Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller
I am in the middle of meet ups with people at the Course Conference. Yesterday, after a nice interview with The Washington Post reporter, Sarah, I met up with Julie Anne Smith. We drove up to Southeastern Seminary and took a picture in front of (Paige) Patterson Hall. She is as wonderful, fun and beautiful in person as she is on her blog.
I am reprinting another article by Wade Burleson. I love history and enjoyed teaching church history in various churches along the way. This story will make you laugh until you realize that money which could have gone to help others was spent on fake scrolls (actually-pieces of scrolls…)
The new leadership of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is worthy of Southern Baptist’s full confidence. College graduates from our church who are interested in ministry are now considering enrolling at Southwestern, the first time SWBTS has been a viable option for over a dozen years. The future is bright.
Meet Gary Loveless
|Gary and Stephanie Loveless|
Or, to be more specific, Gary and Stephanie Loveless may be guilty of “hero-worship,”
Hero-worship is the deadly disease that plagues many Southern Baptists, particularly since 1979 and the beginning of the Southern Baptist Conservative Resurgence.
“Society is founded on Hero-worship. Human association rests on what we may call a Hero-archy (a Government of Heroes). Society everywhere is some representation, not insupportably inaccurate, of a graduated Worship of Heroes—reverence and obedience done to men.”
Carlyle is correct about societies in this world.
But Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world. Christians are called to worship none but Christ.
Gary did so because Paige and Dorothy Patterson told Gary that the scroll fragments were real Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The Seminary, the Pattersons told Gary Loveless, would benefit from having them.
Gary believed his heroes.
The Houston Chronicle reported six years ago how Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary came into possession of the scrolls. It all started when Gary and Stephanie Loveless were on a tour of Israel with Paige and Dorothy Patterson in 2009.
Gary Loveless said they were busy visiting the usual sights of Holy Land travelers, and the group stopped at Kando’s Shop, now run by Mr. Kando’s son, William Kando Jr. Stephanie Lovelesspurchased a small oil lamp, and the couple returned to the tour bus, with her husband thinking he’d just gotten out of a pricey store with way more money in his pocket than he expected.
Then the Pattersons waved at him to return to the shop. Kando had just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: His family had decided that their Dead Sea Scroll fragments, locked away in a Swiss vault for decades, should be on public display. And they wanted them to be exhibited with his treasured friends at Southwestern Baptist.
The Lovelesses knew it was time for the important work of Christian charity – and they ultimately became the major sponsors of the exhibit with their $1 million donation.
Let that visual sink in.
|Khallil Kando at his Jerusalem Shop|
The President and First Lady of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are running out of a souvenir trinket shop in Jerusalem with hands raised, shouting at their millionaire friend (Mr. Loveless) to come and hear of “Dead Sea Scroll fragments locked away in a Swiss vault for decades.”
Cynthia Loveless must have been rubbing her recently purchased oil lamp and a Hebrew genie popped out.
Gary Loveless didn’t seem bothered by the fact Mr. Kando kept these artifacts a secret for decades.
Nobody seemed to question why a souvenir gift shop owner, known for “making deals” might suddenly want to make a deal with a rich Texas oilman.
The Hebrew scrolls were real. The Pattersons said so.
I’ve considered running into Square Mile Energy in Houston with my hand raised, breathlessly shouting:
“Mr. Loveless, the Ark of the Covenant is hidden in my basement in a safe I bought from Lowes and I’m wondering if you’ll buy it from me for two million dollars? If you position it properly at SWBTS, you may be able to replicate the Shekina glory as the sun shines through the stained-glass windows“
Think I’m being harsh?
Do you think that questioning the authenticity of SWBTS Hebrew scrolls is off-limits to proper Christian decorum?
The Research Project administered by the University of Agder, Norway, doesn’t think so.
But Paige and Dorothy Patterson say they’re real. Dorothy Patterson authenticated them on five trips to Zurich.
Her son, Armour Patterson, wrote the story of the intense negotiations for the scrolls in a self-published e-book entitled Much Clean Paper for Little Dirty Paper.
Southwestern Seminary Buys Hebrew Scroll Fragments (Thanks Gary!)
