Slacktivist: “Baptist insubordination is an oxymoron”


The hits keep coming for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson.  If you are not up to speed about what is happening in Fort Worth, I encourage you to begin with these posts.  The latest hit comes from Patheos blogger Fred Clark at his blog “Slacktivist.” A taste:

That vindictiveness is reflected throughout Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s article: “The women who wrote the open letter say they tried first to speak to seminary trustees, but felt they had to make their concerns public to be taken seriously, said one woman who works for a high-ranking leader in a Southern Baptist organization and spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared her participation in organizing the letter could jeopardize her job.”

The bizarro-world detail there is so subtle you might miss it on first reading. It’s the reference to “a high-ranking leader in a Southern Baptist organization.”

This is Paige Patterson’s ultimate legacy — transforming what was once a Baptist convention into a hierarchical denomination. He has replaced soul liberty — the one and basically only Baptist distinctive — with rank. Nothing could be less Baptist. This is the whole thing about Baptists — each of us chooses, for ourselves, to be baptized. And no one else — no Pope or King or bishop or magistrate or seminary president — has any say in that matter.

It ain’t the full-immersion, it’s the choosing. That’s what makes a Baptist a Baptist.

And it’s what makes “high-ranking Baptist” an oxymoron. The priesthood of all believers means exactly that: one rank, no hierarchy.

This is why Paige Patterson is just about the least Baptist person imaginable. He sought to rule, and so he could not abide the inherent unruliness of Baptist polity. And so he transformed that polity, imposing hierarchy and structure and rank. That transformation was both the mechanism for and the substance of Patterson’s “conservative resurgence.” It wasn’t simply about the nominally “conservative” theology that Patterson et. al. sought to impose as the redefinition of Southern Baptist identity, but about their claiming the authority and creating the ability to impose and redefine it.

Read the entire post here.