After Social Justice advocates released a letter from Paige Patterson in 2012 thanking God for the election of the SBC’s first black president, the progressive evangelical establishment is now skewering the former denominational leader as a racist.
In the letter, Patterson glowingly praised Fred Luter, the first black leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, but also expressed concern that Luter would make appointments based on the content of one’s character and not the color of their skin. In doing so, Patterson echoed the sentiment of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.
Desiring to tarnish the image of Patterson – and along with him, the conservatism they want to destroy – liberal evangelicals and progressive Baptists are painting the old faithful warhorse as a racist.
When truth becomes “racist,” you know that political correctness has overtaken common sense. When genuine and rational concerns give cause to impugn one with bigotry, you know the Popularity Gospel has replaced authentic religion.
The letter gives explicit praise for Luter but voices a common-sense concern, which apparently is a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of reputational impeachment.
To recap, Patterson…
(1) Said he hoped Luter would appoint minority-identifying people to positions of leadership in the SBC
(2) Said he is glad the SBC elected a black president.
(3) Said he is glad the SBC elected Fred Luter.
However, Patterson said that he wrote a letter to Luter, reminding him of the importance of appointing people who believe in Biblical inerrancy. He went on to allege – rightfully so – that finding pastors who affirm and understand essential doctrines like inerrancy is not as easy among certain ethnic demographics as it is others.
This is a true statement, as anyone with common sense and the courage of conviction would acknowledge.
One need look no further than Dwight McKissic, a prominent black voice in the SBC who is an egalitarian, liberal, and charismatic, to be concerned. In fact, in just the last week, we have seen black religious advocates tout Tony Evans as the greatest black theologian alive. Tony Evans, however, is an inclusivist, Open Theist, and Pelagian. They’re not helping their case.
David Platt famously asked at the 2018 Together for the Gospel conference why there weren’t more black faces in the audience. The answer, of course, is that many predominately black churches adopted the very same Social Gospel now promoted by the Evangelical Intelligentsia, and it either killed their churches or turned them into Black Liberation doctrinal cesspools.
Southern Baptist leaders like Danny Akin, who is the president of one of the same seminaries where Patterson once presided and who is now overseeing an ideological dismantling of conservatism at Southeastern Seminary, immediately started attacking the elder Patterson.
Steve Gaines, pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church, piled on (as you can see above), calling Patterson’s comments “racist and beyond excuse.”
It’s here that recent history should be injected.
H.B. Charles was the first black pastor elected as president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference for 2018. Charles immediately stacked the deck of the conference lineup with “minority faces.” However, as we wrote about at the time in the post, 2018 SBC Pastor’s Conference is Affirmative Action in Action, With Predictable Result, a number of the speakers were sub-orthodox. One of Charles’ appointments was Pelagian heretic, Tony Evans.
People were so excited at what Charles advertised as “a conference lineup with five African American preachers, one Hispanic preacher, and six Anglos” (that’s how the Arkansas Baptist News favorably described it) that they hardly noticed that several aren’t fit to speak at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or the American Baptist Convention, let alone the SBC.
H.B. Charles’ race-based conference appointments speak truth to Patterson’s concerns. Race-based favoritism exists, and every leader should strive to appoint people with the right values, not the right skin color.
However, this level of common sense is not fitting for Akin (who has already removed all references to Paige and Dorothy Patterson from SEBTS) or other woke leaders.
The reality is, at this point, it is not about destroying Patterson. The woke leftists of the SBC want to destroy the idea that any conservative has ever been virtuous.
As Cody Libolt comments, “Patterson is no threat. But they want to make John MacArthur or Jordan Hall or James White or Judd Saul or Tom Ascol or any non-egalitarian non-CRT advocate out to be a racist, and they are going to bring Patterson in as a talking point in order to try to attack traditionalists and contras or anyone associated with contras.”
The goal is that the intellectual climate would become so oppressive to conservatives that they will keep their heads down or compromise to stay in power, as Albert Mohler clearly will. They are shifting the Overton Window.
The strategic response from us must be to say, “To hell with you. You aren’t Christians and you wouldn’t know sound theology to be able to judge whether black churches have it.“
Statistically, churches that are predominantly black are also predominantly more heretical than white churches on average. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of heretics to go around for every ethnicity. But between Black Liberation Theology (which is now being pushed upon us in the name of Social Justice) and unabashed charismaticism, the reality is if you’re an African American who is biblically orthodox you are probably worshipping in a predominately white church.
If you don’t like that fact, good. I don’t like it either. But I’m not going to pretend it’s not true. Hopefully, we are working to solve that problem. In theory, every race-based conference on the topic of ethnicity should be brain-storming on how to fix this problem. And acknowledging that it exists is the second step to fixing it. And the first step is that people like those bashing Paige Patterson should be named as wolves.
What is happening to Paige Patterson – and God and everyone else knows we’ve had our disagreements – is nothing short of the religious version of tearing down monuments of our Founding Fathers because they’re politically incorrect, except that Patterson isn’t yet in the grave.
They’re not trying to destroy Patterson. They’re trying to destroy his legacy. They’re trying to destroy conservatism. They’re trying to cast down the ebenezers that mark remembrance of a time when the SBC was conservative. They want to paint the Conservative Resurgence as a mistake and its leaders as moral vagabonds.
As you watch progressivists rip Patterson apart for doing nothing but speaking truth and prioritizing Biblical inerrancy, remember that next they’ll be coming for you.
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