to-day operations that it is difficult for them to make knowledgeable decisions. Essentially, their only source of information flows from the administration.

      #4. This is the real worry here. I’m afraid this young man is going to be used as part of an agenda. This needs to be more about the policy than about the individual. If the rumors are correct, there are also Mormons in the program as well. Any resolutions, motions, etc, need to be about restricting ALL non-believers…not just muslims.

  33. says

    Some actually consider it a good thing to have a non-Christian who is open to Christianity, to be in classes that teach what we as Christians and Baptists believe. Some might even consider it a part of evangelism. Many are proud for outsiders to hear what we believe.
    Wouldn’t it benefit our national media if they took a few courses at Southwestern?
    I would be delighted for a non-Christian friend to be exposed to what is taught at SWBTS.
    I’d be happy for them to take archeology, theology, education, or music.

    We can go to the extreme and oppose a Muslim, Hindu, or liberal from ever attending our church or seminary because they might kill everyone and blow up the building. Maybe we should restrict all the lost from our facilities as well?

    But the Christian evangelistic way is to open our doors to all. Be open and transparent and allow all to see what we believe. Are there risks? Yes. Thank God for those willing to take those risks for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      Only trouble is…my Muslim stepson is ‘open ‘to Christianity only because he desires to insert little hints of heresy into the mix. He is constantly saying we believe in the same god. But when he asked me if i thought he was serving the devil….i said yes. Still love him…but absolutely yes.

    • Adam Blosser says

      David, it is unfair for you to paint those who have concerns over this matter as not caring about the lost in general and specifically this particular lost man. Paige Patterson is not the only person who cares for the lost.

  34. Anonymous says

    Having worked in the admissions office, I can confirm that 2 Mormons were accepted into SWBTS. In the past, many orders were given from Dr. Patterson, regarding the admission of certain students, that violated the school’s, the government’s international requirements and admissions’ policies and put the school’s accreditation at risk. All was done in secret and we were warned to stay quiet about it.

    • Dale Pugh says

      Herein lies a HUGE part of the problem. Statements of “fact” made by an anonymous source. Someone, it seems, who is concerned for their job and unwilling to speak out about these issues. This is wrong. Why is it that truth gets sidelined for fear of retribution? Does anyone have the guts to stand up and own the alleged truth of their words? If not, then keep it to yourself.

      • John Cornish says

        Why should someone risk their and their family’s welfare to speak a truth that is likely going to be dismissed or justified by people who don’t believe that their heroes are capable of doing wrong? Frankly, there isn’t much to gain by whistleblowing in the SBC.

      • Tarheel says

        Who will offer a whistleblower protection and a living should retribution be taken?

        Does the SBC generally or SWBTS have whistleblower protections in place?

  35. volfan007 says

    “Our VBS director is causing a big stir pushing her doctrine of preregistration.” —Rev. NoRespect

  36. says

    Two of my stepsons converted to Islam in the past few years. One after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other was influenced by his brother. A third is confused but occasionally in church, but not wanting to discuss it.

    The reason I would be concerned for the students at SWBTS is that contrary to my previous understanding there are concerted missionizing efforts to convert Christians to Islam. I know because one missionary came to my home under the quise of “can I invite my friend to our family dinner? ” Only later did I find out from a friend who does prayer walking and sets up prayer booths in local festivals that she encounters this same gentleman frequently.

    He asks questions about scripture and Jesus which are designed to throw even solid believers off balance. Fortunately I’m already off balance and was able to throw him curves he was not expecting throwing him off balance. He is used to dealing with educated people and I would be concerned this could be a ‘plant’ in SWBTS designed to make nany question their faith. The man dealt with was well trained and cunning.

    Just food for thought. …

  37. darren casper says

    While this matter of men committed to Islam being accepted into an SBC seminary is being looked into, just curious… does the application process to SWBTS still include questions about the use of wine or a private prayer language?

    • Max says

      Darren – good question about the questions. We should still expect seminary candidates to be reasonably sanctified before going into the ministry. I don’t know about you, but if things get any weirder in SBC life, I’ll probably start drinking and speaking in tongues soon!

    • says


      Good to hear from you! You ask great questions. I think that it was said that the Muslim student agreed to the morality clauses. That brings up the question about how one can have true morality without Christ?

  38. Tarheel says

    Well on the bright side

    These Mormon and Muslim students can affirm and abide by our seminaries strict alcohol prohibition and our objections to homosexuality. :-)

  39. dr. james willingham says

    Wow! For Tarheel to list me with DL for wisdom and gentleness! It is almost more than I can take. Especially, when I remember being such a jerk at DL’s ordination. Dl, you can get up off the floor now. Rolling around in fits of laughter just ain’t very professsssional like.

  40. dr. james willingham says

    Wow! For Tarheel to list me with DL for wisdom and gentleness. It is almost more than I can take. DL, you really must get up. Rolling around the floor with howls of laughter hardly comports with the dignity of a DOM. You see, folks, he remembers some of my less than stellar moments.

  41. dr. james willingham says

    Max: No one said this would be easy. However, I tried the outside for a few brief years and got a great wife in the process, but otherwise it was no picnic. In fact, the egotists out there were much more aggressive than those inside the convention; they were more likely to leave you horrors de combat (I might not know enough French to pull that remark off). And from what I hear, they have not changed. At least, in the SBC, there are people with a conscience who will eventually pushed back to correct the out-of-hand situation. You all take a look see, if you must, but come on back when you get tired of some folks who are real bosses (and I don’t mean the nice ones either). Not saying that there are no good ones outside. Only saying, you have slightly better chances inside. Just consider how the folks who were shoving us into the skeptical camp wholesale. Man, they were tough, but, today, they are history. Now we have to deal with the problem that is in us all, our depravity or madness as Solomon called it (Eccles.9:3). That problem comes with the territory. Even God’s people can act like jerks. Just consider David or even Paul over John Mark. That contention was so sharp, because Paul and Barnabas were enraged. And remember the disciples were still arguing over who would be the greatest in our Lord’s Kingdom the very night in which He was betrayed. Had you known about their brouhaha and had left, where would you have gone then?

