5 Reasons to be Thankful for Paige Patterson, President of SWBTS

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with four children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Udemy, YouTube, and iTunes (Podcast).

Paige Patterson is President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). He’s faithfully led this SBC seminary since 2003. Here are 5 reasons to be thankful for Paige Patterson.

1. He is a living hero of the Conservative Resurgence. The SBC as you know it, with its thriving entities, cooperative program, theological conservatism, and confessional fortitude, would not be here without the work of Paige Patterson. All Southern Baptists should be thankful for Paige Patterson, if for this reason alone. The reason why we’re not debating among ourselves over whether or not homosexual acts are sin and whether or not biological men and women can self-identify their gender is because of the unwavering perseverance of Paige Patterson, and men and women like him. Look around you at the other denominations that comprised on the inerrancy of Scripture in the past 50 years. Look at where they are now, what they’re debating. That would have been our future or worse if not for Dr. Patterson (SOURCE. Also, you can access the AWESOME “Paige Patterson Conservative Resurgence Collection” digital archive of SWBTS for free here.).

(Young people, listen. Those of us who were not born or were only kids (I’m 36) during the Conservative Resurgence (1970’s-2000’s), may lack gratitude for those brave men who came before us. It’s not easy to stand up against the arrows of the evil one, demanding we compromise on the clear teaching of Scripture or else. That’s why so many denominations have wilted and bowed to the culture’s whim. But Patterson and others did not bow, they fought in the face of great opposition. Do you not think that they were ridiculed, called names, threatened, etc.? They had many, many nights of weeping, many nights of temptation to compromise, but they stood strong. You and I and all Southern Baptists stand on their shoulders. Without them, there would not be an “us,” there would not be an SBC as we know it.)

2. He affirms the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. He appointed the committee that crafted the BF&M2K, and he presided over the session as SBC President that adopted the confession (SOURCE). This confession and holding our entities to it, helps ensure that we will never need another Conservative Resurgence. But make no mistake, we must always defend the truth, or else we sleep and the thief comes in to steal, kill, and destroy.

3. His evangelistic zeal is second to none. I cannot name another person in the SBC that has more evangelistic zeal than Paige Patterson. When I hear him preach, I find myself often guilt-ridden, not due to my lack of evangelism, but due to the greatness of his. I’m not sure if there is anyone comparable to him in this area, and I’m praying God raises up others in the likeness of President Patterson.

4. He’s passing on his evangelistic fervor to many generations. If you read Patterson’s report at the SBC ’17 (SOURCE), or any of his past annual reports, one common thread is personal evangelism. He expects and encourages both his faculty and his students to exercise personal evangelism on a daily basis. If the SBC needs anything to go with its defense of the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture, it’s a heavy emphasis on personal evangelism. God can raise up another Billy Graham anywhere; He’s God. But one should assume that the next Billy Graham will be educated, encouraged, and prodded by other faithful Christians; and SWBTS is an institution that can do that, in large part, because Paige Patterson is at the helm.

5. He’s encouraged growth in reaching ethnic students. The ethnic student body has grown at SWBTS “from 1,295 ethnic students in 2014-2015 to 1,477 ethnic students in 2015- 2016” (SOURCE). The gospel is for the nations; seminary education is for the nations. Our SBC seminaries need to reflect more and more the New Jerusalem, the New Heavens and New Earth. We need to reach the nations and one of the best ways to do that is to educate Christians from the nations who will then take the gospel back to their nations. Many nations gather around the throne of the Lamb to worship in the end (Rev. 7:9); may all nations gather today in our SBC seminaries, SBC entities, and especially our SBC churches as well!

There are many others reasons to be thankful for Dr. Patterson. I’ve only listed a few; his resume’ reads like a myth or legend. God has used him in a mighty way. The SBC needs more men and women like him.

Thank you for your hard work and perseverance Dr. Patterson. I’m indebted to you. My wife and children are indebted to you. Evangelicalism is indebted to you. The SBC is indebted to you.

*Be sure to listen to Dr. Patterson’s presentation from SWBTS at the Southern Baptist Convention 2017.

You can read, “5 Reasons to be Thankful for Kevin Ezell, President of NAMB” here.

SBC PC: Mark Dever Speaks about John Onwuchekwa

As you know, each of the speakers for this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, AZ was nominated by someone.  I asked each speaker’s nominator to answer a few questions about the person they nominated, and we have been posting their responses here at SBC Voices over the last few months.