In 2011/2012, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – through the generosity of donor Gary Loveless and under the leadership of Paige and Dorothy Patterson – dedicated a 3,500 seat chapel with stained-glassed images of the Pattersons and other SBC Conservative Resurgence leaders, opened an exhibt space for the recently purchased Hebrew scrolls, and began charging $25.00 per person to come see what God has done.
SWBTS was in serious financial trouble during the years 2008-2012, the same time seminary donors and trustees like Gary Loveless were busy building monuments and dedicating museums. For example:
1. SWBTS student enrollment declined to historic lows.
2. Southwestern Seminary stopped contributing to professor’s retirement to save money.
3. The SWBTS Counseling Program was closed in 2010 due to a budget shortfall.
4. Faculty positions were cut.
5. The Dead Sea Scroll fragments eventually cost the school millions of dollars.
As Gary Loveless was contributing millions of dollars to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to build museums and monuments in honor of the Battle for the Bible led by the Pattersons, the seminary contined to struggle financially. Even if the fragments were actually real, is it wise for seminary leaders to lose focus of the school’s chartered mission?
Fiduciary responsibility for Southwestern Seminary and oversight of ministry training at SWBTS didn’t seem nearly as important to SWBTS trustee Gary Loveless as purchasing and displaying the Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
I wrote about Southwestern trustee Gary Loveless over eight years ago. In a post dated January 29, 2010, I expressed concern over the closing of the SWBTS Counseling Program, a center for training pastors how to effectively counsel those in emotional and spiritual need. In that post, I directed readers to an interview with CBS News (link now removed), Gary Loveless revealed his motive for giving the money to purchase the Dead Sea Scroll fragments (quote):
“One day, when we are all standing before Him (Jesus Christ), and we got millions of people out there, when I hold my hand up, He will know who I am. That’s really, for me, you know, what it is all about.”
Mr. Loveless, there’s a lot more people besides Jesus who now know who you are.
Additional information regarding Gary Loveless and his connections to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, including how he led the capital campaign for the now-defunct SWBTS Houston campus (note: the facilities, not the school), can be found in this SWBTS article (page 43).
As someone recently said to me, “Gary Loveless has been the captain of every sinking ship SWBTS has launched in the last dozen years.” Gary Loveless’ threat of withdrawal from involvement in SWBTS matters may, in the end, be helpful for future seminary accreditation.
Three Serious Questions about Mr. Loveless’ Letter to SWBTS Trustees
With that background regarding Mr. Gary Loveless, I am asking three serious questions of him regarding his letter to SWBTS trustees. The letter is public, so my questions to Mr. Gary Loveless are appropriately public.
1. Who disclosed to you that Dr. Patterson “has no recollection” of the 2003 rape allegation at Southeastern Seminary, that there is “no proof” that he is speaking dishonestly, and that the 2003 “alleged victim” has given “contradictory statements?”
2. Who disclosed to you that the 2015 SWBTS female seminary student you reference in your letter (p. 5) “had engaged in consensual sexual activiites on more than one occasion and those acts had taken place in public buildings at the Seminary, and that campus security were shown the nude pictures she texted to the male student….(and) that she begged Dr. Patterson to not call the police“?
3. Who led you to believe that “Chairman Ueckert …acted in a premeditated manner and with malice aforethought to intentionally mislead others, while simulteanerously defaming and disparaging the honorable name of Dr. Patterson”?
Mr. Loveless, these are serious questions. I tried to get a response privately, and it’s unfortunate we’ve not connected.
Your letter causes several concerns. It is possible that some very privileged information in student files may have been released to you without the students’ consent. It also seems the letter publicly demeans the character and testimony of an “alleged” (your word) rape victim. Finally, if you are truly concerned about Southwestern Seminary, particularly as a recent SWBTS trustee (2007-2017), then you should know that public statements impugning the motives and character of SWBTS trustee chairman Kevin Ueckert, while at the same time publicly declaring SWBTS trustee Bart Barber’s comments to the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention “false and slanderous,” are detrimental to the institution you once served.
I will not presume to answer the three questions for you Mr. Loveless, but after examining your ten-year legacy of serving as a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, it seems that Dr. and Mrs. Paige Patterson have again waved their hands and asked you to come and listen.
And like all followers in hero-archy societies, you seem to want to believe your heroes to the neglect of both logic and evidence.