    • Max says

      Good Lord, Dr. Willingham, if I left the SBC, I wouldn’t be leaving the Kingdom of God … just our poor expression of it!

      • dr. james willingham says

        Never thought you were leaving the Kingdom of God anymore than I was when I did the same exit stage right (in this case) for Landmarkism of the actually purest variety. Yuck! How could I have been so dense. Nevertheless, the experience was an eye opener, and, perhaps, your experience will serve to be the same. Although I do wonder, if there will be a SBC to come back to. There are those with other plans for the future of this great missionary effort.

        • Max says

          “There are those with other plans for the future of this great missionary effort.”

          And that breaks my heart, Dr. Willingham. I truly believe that the SBC carried a denominational gifting of evangelism and genuine mission to the nations for generations. The plans of men are distracting us from that course. If and when I leave SBC, it will be because the SBC left me.

  42. T.J. Francis says

    Question: What will SWBTS do if a “peaceful” member of the LGBT community, a “peaceful” atheist, or a “peaceful” Jehovah’s Witness wants to study in the same discipline?
    I am NOT in favor of allowing any non-Christian or anyone living in open rebellion to the Word of God to enroll in a SBC seminary. This move by SWBTS is opening the door for a whole host of problems.

  43. Mark J. says

    As one of the SWBTS students and alumni that spoke to Pastor Wade Burleson last week about our grave concerns about Muslim and LDS students attending SWBTS, I can dispel any rumors as to why in fact we contacted Pastor Wade. Being part of this cadre of students, I have first hand experience as to why my compatriots and I did this very thing.

    First of all, I want to put to rest that Pastor Wade has any ill motives in doing this. Secondly, there is no bad motive (Please note this volfaan007) in pastor Wade, revealing this information now.

    For some time, several SWBTS students have had a grave concern about having this individual on campus. We are concerned, not because we do not love this person, on the contrary, because we love him and our beloved seminary, we decided to act now in contacting Pastor Wade.

    It just seems contrary to the stated mission of SWBTS to have non-Christian students enrolled in classes and degree programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Many of us are also concerned that the hard earned money of the rank and file members of the Southern Baptist Convention are being spent, on the education of non-Christians who are part of religious groups that are antithetical to the essential doctrinal core of the Baptist Faith and Message. We are not certain that the stated charter of the SWBTS convention entails the education of Muslims and Mormons. It just seems wrong to many of us.

    Another determining factor in why we contacted pastor Wade, is that many of us feel that the Southern Baptist Convention and SWBTS is bigger than just one man. The long held and cherished Baptist doctrine of “soul competency” argues that each Southern Baptist is accountable before God. And in keeping with this long held Southern Baptist distinctive, many of our consciences were violated in allowing a non-Christian to be a Ph.D at our beloved seminary. Contrary to some Baptist’s opinion, the Southern Baptist Convention is not owned by the leaders of the “conservative resurgence” and many of younger Southern Baptists, while still very conservative socially and theologically, have grown tired of being told that we are forever indebted to those who steered the convention away from the moderates.

    Almost every day in chapel at SWBTS, we are told how much the resurgence leaders sacrificed for us to get a conservative education, and while we are grateful, the conservative resurgence or takeover happened before many of us were born.

    Many of us younger Southern Baptists are part of the “young restless and reformed” movement that is transpiring throughout the convention and American Evangelicalism and do not appreciate the constant anti-Calvinist attack that the leaders of SWBTS have engaged in from the chapel pulpit and others venues at our seminary. Many of us feel that our faith is under constant siege and attack and many of us have grown weary of this.

    SWBTS and the SBC is (gasp!) bigger than the conservative resurgence. We believe every member of the Southern Baptist Convention is to be accountable to one another and for this reason, we have decided to contact this godly man named Pastor Wade Burleson to hold SWBTS and its leadership accountable for its actions. We simply do not agree with the notion that Cooperative Program and other SBC monetary resources should be spent on the education of non-Christians. We feel this is very unwise course of action and want this to be debated at the annual convention in Baltimore.

    We have no personal ill will towards Dr. Patterson and the other leaders of SWBTS, but just feel we have the right to question, without the threat of punishment and expulsion, whether our seminary should start giving degrees to avowed non-Christians.

    There are so many problems with allowing non-Christians to attend SWBTS and other SBC funded schools. We know it has been stated recently, that this is a unique thing, but we we have also heard that more unbelievers are on their way! We agree with the old adage, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump, but a lot of leaven blows up the entire oven.” We question this decision to allow non-Christians to attend SWBTS for any reason, because it violates the stated intention and charter of the school founded by the great B.H. Carroll in 1908.

    Who decides whether or not non-Christians attend SWBTS and other SBC schools or not? The president of SWBTS? The trustees? We want clarification as to whether or not the enrolling of non-Christians into the degree programs at SWBTS will now become commonplace? Who decides this course of action?

    Lastly, we feel the education of non-Christians at our SBC seminaries is so serious that it should be THE topic of debate and discussion at the coming SBC convention in Baltimore. The SBC is bigger than just one man, irrespective of how many people love him for his work on inerrancy and the resurgence. The SBC and its five seminaries are for all the called out people of our great Southern Baptist Convention. The time has come for all the voices in the SBC be heard and not just one man.

    I am and other SWBTS students and alumni are taking a stand like Martin Luther did in nailing the 95 thesis’ on the Whittenburg castle door, we believe that our SBC seminaries are for the education of Christians called by God alone. Here we stand, so help us God, we can do no other.

    • John Cornish says

      Thank you Mark. As a recent alumnus (Dec 2012) who leans towards the reformed side of things, I also found the constant barrage of anti-Calvinist rhetoric in chapel difficult to swallow. There was just nothing charitable about it.

      Thank you for taking a stand.

      • Dean Stewart says

        I’m confused, is the beef a non-Christian being allowed to enroll at SWBTS or is it PP’s rejection of reformed theology? A few guys can’t finish their diatribe about being upset with the Muslim being enrolled before they dive off into I’m reformed and he attacks my beliefs. It is easy to see why many are upset – Patterson is one of the faces of the convention that rejects reform theology. To those who genuinely are concerned about the Muslim on campus I recommend you stay on point.