John Onwuchekwa is one of the speakers for the conference.  He will be preaching Sunday evening from Philippians 1:12-26.  John is the pastor of a church plant in Atlanta, GA called Cornerstone Church.  He was nominated by Mark Dever.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Dever about John, and I want to share some of the highlights of that conversation with you.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Mark Dever pastors, does a number of things to equip pastors.  One of those things is the 9 Marks weekender where they host around 100 pastors, seminarians, and church leaders for a full-on immersion in the life and inner workings of CHBC.  It was through one of these weekender conferences that Mark first got to know John.  Their friendship continued to grow from there.  CHBC also has a pastoral internship program where they receive 6 interns for a five or six month period of intense discipleship and training in pastoral ministry.  John was able to participate in that internship program several years ago at an important time in his life and ministry.

When asked why he nominated John to speak at the Pastors’ Conference, Mark said that in addition to him meeting the criteria of being the pastor of a smaller membership church, “John preaches the Bible really, really well.”  Mark’s confidence in John’s preaching ability is demonstrated in the fact that he has had John speak on several occasions at 9 Marks conferences.  John is even scheduled to speak at a pre-conference in Phoenix June 9-10.

Mark’s respect for John and thankfulness for what the Lord has done in John’s life was evident in our conversation.  Mark described John as a delightful person.  He spoke of John’s commitment to the Word and desire to faithfully shepherd God’s people.  We are excited to have John speaking at this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference.

If you have not yet made plans to be in Phoenix for the conference, do so now.  It promises to be a great time as we gather to hear from God through His Word.  If you aren’t able to make it to the conference, be sure to catch the livestream beginning Sunday evening.

Offering for the ERLC – SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with four children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Udemy, YouTube, and iTunes (Podcast).

The church I pastor, Cumberland Homesteads Baptist Church in Crossville, TN, is planning to take up an offering for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on June 4, 2017. I want to encourage your church to do the same (Add it to your Church Calendar). Why June 4? This date is the Sunday before June 8, which marks 228 years from when James Madison first presented his constitutional amendments (Bill of Rights) to the House of Representatives (Source). Madison included religious liberty (the 1st Amendment) in large part due to the work of Baptist pastor John Leland, who threatened to run for Madison’s seat if he did not plead the Baptist cause for religious liberty (Source). Madison kept his word to defend religious liberty and the rest is history.

What is the ERLC’s purpose? “The ERLC is dedicated to engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing. Our vision can be summed up in three words: kingdom, culture and mission” (Source).

Who leads the ERLC? The ERLC President is Dr. Russell Moore. He has courageously and faithfully lead the ERLC since 2013. He has lead the ERLC to speak and act in accordance with our confession (BF&M2K, especially Article XVII. Religious Liberty), to carry out their responsibilities in accordance with the ministry statement approved by Southern Baptists (included below), and he has spoken in line with the SBC resolution “On Moral Character of Public Officials” (1998). By all accounts, he is a faithful Christian, husband, father, Southern Baptist, leader, and preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has used him mightily and I look forward to seeing how God uses him and the ERLC in the future.

All love offering checks can be made to the “ERLC” and mailed to

901 Commerce Street
Suite 550
Nashville, TN 37203

If you would like to make an individual donation, you can also donate online here.


The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

Ministry Statement Approved (by the SBC) June 1997


The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission exists to assist the churches by helping them understand the moral demands of the gospel, apply Christian principles to moral and social problems and questions of public policy, and to promote religious liberty in cooperation with the churches and other Southern Baptist entities.


1. Assist Churches in applying the moral and ethical teachings of the Bible to the Christian life.

Provide research, information resources, consultation, and counsel to denominational entities, churches and individuals with regard to the application of Christian principles in everyday living and the nation’s public life.

2. Assist churches through the communication and advocacy of moral and ethical concerns in the public arena.

Represent Southern Baptists in communicating the ethical positions of the Southern Baptist Convention to the public and to public officials.

3. Assist churches in their moral witness in local communities.

Provide information resources that inform and equip churches for active moral witness in their communities.

4. Assist churches and other Southern Baptist entities by promoting religious liberty.

Provide information and counsel to denominational entities, churches, and individuals regarding appropriate responses to religious liberty concerns; represent Southern Baptists in communicating the positions of the Southern Baptist Convention on religious liberty issues to the public and to public officials.

What Changed? (a question in light of Prestonwood Baptist’s decision to escrow gifts to the Cooperative Program)

Big news yesterday from the church of an ex-SBC president. Jack Graham said that Prestonwood Baptist has decided to “to escrow gifts previously forwarded to support Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministries while the congregation discusses concerns about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention,” according to Will Hall at the Baptist Message, the “news journal” of Louisiana Baptists.

