In modern evangelical Christian culture, there can be those who rise so high in popularity that they are beyond criticism. There are those who have make such a significant contribution in the past to the cause of Christ that they they can appear to be untouchable when in the wrong. Such is the case with Paige Patterson. The once stalwart architect of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention and president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has in recent years acted in such a way that he is not longer fit to lead and should, for the good of the convention, the reputation of Christ, and the advancement of the gospel, step down from public ministry and leadership of an institution charged with forming the theology and character of the next generation of pastors. For those unfamiliar with the situation, you can read an article by Ed Stetzer which chronicles the disqualification of Patterson. In addition, a young man who is a seminary student at SWBTS has been fired from his position there after tweeting Stetzer's article.
It was confirmed by those who know Mr. Montgomery that this is in fact the case. He has been fired. So, a theological institution that represents not only the SBC, but Christ and the gospel have acted in a way that should be expected of a political campaign whose candidate has been caught in a scandal and a staffer tweeted an article about it. I would expect that from a political campaign because it is abundantly evident that politicians don't care about integrity or what's right. That should not be able to be said by an institution that represents the gospel. Paige Patterson is unfit to lead and should resign immediately. He has shown a lack of judgement, and has made comments about an underage young lady from the pulpit that are disgusting, objectifying and downright ungodly (which can be found here). No pastor should be able to be confused with a creepy pedafile and as a father of two young girls, he should not be an example of what godly masculinity and leadership looks like for them. We can, we must, do better. Below is an email that I sent to his Chief of Staff, Scott Colter (ZColter@swbts.edu). I would encourage others to email and call for Patterson's resignation as well. Accountability goes hand in hand with responsibility.
"Dear Mr. Colter,
My name is Jon Hawkins and I am a pastor at a church in Nebraska as well as a graduate of SBTS. I am writing in regards to a situation regarding a student, Nathan Montgomery. It has come to my attention that Mr. Montgomery tweeted an article by Ed Stetzer that was critical or Dr. Patterson regarding, among other things, comments he made in a sermon that are unbecoming a minister of the gospel much less a man of God who is claiming Jesus Christ as Lord. This young man posted this article on his personal twitter account and Ed Stetzer replied in a tweet that he was subsequently fired from his job at SWBTS
I have also spoken with men who know Mr. Montgomery and describe him as a man of integrity and a godly young man. It has been confirmed by those who know him that he has indeed been fired. This is absolutely corrupt, deplorable, and totally inconsistent with an organization that claims to value integrity and truth. It is beyond debate that Dr. Patterson said what he said and that it was inappropriate, offensive, perverted, and brought shame to the name of Jesus Christ. The fact that one would get fired by the institution he leads for pointing that out is ungodly.
I am formally calling for the resignation of Dr. Patterson as well as the reinstatement of and public apology to Mr. Montgomery. Dr. Patterson has brought reproach upon the name of Christ and should no longer represent the SBC and lead SWBTS. Mr. Montgomery should not suffer unjust termination because he was willing to post something that was legitimately critical of Dr. Patterson. SWBTS need to issue a formal and sincere apology and repent of corruption. I will continue to be outspoken about this injustice until it is made right and will use all means under my power to persuade others to be as well.
As Dr. Patterson’s Chief Of Staff, I recognize that there might be a temptation to not share this with him because it might place your position in jeopardy. While I realize that might be the reality, men of God are not called to cower to intimidation when it comes to matters of truth and right. I encourage you to act with integrity and boldness in this matter, recognizing that how you act is directly connected not only to the livelihood of a brother in Christ (Mr. Montgomery) but also to the reputation of the seminary you serve, the convention you represent, and the Lord and Savior you love. May God grant you the grace to act in such a way that you can stand before him blameless in this matter.
Husband to Carlee, Papa to Fin and Ainsley, Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Arbor Drive Community Church in York, Ne., and co-host of The Pastor Discussions Podcast.
Jon is husband to Carlee, Papa to Finleigh, Ainsley, and Olivia, a pastor at Arbor Drive Community Church in York, Ne, and co-host of The Pastor Discussions Podcast