        • John Cornish says

          No, the issue remains that dissenters are strictly punished at SWBTS. One could not be Calvinist or egalitarian, hold an opposing view on alcohol consumption or divorce, poke fun at the administration on social media, or apparently speak up about a Muslim student without fear or swift and decisive retribution from the administration. It happened to students and faculty alike. “Where did Dr. so-and-so go?” was a question asked all too often.

          • volfan007 says

            I had a feeling that this would turn into a jump on Dr. Patterson, because he’s not Reformed thing.



          • dr. james willingham says

            I did some reading on the issue of divorce at SWBTS, especially regarding the fellow who was seeking a doctorate in music and had an offer to teach there withdrawn. Why? Because he married a woman who had been divorce (due to spousal abuse). Good Lord! Must she had done like the woman that we heard of in my first Summer at SEBTS? Seems her husband abused her. She left. The church talked her into going back, and the fellow murdered her. The seminary pastor said, “We will never do that again.” My wife said, “it is about time, and whatever happened to old-fashioned divorce?” According to the standards of never hiring anyone who is divorced or remarried or who is married to one who is divorced, SWBTS WOULD NEVER HIRE ITS OWN FOUNDER, DR. B.H. CARROLL. WHEN HE CAME HOME FROM THE CIVIL WAR, HE FOUND HIS WIFE LIVING WITH ANOTHER MAN. AFTER SECURING HIS DIVORCE AND SOME PASSAGE OF TIME HE MARRIED ANOTHER WOMAN. REALLY. SOME FOLKS NEVER DO RESEARCH OR THEY IGNORE THE FACTS, IF THEY DO. O YES AND DR. CARROLL SMOKED CIGARS, AND A FRIEND TOLD ME THAT THE PAINTING OF THE FOUNDER THAT HANGS IN THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING (? SO I UNDERSTAND) HAD THE CIGAR PAINTED OUT.

            None of this is easy, but there is a great deal not being said here that could be added to the discussion. Just consider how the Baptist poet, John Milton of Paradise Lost fame, published in his prose works one of the writings of Martin Bucer (a noted leader of the Reformation) on Divorce. Sorry folks, the Roman Catholic Church is the source of the strictness on the divorce issue, followed by the Anglicans who are trying to outlive Henry VIII. O, and by the way, the Catholics allow for the upper crust to have their marriages annulled, a neat way to get around the divorce issue.

    • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

      Mark J.,

      Thanks for sharing your heart, and your insights and perspectives. I believe that you and Wade Burleson are sincere. The timing of this revelation is irrelevant. Thanks for sharing that with Volfan. I wanted to, and should have , but didn’t. Your statement is the most powerful statement on this comment thread in my opinion.

      Thanks for letting us know about what most of us were completely ignorant about. I am still processing all of this. Your arguments and heart was so persuasive, ’til it almost moved me to see this situation as you do. I am not a Calvinist, so Calvinist theology does not factor in to how I feel about this. I still would like to know was their a policy in place that addressed this matter. It appears to be a violation of the mission of the seminary. But, perhaps, policy and precedence may suggest otherwise. I am uncomfortable with the thought of Muslims and Mormons studying at any of our seminaries. To do it for evangelistic reasons certainly has an upside, but, the more I think about it, the down side probably outweighs the upside. I wonder how the trustees and administration would respond if one of the Mormon or Muslim men married one of the female seminary students? We’d really find out then if those seemingly supportive of this notion will remain supportive.

      Just know that I know how difficult it can be to take a stand at SWBTS that goes counter culture there. Much respect to you for letting those of us who pay the bills know about this. Maybe someone will share with us whether or not this was a policy violation soon. Be encouraged.

      • says

        Dr. Dwight

        Let me respectfully disagree that timing is irrelevant. I am not prepared to say that he timed this based on an agenda. There is no way to know that. However, posting this just days before Baltimore is a good strategy, should there be some agenda related to the annual meeting.

        • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

          D. L.,

          I believe that you get my point, but I will repeat it. If the SBC family was/is ignorant of this matter–and 99 % 0f were; why does it matter when this information came to light? The important thing is that it was exposed. To pontificate and speculate ’bout motives and timing in my humble opinion, is like hearing your child was in a car wreck, and you(generically speaking) want to ask did the car get damaged? How the daughter is doing is the big issue. Motives and timing may be a worthy pursuit at some later date, perhaps. But, at the moment we need to address the concerns of the students that brought this to light.

          • says

            Dr. Dwight
            It was not that I did not get you point, I simply disagree. You are absolutely right, we need to address this young man’s concerns. However, there are other and broader issues that need to be addressed and we are certainly able to multi task in this debate.

            Most every debate has a certain amount of conjecture. This debate is no exception. In other places some have indicated that the timing is such that it might be a “hot” top at the convention. I do not know. I do know that if such is true then it is very relevant and speaks volumes if we will listen.

            As far as a later date for this debate, the convention is now, not later. If there is any issue at this point I want to know as much possible before the convention not after.

    • says

      Mark J
      Thank you for your well thoght thru and well penned post. I appreciate your spirit that shines thru the comments. Observations: while I deeply appreciate the leadership of the CR we owe them little for two reasons: (1) The leaders almost down to the man were “rewarded” with positions of employment or positions of authority, or both. (2) A very large number of people, laymen and pastors, made that journey to annual meetings for 20 or so years to vote and express themselves. Many went at their own expense and took vacation days for travel and meeting. Where is their “earthly reward” for their tenacity.

      Another observation concerns CP funding for seminaries. There is a principle involved here to be sure. However, the amount of money spent to educate non Christians is a drop in the bucket and should not even be mentioned as an expense. Many have stated CP as an issue but I think that is a stretch.

      I value your “stand”. Stay strongly planted my brother.

    • volfan007 says


      I really don’t want to get into a big conversation with you about the history between Dr. Patterson and Wade B. If you knew the history, you would better understand my questioning of the timing.


