In Response to the SWBTS Board of Trustees Decision

Like many of you, I was taken by surprise by the May 30th release of the statement by the SWBTS Board of Trustees Executive Committee concerning the termination of Dr. Paige Patterson in its dramatic contrast to their previous decision. I do not know what the new allegations were or what added information brought them to this decision. What is clearly stated, however, is that they came to their decision unanimously and took action immediately and did so in order to be consistent with the biblically informed core values of SWBTS. They did so in order to make crystal clear that the Seminary stands and will stand against all forms of abuse. And they did so to grieve for individuals wounded by abuse. For these reasons, I deeply respect their decision and applaud their tremendous courage in what has surely been a brutal process. The committee members, too, should be in our prayers.


These are sobering days. These are days for each of us to go on our faces before God, searching our own sin-prone hearts, repenting for our own transgressions and asking God to dislodge planks out of our own eyes. We can and often do hold to attitudes so long that are so wrong, so skewed, but shared by so many people with tattered Bibles, marked by highlighters and sketched with margin notes that how could we be wrong? Especially after we were right about so many other things?


These things ought to scare us to death. These things are presently scaring me to death. Only a fool gloats when others fail. He or she is surely next. The mighty arm of God is swinging. He is so patient, merciful and kind. I do not doubt that He has urged and urged these matters to repentance and transformation only to be resisted and now, no less out of His mercy, grace and love for the church, He is coming swiftly. All those standing, beating their chests, are at a dangerous altitude for getting hit. The only safe place for any of us right now is down low. From there God will set us back on our feet in due time, freshly humbled and, therefore, ready for greater works to come as we carry the torch of the gospel in an increasingly dark world.


I without hesitation fully support the Trustees’ removal of Dr. Patterson but without pleasure or personal satisfaction. I only have sorrow for the excruciating pain the Patterson family is surely enduring. They will be in my prayers for a long time. So will those who have suffered the double heap of pain in having been hurt then unheard, particularly by those who were in positions to be protectors. There are many matters outside my realm of experience but, having served women for thirty-five years, this is not one of them. I am very familiar with the ravages of sexual molestation, harassment, abuse, assault and rape. I am very familiar with the demoralizing numbers of victims within our church culture silenced by fear, intimidation, shame, bullying and such manipulation of biblical submission as to border on pathological. These are acts of second-wave abuse, beyond civil action in court perhaps, but not beyond the court of the Ancient of Days. May He have mercy on us all.


Here is what I also know. I know how much healing can come when those who added to the hurt and did not act faithfully – or rightly repent when confronted with such – ultimately repent then, rather than shrinking back in shame, become an active part of restoration. My deep hope is that Dr. Patterson will take the necessary time to heal, reflect, seek counsel, as so many of us have, to determine what went wrong and why, then become active in helping create a healthier culture for both men and women marked by Christlikeness. What full redemption that would be. What honor and dignity.


What outshines this present darkness is the stunning number of courageous people who gleam like stars in the sky, holding firmly to the word of life in a warped and crooked generation.


*People like Megan Lively, who valiantly came forward, giving the Seminary the gift of opportunity to act rightly in the surfacing knowledge of woefully long-wrongs. There are others whose names are not public who also showed tremendous courage in telling their stories to those in positions to affect much needed change.


*People like the SWBTS Trustees who worked tirelessly and prayerfully to come to the right decision under terribly difficult circumstances.


*The burgeoning number of pastors, ministers and brothers in Christ who have spoken up and are presently speaking out against the abuse and misuse of women and girls and calling for the dignity and honor to be given them that Christlikeness demands. I have no words big enough to express my gratitude to God for the brothers who were simply never part of the disesteem in the first place.


*The countless women who have simply hung in there and served God through their churches. Also, the women who have been called into the ring at significant personal expense to fight lovingly and brilliantly for change. Karen Swallow Prior cannot go without mention among these. She is too good for this world but, Dear Lord in Heaven, how grateful we are that she is still in it.


The winds of change have been blowing for a while. But these winds have been upgraded to a hurricane. A holy hurricane. And what you do after a hurricane – I know this for a fact – is roll up your sleeves, love like you’ve never loved before, prepare for a long haul of healing, run first to the aid of those with the most destruction then to the larger community hurting, survey the damage, clean out the mud and debris and start rebuilding on solid rock.


“and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18





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