Calvinists and traditionalists. Is there really two warring factions in the SBC or are both groups working toward the common goal of establishing a clergy/laity class system in the church?
Today we are going to give you the conclusion first. Initially these accusations will seem so absurd that you may just write them off. But for those of you who have been careful to always weigh our information and make informed decisions, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with how we came to this summary. Let’s get right down to it.
Dr. Paige Patterson was a shrewd strategist who helped craft a successful long term plan on snatching the SBC away from a liberal takeover. However, when the blood from the liberal carcasses had dried and there was nobody left to fight and no animals left to shoot in Africa, he began to have problems with his own people in the convention. It was around this time he turned his focus inward towards pastor re-education at the seminaries. Perhaps he wanted to produce loyal clones. He couldn’t quite pull this off because he met resistance from a new resurgence of Calvinists. Unable to outfox the Calvinist academic philosophers who permeated the seminaries in the vacuum left by the liberals Patterson fired, he found common ground with them in the realm of church discipline. Discipline was seen by both parties as the method by which sheep could be enslaved and coerced to never question their leadership. However, this teaching was so unpopular because of a lack of biblical support and the unavoidable corruption experienced in the past, that another long term plan was crafted on how to deceptively implement it. 9Marks was born!
A love child of this unholy union and for 15+ years Dever and Patterson have worked together to “reform” individual churches in this nightmarish image. Publicly, they have kept each other at a distance and feigned arguments on Calvinism but have never wavered from their plan to work side-by-side building a network of churches totally controlled by a handful of people who have the power to punish everyone that steps out of line. This is in sharp contrast to our Baptist heritage and Biblical philosophy and is reminiscent of the Pope and Catholic hierarchy. They have trained people in the church you currently attend and one of these schemers, Dr. Patterson, has even cased FBC Sapulpa and provided strategies on how to change the governing documents rapidly.
Well, that’s quite an accusation if we do say so ourselves! Now what led us to believe this?
A Tale of Two Tyrants
Before we get started on that, let’s first define the characters and their respective camps.
You may recall about 6 months ago, Dr. Paige Patterson preached a message one Father’s Day Sunday morning right here at FBC Sapulpa. He was also the guest speaker at the men’s “Wild
Game Man Feed“. You may also recall a strange instance where he personally admonished “gossipy” women at a Sapulpa church meeting and proceeded to give a bizarre unsolicited discourse on church discipline. He is credited (often by his own mouth) as one of the masterminds behind the political strategy of the Fundamentalist Takeover of the SBC. This takeover, dubbed the Conservative Resurgence, had many good men behind it and was a much needed blessing that saved the Southern Baptist Convention from impending liberal lunacy. Some of the ruthless mercenaries that were used to pull it off though, have proven to be more of a curse. After conquering this mountain, Patterson also helped craft certain points in the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. He served as President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Dallas. He trains hundreds of Baptist preachers at his seminary every year. He is staunchly anti-Calvinist and does not support plural elder controlled church government. He supports a church in which the ultimate authority rests solely in the sole “man of God” (pastor) and the people must submit to his desires. On the surface, he appears to be opposite of the next character…Mark Dever.
Mark Dever, as you know, is the Calvinist mastermind behind 9Marks ministries and a host of other Calvinist ministries, clubs, and conferences. We have a wealth of information on the private blog that highlights the dastardly intentions of this group. His life’s work can be summed up in three topics: 1) Calvinism, 2) discipline, 3) plural elder-control church government.
Are these men polar opposites? One wonders how a student can be a disciple of both Patterson and Dever as is the case with some at the Church at Sapulpa. Well, it turns out these guys are not so different. They have actually been willing to set aside their differences for over a decade now and work towards a common goal. No, unfortunately that goal is not evangelism or missions. The goal is absolute control of everything.
These two fellows met years ago while Dr. Patterson was then President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Patterson initially cut down Dever’s works because of the Calvinist slant but eventually embraced the controversial doctrines of discipline when he realized the potential. A June 23, 2011 article written by Gregory Tomlin for Baptist Press accurately describes a conference called “9Marks at 9” which Dever and Patterson attended. The article says:
Dever told the audience that Patterson indirectly “helped start” the 9Marks movement. While Dever was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he wanted to print a pamphlet at the seminary extolling the marks of true Baptist churches. Patterson, then president of the North Carolina seminary, at first refused because the pamphlet promoted the use of elders. Dever eventually convinced Patterson to write a letter commending the pamphlet but stating his disagreement with the use of elders.
Would it be hard to believe that 15 years ago, 9Marks’ Mark Dever and political strategist Paige Patterson sat down and discussed their common goals for re-implementing 19th century style church discipline across the SBC? Would it surprise you to learn that they comfortably discussed how to roll this out in a deceptive manner on unsuspecting church members? Would you believe that they worked together to brainwash student pastors at all Southern Baptist seminaries especially Southwestern in Dallas? If you’re not there yet, then read on…
What follows is transcribed from an audio recording we have obtained from a Paige Patterson interview by Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker. This is from the year 2000 at what was then called the Center for Church Reform which was later to drop the “reform” reference and be renamed 9Marks Ministries.
Mark Dever: Is the fastest way to get fired in a Southern Baptist church is to begin to practice church discipline?
Paige Patterson: Probably that’s true. When I tell my students about it I tell them, Do not go do this next Sunday.
Mark Dever: Are there Southern Baptist churches that are doing this, that are practicing church discipline?
Paige Patterson: Yes, there sure are.
Mark Dever: A growing number?