      • volfan007 says

        Also, Mark, let me understand something….you’re a Calvinist, and a friend of Wade’s…..and, you don’t have an ax to grind against Dr. Patterson? Okay.


          • volfan007 says


            I believe those started the other day….right after this OP came out…..I talked about it right off the bat, if you’ll remember….that it would happen….and, it has….and it continues….and, it’s sad.


          • Mark J. says

            I want to reiterate that I am my group of friends did not contact Pastor Wade because we were out to get PP or anyone. We are just concerned seminary students trying to make it in this world. We believe that we have a valid voice to and that SWBTS and the SBC is bigger than just one man and his vocal and powerful followers. We believe the SBC is for all the people who make up the SBC. We believe that having non-Christian students at SWBTS is against the intention of its founders and contrary to both the school’s charter and admissions policy. Each student at SWBTS is supposed to explain how he or she came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. An unbeliever does not know Christ and thus cannot give a credible profession of faith. If SWBTS is now for unbelievers then they need to state that clearly and remove the testimony part of the admissions process. We just believe SWBTS and the SBC is bigger than the ad hoc and on the fly decisions of one larger than life individual and believe society and the church should be governed by the rule of law. In this case the rule of law is the school’s charter, admissions policy and Baptist Faith and Message.

            Also, we want to know if these unbelievers are receiving Cooperative Program money to fund their education, if so this must be debated before the entire convention in Baltimore, because Southern Baptist’s all across the country are contributing to cooperative program.

        • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says


          You know I love you man. But, Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Don’t attack Mark, a seminary student, simply because he raised a legitimate question. Volfan, the fact that he is a Calvinist and has communicated with Wade, is not indicative of anything. Let’s be Christian, fair, and civil, in our communication. To question timing and motives is highly inappropriate here. Since you have no facts to evidence to support your innuendo, you really owe Wade and Mark apologies.

          • volfan007 says

            Hey Dwight,

            I have just simply wondered out loud at the timing of all of this…. considering the fella has been in school for 2 years now, and NOTHING has been said….NOTHING. Also, the history between Dr. Patterson and Wade is….well…..you know.

            So, yes, I have to wonder about the timing…..and, the why this has turned into such a huge deal…..especially when it’s Calvinists and Wade and some of Wade’s buddies, who are making such a big deal out of this….but….

            Anyway, I’m not even sure where I stand on this issue, at the moment. I’m trying to see Dr. Patterson’s viewpoint, and I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. So, I’m not even sure where I come down on this issue….except, I do know that this fella would’ve never been accepted into Mid America Bapt. Seminary in Memphis.

            But anyway, I just don’t like to see a bunch of people piling on Dr. Patterson, who have agenda’s…..and, I’m not necessarily talking about Mark….I don’t know Mark. I do find it interesting that he’s a Calvinist and knows Wade, and he’s making a lot of negative statements, in here, about Dr. Patterson.


          • says

            Dr. Dwight
            I am not Volfan, but since I share the timing issue with him, I would like to respond. No where have I, nor Volfan attacked Mark. the calvinist issue is a non issue here. I was led to the Lord by a Calvinist, baptized by a Calvinist, married by a Calvinist and have close relatives an friends who are Calvinist. To say again this is not an issue.

            As far as challenging motives i don’t believe that anyone has attacked Marks motives. I think the timing issue is directed toward Pastor Wade.

          • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says


            Points about timing that you made in response to my statement to Volfan well stated and received. Thanks.

          • says

            Dr. Dwight
            I did some re-reading. I call your attention to Mark’s post May 19 @ 10:08 pm. It seems clear that at least in part the timing is such that it coincide with Baltimore. That is OK! Nothing wrong with that!! Perhaps it should be discussed. It IS problematic to pretend that the timing is coincidental or irrelevant, or to call into question the Christian spirit of one who is concerned with the timing.

            I wish to be clear. Mark was up front with his post by indicating that perhaps it is a topic for discussion at the meeting. For that “up frontness” he is to be commended. Mark sounds like a man of integrity and character.

        • Tarheel says

          Volfan, I’m a Calvinist who doesn’t agree with him always but respects Dr. Patterson for his fighting for the right during the CR.

          I’m deeply concerned and more than a little outraged by this revelation…I have made several arguments aside from any personal animus. Others have made sound arguments as well…but they’re being summarily dismissed.

          I just don’t think it’s fair or wise to dismiss these issues as simply “hating” on PP.

          I think when something of this import is discovered….we’d be wise to analyze and discuss it rather than just dismiss it.

          Timing, and hating aside…..volfan please tell us how YOU feel about the issue at hand….the granting of a Christian ministry degree by an SBC seminary to a Muslim/Mormon?

          What say ye?

        • dr. james willingham says

          Come on Volfan007, DL is not a Calvinist. So are several others who have responded (but I will let them speak for themselves). I am, but I am no gung ho follower. In other words, I have enough sense to criticize the Calvinists, too. I know for a fact some of them can be meaner than rabid skunks and as immoral as alley cats, and the same applies to Traditionalists likewise. But I differentiate between those who are godly and those who are not. Just like I read with appreciation some of the things John Wesley said and make use of them. I can think of several things that the Calvinists/Reformed crowd has done that I do not like and have said so. One of them is the C.J. Mahaney affair. Supporting that fellow until the issue of the legal tangle is resolved is unwise to say the least. What is worse in this case is that it involves covering up evidence concerning child sexual abuse, something that makes me see red as in angry. Having done a Master’s in counseling at Liberty due to that very issue, I can tell you the protection of children in such situations comes before all other considerations. All one has to do is to see the terrible effects of such abuse on the children to understand why it is necessary. Having written a paper on the issue at Liberty, I found myself charged with that responsibility as the member of the counseling staff of 4A Senior High School for three years. No pleasant experience, I assure you. Now how do you think that makes me feel about the matter just mentioned and those involved?

        • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says


          I appreciate your response. I guess in blogging, it is a fair question for you to raise the question of timing and motives. But, your question came across to me as an accusation, more-so than a question. And I believe it was the accusatory, sarcastic nature of your communication that triggered my response. I also sensitive to the fact that Mark may not be engaged in old battles and issues. Therefore, to read a lot of baggage into His stance to me is simply unfair. Why can’t he be taken at face value? His concerns you must admit are valid, which is why Mid America, no doubt don’t allow Mormons and Muslims to attend. Why not deal with the rightness or wrongness of his claims, rather than deal with ancillary and side bar issues? Thanks again though for your response. To raise it one time as a sincere question is fair. To raise several times as an accusation is unfair. Now that’s my story and I am sticking to it-:).

          • volfan007 says


            Have you ever seen a chicken coop full of chickens? And, one of the chickens gets wounded? Did you know that if one of the chickens gets wounded, or has a ribbon tied around it’s foot, or something else different, then the other chickens will attack it? I’ve seen chickens attack another chicken, which was wounded. I mean, they just pecked it to death….all because it was different, or just because it was wounded.

            That’s what I was talking about.


  44. Mark J. says

    To Dean Stewart.

    Good points. I will state things clearly. My friends and I contacted Wade Burleson because we do not believe non-Christians should be allowed to enroll as students at SWBTS. We believe it is contrary to the intention of the founders of our school and the charter of our school. I and other current students at SWBTS are not speaking from second hand information but live or have recently lived on campus at SWBTS. We believe we should have a right to speak on this matter without the fear of punishment. I only mention the Calvinist part, becaus many professors were forced to leave our school because they were Calvinists and do not want to be forced out because we happen to have a different opinion on this and other non-Christians at SWBTS. If mentioning the Calvinist part was off base, I am sorry. I have lived and went to school in a very hostile enviornment and just had to vent man.

    • Dean Stewart says

      Mark, for what it’s worth, I am a non-reformed who believes it was wrong to allow a Muslim to enroll in one of our seminaries. Here is the question I ask myself – is this offense not so outrageous to me because I think in many ways as PP thinks or is this offense so outrageous to others because PP opposes their beliefs? It seems to me the trustees should do something about this issue but giving the scope of PP’s work certainly removing him would be off the table.

      • Mark J. says

        I am not calling for PP to be removed, what I am calling for is a honest debate to transpire in the SBC convention in Baltimore on whether or not unbelievers should be allowed to go to SWBTS and the other SBC supported seminaries, Golden Gate, Midwestern, New Orleans, Southeastern, Southern and SWBTS. It is beyond the pale, that one man should decide this and want to see this debated.

        • Dean Stewart says

          Mark, this should be debated and discussed. Where we differ on opinion is I believe that debate should take place in the trustee meeting. Blessings, Dean

          • Mark J. says

            Dean my brother, is not the SBC for all the people and not just a few trustees? Don’t you believe every member of our Southern Baptist Convention has a valid voice and can bring up an issue or motion for something in his or her local church? The entire SBC is predicated on the concept that every single member counts and is not simply for a few powerful and well connected people to make all the decisions. Yes, I believe the Trustees have the ultimate power at SWBTS, but this issue has gone beyond SWBTS and now people are asking in our churches and schools whether or not unbelievers should be able to attend our SBC and CP funded schools. I say take this to the convention! Power to the people! Let the priesthood of believers for the glory of God reign supreme! Dean! Give back the power to the people of the SBC! All the people and not just an elite few!

          • Dean Stewart says

            Mark, the people elect the trustees so it’s not a valid point to say people have no voice. The people are free to contact any trustee they want and share their opinion. Having the people make policy on the floor of the convention for one of our institutions is a dangerous thing. I’m not familiar with the happenings at SWBTS. I trust the trustees to do the right thing. A few years back the convention voted to place NOBTS under sole membership against the wishes of Dr Kelley and the trustees. The seminary lined up with the convention wishes and all has been fine. However, making policy for our institutions from the floor of the convention is a recipe for disaster. I’m grateful most all attempts are out of order. However, as you say- power to the people! For some reason now that I have said that I feel like I need a tie dyed shirt and a hair pick with a black fist on the handle.

    • says

      At age 70, I am not Young or Restless, and by conviction I am not Reformed. Having said that I think I understand your feelings about being
      put upon because you are Reformed. That should never happen, in an academic setting especially.

      Is it fair to ask when you contacted Pastor Burleson.

  45. Mark J. says

    Thanks Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic,

    I am close to the student who wrote the star telegram article in response to your comments about Dr. White’s chapel message in 2008. He wants you to know that he was wrong and wants to apologize to you personally. You were right, he was wrong. I was wrong about you too and I am sorry. Everything you said was spot on and I was too blind to see it.

    • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

      Mark J.,

      Had no clue that you even knew my name, but I appreciate your response, and I graciously accept the apology of the person that you are close to that wrote the article.

  46. Mark J. says

    its not that PP is just against reformed theology, he punishes those who are Reformed and the SBC is supposed to be a denomination for both the Calvinist and non Calvinist alike.

  47. Mark J. says

    I do have to admit that my seminary friends and I did have a theological agenda when we revealed that there was a non-Christian student on campus. We simply believe that the SBC seminary is for Christians. We had no other motivation but to question whether or not non-Christians should be admitted as students. We believe it is an unwise policy and we lead to further problems if more and more non-Christians start enrolling at SWBTS and the other seminaries. Another theological agenda is the issue of the priesthood of all believers. We believe the SBC and the body of Christ is for all Christians with a credible profession of faith and not just an elite few. Don’t get angry with us if we actually believe in the traditional Southern Baptist doctrines of soul competency and the priesthood of all believers in Christ. We also believe that men and women, boys and girls who have been justified by grace through faith in The Lord Jesus have a valid voice in our local churches and in the greater SBC at large.

  48. volfan007 says

    May the Lord blow a fresh wind across the SBC and bring a sweeping revival to the Churches across our land. May it stir our hearts to love Jesus so much that we look beyond minor differences of doctrine, and are consumed with knowing the Creator. May we be so full of God’s Spirit that we genuinely love each other, like the Lord wants us to. And, may God so move within us that we have a passion for God and the things of God….so much so that the things of the flesh and the world grow dim. And, may the Lord light a new fire in us for winning the lost to Jesus. May we be so fired up that we spend more time talking about Him and His grace to a lost and dying world, than we do about trivial matters.

