A Christian apologist and author says the hiring of an embattled former seminary president by another seminary is sending a message to the Southern Baptist world.
Earlier this year, Dr. Paige Patterson was summarily fired from the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and as its president after unsubstantiated rumors that he buried sexual assault allegations by a seminary student some years ago, as well as comments he made decades ago in a sermon or two. All in all, it was alleged, indicative of severe ethical lapses.
But not everyone in the Southern Baptist community believed the accusations, among them Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now Land has hired Patterson to team-teach a course in Christian ethics at SES entitled "The Bible & Moral Issues."
OneNewsNow spoke with Dr. Land, who has nothing but high praise for Patterson – a man who served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention before his tenure at Southwestern.
"I believe he's a godly, saintly man who has enormous wisdom and spiritual truth to impart to the Body of Christ," Land offers, "and we're happy to give him the opportunity to do it."
Patterson's supporters were many as the SWBTS board of trustees dealt with the allegations against the longtime Southern Baptist icon. And according to Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland, that support continues. "I believe there are millions of informed Southern Baptists who are standing with Dr. Patterson – and Southwestern's loss is apparently SES's gain," he adds.
McFarland argues that the trustees of the school that Patterson led didn't consider all the evidence – and even fired him while he was on a business trip in Europe representing SWBTS.
"He was treated worse than corporate America would have handled an accusation against a coworker," McFarland recalls. "[He was] not treated in a professional manner, and I believe certainly not treated in a Christian manner."
Patterson was president of SWBTS from 2003 until being fired in mid-May. Just days before he was scheduled to deliver the keynote sermon at the annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention in June, he withdrew (in his words) "in an effort to do what I can to contribute to harmony within the [denomination]."