While each church has the right to determine how to support the cooperative efforts of the SBC, this particular decision takes on a more public light given Graham’s previous position as SBC President, the significance of the sum of money, and the decision of Prestonwood leadership to speak with the Baptist Message about their decision.

According to Hall’s article, Mike Buster, executive pastor of the church, said the decision stems from “various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.” Hall goes on to write, “Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has created tensions among Southern Baptists by signing a friend of the court brief in support of the construction of a mosque, and, for making strident insults against evangelical supporters of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election process.” It is not clear, though, from Hall’s article if these are specific concerns stated by Prestonwood representatives or interjections by Hall himself.

Nonetheless, Hall’s words raise the specter that the church’s decision is rooted in positions taken by Dr. Moore on the issues of religious liberty and political candidates. To be fair to both sides, Moore did state some of his positions in a calloused manner, a reality for which he later apologized.

I want to return to the statement: “Various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.” In light of Hall’s article, significant positions center especially on the ERLC’s filing of the amicus brief and Moore’s opposition to Trump as president.

My question in response to this is: When did the beliefs and values of many in the SBC change?

I would like to point to three resolutions adopted by the messengers of the SBC since the mid-1990s. Though non-binding, resolutions do reflect the opinions held by messengers of Southern Baptist Churches present at the conventions. First, messengers adopted a resolution on Religious Liberty in 1995 at the Atlanta, GA, convention. The resolution states:

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, By the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, that the Southern Baptist Convention express its support for all peoples suffering denial of religious liberty, but especially for those who are of the household of faith, and even more particularly for those who share Baptist convictions and commitments…

Taking a Galatians 6 angle of doing good to all people and especially to those of the household of faith, the resolution states that we as the SBC support religious liberty for all people. Yes, our main focus should be upon our Christian brothers and sisters, but not to the denial of liberty for others. If you read the resolution, this attitude is rooted in the desire to help Christians in persecuted countries worship and evangelize freely. In other words, the messengers understood a connection between freedom for all religions and our liberty as Christians to evangelize the nations.

Another resolution, passed at the 2011 convention in Phoenix, AZ, expresses a similar idea. The desire within the resolution is to want people in Islamic countries to have the freedom to convert away from Islam. Yet, with this in mind, the first five resolveds state:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011, restate our long-standing view that religious liberty is an inalienable human right, rooted in the image of God and possessed by all human beings; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that this freedom entails the civil liberty to convert to another religion or to no religion, to seek to persuade others of the claims of one’s religion, and to worship without harassment or impediment from the state; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose the imposition of any system of jurisprudence by which people of different faiths do not enjoy the same legal rights; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deny that any government should use any coercive measure—including zoning laws or permits—to restrict religious speech or worship, based on the theological content of that speech or worship; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the United States government to maintain complete religious liberty for all Americans, as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution; and be it further…

In short, the messengers to the SBC spoke their view that people of different faiths than Christianity deserve the same rights of freedom as Christianity, and the government should not use coercive measures against such freedoms.

So, if the resolutions of 1995 and 2011 speak an opinion of the SBC, it would seem that the view presented by Hall and Prestonwood representatives is out of step with the beliefs and values of many in the SBC. Unless, that is, they are contending that our beliefs and values on religious liberty have changed over the past six years.

As to Moore’s positions against Trump, I point to a resolution adopted at the 1998 convention in Salt Lake City, UT. The “Resolution on the Moral Character of Public Officials” concludes:

“Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.”

In the midst of the moral scandals of the Clinton administration, we Southern Baptists spoke firmly on our belief that character matters in politics. We did not expect our politicians to be perfect, but we urged one another and our fellow citizens to vote for men and women of “consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.”

With the election of President Trump, some SBC leaders came out in strong support of the candidate despite him not meeting these qualifications. Dr. Moore was not one of these. Yet, despite the voice of the SBC, historically, speaking to high moral standards for politicians, Hall’s article states that it is Moore who was out of step with the view of many Southern Baptists. If so, what changed?

Again, Dr. Graham can lead his church how he sees fit and Prestonwood is free to decide how to contribute to the Cooperative Program. Yet the reasons given for their decision seem spurious. We Southern Baptists have consistently spoken in favor of religious liberty for all people, not just Christians. We have also spoken of the need for high moral character in political leadership, and especially in the nation’s highest office.

Why is it that in 2016-17, we are being led to believe by Baptist news journals, former SBC presidents, and other SBC leaders that stances by men like Russell Moore on such topics are now out of step with many Southern Baptists? If that is true, then what changed?