    And, with that, I’m out of this conversation for now.

    God bless yall,

  49. says

    My Friends
    My position on this is very simple. I believe that students at a SB seminary should be born again Christians. I believe that any issue that involves our entities should first be directed toward the trustees. If that does not resolve the issue, it should come before the convention.

    I have said more than I really know about this. Hence I will follow Volfan’s lead and withdraw from the conversation and say good night.

    May each of you have a good nights rest and a blessed day tomorrow. Dr. JW has talked much about a third awakening. Pray that it may be so.

  50. Ron West says

    Volfan and Rick Patrick are concerned that we are sneaking into countries and in the process lying to them if we tell them we are businessmen or teachers. If they feel the IMB is lying and unethical, they should take this up with Tom Elliff the IMB president. He has approved, supervised and supported the ministry of our missionaries in difficult to enter countries. You are actually accusing him of lying. When they say they are businessmen or teachers they actually are businessmen or teachers or they would not be allowed in. I have served with the IMB in a closed country and I never lied or was dishonest in anyway with the officials of that country. The fact is there are many people who would not hear the gospel unless we were able to go into those countries in legitimate capacities with or without the title missionary.

    • Volfan007 says

      Ron, in the fairness of truth….which I love…it was not Rick Patrick, who made the statement of concern about sneaking missionaries into countries, it was Joel…Joel Rainey I believe. And, I just said that it made me WONDER the same thing…that it FEELS almost like lying to me too. So, you might want to speak the TRUTH about the intent of what someone said before making such comments in the future….just a thought…..all in the interest of TRUTH.


    • Rick Patrick says


      Under what guise or ruse did you enter the country? As a businessman? A teacher? An engineer? Were your true motives to spread the gospel as a missionary? Therein lies the deception—whether you ever made any false statements to the officials of that country or not. A half truth is a whole lie.

      You wrote, “If they feel the IMB is lying and unethical…” Lying? Yes. Unethical? No. It is very much like an undercover police officer or an international spy—jobs I also support. Part of the job is not getting caught. We have nothing to take up with Tom Eliff because we support the deception of placing missionaries into closed countries under false pretenses.

      The important thing to understand is the *ground* for such deception: the end of evangelism justifies the means of subterfuge. Logically, we then must ask the question: “If it is acceptable, in the interest of evangelism, for missionaries to sidestep rules of admission into nations, then why would it be unacceptable, in the interest of evangelism, for a Seminary President to sidestep rules of admission into a school?”

      • Tarheel says

        Rick, i told Joel I’d love to see his blogging on this topic – but the way you just worded that is a little scary.

        It’s lying to be an engineer with the intent if spreading the gospel?

        Certainly I’d call that a lie if he weren’t actually an engineer….but otherwise I’m not sure.

        That’s why I’d like to read Joel’s thoughts and think through it.

        • Tarheel says

          I’m also somewhat amused at the lengths your going to knee jerk defend this presidential order.

          • Rick Patrick says


            My knee is not jerking, and I’m not really sure what amuses you here. I simply see a parallel between missionaries bending rules for the sake of evangelism and a Seminary President doing the same thing. To me, that’s not a stretch. It’s a crystal clear similarity.

            Trustees may decide, for various reasons, to ask Dr. Patterson not to make any more such exceptions. But I think we can all agree that what he did was done for the cause of evangelism and missions. If I ever face a scandal, I hope it’s for my efforts in sharing the gospel.

          • Tarheel says

            I do find it humorous that you would argue for the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth after your dogged defense of a certain college president. 😉

            Now can we please move on from deflections and get back to the topic at hand?

        • Rick Patrick says


          Yes, it’s lying to be an engineer with the intent of spreading the gospel if all you tell the closed nation that does not receive missionaries is that you are an engineer, period, without mentioning your true hidden motive of evangelism, and the additional source of your income from a Christian organization that makes you a professional missionary.

          I agree he is not lying about being an engineer. The “otherwise I’m not sure” part of your description is one for which I am indeed sure. Holding back relevant information is a form of lying. It is the reason that Witness Oaths in trials going back to the 13th Century use all three expressions—”the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.” In this case, the WHOLE truth is that the engineer is really a missionary.

          • Tarheel says

            I see your point.

            Lets just wait for Joel’s article to discuss this….it’s a deflection to do so here I think.

      • says

        Why is it unacceptable?
        I ask it that way because although it seems wrong to me, I am not all fired up over it, though i think it is wrong headed.
        Because the purpose of the seminary is to train our future evangelicals not to evangelize.

        • Rick Patrick says

          I believe you intended your last sentence to use the following punctuation: “Because the purpose of the seminary is to train our future evangelicals—not to evangelize.” In this way, you set training against evangelism as separate purposes, suggesting the question, “What, pray tell, are we training them to do if not to evangelize?”

          Chillingly, with the punctuation as written (and I’m not trying to be a Grammar Nazi) the statement seems to indicate that we are training evangelicals not to witness: “Because the purpose of the seminary is to train our future evangelicals not to evangelize.”

          I hope we never train our students “not to evangelize.”

          • Chris Roberts says


            Keep in mind, he’s already advocated lying. What’s the harm in a little spin?

          • says

            I agree with you much more that i disagree. I disagree with Parson much more that i agree. But c’mon Rick. you know what Parson was saying and statements like this do not advance the debate.

  51. Ron West says

    It would be nice if we could separate this question from the presence of Paige Patterson and consider the issues involved. That is probably impossible. Should a practicing Muslim or Mormon be allowed to attend SWBTS is the question. Is it against the policy or charter of the school? I think it is. Should the president be allowed to override policy on his own? I wouldn’t think so. Where are the trustees in this?

    CB and others go to great lengths to defend Dr. Patterson. Are they basing their defense on ethical or moral grounds or politics? Instead of asking above what if it were Mohler or Akin, the better question is “What if it was Russell Dilday who did this.” You now as well as I the trustees would have fired him immediately and CB and Volfan would have been screaming for blood. That is why it seems statements made on the board for or against issues are based more on whose side you are on than on right or wrong.

