Connect316 is a group of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders that essentially exists to oppose Calvinism in the denomination, holding to what they have termed “Traditionalism.” A historic misnomer, the doctrinal position held by Connect316 is a rather new and novel mediated position between Calvinism and Arminianism, subordinating God’s sovereignty to man’s Free Will while holding to the Calvinistic doctrine of Eternal Security. A pivotal leader in Connect316, Rick Patrick, has recently had to resign due to what he acknowledges was an inappropriate and insensitive comment.
Patrick, an ally of staunch anti-Calvinist, Paige Patterson, attempted to make a point regarding the lack of evidence presented against him in the Washington Post (an article written by a journalist heavily associated with New Calvinists, Russell Moore and Tim Keller). His point, however salient, was overshadowed by the crassness of its content.
Sarah Smith is an investigative reporter with the Star Telegram in Ft. Worth, Texas. Once she tweeted the comment made by Rick Patrick, the outrage was swift and severe.
Patrick’s point was a simple one; anyone can claim anything about anyone else, and without evidence, there is no good way to determine the truth or veracity of their claims. The #MeToo Movement is built upon the presupposition that people self-identifying as “victims” must be trusted by nothing but the virtue of their victimhood. With the #MeToo Movement beginning to lose steam because of many unsubstantiated claims and the torching of several fine gentlemen with dubious accusations (which is unfortunate for those many real victims out there), it would behoove all of us to make sure that accusations are substantiated before judgments are made.
That would have been a good way for Patrick to make his point. But instead, Patrick made a comment (left) about a donkey being gang-raped by some of Patterson’s chiefest critics. The hyperbole and obvious argument ad absurdum was meant by Patrick to demonstrate that it is indeed radical to take someone’s word as Gospel, especially without evidence other than their years-old, previously heretofore unshared personal testimony.
Snowflake culture was in full display afterward, with deep guffaws being heard all throughout social media. The social faux pas of Patrick should have been clear. First, you are not allowed to question the testimony of a self-professed victim in the #MeToo Movement. That should have been very clear. Second, a man is definitely not allowed to question the testimony of a professed victim in the #MeToo Movement. Third, pastors should probably not be throwing around the term “gang-raped” for the sake of making a rhetorical point. Fourth, by calling out so many names specifically, like Burleson, Cole, Moore, Stetzer, and Merritt, it just increased the number of people who would be incensed at Patrick’s phraseology. And fifth, considering that Merritt is pretty gay to begin with, it’s probably not cool to insinuate he may be a beastophile on top of that (no matter how tongue-in-cheek it is meant).
I am far from a perfect man. Tuesday afternoon, I learned that a man I greatly admire was fired from his position as a Seminary President. The timing of the charges against him that broke in a Washington Post story took place right in the middle of a board meeting to discuss his future. This seemed very convenient to me at the time, and to a number of people, as if this were a planned “hit job.” Now, I don’t know what to think.
On a private Facebook group, we were discussing how anyone could make any kind of accusation about someone, even from years ago, and they would be assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. I sinned by posting a comment about the worst thing I could think of that a person could do, and then sarcastically imagined five of the people I felt were responsible for the “hit job” doing that thing. I am truly sorry for typing those words. I have reached out by telephone to two of the people and by email to the other three while I attempt to reach them by phone as well. The two I have spoken with have both been gracious.
I posted my comment when I was extremely upset at the news of my ministry hero’s firing. I will not repeat the comment, for it was honestly reprehensible and completely unworthy of Christ.
Then, Connect316 issued a statement that the board accepted Patrick’s resignation. In their statement, they seemed to forget the whole, “Grace to the Humbled, Law to the Proud” sort of thing:
Connect 316 does not condone, endorse, or approve of Rick Patrick’s remarks. We find them reprehensible and unbecoming of Christian comportment.
We have accepted the resignation of Rick Patrick from Connect 316 and have called upon him to apologize to each individual he insulted and ask for their forgiveness.
Although Rick Patrick was not speaking on behalf of Connect 316 when he made those deplorable remarks, we understand how terribly hurtful they were and would like to extend our apologies to each individual who was maligned.
Dr. Patrick’s comments do not reflect the character, heart, and purposes of C316.
The Bible is pretty clear about this type of thing. Ephesians 4:29 reads, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
However, in the weird, upside-down universe we live in, I find myself with compassion for Patrick. His language is worth a loving rebuke. Like, somebody should have said, “Could you have made that point without talking about gang-raping a donkey?” However, let’s not pretend that Patrick’s public fashion show of sackcloth and baptism of ashes has anything to do with genuine concern for filthy talk. It’s very simple; Patrick made what should have been an obvious point to anyone, but was extremely politically incorrect. Because his comment was crass, it gave the Snowflake Mob a reason to take off his head. All they needed was a reason to play the victim, and he gave it to them.
What’s interesting and of what we should take note is the quickness with which the Connect316 board responded, and the gracelessness they gave to Patrick in their statement. The firing of Paige Patterson has forever changed the status quo of how Southern Baptists respond to culture and media. With the giant fallen, the minions are scattering. “Traditionalists” are scared silly over Patterson’s demise, and they don’t know what to do with themselves; all they know is they’re scared. And frankly, they should be.
The Social Justice mob is entirely 100% united behind the goal of radically transforming the Southern Baptist Convention and wider evangelicalism. And frankly, they’re going to.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
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