Paige Patterson: A growing number, yes. I would say right now probably we’re at the 100-200 level. So, at first you think, Wow, that’s wonderful, that’s great. But we have over 42,000 churches, so we’re just beginning to make a dent in it. But I think more and more are realizing that you cannot have a meaningless church membership and expect to make any impact on the world.
Dever: How do you encourage a pastor at Southeastern Seminary in their classes? Does the seminary encourage young ministers to help churches move toward church discipline?
Patterson: Yes, we absolutely do. I tell them to begin preaching it as you come to it in the text, don’t back off from it. Preach it straight. Then I tell them when the day comes when you’re actually going to begin practicing it, the place to begin is not with somebody who’s been caught in some heinous iniquity, because you’re going to have sympathy problems there. The place to do it is on every one of these church rolls where you have huge numbers of people that are not attending church . That is something that people can understand. I know that’s exactly what you did here.
Mark Dever: MmmHmm
Paige Patterson: And its the right way to begin.
Matt Schmucker: Go after the easy target first.
Keep in mind, this was 15 years ago. Later that same year, Dever writing for Christianity Today would boast of his church, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and how he led them to take the plunge into discipline by “removing from membership even children and grandchildren of those sitting there in the meeting”.
That “dent” in churches Dr. Patterson was so proud of in 2000 has become a lot bigger than a mere fender bender today. Notice how they are obviously aware that the dumb congregants will struggle with “sympathy” when the time comes to attack another Christian. That’s why they baby step them in by attacking people who aren’t there anymore –“the easy targets”. Sadly, today Paige’s army of puppet pastors are following their marching orders quite well.
From our other posts we have learned that, inevitably, the first response of the angry power brokers to our truthful reporting is to label it as “lies and deceit” and sit back and hope we don’t have proof. In anticipation of that, we have published the audio from this discussion and made it accessible in the video below. It is a little over two minutes long and contains other dialog from their diabolical brainstorm session. Even if you have learned to trust our reports, we highly encourage you to listen to this clip and form your own opinion because the transcription we have provided and our assessment doesn’t do it justice. Here it is below:
The Plot Thickens
If you peak behind the curtain, there are multiple layers to the collusion between these two camps. For example, one book you will find on the shelf of practically any young pastor schooled in this authoritarian ideology at a modern Southern Baptist Seminary is Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (9Marks) by Mark Dever. This isn’t a simple coincidence either. Young pastors are forced to read it and taught to love it at the seminary level. Proof?
The editorial reviews of this now (in)famous book feature the regular gambit of Calvinist academic snobs as well as one curious review by none other than Dr. Patterson. He says:
“Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is required reading for my students in ecclesiology.” –Paige Patterson.
As President, his “students” are all the seminary graduates from Southwestern in Dallas but the 9Marks boys make the rounds at all Southern Baptist Seminaries now days. The two camps promote each other very vigorously because they share the goal of shackling the Baptist laity with discipline. Even today they can be found touring together at various events spreading their propaganda. A couple of examples are included below:
There is really only a slight difference in polity preferences. 9Marks/Dever prefer elders instead of deacons with a chief elder (or pastor) in control at the top and a pseudo-congregational polity. Patterson on the other hand wants a pastor at the top and doesn’t care what happens below him with deacons, elders, etc. as long as they submit and stay out of the pastor’s way.
Finally Something We can Unite On: Hierarchy!?
However, Dever and Patterson do share an unquenchable lust for power and praise of
men. To feed their desires they set out to rebuild the Southern Baptist Convention according to their blueprint, and yes, they do have a blueprint. The free people of this denomination must be chained into bondage, oppressed under an un-biblical hierarchy, and disciplined when they refuse to go quietly. The strategy is simple. It was the same strategy implemented by Patterson’s liberal enemies before the Fundamentalist Takeover. It is the same strategy used by mainstream liberals in secular colleges across the country also.
It goes something like this: Infiltrate the schools with like-minded professors and groom the young student pastors. Teach them that the general congregant is old and/or uneducated. Teach these pastors the art of using Bible words to manipulate people. (For example: “You need to do this in faith”. ) Gain the trust of the perceived “dumb” sheep and attach the yoke of discipline through bylaws changes.
The strategy has paid off. Rather than Patterson and Dever wasting time trying to convert millions of individual church members, they have focused on the young pastors who spread this dark gospel for them. Its like an Amway pyramid scheme with Patterson and Dever at the top. Yes, they disagree on soteriology but they are on the same page when it comes to punishing Christians in the local church who disagree with them. They have methodically built a network of hundreds of loyal pastors who now worship them and whose churches do exactly as they say– or else. So long Baptist Faith and Message. So much for “local autonomous” and “democratic processes”. So much for the historical Baptist principles. So much for the priesthood of the believer and the freedom we have in Christ.
Congregational Polity… Without Meetings?
An insecure authoritarian king like Patterson has no use for concerned members and thus had to dispense with a large portion of the historic Baptist ideology on church business and accountability. Greg Tomlin at Baptist Press reported in 2011 that:
During his years as pastor, Patterson said he preferred not to have regular business meetings, which lead to “exercises in carnality” and “regular fights.”
What Patterson claims were “regular fights” and “exercises in carnality” were likely the dying voice of the brave whistle-blowers he was choking out in his congregation. Eventually he was able to change governing documents, discipline those who spoke up, and become their beloved king. His strong arm tactics and half-truths were necessary years ago and these are the very same methods he teaches young pastors today. Sadly, these boys actually believe this stuff is okay. Speaking of half-truths and doing away with business meetings, is it possible his motive for practicing discipline was avoidance of some kind of secret? Was there something he was violently trying to suppress on his rise to the top? Yes. It is very possible. We’ll cover that soon, in the next post…