    • Volfan007 says


      You don’t know what CB and I would do…no idea, at all. And, I believe I have consistently said that I am not sure where I come down on this issue.

      • cb scott says

        Ron West,

        Your comment is pure hypocrisy. I base that declaration on the fact that the personality involved is Dr. Patterson. You simply don’t like him and it would matter not one iota what he does or does not do, you still do not like him. As for me, Baptist Blog history will prove that I have challenged him on more than one occasion.

        As to an associated issue, one of which you have not addressed, I realize; It has been stated that if this were Dr. Mohler or Dr. Akin, we/I would be attacking them. That is not true either. I can with all honesty declare that not once since Baptist Blogs began have I ever written one comment that put Dr. Akin or Dr. Mohler in a “bad light.”

        It will also prove to be true from a studied history of Baptist Blogs that I have, on more than one occasion, defended Dr. Dilday.

        Ron, you are not a newcomer to Baptist Blogs as are some of the guys commenting on this thread and others. You have been around from early in the beginning of this venue of Baptist communication. Therefore, you should know better than to make the comment you have made throwing my motives and those of David Worley toward such a base standard as you have.

        Therefore, I do not give you the pass I give many who comment here of late. They do not know the history you know. Thusly, I rebuke you, as a brother, and rightfully so for the willful intent to degrade David and I in your comment and the continued bitter spirit which you display in doing so.

        To All,

        Baptist Blog history will reveal that on many occasions I have challenged the actions and decisions of Dr. Patterson and a great number of men in leadership for the last 40 years in SBC life. Baptist Blog history will also reveal that I have defended the actions and decisions of Dr. Patterson and a great number of men in leadership for the last 40 years in SBC life. History will prove what I have stated here to be true regarding my involvement in the SBC. I have been my own man. There are many men who read SBC Voices who would have to verify that statement as true or they will be liars. Here I stand and the devil can take the hindmost parts with the rest of it. I shall be in Baltimore of any or all of you would desire to speak to me face-to-face about any issue of SBC life of which I am involved.

        Ron West,

        I have often agreed with you on specific issues. Your bitterness obviously has led you to ignore that fact. You should apologize to David Worley for degrading his motives here. As for me, I could not care less if you do or do not. I have stated my position and will stand firm. You, Ron West, are a bitter, judgmental, and resentful man and you need to stand down.

  52. Louis says

    I appreciate the posting of Dr. Patterson’s response. It was helpful, and I agree with David Brumbelow – it is vintage Patterson.

    But this is an awful policy.

    At our church, we have written recommendations for students for admission to SBC seminaries. The application, the form recommendation etc. all are directed to the applicant’s personal faith.

    The stated purpose of the seminaries is to train people for Christian service.

    I am for the building of relationships with non-Christians.

    I am for sharing the Christian message with non-Christians. Our seminaries can do that in a variety of ways.

    But admission to the degree programs of the seminary is beyond the pale.

    I like Dr. Patterson. I am a CR supporter.

    But this is a bad idea that cries out for Trustee action. If it doesn’t come, the matter will probably not go away.

    The vision for what a seminary is has been so clearly articulated by Dr. Mohler. Dr. Mohler would never do this.

    That is exhibit A as to why Southern has grown so much in the last 20 years.

    That clarity of vision is important to our seminaries.

    If the SBC wants to change what the seminaries are supposed to do, so be it.

    But that should be an open, deliberate process.

    • Rick Patrick says

      I was with you until you insinuated that Patterson’s visionary leadership was somehow inferior to Mohler’s, suggesting he would “never do this.”

      Mohler has linked his seminary with an entire denomination going through a Penn State type scandal. Mohler’s questionable decision was not about one student like Patterson’s, but about a huge influx of students with whom Southern Baptists in general have little in common.

      Let’s not pretend Mahaneygate is a smaller scandal than Muslimgate. Spare me the halo on Mohler’s head and the pitchfork in Patterson’s hand. That’s so over the top it makes my stomach a little queasy.

      • Tarheel says

        Ok….meheneygate if you insist, rick.

        Being an autocratic jerk in his leadership style, doing as he wanted, surrounding himself with lackeys and defying anyone to question him….has been accused and yes proven regarding CJM…..in fact he’s openly admitted such sin and repented of it – ok enough about him.

        It seems to me that PP has over the years established much of the same reputation….I realize this is often in the eye of the beholder….but no honest observer can deny the above too is PPs reputation at the three institutions he’s lead.

        Is it possible that he’s now jumped the shark? Don’t know. But one thing is for certain….I do know that I feel strongly what he has done here is wrong. He’s openly violating the mission of our seminaries – and he’s doing so on his presidential authority….this poor decision rests on on him and him alone.

        • says

          I think you have hit on the salient point. This leadership style decision is not a one time situation. It seems to be his MO. Therein lies the problem.

  53. Louis says

    I agree that this is should not be a personality based thing.

    The issue is the policy.

    We should separate that from Dr. Patterson, Russell Dilday or whomever.

  54. Stephen M Young II says

    #4 What’s done is done?

    Admittedly, the institution has allowed him to enter the program. I am not sure what kind of binding legal issues there are there, however. He is not finished studying. If there were to be an addressing of the issue and a resolution that this student does not belong in the seminary, he should not continue. Allow him to keep credits earned, but there is no need for him to continue, just because. Unless there is some legal stuff there that requires it.

    If the school admits a practicing homosexual and allows him to get half-way through a degree, and a change in leadership or oversight brings it to light, would you want him to continue until the degree is earned, or to be removed from the studies?

    Seminary is not for abstract academic pursuits. It is not for providing professional degrees for jobs. It is not for “dialogue.” It is for training followers of Jesus in ministry in his name.

    • Tarheel says

      Stephen Young,

      “Seminary is not for abstract academic pursuits. It is not for providing professional degrees for jobs. It is not for “dialogue.” It is for training followers of Jesus in ministry in his name.”

      Yes, Yes, Yes, and YES!

      What you have posted really is the crux of the matter…

        • Tarheel says


          Volfan did not say that …. I did.

          Volfan has not thus far taken a stand on the actual issue..he’s only decrying the timing and sluffing off arguments as all based in hatred of PP.

          It seems a bit odd….he, like myself, is not known for lack of opinion and stand regarding issues discussed here.

  55. William Thornton says

    Burleson has three articles on this and declares there is more information and future posts to come.

    So, how many Mormon students are there at SWBTS? PP said he made a few special admits over decades. Are there more than a few?

    Burleson apparently has first hand sources who reported that Patterson threatened dismissal if the Muslim student admit was made public. If the action was rare and reasonable then why the alleged secrecy and intimidation? It’s not rare for SBC administrators to be excessively authoritarian, just unhealthy.

    Have trustees of SWBTS been instructed to keep silent and allow Patterson’s statement to stand alone? One of the big disappointments to me in SBC life has been the weakness of trustees. We saw this at the IMB, at NAMB for an extended period, and at MBTS. If trustees think PP acted properly at least the chairman should say so openly and unashamedly.

    • cb scott says

      “One of the big disappointments to me in SBC life has been the weakness of trustees.”

      William Thornton,

      You have identified the core and the primary cause of many problems in SBC life over the last 15 years. Entity trustees with private agendas and personal desires for professional advancement have greatly hurt the effectiveness of the system regarding proper governance of that to which they have been entrusted.

      • Jason Sampler says

        CB is absolutely correct, along with those trustees who ended up being invertebrates and cowtoed the line theIR entity head drew in the sand. What man (or woman) lets his/her supervisee tell the supervisor(s) how it’s going to be? Only in the SBC.

      • says

        William and Dr. CB in a few words has stated years of Baptist history. It seems that few trustees will put their reputation on the line for truth. Even worse the “right” attitude will get you far in SB institutional life. Do I have “proof” of this with names, dates etc. Perhaps not. But don’t try to tell this 70 year old veteran of SB life that I am wrong. I have been around the block too many times.

        • Tarheel says

          I truly hope that the SWBTS trustees are not a bunch of wussies like ya’ll are contending.

          Bart does not seem to be that way…neither does another individual I know on the Trustee Board.

          • says

            I hope so too. We will see. I agree concerning Bart from what I know about him. I will stand by my words above, but am willing to admit that sometimes a Board has information that the general public does not and perhaps should not have that impacts their decisions. Having served on two state college boards I know that is the case.

  56. Tarheel says

    Volfan, I’m reposting and awaiting response, sir…

    Volfan, I’m a Calvinist who doesn’t agree with him always but respects Dr. Patterson for his fighting for the right during the CR.

    I’m deeply concerned and more than a little outraged by this revelation…I have made several arguments aside from any personal animus. Others have made sound arguments as well…but they’re being summarily dismissed.

    I just don’t think it’s fair or wise to dismiss these issues as simply “hating” on PP.

    I think when something of this import is discovered….we’d be wise to analyze and discuss it rather than just dismiss it.

    Timing, and hating aside…..volfan please tell us how YOU feel about the issue at hand….the granting of a Christian ministry degree by an SBC seminary to a Muslim/Mormon?

    What say ye?

    – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/swbts-muslim-student-scandal-or-tempest-in-a-teapot/#comment-241107

  57. John Wylie says

    We need to keep this about whether or not non Christians should be admitted in SBC seminaries, and not about Dr. Patterson. I find it alarming that in general people’s personal feelings about Dr. Patterson is framing this discussion. I also find it alarming that when people bring this fact up others are quick to dismiss this as reality.

    Anyone who knows anything about recent SBC history knows that there is not much loved lost between Dr. Patterson and the reformed camp. Do I think that at least some of the angst is motivated by this? Obviously.

    On the other hand, although I generally regard myself as a Dr. Patterson supporter, I’m still going to say I think he’s wrong on this issue. Do I think it’s some big scandal that should result in his firing? No, I don’t.

    • Tarheel says

      I agree….and I’ve tried to keep my comments off Patterson….but others (fans and non fans) keep brining him into it.

      Fans keep bringing up Mohler, Maheney, timing, grudges, etc…..I admit it’s hard to not address those comments. I’ll keep trying to stay on topic.

      • Tarheel says

        While the timing,grudges are a reality – sure….fans shouldn’t use that as a a basis to dismiss and refuse to take a stand…

        Wrong is wrong no matter who does it!

        • Tarheel says

          Also. To a certain extent it’s impossible to discuss a decision one has made without discussing the person who made the decision. The trick is to keep personal animus / unwavering support out of it.

          • John Wylie says


            For what its worth I think that your comments on this issue have been very fair and even handed.

            And as to your last comment, that is precisely what I am calling for.

          • says

            Also for what it is worth, I agree with John. A favorite ploy of one who disagrees with another is to make the accusation of being unkind.

  58. Dave Miller says

    We had a good discussion going on, but this has descended into mudslinging and long since lost its value.

    Let’s find something else to talk about.

  59. David Thompson says

    It doesn’t matter whether you love Dr. Patterson or loathe him. It doesn’t matter whether you think admission of Muslim students is ok or not. To me it boils down to two simple issues: 1. what is the chartered purpose of the school? It is not and never has been to train Muslim archeologists! Its purpose is to prepare and train already mature Christians for effective ministry to the body of Christ. Period. Not Allah, not Muhammed, not Joseph Smith. Need salvation? There are more appropriate places to go.
    2. What fellowship hath light with darkness? No man can serve two masters. First lay the foundation then build upon it. The NT is overflowing with examples and instruction as to why the whole Muslim student thing is not going to work.

    I sure would love to hear Adrian Rogers’ take on this if he were alive. He was my beloved pastor for 8 years and I do miss him at times like this.

    • Tarheel says


      A seminary is not a place for intentional evangelism like this.

      It’s one thing when a man or woman is enrolled and ends up realizing thier nit saved…but to admit those who profess to false religion (Muslims) and cults (Mormons) are. Different story.

      This unilateral action by Preident Patterson is Clearly against the mission of the school.